After scouting the U.S. to find the most promising unsigned bands, Billboard found three of the midwest's best and your votes picked a finalist: Lightning Love! The band hit the road headed for Las Vegas in a car provided by Chevy to compete at our May 18 Battle of the Bands concert against the finalists from the other five regions. Read about who won and watch the whole Battle of the Bands live showdown here. Scroll down to read a Battle of the Bands Q&A with Lightning Love, hear some music, and more.
Scan the code above with your smartphone to watch a short video from our Battle of the Bands finalists and find out if you've won a trip to the 2012 Billboard Music Awards!
Revenge of the normal: A small circle of friends and siblings from Ypsilanti, Michigan makes "to-the-point" pop songs.
Describe your sound and your audience in your own words.
We're an indie-pop band. It's very minimal: keyboard, guitar, drums. We're very meticulous in our arrangements; there's no jamming whatsoever, no guitar solos really. We try to do very stripped-down, to-the-point pop songs. And our audience tends to be mostly college students and younger kids who dig that kind of sound.
Tell us about your first gig ever -- just how awkward was it? And how has your live show evolved since then?
Our first show, I think we played for about 15 minutes. I was really, really nervous -- and I still get nervous -- but my hands were shaking pretty badly. But we actually felt really good about it and we had a really nice audience, so that gave us a lot of confidence to keep doing what we're doing. Since then we've gotten a lot tighter. We're really close -- the drummer and I [Leah Diehl] are siblings and the guitar player's our mutual best friend -- so I think we've just become closer as friends and our show's gotten livelier and more confident.
What's the strangest thing anyone has ever said about your band?
They always think that I'm dating my brother -- 'Are you dating the drummer?' And I always get compared to any female vocalist whatsoever, like 'Oh, you totally sound like Shania Twain!' Or 'You sound exactly like… Barbara Streisand!'
Why should you win this competition?
I'm hoping that people would like us, because I think that our sound is unique and a little bit different from what's currently on the radio at the moment. I feel like we're very genuine in what we do, and I think we're very normal people and give off a genuine vibe.
What's your next project?
We're finishing up our album right now. We record everything ourselves so it's kind of a long process, but we're almost done our second album, so that will be the next undertaking for us.
If your band had to come up with a plan for total world domination in the next 10 seconds, what would it be?
I'm almost positive we wouldn't come up with a plan in 10 seconds. I think we'd like, poison everyone's 40s, or their malt liquor… with like, a brainwashing substance that would make people like us more.
Interview by Dan Weiss
*Click a region to to see the other finalists in the competition.