Best Bands From Movies

Fictional Bands From Movies That Are Better Than Your Favorite Band

It’s a bold move, crafting a fictional band for a movie. You’re no longer bringing just characters and a plot to life, but also the unique dynamic of a band. And on top of that you’ve got to make music that isn’t terrible! Many have a hard enough time achieving just one of these things, let alone all four.

With such a tall order, you’d think the public would at least cut you a little slack, but no one is safe – not even Mick Jagger. Critics of HBO’s drama Vinyl complained that the music of British proto-punk band Nasty Bits, whose music was written by Jagger and his actor son, James, rings false in the context of 1973.

As Adam Schlesinger, veteran songwriter for fictional bands and screen like Josie and the Pussycats, Sesame Street, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend told the Guardian, “Generally, the music’s not good enough and you don’t buy it. Just like the acting has to be convincing, the songs have to be convincing. You have to believe that this music could be popular.”

Songwriters behind these hit fictional bands often see it as an outlet for ideas that wouldn’t mesh well with their primary musical outfit; like an opportunity to explore a new genre, make up dumb band names, or try on silly lyrics.

Calling these bands fictional barely seems fair, since the music is very real, and very good. But hey, I don’t make the rules.

Spinal Tap from the film Spinal Tap

Spinal TapThis is Spinal Tap (1984)

What would a list of fictional bands be without a nod to Spinal Tap. The eponymous band from the original rockumentary/mockumentary is still the best fake movie band out there. The music stands up to the weight of their ridiculous lyrics for songs like Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight, Big Bottom, and Stonehenge. Like all great bands, they reformed for a couple of albums: 1992’s Break Like The Wind and 2009’s Back From The Dead.

Stillwater from the film Almost Famous

StillwaterAlmost Famous (2000)

Cameron Crowe wrote and directed Almost Famous, basing it partly on his own experiences as a very young, aspiring music journalist who spent three weeks on the road with The Allman Brothers Band to write Rolling Stone’s December 1973 cover story.

With Peter Frampton on board as a technical consultant and writer of a few of the songs, Heart’s Nancy Wilson (Crowe’s then-wife) co-writing another couple, and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready on lead guitar, the band was well set up for success – even if that success was also fictional. Songs like Fever Dog sound right at home alongside ’70s tracks featured in the film from Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Allman Brothers Band themselves.

Munchausen By Proxy from the film Yes Man

Munchausen By ProxyYes Man (2008)

The film itself was a fairly disposable Jim Carrey comedy, but the music was good. Zooey Deschanel’s character fronts an indie synthpop band, Munchausen By Proxy, backed by real life San Francisco band, Von Iva. Together they wrote and recorded four songs for the film, with Deschanel drawing on her singer-songwriter credentials as one half of She & Him. Some DVD/Blu-ray releases have bonus footage that includes an MBP spoof MTV music documentary, complete with music videos and live performances. This is manic pixie dream girl pop at its loosest, best, and most fun. The rest of the soundtrack is also worth checking out for the Eels songs.

Sex Bob-omb from the film Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Sex Bob-ombScott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

George Michael (not that one) from Arrested Development grew up, learned to play an instrument, and got cool. It’s a great movie, especially if you’re into the comic series and director Edgar Wright’s other films. Beck is the mastermind behind all Sex Bob-omb’s music. Sex Bob-omb is one of several bands featured in the film, including a battle of the bands scene against the Katayanagi Twins – who are also evil exes of Ramona Flowers on a mission to destroy Scott. Music from Crash and the Boys, another band on the screen here, is played by Broken Social Scene.

Wyrd Sisters from the film Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

Wyrd SistersHarry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005)

The real life incarnation of Wyrd Sisters are the ultimate ’90s brit-rock supergroup. Featuring Jarvis Cocker on vocals and songwriting duties, Johnny Greenwood and Phil Selway of Radiohead on guitar and drums, Pulp’s Steve Mackey on bass, as well as members of The All Seeing I and Add N to (X) on guitar, keyboards and bagpipes. They remain unnamed in the film due to a legal dispute between the film studio and Canadian folk band The Wyrd Sisters. Franz Ferdinand, confessed Potter-heads, were rumored to have been originally tapped to play the band.

Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes (The Cantina Band) from the film Star Wars

Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes (The Cantina Band)Star Wars (1977)

The Cantina Band absolutely counts as an onscreen band, and absolutely nails it. A few years ago, Spotify released data showing that John WilliamsCantina Band song is Australia’s favorite sex jam, appearing on more playlists with the word ‘sex’ in the title than any other song. It beat out (hey now) jams like Ginuwine’s Pony, Kings of Leon’s Sex On Fire, and The Weeknd’s Often. It’s weird, but we get it. Kinda.

Crucial Taunt from the film Wayne's World

Crucial TauntWayne’s World (1992)

Tia Carrere as Cassandra, frontwoman of Crucial Taunt, is the ultimate rock chick heartbreaker. Carrere looks pretty at home behind the bass in the film, but was still a beginner, having to master her songs for the film in just three weeks. “I was dreadful, but at least my fingers moved in the right way. I never played bass again. I had much respect for Sting after that.”

