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I saw A Star Is Born this weekend, and amidst all the tears and a roller coaster tycoon of emotions, I was damn impressed with the music in this talkie. Sure, Lady Gaga crushed it, because she’s got pipes for days, but I was also blown away with Bradley Cooper, who, along with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, made for a pretty frickin’ awesome band. (Sidebar, “Shallow” is receiving a lot of buzz, people saying it’ll win an Oscar for best original song, and don’t get me wrong it’s fantastic, but the best song on the soundtrack is “Always Remember Us This Way.” Fight me.)
No spoilers, bee tee dubs, but it looks like Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper’s character) draws quite a crowd; his concerts looked dope. I was blown away, Jerry. Blown away! Epic crowds listening to down home country rock. Neil Young meets the Allman Brothers, with a girl with the golden pipes as a featuring vocalist. And so it got me thinking of all the awesome fictional bands we’ve seen over the years in TV and movies. I could rattle off more fictional bands than I’d care to admit, and I’m sure if you Googled it, the ranking of fictional bands is a pervasive trope for any online blog style publication.
So I’ll spare you the rankings, which aren’t really based on anything. But, what I am going to do is give you a top 10 fictional bands I’d want to see in concert. I’m talking bucket list live concert, what fictional band or musician am I throwing down my hard earned bingo dingo doos for, Ticketmaster fees and all.
Honorable Mention: Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000)
Everyone knows their banger, Man of Constant Sorrow, and I’ll admit, it’s a damn good folk tune. Plus, George Clooney as escaped convict who records this song just because he needs some cash and all of a sudden the song becomes a radio hit in the rural Mississippi? Hilarious. Here’s the problem that keeps them as a honorable mention. If I’m at a Soggy Bottom Boys show, it’s probably in late 1930’s deep south, and that’s just not a place I want to be. Just blatant racism and KKK influences everywhere at a gubernatorial campaign rally. (PS – go vote)
10. Dewey Cox (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, 2007)
Dewey Cox, an amalgamation of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, among others, is a great caricature. Hilarious movie, and Dewey’s comedic-ish songs are actually pretty catchy. (I’m partial to Guilty as Charged). But I’m cheating a bit here: it’s not that I want to go to a Dewey Cox show, per se, but rather I want to be at that tribute show for him at the end of the movie. Why? Because my idol Eddie Vedder delivers one of the funniest tribute speeches you’ll ever see.
9. Citizen Dick (Singles, 1992)
Speaking of Eddie Vedder, he plays the drummer in Citizen Dick, an early 90’s Seattle grunge band in the Cameron Crowe classic, Singles. Matt Dillon is Cliff Poncier, the lead singer. (Trivia Tuesday on a
Wednesday Thursday: the other members of Citizen Dick are Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard & Jeff Ament). Why do I want to go to a Citizen Dick show? Because being in a Seattle rock club 30 years ago would have been insane! Just grunge mothafuckas whaling on guitars with heavy distortion, sludgy sounds, and, in some cases, borderline out-of-tune vocals (looking at you, Matt Dillon aka Cliff Poncier). I just want to let my hair down and head bang with Citizen Dick.
8a. School of Rock (School of Rock, 2003)
8b. No Vacancy (School of Rock, 2003)
This is all to say that I’d loveeee to have been at that Battle of the Bands thing in the movie. No Vacancy AND School of Rock, on the same stage, under the same roof. Dewey Finn’s old band and his new one, fighting it out for rock fame. Epic. No Vacancy’s “Fight,” which opens the movie, is actually a pretty great rock song, (minus the eccentric, out of place Jack Black guitar solo at the end). And, of course, “School of Rock” is just a solid song top to bottom, and any song that ends in a perfect stage dive is okay in my book. If you can watch School of Rock and not want to run to the nearest rock concert, you’re beyond saving.
7. Spinal Tap (This Is Spinal Tap, 1984)
I’ve been to a lot of concerts. A lot. Never have I been to one that goes to eleven. Spinal Tap go to eleven. I’m a sucker for metal bands, and metal concerts are wild. Absolutely WILD.
