Fictional bands are often employed in films as tool of satire or as a stand-in for a real band. Sometimes, though, the fake bands, comedic or otherwise, turn out to be pretty good with material that could top the charts in reality and, in some cases, it actual does.
Here is a list of 10 great fictional movie bands. In compiling this list I had to establish some guidelines. The Blues Brothers and Tenacious D did both appear in movies, but don't make the cut because, although they are fictional bands, both released albums that produced hits before the release of their respective films.
Characters from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” were also considered but ultimately weren't included since the film was an adaptation of an off-Broadway musical.
Two movies based on comic books appear on this list. Although these bands did appear in a previous medium, the music they perform was created specifically for the film versions and thus their inclusion on this list.
10. Wyld Stallyns from The “Bill and Ted” Movies (1989, 1991)
Two California teens are in a rock band that will one day create music that will bring peace to the world. To make sure the dimwitted duo stays together they travel through history and to hell and back. Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan don't appear higher on this list because the one song we hear from the band is a Kiss song that in no way could ever bring balance to the world.
9. Sex Bob-Ombs from “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010)
This movie was released just over a month ago, but the Sex Bob-Ombs are absolutely worthy of inclusion on this list. The title character (Michael Cera) is the bass player for the band, which has a crunchy, imperfect garage band sound. The four songs that quirky rocker Beck wrote for the film clock in at less that eight minutes, but they are short, raw blasts of rock bliss.
8. Josie and the Pussycats from “Josie and the Pussycats” (2001)
I make no secrets about my love for the music in this underrated adaptation of the comic book characters. It was only a few weeks ago I was singing its praises in this paper and I'll keep doing so until more people discover the joys of the shiny pop-punk songs that were created for this surprisingly sly spoof of the music industry.
7. Mitch and Mickey from “A Mighty Wind” (2003)
Directed by mockumentary master Christopher Guest, “A Mighty Wind” was essentially the folk version of “This is Spinal Tap.” There were several fictional folk acts in the film, but it is Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) that provide the film with a heart. Their song “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" received an Oscar nomination.
6. Marvin Berry and The Starlighters from “Back To The Future” (1985)
This is the band that is playing during the crucial school dance scene that decides the very fate of time traveler Marty McFly's (Michael J. Fox) existence. When Marty takes the microphone and leads the band in a blistering version of “Johnny B. Goode,” Marvin Berry is quick to call his cousin Chuck to share the “new sound.”
5. Crucial Taunt from “Wayne's World” (1992)
Mike Myers and Dana Carvey's goofy cable access duo were one of the few “Saturday Night Live” sketches to successfully make the transition to the big screen. Wayne and Garth worship two things: rock and babes, so it is no surprise that Crucial Taunt's lead singer Cassandra (Tia Carrera) is Wayne's dream girl. Plus she wails on a killer cover of “Ballroom Blitz.”
4. Stillwater from “Almost Famous” (2000)
Writer/director Cameron Crowe's shares a fictionalized version of his time writing for Rolling Stone magazine as a teen. The stand-in for several bands, but primarily Led Zeppelin, is Stillwater, which includes Jason Lee as the lead singer and Billy Crudup as the guitarist. The original material is good, particularly “Fever Dog,” but it is the tour bus singalong of Elton John's “Tiny Dancer” that is the movie's magic moment.
3. The Wonders from “That Thing You Do” (1996)
Tom Hanks made his debut as a writer and director with this playful look at the rise and fall of a one-hit wonder in the 1960s. This isn't a look at the dark underbelly of rock, but in its cheery way it does have some shrewd things to say about the music industry. The Oscar-nominated title track is sensational and just about impossible to dislike.
2. Soggy Bottom Boys from “O Brother Where Art Thou” (2000)
The Coen Brothers depression-era reworking of “The Odyssey” featured a trio of chain-gang workers on the lam that by chance become the Soggy Bottom Boys, a singing sensation the sweeps the South. Life imitated art and, quite unexpectedly, the blues soundtrack raced to the top of the charts giving the fake band real success.
1. Spinal Tap from “This is Spinal Tap” (1981)
Rob Reiner's mockumentary about a washed up hair band's disastrous comeback tour is a classic that is quite possibly the most on-target satire of rock music ever made. The songs, such as “Big Bottom” are absurd, but only a hair more so than real metal bands. In the wake of the success of the film, the fictional band became real and actually toured and released albums.