The 10 coolest fictional bands ever
For bands that don't even exist, these acts have managed to accomplish things that even some real bands have not!
Just because a band is fictional, it doesn’t mean it can’t be as popular as its real-world counterparts. In fact, some fictional bands have transcended into the real world. Remember the big-hair glam-rockers Spinal Tap from the 1984 mockumentary 'This Is... Spinal Tap'? Well, three decades later, the bassist Derek Smalls (real name Harry Shearer) is dropping his first-ever solo album, Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing) today (April 13). Described by Smalls as “halfway between ‘rage against the dying of the light’ and trying to find the light,” the album features a string of real-life musical legends including David Crosby, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, Dweezil Zappa, Peter Frampton, Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, Paul Shaffer, Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Steve Vai.
But Spinal Tap is just one instance in a sea of underrated talent! There are a surprising number of fictional bands out there. While some have a cult following, there exist some whose music we've never had the pleasure of hearing. From the comedic rock n roll of Spinal Tap to the cartoon pop of Josie and the Pussycats and legitimately impressive death metal of Deathklok, some fictional bands are arguably better than several hundred real ones.
So here's our pick of the 10 coolest fictional bands, ranked not necessarily by the quality of their music, but their sheer personas. With apologies to fans of Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords, we're going to focus solely on bands that were created explicitly for a book, film or TV series and not those who started as actual bands prior to landing a televised gig or featuring in a film.
10. The Weird Sisters
from the Harry Potter series
This fictional band is a creation of JK Rowling and comes to us from the Potterverse. Despite their name, the band is actually an all-male octet. Interestingly, the band's name might derive from William Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which the three witches are referred to as 'the weird sisters' ("weïrd" being Old English for "fate" or "destiny"). Judging by the description of their 'big hair' and glamorous outfits, the band could very well be modeled on the real-life 80's hair-metal band Twisted Sister.
Massively popular in the wizarding world, the Sisters come across less like One Direction with wands and more like eccentric glam-rockers, but when the Sisters were adapted to screen for 2005's 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,' the line-up boasted two members each from two of the most celebrated muggle bands - Pulp (Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey), and Radiohead (Johnny Greenwood and Phil Selway), making them a kind of Brit-indie supergroup.
Cocker also composed the three songs they perform in the film, complete with cringe-worthy wizardry-centered lyrics (“I spin around like a crazy elf/ Dancing by myself”). It's far from Cocker's finest work, but it’s one of the few fun moments in one of the weaker Potter films.
9. Josie and the Pussycats
What started out in 1958 as comic book artist Dan DeCarlo’s musing on his wife Josie turned into a 1960s Archie Comics series about good-natured Josie and her friends Pepper and Melody just living their teen lives in a book called 'She’s Josie'. The reception was lukewarm, and the comic fizzled until producers at Hanna-Barbera convinced Archie Comics to let them revamp Josie and her girls into a cartoon teen band, thus launching Josie and the Pussycats in 1970. Pepper the bookworm became Valerie the cool bassist; Melody the blonde kept her ditzy charm; and by 1972, perhaps to better suit the mood of the times, the show spun off into a series about an all-girl rock band lost in space.
Ever since, Josie and the Pussycats have gone on to inspire decades of Halloween costumes and been the reason for several precocious boys' sexual awakening, but have rarely deserved the credit for being such feminist icons in a bygone era. Not only were they one of the first all-girl bands in pop culture (who also played their own instruments), but they also had an African-American woman in the group at a time when that was completely unheard of. Respect!
8. Detroit Metal City
Definitely the most obscure member of this list, Detroit Metal City was the product of a severely underrated, in-your-face obscene manga of the same name by Kiminori Wakasugi in 2005. Three years later, it was adapted into an equally vulgar anime comprising twelve episodes of approximately 13 minutes each.
Detroit Metal City tells the story of Negishi, a shy teenage musician who dreams of a career in pop and travels to Tokyo for the same. But dreams don't pay the bill and as Negishi gets sidetracked, he somehow ends up in a death metal band called Detroit Metal City, in which he puts on the stage persona of frontman Johannes Krauser II, rumored to be a terrorist demon from hell, to have killed and raped his parents and to wield his giant death penis with abandon! The songs of DMC often encourage the audience to engage in immoral and illegal behavior, such as rape or murder, or tell of Krauser's exploits with similar actions, with a parody of epic proportions that leaves you wondering if it's really ok to laugh at this stuff. The music for the show is absolutely spot on and if you're a metalhead, it's nearly impossible to headbang along to the show. But don't go googling for the translations of the Japanese lyrics unless you have a strong fortitude!
7. Blues Brothers
At the turn of the 80s, The Blues Brothers, along with their creators John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, were unstoppable forces of nature. The two comedians and friends first premiered their creation on Saturday Night Live, promptly launching a sensation. At one point, Belushi found himself the star of the week’s number one film (Animal House), number one television show (Saturday Night Live), and singing on the number one album (Briefcase Full Of Blues). Belushi and Aykroyd would soon add a hit Blue Brothers movie to that hot streak.
It’s hard to imagine any studio greenlighting a two-hour-plus surreal comedy about blues revivalists, especially in today’s climate, but Belushi and Aykroyd make it work. Their energy and passion not only for the concept but more importantly for the music, is infectious.
