If you have ever played a single, solitary note of music and understand what it takes to become a musician, don’t watch I’m With The Band. In fact, if you have ever asked your phone to identify a song for you, don’t watch I’m With The Band as you care more about music than the producers of this miserable series.
The idea behind I’m With The Band: Nasty Cherry is that pop star Charli XCX woke up one day and decided to start her own version of the Spice Girls. Have no idea who Charli XCX is? Don’t fret. Neither did, I. Apparently, she collaborated with the group Icona Pop for the song “I Love It” in 2013, worked with Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes and Blondie.
To open the show, Charli XCX says “I wish there was a band like Nasty Cherry when I was 14.” Charli was 14 in 2006 and there were plenty of bands like them, bands that were artificially manufactured by a record label or a producer. There’s the Spice Girls, Sugababies, Girls Aloud, The Pussycat Dolls, the list goes on and on.
Charli’s Nasty Cherry is fronted by singer Gabbriette Bechtel, a former model who was hired probably because her Mick Jagger snarl looks so cool in those Instagram photos. Georgia Somary is the bassist who admits to picking up the guitar just a year ago and practicing in her apartment. That is so obvious in the way she holds the instrument as if she going to pose with it not play it. Somary is actually better known for her work as a set decorator on such films as Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Transformers: The Last Knight and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Somary and Bechtel come off as cosplayers acting, dancing, posing, talking and dressing how they think a pop star should and would.
Nasty Cherry’s two career musicians are session drummer Debbie Knox-Hewson who played with Charli XCX before and guitarist, vocalist Chloe Chaidez, who has been the heart of the alternative rock band Kitten since 2009. Chaidez is also the nucleus of Nasty Cherry and the only one worth watching or taking an interest in. She is an engrossing, quirky character who just doesn’t like play music but like eating, sleeping and breathing, she MUST play music. She is the one who respects the process and is mildly interesting. The rest are boring duds.
We get a sense of how seriously Charli XCX is taking this “project”, as she calls it, when she is more concerned about the band’s social media footprint and their public appearances than the band practicing together and writing songs. You know, the things musicians live to do.
The best scene of the six episode series is Chaidez jamming with her father who comes to visit. We witness how the power of music brings people together and understand why Chaidez fell in love with it. Chaidez’s heart-to-heart talk with her dad about taking up the guitar instead of singing is the only authentic, insightful discussion about music in I’m With the Band.
Sadly, the actual music is the last thing on anyone’s mind, except for maybe Chaidez who lives and breathes every note and every lyric. It is Chaidez’s genuine love of music that actually causes her to sort of quit Nasty Cherry. Why a musician of Chaidez ‘s caliber is a part of this dumpster fire is anyone’s guess.
Yes, you read correctly though. Having existed for only a couple of months, the band breaks up…for one episode. Chaidez, the veteran, rightly walks out because she is not appreciated as the veteran and she feels the other women don’t support her, like the members of Kitten do.
Chaidez’s brief break from Nasty Cherry and her cantankerous relationship with bassist Somary are the only hints of any drama. The majority of the series consists of the four strangers bonding by throwing parties, attending events, hanging out at their place, goofing around in quickly-cut montages and eventually making some music together, unless there is another party to host, of course.
Priorities, people. Priorities.
Charli XCX and Emmie, her manager, pop in and out like Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show commentating from a couch and occasionally visiting the band, mostly when they are partying, there is a good time to be had and alcohol to guzzle.
While I don’t question the dedication or the enthusiasm of Nasty Cherry themselves, the entire venture seems ill-fated from the start since the music itself is not the most important element to begin with. One wonders what the point of the series was in the first place except to act as a calculated public relations, marketing ploy. If you are a music lover, you will gain a better appreciation by discussing why you would pick The Rolling Stones over The Beatles with the digital voice assistant on your phone.
Top Photo: Gabby Bechtel, Debbie Knox-Hewson, Georgia Somary, Chloe Chaidez and Charli XCX. Courtesy: Netflix.