The Savage Animal 09.06.06: The Fake Bands that Rocked My World Part Two
Posted by Mikey MiGo on 09.06.2006
Mikey MiGo takes a look at movies about fictitious bands in part two of this count down series. We explore notable fake band appearances, and 8 thru 1 of The Top 15 List of Mikey MiGo's Favorite Fake Movie Bands.
I've had another week to think about the remainder of my list and ended up changing the top 8 at least a half dozen times. At one point I was making the list based on the best music, then based on the general census of opinion, and even soundtrack success. When it was all said and done I was confident with the list. And ironically, it was the same list I started off with.
Before I jump into the Top 15 list, there's a few non-music things I wanna ramble about. First, Thursday is the season opener for the FOOTBALL SEASON! And yes, I'm just like the other nerds out there and I'm participating in a Fantasy Football League. I kinda got hosed in the draft when I got 10th pick out of 10 teams. The only upside was back to back picks. I came in third last year and this year I'm going for the gold! When I say gold I mean the $200 Winners pot.
The whole Kurt Angle release situation is a hot topic in the wrestling world. I'm sure I'm not the only one who have noticed his pain over the past year or so. I've been worried he was going to get seriously hurt or even worse. His talents and contributions to the business are surely appreciated and will be missed. Missed, but not forgotten. My favorite wrestler of all time is Shawn Michaels and if he can take a few years off and come back, so can Kurt.
Okay. Back on topic now...
TOP 15 MOVIES ABOUT FICTITIOUS BANDS
The final 8 of Mikey MiGo's Top 15 fake movie bands! There's a lot of fictitious movie bands out there, some made the list and some didn't. I want to stress that this list is my personal favorites. It doesn't reflect one as "better" than the other. This is where my movie watching and musical preferences kicks in. If anything, this should spark some memories and possibly get YOU thinking of your favorites. Send them in, we'll discuss!
8.) Band: The Lone Rangers
411: Airheads is a comedy about a group of loser musicians called The Lone Rangers who take a radio station hostage in order to get their song "Degenerated" played. The Lone Rangers, the name itself is a humorous running joke in the movie, is made up of Chazz (Brendan Fraser), Rex (Steve Buscemi), and Pip (Adam Sandler). The guys are continuously turned down as they try to get their demo tape heard by producers. They finally decide to try and get the local rock station, Rebel Radio 103.6, to play it on the air, after they saw how Rebel Radio helped another band get a record deal. Their first break-in attempt is using Pip's ATM card and its PIN. Then, Rex tries to "short circuit" the electronic lock with Pip's Big Gulp. They finally get in when a station employee comes out (and goes back in) and they keep the door from shutting. Once inside, disc jockey Ian the Shark (Joe Mantegna) puts them on the air without them knowing. The station's sleazy manager Milo (Michael McKean) overhears them and intervenes. After Milo calls Rex "trash," Chazz and Rex shove water pistols (that look like Uzis) in Milo's face and demand airplay. After setting up a reel-to-reel for the demo, the tape starts...and is destroyed when the reel runs out and catches fire in an ashtray. The guys try to run, but Doug Beech (Michael Richards), a station employee called police and the building is surrounded. At this point the supporting cast that includes Chris Farley, Ernie Hudson, and David Arquette really get their time to shine. Farley is out on the streets looking for Chazz's ex-girlfriend, who has the only other copy of the song. Hudson plays the head honcho officer outside the studio trying to reason and meet the list of the demands of the band. The tape is found and all is well or so it would have seemed. Chazz and his ex get into an argument which again results in the playing of the song to be destroyed. Meanwhile, the popularity of the trio builds on the outside world. Hudson sends a fake producer (Harold Friggen' Ramis) to "sign them" but that fails. The band asks Ramis a very defining question, "If Lemmy and God got in a fight, who would win?" Ramis gets it wrong because I'm sure we all know the answer to this trick question is that "Lemmy IS God." Finally after more hilarity and character development, a real producer approaches them and signs them without hearing the song. The band is iffy on the situation so there's only one thing left to do, perform the song LIVE outside the studio in front of the thousands of people cheering them on already. All is set and the band realizes their instruments aren't plugged in and they're lip synching and playing to a taped track. In true rockstar protest, they stop pretending as the track continues and crowd surfs. We later find the band in prison and somehow having a successful music career. The movie is sorta hokey, but in the times it came out it worked very well. The Lone Rangers had that grungy metal look to them and their track "Degenerated" was pretty well done. If I catch it on TV at random, you're damn sure to believe I'm going to keep it on for the remaining duration.
