A wise rock musician once said, “It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll.”
It’s no mean feat, either, to create a believable band in on TV or in cinema – the thorny love lives, indulgent habits and explosive break-ups of pop-stars can often be stranger than fiction.
There have been many memorable fiction bands in television and film over the years, but the best ones have gone on to inspire real fandoms.
Prime Video’s new series, Daisy Jones & The Six, stars Sam Riley and Riley Keough as a Fleetwood Mac-esque group navigating the shark-infested waters of 1970s rock – a carnival of excess, heartbreak and big-hearted ballads.
* Watch: Riley Keough brings Daisy Jones and the Six to life in new trailer
* This Silent Divide bringing melodic rock to Palmerston North
* Rock Steady at the Blue Smoke in Christchurch
With the series dropping on March 3, we’ve rounded up our favourite fictional bands: the talented, the tragic–and the ones that took it all the way to the top.
The most recent fictional pop group on this list, 2019’s Vox Lux sees Natalie Portman play a cross between Courtney Love, Sharon van Etten and Lady Gaga in auteur Brady Corbet’s dizzyingly deranged take on a rockstar’s rise to fame.
The film – a bizarre, backwards-told coming-of-age rock story – received mixed (and borderline savage) reviews for its janky structure, surreal tone, and dark subject matter. Portman, though, has never been better – she’s all bite and even more bark in her savage ode to the anarchic traditions of punk queens, and Jude Law is at his slippery, Svengali-best as her manager, hustling her through one soulless showcase to another. The film’s album is written by pop legend Sia – and contains a few shuffle-worthy bangers.
This is Spinal Tap
Ah, Spinal Tap! The band that turned it up to 11 – and then some.
According to Rob Reiner’s 1984 music mockumentary, fictional band Spinal Tap were a British heavy metal band, formed back in the heady days of the 1970s. They were known for their larger-than-life stage performances, over-the-top costumes and of course, their music – which some might call “classic,” while others might call it “just plain loud.”
The film follows the band’s rise to fame through their lyrics (which often dealt with such weighty topics as the devil, sex, and rock and roll) to their stage antics (which included exploding drum kits, levitating guitars, and, uh, various other questionable stunts).
The band’s members – David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls – were notorious for their infighting, egos and general lack of common sense. And who knows? Maybe in today’s era of crazy reboots and revived franchises, Spinal Tap could even make a comeback one day – after all, as they say, “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever”.
Josie and the Pussycats
After nearly 20 years, this has earned a solid cult status, despite initially flopping on release. The film is a deliriously barmy and utterly camp take on the cartoon and graphic novel, with turns by Parker Posey and Alan Cumming who understand the precise tone of the film they’re playing.
The band itself, including Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid, and Rachael Leigh Cook, sport enjoyably millennial outfits and play some winning, early noughties pop-rock tunes. But it’s the film’s chaotic visual tone and a self-referential script that has kept the band alive for all these years.
David Brent: On the Road
David Brent’s distinct brand of bad-dad band music brings sweet belly laughs to those able to stomach it. The Office fans can bellow the lyrics to a Brent song with the same gusto as if they were singing along to AC/DC themselves.
The middle manager’s tragic odes to real rockers never manage to rise above cheap fascimile, but there is something so satisfying in his awful karaoke renditions and rip-offs of the classics.
In fact, Brent’s music struck such a chord with fans of the show that Gervais managed to spin it off from the original BBC series into a real-life tour, and a spin-off film. Poetically, neither of them had the same success as the classic BBC show itself. Brent really ought to have stuck to his day job.
Watching Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe’s classic semi-autobiographical 2000 film, you feel like you are living through real life – that this is actually the true story of your favourite band, a living memory of when they were at their best.
Stillwater is loosely modelled – like Daisy Jones & The Six – on the thorny love lives of the bands Crowe interviewed as a young journalist for Rolling Stone, including Led Zeppelin. They are the right band for the right moment – Crowe’s film crystallises a shimmering vision of ‘70s rock music at its finest, riding the crest of the countercultural movement and the free love tradition,before the age of excess brought it all crashing down.
The Blues Brothers
It’s hard to overstate the cultural impact of John Belushi’s Blues Brothers since the film’s 1980 release. The comedy classic inspired a musical, several albums, a tour and a sequel thanks to the unrivalled and signature laconic style of Jake and Elwood Blues, played by Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
Courtesy of Belushi’s charm and the cocktail of top-shelf musical numbers, and cameos from stars like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, these are still tunes that go down incredibly easily – the film has aged timelessly and the Blues Brothers remains a band for the ages.
School of Rock
Who could have believed a man named “Ned Schneebly” would become one of the most famous rock musicians of all time? Before he became a household name with The White Lotus, Mike White’s turn as writer-director-star of 2003’s School of Rock earned him a tidal wave of affection from a generation that fell for its earworm theme tunes, feel-good message and scorching lead performance by Jack Black.
The film has since inspired the Broadway and West End production, but it’s the film’s loveable high school cast – who discover what it really means to be “rock n roll” – that have kept the songs in our hearts and playlists for 20 years.
#Daisy #Jones #films #fictional #bands