A Mighty Wind
Members: Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer), Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest), Jerry Palter (Michael McKean)
Hit: “Eat at Joe’s”
Spinal Tap might be all grown up, but its members haven’t stopped being hilarious—or great songwriters. Christopher Guest’s parody of the folk world featured some truly well-crafted music. Also, big shout-outs to Mitch & Mickey and The New Main Street Singers.
The Big Lebowski
Members: Uli Kunkel (Peter Stormare), Kieffer (Flea), Franz (Torsten Voges)
Hit: “Wie Glauben”
Songwriter: Carter Burwell
“Donny, these men are nihilists. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” The German techno band in this Coen Brothers masterpiece weren’t Nazis, but they did feature a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Members: Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork
Hit: “I’m a Believer”
Even after the TV show was canceled in 1968, The Monkees kept touring and recording for another three years, with periodic reunions up until 2002.
Notable members: “Deco” Cuffe (Andrew Strong), Outspan Foster (Glen Hansard)
An 11-member Irish soul band almost has to be fictional, but since the cast was chosen for their musical abilities more than established acting skills, they can really play.
Josie and the Pussycats
Members: Josie McCoy (Cathy Dougher), Melody Valentine (Cheryl Ladd), Valerie Brown (Patrice Holloway)
Hit: “Josie and the Pussycats”
Songwriters: Hoyt Curtin, William Hanna (aka “Denby Williams”), and Joseph Barbera (aka “Joseph Roland”)
This fictional band came to life with a 1970 album on Capital records. Hanna-Barbera held a talent search and looked at 500 finalists before casting the trio.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Notable members: Bill S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter), Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves)
Hit: “Be Excellent to Each Other”
Their music literally saved the universe with it’s message of being excellent to each other and partying on, dude.
Notable Member: Barry (Jack Black)
Hit Song: “Let’s Get it On”
Songwriter: Marvin Gaye
It takes some big cajones to cover Marvin Gaye, but Jack Black has never been one to back down from a challenge. Still, we’d have love to have heard his Sonic Death Monkey phase.
All You Need Is Cash
Members: Ron Nasty (Neil Innes), Dirk McQuickly (Eric Idle), Stig O’Hara (Rikki Fataar), Barry Wom (John Halsey)
Hit: “With a Girl Like You”
Before there was Spinal Tap, there was the 1978 rock mockumentary All You Need Is Cash, based on a short comedy sketch for Rutland Weekend Television. The Prefab Four parodied the history of the Beatles.
Members: Tobias Fünke, Lindsay Bluth Fünke and Maeby Fünke.
Unfortunately the folk-music band’s reunion fared no better than the prematurely canceled show itself.
Members: Monroe Yoder, Wendy Nespot, Flounder, and Clyde “Chap” Lipman
Hit: “Killer Tofu”
Doug’s favorite band was known for songs like “Killer Tofu” and “I Need Mo’ Allowance” and influenced the musical tastes of every 20-something you know.
Hit: “Do the Hippogriff”
Members: Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), Jason Buckle (All Seeing I), Steve Mackey (Pulp), Steve Claydon, Phil Selway (Radiohead)
Songwriter: Jarvis Cocker
Pulp? Radiohead? It’s more like a fictional super-group.
Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Notable member: Hotblack Desiato
They’re the loudest band in the universe, their concerts involved crashing a space ship into the sun to create a solar flare and their earnings required a hypermathematician.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Members: Billy Shears (Peter Frampton), Mark Henderson (Barry Gibb), David (Robin Gibb), Bob (Maurice Gibb)
Hit: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Way better than The Beatles. OK, actually a complete corruption of The Beatles, but the songs are still great.
Tomorrow Comes Today
Members: Stuart “2D” Pot, Murdoc Niccals, Russel Hobbs, Noodle, Cyborg Noodle (aka Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett)
Hit: “Clint Eastwood”
When Albarn and Hewlett began collaborating on an animated band back in 1998 and creating an entire fictional universe around them, no one imagined Gorillaz would still be going strong more than a decade later.
That Thing You Do
Members: Jimmy Mattingly II (Johnathon Scheach), Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn), Shades Patterson (Tom Everett Scott), T.B. Player aka The Bass Player (Ethan Embry)
Hit: “That Thing You Do”
Songwriter: Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne
The one-hit “One-Ders” from Tom Hanks’ film rose and fell so fast that the 108-minute film was almost real-time. But that Schlesinger-penned hit is still stuck in our heads.
Members: Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Matt Dillon
Hit: “Touch Me I’m Dick”
Citizen Dick was basically Pearl Jam with Matt Dillon on lead vocals, except that Matt Dillon didn’t really sing—so basically Pearl Jam.
Coming To America
Notable Member: Eddie Murphy
Hit: “The Greatest Love of All”
Songwriters: Michael Masser and Linda Creed
Remember when Eddie Murphy was funny? Whitney Houston ain’t got nothing on that boy.
Members: Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee), Ed Vallencourt (John Fedevich), Larry Fellows (Mark Kozelek)
Hit: “Love Comes and Goes”
Songwriter: Nancy Wilson
Cameron Crowe’s wife Nancy Wilson of Heart wrote the music for fictional ‘70s rockers Stillwater.
Members: Cartman, Butters, Token
Hit: “Jesus Baby”
Cartman’s Contemporary Christian Music band sells a million copies of their album mimicking pop lyrics with “Jesus” in place of “Baby.” But Cartman is enraged when he finds that CCM doesn’t have platinum albums—just gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Members: Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), Kim Pine (Alison Pill), Stephen Stills (Mark Webber)
Hit: “We Are Sex Bob-omb”
Beck did a fantastic job on the dirty garage punk of Sex Bob-omb. Other bands who wrote music for fictional bands in the film include Broken Social Scene, Metric and Dan the Automator.
Members: Homer Simpson, Lenny Leonard, Carl Carlson, Lou
Hit Song: “Margarine”
Parody of: Bush’s “Glycerine”
“Spread yellow gunk on my pancake heart, Country Churn girl in my grocery cart.” From the “That ‘90s Show” episode, which re-imagines Homer and Marge’s romance in the world of grunge, Sadgasm also recorded “Shave Me,” a parody of Nirvana’s “Rape Me.”
Saturday Night Live
Notable members: Joliet Blues (John Belushi), Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), Steve Cropper
Hit: “Soul Man”
Songwriters: Isaac Hayes, David Porter (“Soul Man”)
Proof that not every Saturday Night Live skit-turned-movie sucks. The Blues Brothers’ first album Briefcase Full of Blues went double-platinum, and the band continued even after Belushi died.
The Muppet Show
Members: Dr. Teeth, Janice, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Zoot, Animal, Lips
Hit: “Love Ya to Death”
Adorned with the best bandname in history, the Muppets’ house band was explosive—literally.
This is Spinal Tap
Members: David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), Viv Savage (David Kaff), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), Mick Shrimpton (Ric Parnell)
Hit: “Big Bottom”
Songwriters: Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean & Rob Reiner
The only band on this list that actually goes to 11.
Members: Figrin D’an and five other Biths from the planet Clak’dor VII (portrayed by Rick Baker, Phil Tippett, Jon Berg, Laine Liska, Doug Bestwick, and Tom St Amand)
Hit: You know it.
Better known as the alien band from the Mos Eisley Cantina, the music from a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away never gets old.