7.) Band: The Wonders/The Oneders
Movie: That Thing You Do!
411: That Thing You Do! was one of Tom Hank's pets as he wrote and directed the film. The movie tells the story of a fictional one-hit wonder rock band from Erie, Pennsylvania. It's a journey the rise of the band to near fame on the heels of the British Invasion in the early 1960s, from local clubs and dances, to a major national tour and a record contract. The fictional band is called The Oneders (pronounced "wonders," the name combining "one" and "wonder"), but because almost everyone mistakenly pronounces it "Oh-nee-ders," they eventually change it to "The Wonders." The band members are Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott), James Mattingly III (Johnathon Schaech), Lenny Haise (Steve Zahn) and the bass player (Ethan Embry, whose actual name is never given - he is only referred to as "The Bass Player" and is credited as "T.B. Player"). The film also features Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan, Charlize Theron as Tina, Giovanni Ribisi as Chad, Hanks' wife Rita Wilson as Marguerite, musician Chris Isaak as Uncle Bob, and Hanks himself as Mr. White, the band's manager. In the film, The Wonders rise to brief stardom (after which they are referred to as "One-hit Wonders") on the strength of "That Thing You Do!", a song that is written as a wistful ballad but becomes an uptempo rocker during the band's first performance at a talent show. Remind you of someone? The Beatles had a similar situation with their hit "Please Please Me." Written and composed by Adam Schlesinger, bassist for Fountains of Wayne, and released on the film's soundtrack, the song became a genuine hit for The Wonders in 1996, and was nominated for the 1996 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and for the 1997 Academy Award for Best New Song. I've said it before, The Beatles were never my cup of tea, but based just on the one song, I'd be a fan of The Wonders if they were a legit music group. The entire movie, from the record label "Play Tone" to more fictitious bands than I can think of is in it's own little world. The way it's put together, written, and performed, it's a fake little world that could easily be considered perfect homage to that time period of music. If you've seen this movie you can't deny the fact that the song "That Thing You Do!" sticks in your head for days. If you haven't seen this movie, get up right now and go to your local rental store and get it. I don't care if you're still in your underwear or if you don't have money. Go nude and steal it. I promise you won't get in any trouble. None at all. *Disclaimer: The suggestions of nude theft are not to be taken serious. If you're nude you'd have no way of hiding the stolen item. Well, you could...*
6.) Band: Spinal Tap
Movie: This is Spinal Tap
411: Spinal Tap is a mostly fictional heavy metal band best known from the 1984 rockumentary/mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. The band members are portrayed by Michael McKean (as "David St. Hubbins"), Christopher Guest (as "Nigel Tufnel") and Harry Shearer (as "Derek Smalls"); they first appeared in a 1978 ABC comedy special, The TV Show. The band is "mostly fictional" in the sense that its primary members have always been actors parodying heavy metal stereotypes, yet by playing concerts and releasing albums, they've blurred the line between fact and fiction. The film was accompanied by an album of the same name. The songs on the album include: "Big Bottom","Hell Hole" and "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight". The drummer situation was classic. 'Listen to the Flower People' The film notes early on that Spinal Tap — "One of England's Loudest Bands" — have had a succession of drummers, all of whom have died under odd circumstances: one died in a "bizarre gardening accident." (By a strange twist of fate Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro suffered a heart attack and died in such a gardening accident in 1992, after using a pesticide and suffering an allergic reaction.) Another "choked on vomit" (which is immediately revealed as "someone else's vomit") though it may not have been his own (Tufnel notes that "you can't really dust for vomit"); and one seems to have fallen prey to spontaneous human combustion. St. Hubbins reports that "Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported." This run on drummers was a nod towards several bands; both Led Zeppelin's John Bonham and The Who's Keith Moon had died years before, the former having actually choked on his own vomit, whilst Judas Priest were, for a variety of reasons, on their seventh drummer at the time of the film's release. This Is Spinal Tap chronicles the group's waning popularity during a tour of the United States while promoting their latest record, Smell the Glove. The sexist, misogynist, and overly-masculinized elements the general public associates with heavy metal music are parodied throughout. David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel were childhood