Great bands don't have to be real. What does that mean? Real in a fictional sense, whether on television, film or the stage. There are plenty of great bands that exist only on the screen -- or your preferred streaming device. Sure, some fictional bands have managed to play some real-life gigs, but you get the point. Don't overthink it.
Here's our rankings of the best fictional bands of all time.
It will go down as one of the worst performances in network television sitcom history. Girl Talk's debut at the Smash Club was horrendous. Stephanie, Kimmy and Gia cared more about the band's collective look than actually rehearsing its songs. Instead, its cover of "The Sign" was disjointed and a full-blown disaster. No worries, the band eventually reformed for a mini reunion -- with D.J. on drums -- during Netflix's Fuller House.
Now, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) and his band Sex Bob-omb aren't all that good musically. That doesn't mean they are not entertaining. The group means well, and is quite the underdog in this kind of story that features some kind of sci-fi battle of the bands. This is not a great movie, and some can argue it isn't even good, but as far as fictitious bands go, Sex Bob-omb has its moments worth celebrating.
One of the more underrated Saturday morning NBC shows during the 1990s was this Saved by the Bell knockoff. It's essential the same kind of show, but with the main characters playing in a pop band. The band, which managed to endure some lineup changes, usually played at their favorite hangout Sharkey's, and notable tracks included "California Dreams" and "Everybody's Got Someone."
A little known made-for-TV 1978 film co-written and directed by Ron Howard. Yes, that Ron Howard. It's the story about a group of high school outcasts, led by the directionless George Smalley (Charles Martin Smith), looking for purpose. They come together to form a band, hoping to take down the massively popular Rapid Fire in the local battle of the bands. Cotton Candy's sound is pure pop with some new wave and pretty catchy at times.
Based on the popular comic that started in the 1960s . The film version is less than average, but the band is still worthy of mention when put in an historical context. Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Tara Reid) and Valerie (Rosario Dawson) make the best of the opportunity to do this classic band justice. Letters to Cleo front woman Kay Hanley provided the vocals that Cook lip-synced. Though, the three stars did provide actual backup vocals.
While celebrating Black Awareness Week, the pride of Jackson Heights, Randy Watson (Eddie Murphy), took the local stage with his band Sexual Chocolate . Watson and band delivered a splendid cover of Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All." Now, the crowd might not have truly appreciated the magic that Watson and Sexual Chocolate are capable of exuding.But we know it's there. Some place.
At one point the band was known as Sonic Death Monkey, before its much acclaimed debut as Barry Jive and The Uptown Five . Following that much-talked about performance, highlighted by an amazing cover of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," the group was said to be learning toward another name change -- Kathleen Turner Overdrive. It's one of Jack Black's most memorable film moments.
From what we know about Citizen Dıck, it's that the band is huge in Belgium. Of course, that's probably because of talented members Stone, Jeff, and drummer Eddie Vedder. Though, frontman Cliff Poncier (Matt Dillon) is often considered the weak link in the Seattle band known for its local hit "Touch Me I'm Dıck." When it comes to the glory days of Grunge in the Pacific Northwest, Citizen Dıck did not earn the respect it deserved.
Written by legendary film critic Roger Ebert and directed sexplotation movie guru Russ Meyer. It's nothing more than a cult film, but far from a classic in that genre. Still, The Carrie Nations (Kelly, Casey and "Pet"), also known at The Kelly Affair, have that tripping, late 1960s-early '70s sound. Among the group's notable hits (all lip-synced by the actresses with vocals by singer/songwriters Lynn Carey and Barbara Robison) are the gently "Long Run" and "Sweet Talking Candyman."
The Archies arguably produced the most memorable song of any fictional band in music history. In the late 1960s, "Sugar, Sugar" was one of the biggest hits on the planet, courtesy of the band comprised of classic comic characters Archie, "Jughead," Reggie, Betty and Veronica. Session musicians provided the tunes to a comic that remains one of the most legendary of all time.
Based on the late 1990s stage musical. Hedwig (aka Hansel before a botched sex-change operation) is dealing with a failed marriage amid the fall of the Berlin Wall and finds her passion fronting a rock band. While the flamboyant Hedwig (brilliantly played by John Cameron Mitchell) has plenty of talent, he and the band are forced to play rundown restaurants before eventually earning a moment of fame.
When a fraternity wants to throw a raging toga party, there's no better band to hire than Otis Day and the Knights. The group's rendition of "Shama Lama Ding Dong" and "Shout" were among the highlights of the band's appearance in the move. Actor DeWayne Jessie lip-synced both songs over the vocals of Lloyd G. Williams. Members of Delta Tau Chi also caught the band in action while on a road trip later in the film.
