Music is a huge part of cinema. You *literally* cannot have a great film without some kind of musical integration. Whether it’s kickass music right in the middle of a fight scene or a tearjerker at the end, music ties everything together. There’s a reason why movie soundtracks and original songs for films are at the top of the charts more often than not! So it’s no wonder why some of the best movies are ones about musicians. Many are based on real bands, while others are rooted fully in fiction. But either way, plenty of these faux bands actually rock!
The only bad part about movies with fake bands? When the movie ends and the music stops. More often than not, we’re left wanting more and wishing we could fully rock out with these bands in real-life. And while a few have granted that wish, most others play their final note when the movie ends. From rock to acapella to country, there’s no lack of variety among these crazy good bands.
17. The Weird Sisters
Movie: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Wizard rock is a truly unappreciated genre if you ask us. One of the best inclusions in the Harry Potter films was The Weird Sisters, who performed at the Yule Ball. With songs like “Do the Hippogriff” and a British Pop flair, where can you go wrong? It doesn’t hurt that the movie variation on the wizarding band included members of real bands like Radiohead and Pulp. Just add this to the list of reasons we wish we could have gone to Hogwarts!
16. Jim and Jean
Movie: Inside Llewyn Davis
There’s something special about a good folk duo. This romantic pair-turned folksy band nails the tone of the 1960s perfectly. The film hits on a very particular era for music and Jim and Jean help deliver that message in what feels like an authentic relic from the time. It doesn’t hurt that playing Jim and Jean are none other than Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan. They bring their lovely voices to the big screen flawlessly, and make us wish we could see these two together in a smoky nightclub! Plus, I hear Timberlake makes music, so I guess we can use that to satiate the desire for more Jim and Jean!
15. Citizen Dick
With a name like that, what’s not to love? All jokes aside, Citizen Dick could have been the next Nirvana. You know, if they were actually a real band. The homage to the Seattle grunge scene in Cameron Crowe’s Gen X-focused comedy. The group is led by Cliff (Matt Dillon) — and just a few members of actual iconic rock band Pearl Jam! Maybe that’s why they nailed the grunge rock music of the times as adeptly as if they were a real band. Forever wishing “Touch Me, I’m Dick” got the radio play is so justly deserved.
14. Sing Street
Movie: Sing Street
Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) starts a band for a pretty noble reason: to impress a girl. Okay, so maybe he wasn’t of the purest intentions, but he did end up making a purely great little band. The film channels the DIY feel of the era when many a band were started in someone’s garage. But aside from the obvious influence from the 1980s, where the film is set, it always draws upon the idea of putting your all into something just to impress your crush. And that authenticity lends itself nicely to the catchy music Sing Street conjures up.
13. Marvin Berry and the Starlighters
Movie: Back to the Future
In this film, Marvin is the fictional cousin of rock legend Chuck Berry, so obviously the talent must run in the family! While we can credit Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) for introducing the band to the electricity of rock music, the band itself no doubt perfect at it. And if the film is to be believed, the entire incident of Marty shredding guitar and indirectly rocking out with the band led to the magic of Chuck Berry later on, as his cousin rushes to tell him about the new type of music he just experienced. The meshing of old and new creates some amazing music fusion!
12. Sex Bob-Omb
Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
This film tells the story of Scott (Michael Cera) fighting the evil exes of the girl he wants to woo. But behind all the romantic brouhaha is Scott’s band, Sex Bob-Omb. Scott is the slacker bassist for an indie rock band, whose competition in the Battle of the Bands provides most of the structure throughout the entire movie. The band is pretty OK. Not amazing, not horrible. But that’s pretty much what you want in an indie rock band! Musicians who are loose, willing to get a little weird, and take their name partially from a Super Mario enemy. They channel all the energy, and sometimes ambivalence, of music during the mid-’00s that churned out some great indie rock!
11. The Soggy Bottom Boys
Movie: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
When some escaped convicts turn to the world of bluegrass music during the Great Depression, everyone wins. Especially when they turn out to be pretty dang good! Plus, we would totally rock out to a George Clooney-fronted band! Sure, he’s not actually the one singing (that goes to country crooner Dan Tyminski), but we’re just in it to stare at him, anyway. The music in the film, especially the song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” was so good it earned a few real-life awards including a Grammy and a CMA Award. The bluegrass folk overtures of the Depression era are on full display here, making the band feel fully formed and making us wish they were totally real!
10. Sonic Death Monkey
Movie: High Fidelity
Put Jack Black on a stage with a mic and magical things happen. It’s easy to write Black off as a clown, especially when his real-life foray into music is a metal-comedy group named Tenacious D, but he actually has a great voice! He plays Barry, a musical wunderkind who knows anything and everything about music. While he isn’t the focal point of the movie, he steals the whole damn thing when during a performance with his band, he belts out “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. Luckily, even though Sonic Death Monkey isn’t real, you can always listen to Tenacious D when you want to hear Black’s impressive pipes!
