From School of Rock to Crucial Taunt, the greatest rockers of cinema.
The just-released Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is just as much about music as it is about video games and evil ex-boyfriends; the soundtrack features songs by Beck written for the titular character's band, Sex Bob-Omb. In tribute, we're honoring the best fake bands in movie history. Please note: this list does not include any fake band that went on to actually release a record (aside from the movie's original soundtrack) or tour. So that means no Spinal Tap, no Otis Day & The Knights, and no 2ge+her (which is too bad, because those guys were hilarious).
1) Crucial Taunt, Wayne's World
The greatest musical component of Wayne's World will always be the "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene, but love interest Cassandra's band Crucial Taunt comes in at a close second. Their covers of Hendrix's "Fire" and Private Life's "Touch Me" are both solid, but their version of Sweet's classic "Ballroom Blitz" wins out. Plus, there's a lot to be said for a frontwoman who can play Hendrix, yet inspire you to hear "Dream Weaver."
2) School of Rock, School of Rock
It was the role Jack Black was born to play (aside from Barry in High Fidelity, a film which itself features several awesome fake bands) — a goofy, dead-beat, wannabe guitar god who teaches a bunch of preppy elementary-school kids the power of all things rock. Points for the wonderfully cheesy anti-authority lyrics, the goofy outfits, the infectious melody, and the fact that the twelve-year-old musicians really can shred.
3) N.W.H., Fear of a Black Hat
Less known but far funnier than Chris Rock's rap parody CB4 is this Spinal Tap-esque 1994 classic, in which a group of early gangsta rappers continually ascribe political significance to their misogynistic songs (on a track called "Booty Juice": "The butt represents society…") Not only are N.W.H.'s rationalizations hilarious, their songs are actually pretty infectious; "Guerillas in the Midst" holds its own with most of what N.W.A. and Public Enemy were putting out at the time.
4) Marvin Berry and the Starlighters, Back To The Future
Some might view this scene as a little offensive, considering the whole "re-appropriation of the birth of rock n' roll thing." That said, it's well done, it's funny, the song is awesome (as it always has been), and who wouldn't want to see Michael J. Fox shredding with the Starlighters? It's Eddie Van Halen meets the earliest days of rock.
5) The Commitments, The Commitments
A group of working-class Dubliners playing soul music shouldn't work in theory, but The Commitments prove otherwise: "The Irish are the blacks of Europe," says manager Jimmy Rabbitte. "And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud." Every cover they do, including songs by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin, is worth checking out, but their version of James Carr's "Dark End of The Street" takes the cake.
6) Stillwater, Almost Famous
With hyper-sexualized lyrics, an abundance of moaning and groaning, and a down-tempo groove accented by thunderous drums and excessive guitar solos, Stillwater's "Fever Dog" mimics the '70s rock aesthetic perfectly. In other words, it's awesome.
7) The Soggy Bottom Boys, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
While The Soggy Bottom Boys only perform in two or three scenes in O Brother, their story is fairly significant. In the Coen Brothers' whimsical history, they signal a shift in American music from regional popularity, to widespread recognition, not to mention an early combination of Delta blues with traditional folk music. And unsurprisingly, George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson can put on a pretty great show, fake beards and all.
8) Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Theatricality has always been a core component of glam rock, so it only makes sense that eventually someone really smart would combine the genre with musical theater directly. That's what John Cameron Mitchell did with Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The band's music combines a glam-rock sound with the graceful storytelling of so many great musicals.
9) The New Main Street Singers, A Mighty Wind
Like Stillwater, The New Main Street Singers send up the cliches of their genre perfectly. They look exactly like the kind of group you'd expect to see on PBS between 1 and 4 a.m. Plus, Jane Lynch! Everyone loves Jane Lynch.
10) The Oneders, That Thing You Do!
The real life of a one-hit wonder is tough. You're on top of the world, and then it's all gone. But here's the good part: the song is pretty much always great. The same goes for fake one-hit wonders — "That Thing You Do" is a perfectly crafted pop song that sounds like every other early Beatles rip-off, which is by no means a bad thing. The Oneders would never have to make another record; we'd always love them for that one perfect song.