I have no doubt that I’m With The Band: Nasty Cherry will find its audience on Netflix. Hitting all those usual reality TV drama beats whilst showcasing the process of becoming a hit band, I’m With The Band is an insightful show with the underlying message of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. With the backing of Charli XCX and a heavy promotional push, Nasty Cherry is an inspiring effort but ultimately highlights everything wrong with the music industry today.
Split across 6 episodes, each clocking in at around 30 minutes or so, Nasty Cherry sees pop-star Charli XCX bring together four women from very different backgrounds to form the dream band of her teenage years. Determined to create a kick-ass rock group, singer Gabby Bechtel, drummer Debbie Knox-Hewson, guitarist Chloe Chaidez and bassist Georgia Somary come together to form the crux of this band. Despite half the group having no musical background at all, they all team up and produce a hit single.
With heavy promotion, radio interviews, launch parties and Spotify promotion, Nasty Cherry is a showcase of the modern music industry and how you can come from nothing if you have the right connections. There are a lot of talented musicians and groups out there, many grinding it out in bars and clubs every Friday and Saturday night, and this documentary only further exacerbates the problem this industry faces. Nasty Cherry’s constant reminders that they’re not trained musicians and in the case of singer Gabby, have never sung before, feels like a bit of a slap to the face for those people out there trying so hard to break into this industry.
It also doesn’t help that I’m With The Band spends an awful lot of time setting up reality-TV style drama between the four girls throughout the show. I do understand that tensions can become flared, especially with those musically-trained being rubbed up the wrong way after critique from their peers, but it all feels very formulaic and typical of reality TV rather than doubling down on the actual process of creating music.
Having said all that, I’m With The Band does have some pretty slick stylistic choices, with plenty of cut-aways to other bands and split-screen shots throughout the show. Each episode features some block text on-screen too that helps with the excitement as the group gear up for their launch party, first single release and even their first live performance. All of this culminates in a final, glossy live show that noticeably sounds like a pre-recorded session. At times, the drum and cymbal crashes don’t match what’s being shown on-screen and multiple cutaways to face to face interviews with the girls throws more caution to the wind. Lo and behold, the above video is the actual performance of the girls which sounds nothing like the polished final edit in Netflix’s documentary series.
I’m With The Band: Nasty Cherry simply epitomizes everything wrong with the music industry today. There’s no grinding away in dingy bars, there’s no chasing the promoter around to get paid, no makeshift garage jamming sessions or little victories on the road to success. This is a group riding the same manufactured path successful groups like Little Mix and One Direction have achieved in the past but doing so in a way that pales by comparison. While I don’t doubt the commitment and hard work the girls have put in, I do think the message it sends to people discredits the real cost of making it in this industry. Despite a feel-good vibe and a decent amount of progression throughout the series, I’m With The Band is a documentary that sends the wrong message and unfortunately, it’s one I have a hard time recommending.