6. Spinal Tap
Of course, we can't leave out one of the most famous fictional rock bands of all time. The ’80s were the high water mark of fake bands in popular culture, and Spinal Tap was at the top of it all. With dials on their amplifiers that went 'all the way to 11,' they were as loud as they were funny and obnoxious. Manifested into reality by the all-star team of Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, Spinal Tap is beyond just a fake band. They're icons of pop culture, just as much as Bart Simpson, The Peace Symbol or Tide Pods! Labeled as 'the id of rock music,' the band has a strange and fascinating backstory as documented in the 1984 mockumentary film, 'This Is Spinal Tap'.
One interesting snippet of Spinal Tap's fictional history includes a succession of drummers, all of whom are said to have died in strange circumstances: one in a "bizarre gardening accident"; another who "choked on vomit" (a reference to John Bonham's and Bon Scott's deaths) -- but not his own vomit; and, two from "spontaneous human combustion" onstage. Additionally, it is claimed that police described one of the deaths as a mystery "best left unsolved!" As mentioned before, Spinal Tap is one of those bands that transcended beyond the fictional world and a hilarious instance of life imitating art.
5. Faith + 1
from South Park
It’s tough to pick between the two most famous bands to ever be fronted by everybody's favorite foul-mouthed fourth grader Eric Cartman. While the boyband 'Fingerbang' is for sure a classic, Cartman’s Christian rock band Faith +1 blends his megalomania, cynicism and racism into a beautiful collage of sanctimonious sacrilegious majesty. And considering South Park is far from done, who knows what other bands creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have up their sleeves?
4. Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes
from Star Wars: A New Hope
At number four on the list and bringing you the best inter-glactic grooves is Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes from a galaxy, far far away. Featuring in 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope, the band consists of Figrin D’an on the kloo horn, Nalan Cheel on the bandfill, Tend Dahai on the fanfar, Doikk N’ats on the Dorenian Beshniquel, Ickabel G’ont on the Fanfar and Tech Mo’r on the Ommni Box. As the story goes, The Modal Nodes are highly respected players of the galactically popular form of music known as ‘jizz’ (get your mind out of the gutter.)
All their tunes were written by legendary composer John Williams, forming one of the stranger components of one of the finest film scores ever written. Surprisingly, they perform at one of the grittier venues in the galaxy - the Mos Eisley cantina. It is the kind of place where someone can get their arm cut off with a semi-legendary energy weapon and someone else can get shot messily in the head without the multi-species patrons batting an eyelid.
3. Sex Bob-omb
from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Although Michael Cera and his Sex Bob-omb cohorts are ripped directly from the pages of the graphic novel the film is based on, the fact that indie-darling Edgar Wright helms in their on-screen persona gives them a new sheen. Sex Bob-omb's sounds like music that is accumulated from obscure albums under the punk and garage rock section of a 1990's record store. Alt-rock icon Beck wrote and composed every song Sex Bob-omb plays in the film, while his bandmate Brian LeBarton took up bass and drum duties on the tracks. But the three actors -- Cera, Alison Pill, and Mark Webber -- all sing on the tracks and learned to play their respective instruments for added realism in the film. Fun fact: After the film came out, Michael Cera went on to play bass for Mister Heavenly, a side project by Islands frontman Nick Thorburn, also featuring members of Modest Mouse and Man Man.
2. Disaster Area
from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the following to say about Disaster Area:
"Disaster Area was a plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones and was generally regarded as not only the loudest rock band in the Galaxy, but also as being the loudest noise of any kind at all. Regular concert goers judged that the best sound balance was usually to be heard from within large concrete bunkers some thirty-seven miles away from the stage, whilst the musicians themselves played their instruments by remote control from within a heavily insulated spaceship which stayed in orbit around the planet - or more frequently around a completely different planet.
Their songs are on the whole very simple and mostly follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason.
Many worlds have now banned their act altogether, sometimes for artistic reasons, but most commonly because the band’s public address system contravenes local strategic arms limitation treaties."
The band is known for their larger than life pyrotechnics, and as a close to their spectacular shows, usually send a spaceship flying straight into the heart of that solar system's sun. If you think that sounds familiar, it's because it's a reference to Pink Floyd's 'Set The Controls For the Heart of the Sun.' The creator of both Disaster Area and Hitchhiker's Guide, Douglas Adams was a huge Pink Floyd fan. The sound of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy radio show was partly inspired by Floyd records, and Adams became friends with the band. He named their 1994 album ‘The Division Bell’, and even played guitar with David Gilmour at his 42nd birthday party. (The number 42 having particular significance for Hitchhiker’s fans).
from the animated series 'Metalocalypse'
When Metalocalypse co-creator Brendon Small was working on his previous Adult Swim hit, Home Movies, few would’ve guessed that he’d be responsible for one of the most face-meltingly metal bands to ever grace the small screen. And Small didn’t just dream up Dethklok — he writes and performs every one of their songs with co-creator Tommy Blacha. Consisting of frontman Nathan Explosion, lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf, rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth, bassist William Murderface and drummer Pickles, the band is so wildly successful (in the show) that they are single-handedly the world's seventh largest economy!
Another instance of life imitating art, Small and Blacha have fronted more than one tour as the band, and have also released a trilogy of full-length studio albums titled The Dethalbum, The Dethalbum II and The Dethalbum III, the first of which went on to debut at number 21 on Billboard Magazine's Top 200 list. That's some pretty serious and real achievement for a band that doesn't even really exist!