Music has always been an important factor in movies and TV shows throughout the years, providing just a little something extra to create the exact emotions in a certain scene. And then there are the movies and TV shows that take music to a whole other level by creating made up bands and artists within the storyline. And sometimes they actually end up being really good. We’re not talking fake bands that cover songs, we’re talking the fictional artists with original music who could easily release their own songs and be chart toppers. Here are just a few of our favorites (and by few, we legit mean few. It was surprisingly hard to narrow down a list!)
Check the full playlist on Spotify!
Join The Professionals from Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains
Fictional Artist: The Stains
By all means, this should be one of those classic 80s films that’s played on a regular loop on TBS. Somehow – maybe because the universe isn’t just nor kind, maybe because TBS used their full rights-buying budget on The Breakfast Club and Coach Carter – it isn’t. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains follows the rise of a girls’ punk band in the early 80s, and I am shamelessly including it on this list in the hopes that more people will see it.
Killer Tofu from Doug
Fictional Artist: The Beets
Millenials, can you feel me right now?
Obviously The Beets were supposed to lampoon The Beatles, but it also seems like they’re ripping on the early-mid 90s British rock bands that were popular at the time. I’m looking at you, Oasis.
That Thing You Do! From That Thing You Do!
Fictional Artist: The Wonders (Or, The Oneders)
Cheesy? Sure. But I loved this movie, and this is a perfectly formulated throwback rock/pop tune. That Thing You Do! came out when I was about 10, that age when music and bands take on a whole new life for you. This, La Bamba, and Selena were my Movies About Music trifecta circa 1997.
Big Bottom from This Is Spinal Tap
Fictional Artist: Spinal Tap
SO MUCH BASS. We couldn’t have a playlist of fictional bands without including Spinal Tap. Comedy fans and music lovers alike have elevated This Is Spinal Tap to cult classic status, and for good reason: they go to 11. I love how the different styles on the soundtrack trace the trajectory of the band – for instance, America (so Simon and Garfunkel!), Listen To The Flower People (one of Spinal Tap’s early efforts), and the oddly classy Lick My Love Pump.
It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp from Hustle And Flow
Fictional Artists: DJay and Shug
In addition to being a great movie about the small-time hip hop scene, Hustle And Flow may mark the very last time that a movie, set in the present day at the time of release, featured a cassette tape as a prominent plot device.
Honorable Mentions: The Commitments (who only didn’t make the list because we’re focusing on original songs, and theirs were all covers); The nuns from Sister Act (whatever, I do what I want); Goodbye Lil Sebastian (Right, Parks fans?); Scotty Doesn’t Know from Eurotrip (see Sister Act); Forever (actually not good, and actually a Beach Boys cover, proving that not every record can be Pet Sounds); anything from Once (I couldn’t decide if it counted, since I wasn’t sure if I could divorce it from The Swell Season). This was a surprisingly hard list for me to narrow down, everyone.
Male Prima Donna from The Office
Fictional Artists: Subtle Sexuality
Even if you were a fan of The Office, you still might not be familiar of the outstanding musical talent within the walls of Dunder Mifflin. Kelly Kapoor & Erin Hannon formed pop duo Subtle Sexuality during their out of office hours (read: a series of websisodes), and released to the viewing public in 2009. And it’s full of outlandish costumes and a lot of autotune and it’s wonderfully ridiculous. True story: This song used to be ringtone. If you liked this song, check out Subtle Sexuality’s second single, The Girl Next Door.
Every Minute, Every Hour from 2ge+her Again
Fictional Artists: 2ge+her
Guys, I’m not ashamed to say I was a total teenybopper when I was a teen. I totally drank the boy band kool-aid, even the fake boy band kool-aid that is 2ge+her. Like not even in an ironic way. I genuinely liked their music. And that was the brilliant part of the whole parody phenomenon – is that the songs were actually catchy. I mean, if I say U+Me = Us, I’m assuming most of you would be able to sing a little of it, because it was a memorable pop hit. Case in point: this song from the 2ge+her Again soundtrack, which incidentally was co-written by my boy Howie Dorough from the Backstreet Boys. It’s also one of the rare songs that doesn’t follow the parody formula (i.e. it’s not like Rub One Out or Say It, Don’t Spray It).
Pop! Goes My Heart from Music and Lyrics
Fictional Artists: PoP!
What do you mean you’ve never seen this movie? For shame. It has Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, and Jason Street from Friday Night Lights, what more could you ask for? Probably a better plot and script, that’s what. I mean I didn’t think it was that bad of a movie, but cinephiles might disagree. Basically Hugh Grant plays a washed up former 80s pop star from a band called PoP! (which was inspired by Wham!). And his band mate is played by Scott Porter, who actually sings and dances IRL. Their hit song is Pop! Goes My Heart and this music video is awesomely 80s.
Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet from Nashville
Fictional Artists: Juliette Barnes
TBH, I only started watching Nashville because of Connie Britton. I’ve continued watching it because the soap opera-ness of it gets you hooked. But one of the best parts of the show (thankfully) is the music. Because the show centers on country music stars in Nashville, most of the songs are original tunes that are written by the same songwriters who write for the real country music stars in Nashville. It was really hard for me to pick just one from the show, so Don’t Put Dirt… is just one of my faves. But then there’s also Boys and Buses, A Life That’s Good, He Ain’t Gonna Change, I Ain’t Leavin’ Without Your Love, and Joy Parade by a C+S favorite, Lennon and Maisy.
Let Me Be Your Star from Smash
Fictional Artists: Karen Cartwright & Ivy Lynn
Let Me Be Your Star was the big song at the end of the pilot for Smash, and I figured that if my goosebumps were any indication of how the rest of the series was going to be, the show would be a hit. Well, we all know how that went. Smash was pretty interesting for a while, and then Bollywood happened, someone got killed, etc. etc. However, there were some great original songs made for the fictional musical, including this one and another one of my favorites, Caught in the Storm.
Honorable Mentions: Say No More (Mon Amour) from Empire Records (Rex Manning Day, y’all), California Dreams from California Dreams (I have this soundtrack, whatever), Friends Forever from Saved by the Bell (Zack Attack is forever in my heart).