Despite never picking up the bass again, Carrere has made a decent name in the music world in her own right, having won more Grammy Awards than fellow WW alumni  Alice Cooper and Queen put together.

The Shitz from the film Belgica

The ShitzBelgica (2016)

The Shitz are just one of 16 fictional bands created by Soulwax for the 2016 film Belgica. The soundtrack had the Dewaele brothers writing a diverse range of music for the fictional bands, from synth-pop and psychobilly to hardcore punk and Turkish acid house. Soulwax consulted friends in the Ghent music scene to make sure their versions of different genres sounded right. It fooled some, with one interviewer asking Soulwax how they managed to discover so many exciting new bands. The Shitz loved the Dewaele’s brothers’ songwriting so much they asked them to write more songs for them after the film wrapped.

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Hedwig And The Angry InchHedwig And The Angry Inch (2001)

Before it was a film, it was an off-Broadway musical, so this fictional band has undergone several iterations. The eponymous Hedwig, a transgender East German rock singer, becomes a mentor and musical collaborator to a dude who ends up stealing her music and ditching her. The film soundtrack was recorded by the cast, as well as Husker Du’s Bob Mould and members of D.C. post-hardcore band Girls Against Boys. Songs from the film have been covered several times, by artists as diverse as Yoko Ono, Cyndi Lauper, Meat Loaf, Spoon, and Type O Negative.

The Lone Rangers from the film Airheads

The Lone RangersAirheads (1994)

Even though in the movie The Lone Rangers had to hijack a radio station to get their demo Degenerated some airplay, it rips harder than most demos. That could be because it was originally by hardcore punks Reagan Youth. The version recorded for the film features Brendan Fraser on vocals, backed by White Zombie members Jay Yuenger and Sean Yseult. And their stunt scores them a pretty sweet prison gig.


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45 Comments
  • Jun 14,2019 at 19:38

    And Jake Fogelnest would never forgive you for leaving out The Stains, from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains!

  • Jun 14,2019 at 19:36

    The Barbusters from Light of Day?

  • Jun 14,2019 at 19:34

    What about Max Frost and the Troopers? Wild in the Streets Soundtrack is essential!

  • Jun 14,2019 at 15:33

    Two words: Blues Brothers. Maybe not a fake band, because it was an all-star band that was pretty successful after the movie.

  • Jun 14,2019 at 13:49

    I believe “That Thing You Do” by the Oneders and “Pop! Goes My Heart” from Music & Lyrics are the two best pop songs ever created specifically for a mythical group in a movie. Totally believable as big hits.

    Honorable mention to “Stand Up & Shout” from Rock Star – lol. I still hear that occasionally at sporting events…

  • Jun 14,2019 at 04:21

    Otis Day and the Knights

  • Jun 14,2019 at 03:43

    They were on a mission from God The Blues Brothers

  • Jun 13,2019 at 17:16

    The punk band The Ain’t-Rights from the film Green Room deserve a mention for standing in front of a crowd of neo-nazi skinheads and playing Nazi Punks Fuck Off!

  • Jun 13,2019 at 15:53

    Dewy Cox!!!!!!!!

  • Jun 13,2019 at 14:43

    Thanks for the article falsepriest…. Just as contribution for a new article, what about Fictional Soundtracks From Fictional Movies That Are Better Than many real soundtracks.
    http://orphantracks.blogspot.com/

  • Jun 13,2019 at 01:54

    There’s an entire wiki about this topic with over 5500 entries: http://www.fakebands.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

  • Jun 12,2019 at 21:52

    Hola!! You forgot Las Sioux. ** The Kingdom of Spain, 1981: The time of La Movida, which ushered in New Wave Music, Post Punk, Goth, greater freedom of expression, and everything happens at Madrid’s hot live music club, El Calentito. Which is, of course, the name of the film. Sara, a teenage girl who doesn’t want to live under the guidance of her strict Catholic family- and she thinks she has an attraction to girls. A teenage boy who doesn’t want to be a virgin. A very caring, understanding, concerned transvestite, who runs El Calentito and actually happens to be the boy’s biological father. Synth Wave currents, all out liberation for Art, Cinema, Fashion, Free Speech- and then the Fascists come along, and try to overthrow the government. Yes, Spanish Fascists DID try in 1981, using force, to destroy Spain’s government. El Calentito’s hot, intense, hysterically funny, outrageous band? Las Sioux. Oh, those songs!! So much happens in this club, with Las Sioux, and the repercussions of Franco Fascists who long for the bad old days, when oppression was de facto in Spain. Actual news footage of the Fascist coup is shown. The actual King of Spain is shown, on television, at the time of the crisis. And everything at El Calentito is about to get a lot wilder. I LOVE THIS FILM. Directed by Chus Gutierrez, produced in Spain, released in cinemas in 2005, available on DVD! AND, the soundtrack music includes actual bands from Spain, who were recording in 1980-1981. And, Pedro Almovodar wanted to be in this film, and he is! Because La Movida inspired him to be a young film director, after Fascism ended!