One of the more underrated movies on this list. Directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.), Streets of Fire might be best known for the music. It's dubbed, "A Rock & Roll Fable." At the forefront is singer Ellen Aim (Diane Lane), and her backing band The Attackers. Aim and her film band lip-sync over the made-for-big-screen group Fire Inc., with Laurie Sargent and Holly Sherwood on vocals. Jim Steinman, of Meat Loaf fame, penned Aim's two bookend movie hits "Nowhere Fast" and "Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young."
Based on the real-life story of "Ripper" Owens, the frontman of a Judas Priest tribute band who eventually replaced the legendary Rob Halford, when he left the actual group. Mark Wahlberg stars as Chris "Izzy" Cole, an obsessed singer of a Steel Dragon tribute band, who gets his shot with the real thing. While real-life rockers Zakk Wylde, Jason Bonham and Jeff Pilsen help make up Steel Dragon, Wahlberg lip-syncs over vocals from screeching pop-metal singer Mike Matijevic (Steelheart).
Escaped convicts Everett (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) heard they can back money by singing into a can -- at a local radio station. Thus, the Soggy Bottom Boys were born and their cover of " Man of Constant Sorrow" became a hit in the movie and real life. The actors did not actually sing the song, but it didn't really matter, as it just added to the fun of the movie.
No doubt that CB4 is the greatest fictional rap act of all time. Inspired by N.W.A., but with a more PG tone and plenty more dysfunction. The group apparently took its name from the prison block where the members -- MC Gusto (Chris Rock), Dead Mike (Allen Payne) and Stab Master Arson (Deezer D) met back in the day. Real-life rappers Daddy-O and Hi-C provided some of the vocals for the fictional band and helped deliver a quality cover of "Rapper's Delight."
One of the most memorable episodes during the lengthy run of this popular teen series was Zack's dream of being a rock star. With the great Casey Kasem narrating the story of the Zack Attack," the group (Zack, Lisa, Slater, Kelly, Screech) went from a garage band to one of the biggest bands in the world before it all fell apart. That's OK, the group eventually got together for a reunion event because they will also be "Friends Forever."
The aftermath of rocker Eddie Wilson's mysterious death is chronicled through the lives of his former bandmates, who are approached by a reporter (Ellen Barkin) trying to find out of he's still alive. Michael Pare played the lead role, but John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band supplied the actual music, that included the 1980s radio hit "On the Dark Side." The movie was popular enough to spawn a less successful sequel Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!
Another classic Jack Black role as Dewey Finn (or Ned Schneebly). Looking to boost his own self-esteem and win a battle of the bands event, Dewey takes a group of sheltered, overachieving private school students about the history of rock music and ultimately brings them along for a ride that opens personal avenues they never thought about traveling down. The movie spawned a TV series and a very successful musical and is arguably Black's most beloved acting effort.
If these actors -- Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean -- look familiar, you'll know why by reading further on this list. The Folksmen came together during the New York City folk scene before breaking up and going in different directions. They did get together for a popular reunion performance to celebrate the life of late folk music producer Irving Steinbloom. The trio is best known for "Old Joe's Place."
There are obviously plenty of memorable scenes throughout the Star Wars franchise of films. And, the famous cantina scene on Mos Eisley from A New Hope is near the top of that list. It's the first time we meet Han Solo and Chewy, see Greedo and, of course, get a listen to that cooky band. Eventually in Star Wars lore, we learn that this band actually has a name. The group's Ragtime-laden sound is certainly catchy, and maybe even easy to dance to.
While Stillwater's music packs them in, the inter dynamic of the band is what truly makes the group interesting. There's kind of that love/hate relationship between guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and frontman Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee). The complex Hammond is often the face of the band, which does not play well with the outspoken Bebe. Though, that tension made for some special music -- like "Fever Dog."
Formerly known as The Oneders, once the spelling was changed and "Skitch" (Tom Everett Scott) jumped behind the drum kit, The Wonders became overnight kings of the Playtone galaxy. Off course, the band from Erie, Pa., would only enjoy some fleeting success, but had a massive hit with the song of the movie's title. In real life, that popular tune was written by Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of 1990s favorites Fountains of Wayne, who sadly passed away from COVID-19 on April 1, 2020.
Due to the success of the act Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi delivered on Saturday Night Live, the movie and associated soundtrack, this fictional band eventually became a massive reality success. Backed by celebrated real-life musicians such as Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Willie "Too Big" Hall, the band remains one of the great collections of musical talent ever assembled.
Like The Blues Brothers Band, Spinal Tap is a fictional act that ultimately found a place in the real world thanks to the success of this mockumentary cult classic. Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) and David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) are a British three-piece that has a higher opinion of itself that rivals public perception. Of course, it's all fantastically hilarious. Who can forget the Stonehenge debacle?
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.