friends, and they ran through many band names at the beginning of their career before settling on The Thamesmen, who had a hit with "Gimme Some Money." Renaming themselves Spinal Tap, they had an early hit with the flower power anthem "Listen to the Flower People" before turning to heavy metal. (This would seem to be an allusion to: Status Quo, who had started out as a psychedelic band before turning to the more traditional rock and roll sound that made them famous; Black Sabbath, who were originally a blues-based psychedelic band before turning to their current heavy metal stylings; or the evolution of The Yardbirds into Led Zeppelin.) The original name of the band was "The Originals" which they had to change to "The New Originals" because there was already another band going by the name "The Originals." A mildly serious thread running through the story is that Hubbins and Tufnel possess genuine and substantial talent as composers, but have utterly squandered their potential for a more broad commercial appeal with their crude, vulgar, and adolescent lyrics. To list all the bands they parordize and all the events that would be precursor to future events would be a five part column in itself. Spinal Tap would generally be considered the top fictitious band by most people. I can understand and respect that, but like I said in the beginning I'm doing this based on my favorites. Spinal Tap hit the screen when I was one years old. By the time I was old enough to fully take in the jokes and story of the movie it was dated. This doesn't take away from it being one of the greatest comedies of all time.
5.) Band: Hedwig and The Angry Inch
Movie: Hedwig and The Angry Inch
411:Hedwig and the Angry Inch started off as an off-Broadway musical theater play and later became a great film about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by a transsexual singer. The plot revolves around Hedwig, a transsexual wannabe rock star, leader of the band called The Angry Inch. In the story, Hansel, a German "slip of a girly-boy" who loves philosophy and rock music, is stuck in East Berlin until he meets Luther, a US Soldier. Luther falls in love with Hansel and the two decide to marry. This plan will allow Hansel to leave Communist East Germany for the democratic West. However, in order to be married, the couple must be a man and a woman. Hansel's mother Hedwig gives her child her name and passport, and finds a doctor to perform a sex change. The operation is botched, however, and her surgically constructed vagina heals closed, leaving Hansel — now Hedwig — with nothing but a dysfunctional one-inch long mound of flesh between her legs, "with a scar running down it like a sideways grimace on an eyeless face." Hedwig goes to live in America as Luther's wife. On their first wedding anniversary, Luther leaves Hedwig for another man. That same day, it is announced that the Berlin Wall has fallen and Germany will reunite. Had Hansel only waited a year, the anatomical change to Hedwig would not have been needed to escape East Germany. Hedwig recovers by rediscovering her love of rock music and forming her own band. She names it The Angry Inch, referring to her mutilated genitalia. Hedwig befriends the shy and misunderstood Christian teenager Tommy Speck (Michael Pitt), with whom she shares some of the songs she has written. Soon after Hedwig gives him the new stage name "Tommy Gnosis," he leaves her and goes on to become a huge star using the songs Hedwig had written. Meanwhile, Hedwig and her band are forced to support themselves by playing diners and sleazy bars. In the film, these gigs are played at a nautical-theme restaurant called Bilgewaters, which is based on the TGI Fridays chain. Hedwig's performances and stage presence is incredible. Lyrically, the songs are easily better than 90% of what's REALLY out there. Throughout the film, Hedwig refers to Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium. This speech, retold by Hedwig in the song "Origin of Love," involves a myth about how human beings were once round, two-headed, four-armed, and four-legged beings. Angry gods split these early humans in two, leaving the separated people to forever long for their lost other half. Hedwig believes that Tommy is her soulmate and that she cannot be whole without him. She feels driven to either reunite with him or destroy him. Of all the fake bands on this list, Hedwig has the most complete collection of songs. "Tear Me Down," "The Origin of Love," and the ever so popular "Angry Inch" are just a few songs in the movie and on the soundtrack that stand out. In fact, the gothic industrial band Type O Negative even covered "Angry Inch" on their 2003 album "Life is Killing Me." I would have never thought I'd hear the deep demonic voice of Type O Negative singing the lyrics of "six inches forward/five inches back/I got a/I got an angry inch." The story is beautiful and inspiring, the stage performance and acting is unique and enthralling, and all of that just reflects a small morsel of the music in this film.
