Long have music and cinema battled for supremacy in our bosom, forcing us to divy up our pocket money between these two loves and never fully satisfied that we’ve got the best of both worlds. However, in a move that has led us to be forever thankful, cinema found a way to combine our dual passions in films starring rock bands, soul grous, metal outfits and various other musical medleys of which we could have only dreamed, provking many a debate of who would be in your top ten fictional / movie band list of all time: To celebrate the arrival of a possible new entry to the charts (you’ll have t wait until August 25th when Scott Pilgrim Vs the World is released in cinemas to find out if they get the coveted number one spot) we’re looking back at our favourite fictional bands on film....
No. 10) Stillwater - Almost Famous (2000)
Cherrypicking the best bits of 1970’s most iconic bands Stillwater are clearly more into the whole Rock and Roll lifestyle than making great music, but Almost Famous is one of the most well loved music films of all time since its release in 2000. The comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe was based on his early experiences touring as a young Rolling Stone writer with rock bands The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The films soundtrack recieved a Grammy in 2001 for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, and there were even a few original songs written expressly for the film to feature on it.
No. 9) The Wonders - That Thing You Do! (1996)
Written and Directed by Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! Is all about a one hit wonder rock and roll band in the 1960’s, whose one hit was so good that the song actually charted in real life! With lots of comings and goings of various cast members, the film details the fast descent into oblivion that can face a band after the success of their first song. As a big fan of classic Rock Tom Hanks made no secret about The Beatles’ influence on the film and he includes many subtle similarities and links between the bands throughout the film.
No. 8) Marvin Berry and The Starlighters - Back To The Future (1985)
What’s a tiny bit of time travel if you can’t take the music that you love with you? Back in the 1950’s Marty McFly plays with The Starlighters alongside Chuck’s cousin and his band. A Van Halen fan, Marty pulls out all the stops to impress the 1950’s crowd by rocking the guitar in true 1980’s style – including some impressive shredding and kicking his amp like all good rock stars should. Unfortunately, an unprepared and frankly uncool audience is left more than a little underwhelmed...but we loved it!
No. 7) Sonic Death Monkey - High Fidelity (2000)
Aside from John Cusack’s impressive performance Jack Blacks’ character Barry’s unashamed love and adoration of Rock music in all its various forms is one of the reasons that this film is so hugely popular, and incredibly contagious. His constant references to bands such as GBH, Primal Scream and the Jesus And Mary Chain lead you to expect a full on Rock-out when they finally make the stage, so it’s a surprise (albeit a very pleasant one) when Sonic Death Monkey finally take the stage and give a smooth, soulful version of “Let’s Get It On”. Always on the verge of some kind of life changing, mind-blowing name change, Sonic Death Monkey end the film with the name Kathleen Turner Overdrive – which, in my opinion, is a much worse name.
No. 6) School Of Rock – The School Of Rock (2003)
Appearing again on the list, it would seem that Jack Black really knows how to rock his dual loves of music and film. A true Rocker who stumbles into a teaching job only by mistake, he finds a way of rebuilding his collapsed dreams to a different shape in true rock and roll style. While it can’t be said that he produces much uplifting or light music material that would be likely to go down well with the mainstream, hearing Dewy Finn’s somewhat bitter lyrics being sung by children really hits the right note in the film. Unfortunately, we can see this turning out somewhat differently in real life where instead of a good job and triumph, Dewey’s would be more likely to end up on the wrong side of the law!
No. 5) Wyld Stallyns - Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
With both the films and the music being quintessentially of their time, Bill & Ted are all about the hard rock. With the adventure not just being Excellent, Bill & Ted also go through a musical journey of self discovery over the course of the films – from being barely able to play their instruments in the Excellent Adventure, the intrepid pair (aided by a medieval princess, a handful of demi-Gods and the harbinger of death, AKA the Grim Reaper) triumph in the battle of the bands during the Bogus Journey. Bill & Ted round up their music credentials with some impressive cameos from Faith No More and ZZ Top, while rumour has it that Edward Van Halen would have been in their band if only they’d just asked!
No. 4) Steel Dragon - Rock Star (2001)
With the son of a Rock legend and current Led Zeppelin drummer lending this film some authenticity it’s hardly surprising that Rock Star has made it to our top 10. Starring Mark Wahlberg as Steel Dragon’s fan-turned-lead-singer, the movie is inspired by the real life story of Tim 'Ripper' Owens, who was a singer in a Judas Priest tribute band who was chosen to replace singer Rob Halford when he left the band. Showing the highs and lows of fame, drugs, groupies, and of course, rock and roll, the film boasts an all star cast of musical talent to really give it the extra edge.
No. 3) The Commitments - The Commitments (1991)
Called The Commitments because all good bands should start with a “The”, this mismatched band of outcasts are the heart of Dublin’s Soul, with the film being voted best Irish film of all time in 2005. Refocusing their talents from conquering the whole of Ireland to just one city proves to be a successful decision for the group, as their cover band goes from strength to strength culminating in almost getting a record deal. Unfortunately, the Rock and Roll lifestyle at the heart of this Soul group proves too much and relations dissolve, but not before one of the best versions of “The Dark End of the Street” we’ve heard in a while.
No. 2) Spinal Tap - This Is Spin¨al Tap (1984)
The original music mocumentary, This Is Spin¨al Tap is the movie that launched a thousand ships. Eventually becomming so big that the “fictional” heavy metal band played at Glastonbury 2009, Spinal Tap are the ultimate tribute to the heavy metal scene of the 70’s and 80’s. While the film only gained modest success on it’s inital release the band went onto release three commercial albums, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. Spinal Tap’s depiction of bands of the genre sailed a little too close to the truth for many Rock stars of the time with U2’s The Edge saying “I didn't laugh, I cried," because the film sums up what a brainless swamp big-label rock music had become, while many others thought the original film was an actual documentary of a real band.
New entry - No. 1?) SexBob-omb, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010)
Entering a battle of the bands competition to win a potential record deal, Sex bob-omb have no idea of the challenges they will face when they start this most epic of all journeys. With other worldly amp battles and bass guitarists to spare (literally) this film takes music to a whole new level. As all of Sex Bob-ombs songs were created by Beck there’s a continuity and legitimacy to their music that, in our opinion, puts them right up there on the list of the best fictional bands of all time....catch Scott Pilgrim Vs the World in cinemas August 25th to see if you agree.