  • Jun 12,2019 at 21:49

    Hangman’s Joke from The Crow

  • Jun 12,2019 at 21:47

    The Problems from Light of Day

  • Jun 12,2019 at 21:29

    Don’t forget The Bang Bang, from the Brothers of the Head movie!

  • Jun 11,2019 at 14:27

    Oh, and as to the idea that the music director is using something that’s outside of their usual work, that’s true, in my experience. I once interviewed Richard Rodney Bennett, and the matter of his music for the movie BILLY LIAR came up, and I mentioned “Twisterella,” the British (pre-Beatles) beat-style dance number used in the movie. He started laughing, admitting that, yes, that was his too, along with the rest of the score, though he couldn’t believe that I enjoyed it. I told him I thought it fit perfectly into the scene in which it’s used (a community dance).

  • Jun 11,2019 at 14:24

    The Rutles should have been there. And also — though it’s from television — I’d have put a vote in for “The Sound Committee” (what a great name — amazed nobody ever appropriated it), the band that Opie Taylor joins in the 1967 episode of The Andy Griffith Show, “Opie’s Group.” Cool sound and a great name!

  • Jun 10,2019 at 16:09

    and Citizen Dick from Singles

  • Jun 10,2019 at 12:41

    What about Autobahn in The Big Lebowski. Man, they sure did have an impact on the story for being a tiny bit part!

  • Jun 4,2019 at 18:06

    You can’t forget about Wyld Stallyns from Bill & Ted.

  • Jun 3,2019 at 16:36

    What… no Leningrad Cowboys? /FinnPride

  • Jun 2,2019 at 01:41

    No Rutles. No Bad News. No Strange Fruit. No Max Rebo Band!

  • Jun 1,2019 at 21:33

    if we get a bit serious; all the MOVIDA MADRILEÑA was a fraud. No joke. if you were there you know what i´m talking about.

  • Jun 1,2019 at 03:34

    @digreverend EXACTLY!!!

  • May 31,2019 at 22:48

    I realise its fictional bands in movies but a list like this is incomplete without Bad News. Predating Spinal Tap to be the first actual rockumentary (if you will).

  • May 31,2019 at 22:28

    Sonic Death Monkey – High Fidelity, soon to become Kathleen Turner Overdrive. I know it’s not a movie, but Wicked Sceptre from Mr. Show had me in serious convulsions.

  • May 31,2019 at 21:32

    Where are Bad News, Steel Dragon (still waiting for a vinyl release) and Pop!

  • May 31,2019 at 17:30

    Did anyone mention Flame who were the fictional band played by slade in their movie?

  • May 31,2019 at 00:17

    The Bang Bang, featured in 2005 mock-doc Brothers Of The Head: greatest conjoined twin fronted proto punk band never to have existed.

  • May 30,2019 at 16:17

    …..and what no mention of the greatest fictional NY punk band of all time Tony Coca Cola & the Rooster from the almighty Abel Ferrera joint “Driller Killer” Boo-ya!

  • May 30,2019 at 15:59

    Velvet Goldmine? No mention?

  • May 30,2019 at 05:14

    This entire post is invalid because there is no mention of the Oneders and their smash hit, “That Thing You Do!”

  • May 29,2019 at 22:51

    The Five Heartbeats!!

  • May 29,2019 at 20:42

    They missed the greatest movie band of all time.
    From Animal House, Otis Day & The Knights!!!
    SHOUT!!!

  • May 27,2019 at 13:51

    Strange Fruit from “Still Crazy”!

  • May 27,2019 at 12:09

    Where is Steel Dragon from “Rock Star”?

  • May 27,2019 at 04:54

    The Commitments would have been a good addition to this list as they were pretty much recruited as depicted in the film, plus all of the vocals were genuine and recorded live.

  • May 26,2019 at 20:18

    A shout out to your older fan members, like me. How about the Rutles.

  • May 25,2019 at 19:05

    Agreed. Bad News > Spinal Tap, every time. “I’m getting out here if we’re anything to do with the New Romantics!”

  • May 24,2019 at 20:17

    I would kindly submit Cherry Bomb from Howard the Duck to this list. And Pop! From Music & Lyrics

    Good call on Figrin D’an

  • May 24,2019 at 19:15

    Respectable list but also honourable mentions: The Fabulous Stains (1982), The Kelly Affair from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), Eddie & The Cruisers (1983) Wyld Stallyns from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) …yada yada… there are probably more.

  • May 24,2019 at 19:00

    Total agree that hard core Logo is missing in that list.

  • May 24,2019 at 18:35

    I should also add Electric Apricot from The Quest For Festeroo, Citizen Dick from Singles and The Soronprfbs from the movie Frank.

  • May 24,2019 at 18:26

    Hard Core Logo also totally rules.

  • May 24,2019 at 17:34

    It might have been two comedy short films rather than an actual movie but you completely missed the best and funniest fake band ever, Bad News, bit of a glaring omission that considering they got to play Castle Donnington.

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