4.) Band: Stillwater
Movie: Almost Famous
411: The film is Almost Famous. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe and released in 2000. It tells the story of a teenage journalist (Patrick Fugit) for Rolling Stone magazine covering the rock band from Troy, Michigan, Stillwater, and his efforts to get his first cover story published. Along the way, he befriends a sweet-natured groupie (or as she prefers to refer to herself, "a Band Aid") named Penny Lane(Kate Hudson). The film is semi-autobiographical, as Crowe himself was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone. The fictional band is based on many bands whom Crowe (and/or his mentor and friend, the late Lester Bangs) wrote about: The Allman Brothers Band is the most immediately recognizable model since Stillwater's album cover is a parody of that of The Allman Brothers: At Fillmore East. There are obvious references to anecdotes from the careers of Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Doors, Grand Funk Railroad, Motorhead, The New York Dolls and several other bands. Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, and Noah Taylor as lead guitarist, lead singer, and band manager respectively, make up just a small part of this great ensemble cast. The movie and band had it made from the start. During breaks in filming, Peter Frampton would frequently entertain the actors and extras by giving live performances. Peter Frampton taught Billy Crudup how to play the guitar in preparation for the concert scenes. Frampton also appears briefly onscreen playing the manager of the band Humble Pie: in real life, as a younger man, he was a member of Humble Pie. With those influences and guidance's, Stillwater had a lot to live up to in being a believable 70's rock group. They live up to this nicely and with the track "Fever Dog," it's signed, sealed, and delivered better than one would have expected.
3.) Band: CB4
411: CB4 is a parodized rapumentary film about a fictional rap group named 'CB4,' named after the prison block the band was formed in (Cell Block 4). This film within a film begins with A. White (Chris Elliot) screening a rough cut of a documentary he has made of the notorious CB4 rap group -- consisting of group leader Albert, also know as MC Gusto (Chris Rock); Otis, also known as Stab Master Arson (Deezer D); and Euripides, also know as Dead Mike (Allen Payne). White charts the course of CB4's success, their superstar status a result of the fact that they are the only gangsta rap group who are, in fact, actual gangsters, coming direct from rap sheets to rap music. They are considered so bad that they even give rapper Ice-T pause: "I thought I was hardcore. But these guys are serious! What am I supposed to do now?" Unfortunately, at the height of their fame, their gangster pose is revealed to be a sham. Albert, Otis, and Euripides turn out to be a bunch of middle-class kids striking a gangsta facade to become famous. MC Gusto gets his name from a local crimelord. In order to get their name heard, they must appeal to nightclub owner, Gusto (Charlie Murphy). After a failed meeting with Gusto, the police rush in and throw him in jail. Gusto blames the group for the police raid and swears revenge when he is released from prison. However, while Gusto is locked up, Albert Brown(Rock/MC Gusto) takes on the name of the criminal. As the band falls apart things get even worse when the real Gusto (Charlie Murphy), is released from prison. The end of the film deals with the hi-jinks that ensue from this development at the same time finding themselves performing as themselves without any gimmicks. The movie parodies the rap group N.W.A. among other gangsta rap aspects. It was directed by Tamra Davis and can be seen as rap music's equivalent to the 1984 mock rockumentary about heavy-metal entitled This Is Spinal Tap. The movie also features a short segment featuring celebrities such as Halle Berry, Eazy-E, The Butthole Surfers, Ice-T, Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, and Shaquille O'Neal. With hits like "Sweat from my Balls" and "Straight Outta Locash" it's easy to tell who they're aiming their parody gun at. While many would just toss this movie into the bargain bin, it'll always have a special place in my heart. Growing up as a white kid in the murder capitol of the US Gary, Indiana, I had love for two things specifically: Rap music and Comedy. I don't think my mom really knew what she was getting into when she loaded up the van with myself and friends and took us to the drive in to see this movie. I was either ten or eleven at the time and the content wasn't something I should have been seeing, but I did and it'll forever have it's place in my collection.