9. Pink Slip
Movie: Freaky Friday
We’re not going to lie, Lindsay Lohan at her prime was one of our faves. We even loved her short-lived music career. So obviously we’re Pink Slip’s biggest fans! In Freaky Friday, Lohan’s Anna and her mother switch bodies and learn to appreciate who each other really is. And that includes Anna and her friends punk rock band that her mother thinks is just noise. Turns out, they’re actually pretty awesome! Because, duh, Lohan could actually (kinda, sorta, maybe) sing! “You’re the ultimate you!” Classic.
8. The Wonders
Movie: That Thing You Do!
The Wonders may have been a one-hit wonder in the film, but we’d still be diehard fans! Tom Hanks makes his directorial debut in the film where he also plays a record exec that develops The Wonders. Their song “That Thing You Do,” an uptempo pop-rock jam, brings the band in the movie fame and even hit it big in on the real Billboard charts! The song not only charted but garnered Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song. It’s a one-hit wonder on par with “Ice, Ice, Baby,” so we’re totally into it!
7. Dewey Cox and his band
Movie: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Dewey Cox (John C. Reily) may be a total riff on Johnny Cash, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t great in and of himself! The rockabilly star’s upbringing and rise to fame are satirized here, along with many other stars of the era. The movie spins the idea of the musician biopic on its head but the music is actually not bad! Reily himself sings and plays guitar in the film. Sure, the music is silly but it’s fun! And that’s the one thing that makes music so great.
6. Steel Dragon
Movie: Rock Star
This is the movie superfans everywhere use as their personal fantasy. Chris, played with amazing swagger by Mark Wahlberg, is a fan-turned-lead-singer of his favorite band. Talk about amazing luck! The story is actually based on a real fan who, for a short time, became the lead singer of Judas Priest after leading a cover band. The ’80s metal band is all about the rock star lifestyle which Chris embraces immediately. Full of tight pants and big hair, the band is a picture-perfect depiction of the rockers of the 1980s. We’d totally throw our bras onstage if these guys were touring for real!
5. Barden Bellas
Movie: Pitch Perfect
These gals aren’t a traditional band, but they are incredible. Using just their voices and nothing more, they take on some of the biggest songs in the world and add new layers to pop jams and rap hits. Acapella is kind of amazing, y’all. Anna Kendrick takes the lead in the Bellas and anyone who knows the star knows she has an amazing voice. That’s probably why her song for the film, “Cups,” not only charted on the Billboard Hot 100 but is still played on radio stations years after the movie was released! We’ll be here waiting for Kendrick to drop an album of old-school hits, Broadway classics, and maybe a few hip-hop jams for good measure!
4. Spinal Tap
Movie: This is Spinal Tap
Spinal Tap is the OG parody band — and one that became the real deal after the movie! The film is a spoof of rock star life and what it means to be a career musician, all filmed in a mockumentary style. While the band started as a joke, with silly lyrics and an even sillier look, the music took on a life of its own. Band members Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer have toured as their fake counterparts, confidently sharing the stage with other bands. They’ve even had their own fake drama and “reunions”! When the fake and the real become blurred as they did with the famed parody band, you don’t have to feel bad about loving the music!
3. The Blues Brothers
Movie: The Blues Brothers
What began as a Saturday Night Live bit and some jamming out between friends turned into a full album and a famed movie band. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were always close friends and their love of the same bluesy, rock ‘n roll music brought them together as The Blues Brothers on-screen. After their stint on the show, they released a real album, Briefcase Full of Blues, and that forayed into a film named after the duo. They starred in the 1980 comedy together with a full band of well-known actual musicians backing them up. After Belushi’s death in 1982, Aykroyd continued to revive the group from time to time, but the original iteration of the two having fun playing the blues is a true treasure.
Movie: Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe wrote a profile on a band for Rolling Stone at the tender age of 15, so he wrote a movie about his experience! Filling in for the real-life band Poco is Stillwater, a 1970s up-and-coming rock band. Patrick Fugit plays William Miller, the Crowe stand-in, who tours with and interviews Stillwater on their major cross-country tour. The band, comprised of Jason Lee and Bill Crudup in their best chest-baring shirts and bell-bottom jeans, rocks hard. They bring the vibe of classic rock bands of the ’70s to the big screen while having a whole lot of fun at the same time. We can’t help but wish we were a Band-Aid, running around with the group and loving the music!
1. School of Rock
Movie: School of Rock
One of the most amazing movie bands of all time is full of a bunch of kids. But they rock! Jack Black leads a class as a fake substitute teacher and uses their musical skills to create a band and compete in the Battle of the Bands. The kids are ridiculously talented, using their stuffy music class teachings to learn the ways of rock ‘n roll. Some shred guitar, and some sing like Aretha Franklin, and they all stick it to the man. Watching the School of Rock perform at the Battle of the Bands is one of the most satisfying performances in a film, and we’re still wishing we went to that middle school!