Have to wonder what the crowd is like at a Spinal Tap show, though. With lyrics like “You’re sweet but you’re just four feet / And you still got your baby teeth / You’re too young and I’m too well hung / But tonight I’m gonna rock ya” I can only wonder. Still, I’d crush a vodka Redbull and go nuts with some heavy metal. Which brings me to…
6. Steel Dragon (Rock Star, 2001)
Speaking of metal…hair metal, to be specific. I love the movie Rock Star. It’s kind of like A Star Is Born; Mark Wahlberg’s Chris Cole is in a Steel Dragon cover band, gets promoted to the real band, lived the Rock Star life only to realize he needs to find his own voice and sing his own songs blah blah blah. It’s cheesy and generic, but it’s got such a kick-ass soundtrack I basically look past the rock cliches and just basque in the metal epicness. Steel Dragon has some great hard rock songs, my favorite being We All Die Young. Steel Dragon concerts look like the epitome of late-80’s arena rock insanity. Skid Row meets Mötley Crüe meets Ozzy. I want to be at a Steel Dragon concert. It looks absolutely nuts; guys who go by “Thor,” girls wearing next to nothing. It’s sex, drugs, and rock n roll all in one at a Steel Dragon show.
5. Josie and the Pussycats (Josie and the Pussycats, 2001)
Is this a good movie? No. I don’t really get all the product placements and the whole subliminal messaging via music is weird. But an all-female pop punk band? Sign me up. The soundtrack is fire and of course my favorite, like yours, is “3 Small Words.” More taco trivia Tuesday on a
Wednesday Thursday for you: Rachael Leigh Cook’s singing voice is actually Kay Hanley, singer for Letters to Cleo. It’s Letters to Cleo who is playing at the rock bar in 10 Things I Hate About You.
4. Jesse and the Rippers (Full House, 1987-1995)
Picture this: it’s a Friday night in the early 90’s. You’re a young rebel in San Francisco and you want to blow off some steam, so you head to the Smash Club because you know Jesse and the Rippers are playing. Stamos takes the stage and BOOM! They rip (see what I did there?) right into “Forever”. If there’s a fly on that wall, I want to be that fly. God damn do I love that Forever music video.
3. The Cheetah Girls (The Cheetah Girls, 2003)
I’ve been slammed before for saying The Cheetah Girls is a top-5 Disney Channel Original Movie, but you know what? I’m right you’re wrong. Are they a great fictional band? They are. BUT, I’ve been to a Backstreet Boys concert back in ’09, and all the fans were grown up, the band was SO self-aware, and it was just an electric atmosphere. You give me The Cheetah Girls 15 years after they topped out? It’d be an absolute thunderfactory. A Cheetah Girls concert in 2018 would make for an incredible date. Also, “Cinderalla” still goesssssss.
2. Stillwater (Almost Famous, 2000)
Another incredible Cameron Crowe flick with an even better fictional band. Stillwater is a quintessential 70s classic rock band. It’s Peter Frampton and Creedence Clearwater Revival and Lynyrd Skynyrd wrapped up into one. Which means a Stillwater concert is bucket list inducing shit. Just a bunch of rabid fans, hopped up on all kinds of drugs, just drinking in pure classic rock, elated that the Vietnam War is over. Or something. Why were the 70s cool again? I can’t remember, but, I do know I want to have been to a Stillwater show when they were right on the brink of a Rolling Stone magazine cover and a meteoric rise to the top of the Billboards.
The best fictional band on planet earth. Which brings me to number one…
1. Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes (Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope, 1977)
If I’m seeing the Modal Nodes, it means I’m at the Mos Eisley Cantina, which means I have made it. It is the pinnacle of music venue, a hive for the seediest creatures on the galaxy (#NoDroidsAllowed) where anything can happen at any moment. A jazzgasm of otherworldly instruments – kloo horn, bandfill, fanfar, omni box – played by galactic veterans of the music scene.
Cue the music!.