2.) Band: The Blues Brothers
Movie: The Blues Brothers
411: The Blues Brothers is a 1980 musical/comedy film, directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues, The Blues Brothers, and their supporting band. Aside from the band, the film features on-screen musical performances by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. Carrie Fisher, Henry Gibson, Charles Napier, Kathleen Freeman and John Candy are featured in nonmusical supporting roles. The film contains many cameo appearances, including Frank Oz, Steven Spielberg, Joe Walsh, Steve Lawrence, and Twiggy. The movie is set in Chicago, Illinois, and revolves around two brothers, who are reunited at the beginning of the film as "Joliet" Jake Blues is released from Joliet Prison into his brother's custody. Over Jake's vehement protests, they then visit the inner-city Catholic orphanage which was their childhood home, and learn that it is to be shut down unless the back property taxes on the building can be paid within a short time. Although this is normally regarded as a goof, as church-owned property is exempt from property tax, it was actually based on a real bill that was being put through at the time of the writing of the film. The bill was never enacted into law. The orphanage director, a strict nun referred to as "The Penguin," emphatically refuses to accept any "filthy, stolen" money from the brothers. At the prompting of Curtis (Calloway), the elderly orphanage worker who originally introduced the brothers to the blues, a visit to an evangelical church service gives the duo an epiphany: they can legitimately raise the necessary funds by taking their legendary rhythm and blues band for a tour. As they drive home, Elwood attracts the unwanted attention of two Illinois state troopers with his reckless driving habits. He has 54 warrants for 114 parking violations. He then earns the pursuing officers' undying enmity by driving through a shopping mall to escape capture. With the assistance of John Candy's character, the two law officers track the brothers down to the flophouse where Elwood is living, but only after being thrown off the trail because Elwood had falsified his driver's license, giving a home address of 1060 West Addison Street, which is the location of Wrigley Field. Just as the three police are about to move in for the arrest, the flophouse is blown up by a "Mystery Woman." Miraculously, the Blues Brothers climb out of the smoking rubble unhurt and dust themselves off, still wanted by the police. The Blues Brothers spend the rest of the film's first half tracking down members of the Band and persuading them to rejoin, as well as playing venues to raise the requisite $5,000 needed to save the orphanage. Staged and spontaneous musical numbers spring up throughout their journey, not to mention several car chases, with an extremely large number of crashes. The duo collects additional enemies: a neo-Nazi group targets them after the brothers disrupt their rally; a Country and Western band called "The Good Ol' Boys" chase them after the brothers steal their gig at a bar called Bob's Country Bunker, where they play both kinds of music: country and western. The Blues Brothers band plays behind chicken wire and evidently repeats two songs all night long: the theme from Rawhide and "Stand by Your Man." And throughout, the Mystery Woman, eventually revealed to be Jake's jilted fiancee, reappears at regular intervals, attempting without success to kill Jake and Elwood using various methods including a rocket launcher, a flame-thrower and an assault rifle. The film culminates in a live concert, during which Cab Calloway opens with "Minnie the Moocher", and then the Blues Brothers perform two songs before escaping from the surrounding police cordon with the timely help of a record executive. This is followed by a final massive car chase in which, with the entire "Illinois law enforcement community" in pursuit, the brothers race to deliver the money raised from the concert to downtown Chicago in time to pay the tax debt owed by the orphanage. The target building is stormed by hundreds of police, firefighters, and the U.S. Military. Literally seconds after paying the bill, the brothers are arrested, and the film ends with the entire band, who have all been imprisoned in the same prison, playing Jailhouse Rock for their fellow inmates. You should already know this. This movie is a classic and if you have one ounce of humor in your soul you should know this movie like the back of your hand. This fictitious band turned out to be a real one after a while. With live performances, albums, and further notoriety The Blues Brothers gained respect from the music industry. Hell, the first album even went double platinum. I could comment on the Blues Brothers 2000 movie, but I'd rather not say anything negative in this column.
1.) Band: Wyld Stallyns
Movie: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
411: My all time favorite fictitious movie band is made up of Bill S. Preston Esq., and Ted "Theodore" Logan. Together known as the Wyld Stallyns! From the great movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, these two owned my childhood. Bill (Alex Winters) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are teenagers in San Dimas, California who are in danger of flunking out of high school. A guitar-playing guru named Rufus (George Carlin) arrives from a future San Dimas to help them pass a vital history test, because their band holds the key to world peace and ultimate truth. However, they will not achieve this destiny if the duo fail the exam and Ted's authoritarian father carries out his threat to ship him to Oats Military Academy in Alaska. Rufus lends them a time machine disguised as a phone booth, which they use to meet—and "collect"—various historical figures: Napoleon Bonaparte, Socrates, Billy the Kid, Sigmund Freud, Beethoven, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, and Abraham Lincoln, to help them with their vital history presentation. In the sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the villain De Nomolos tries unsuccessfully to stop the band from creating a peaceful future by replacing Bill and Ted with robotic doubles. Later, Bill and Ted destroy the robots and make their world-wide debut at the 4th Annual San Dimas Battle of the Bands. As predicted by time-traveller Rufus, they bring peace to the world and eventually play a sellout tour on the planet Mars. The Wyld Stallyns creates a utopia on Earth. The founding members are later joined by Elizabeth and Joanna, two princesses from medieval England, The Grim Reaper, and "Station," a Martian, as well as two "good robot"s modeled after Bill and Ted. As "dimwitted" as many (not me) would consider the two characters to be, the story itself is quite elaborate and well defined. The creatively use the time travel and the theories of the related paradoxes to stream a long the story and plot. Seeing this movie as a kid, I was a huge Wyld Stallyns fan. There was a "Dress as your favorite historical figure and tells us about it" situation at school one year and I went as Socrates. I didn't know of his history other than he was from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. I even said something to the nature of "I'm So-crate and..." in true Bill and Ted fashion. The point isn't my embarrassing story, but the impact that this movie has had on me. I would even go as far as this movie being a main reason for my love of music today. The idea that two kids could form a band that'd change the world is not only inspiring, but part of the American dream that we all desire. "God Gave Rock And Roll To You" indeed.
Ahhh. My first two parter. As fun and introspective as it was, it's very relieving to get this done. Now I can start doing trilogies and sagas! Okay, maybe not so soon. I'm actually not craving a good movie day where I can go back and relive what makes me love these bands and movies. I'm not sure where with the next column, but I have a few ideas. Like always, I'm open to feedback, column ideas, and the usual music discussion. Have a great week and enjoy football season! GO BEARS! *lowers head and walks away*