I could never figure out how people write music. No, I don’t mean simply putting a bunch of notes together and making something that’s good to listen to. I believe anyone can do that. What I mean is how some people can write some super catchy tune that sticks in the public consciousness for all time. Some of them may be “one hit wonders” but, in some way, these musicians managed to capture something truly memorable.
What’s even more amazing is that, sometimes, these pieces of music will not be connected to the composer but some fictional act! There have been some great pieces of music that have been attributed now to the “fake” musical act. This week, I’d like to highlight some of those fictional music acts.
Apologies to the real composers, though. You did good work, though.
The musical act that inspired me to do this list. I was a big fan of How I Met Your Mother from the onset thanks to its macguffin-like premise about a man telling his kids how he supposedly met their mother. However, instead of straight out telling them, he goes through a long winded story about his early life living in New York City and his friends. I thought it was a good sitcom then. But when the Slap Bet episode aired, I became super impressed with it.
The episode deals with the group trying to figure out why one of their friends, Canadian news reporter Robin Scherbatsky avoids going to the mall. Barney believes Robin did porn and he’s so sure of it, he agrees to a “slap bet” wherein the loser must get slapped in the face several times. Barney believes he found the video proving his theory but when he plays it, this is what’s seen on the video…
The reveal of Robin Sparkles singing her bubblegum pop “big hit” Let’s Go To The Mall was a huge curveball and one of the most hilarious reveals I’ve seen in television! Robin Sparkles became a recurring gag on the show as her other singles like the dramatic “Sandcastles in the Sand” and the more angsty and dark PS I Love You.
The really strange thing is that both Let’s Go To The Mall and Sandcastles in the Sand actually could’ve been big hits in the mid-90’s during Robin Sparkles’ fictional heyday! Okay, Let’s Go To The Mall may have sounded rather dated then but it’s still catchy enough to be remembered by a lot of people.
Yes, this band may not be real but they do go up to eleven.
The first time I heard any of Spinal Tap’s music, it was from Guitar Hero 2. I knew about the group and the film but I always thought they were just made up for the movie. If the heavy metal band isn’t real, how come they have a music credit? Well, it turns out I was partially correct as Spinal Tap is indeed a fictional music group but they did produce a stunning number of actual songs!
In fact, calling Spinal Tap a fictional band might not be totally true anymore as the actors, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer, have actually toured all around the world as David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls, respectively, as Spinal Tap. They’ve even had “reunion tours” and have released a full length album in 2009, a full 25 years since the release of their mockumentary!
Mental note: One of these days I really have to watch This Is Spinal Tap.
The Archies is probably the most well known fictional band on this list. What most people may not know is that the comic group actually produced a couple of hit songs in real life! Several of them managed to break through the US Top 40 list. Most of them are forgettable but there is probably one song of The Archies you know but you just don’t know it’s from them…
I’ll bet a good portion of the readers know the song Sugar, Sugar but never connected it with The Archies. When I discovered this, it was a rather surreal moment.
I wouldn’t say any of The Archies songs, besides maybe Sugar, Sugar have any long lasting longevity. Listening to their other songs like Jingle Jangle and Bang-Shang-A-Lang (yes, these were the real names to their music) really feel dated. But, for the time, seeing a group of teenage cartoons cranking out real songs must’ve been a novelty.
I honestly prefer their original moniker, The Oneders. But I can see why the name wouldn’t have worked for the ’60s. Anyway, the Wonders was the name of the band seen in the film, That Thing You Do! which just so happens to be the name of their hit song.
The Wonders were, unfortunately, a one hit wonder as the only song that did become popular was That Thing You Do! I mean, really. Can anyone hum Dance with Me Tonight off the top of their heads? Oh, it’s a good song but no one really remembers it because That Thing You Do! was just played too much. Still, this does mean The Oneders… I mean, The Wonders did produce a couple of really good songs, which is pretty good for a fake band.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Did Alvin ever get his hula hoop?
Before they were smacked with the 3D kiddie movie stick, Alvin and the Chipmunks were actually a decent children’s music group. I had a bunch of their albums growing up and I did love listening to them sing about stuff. Of course, their most memorable song is entitled The Chipmunk Song, even though it doesn’t really have anything about being a chipmunk. Go figure.
The strange thing about Alvin and the Chipmunks was that it was supposed to be a one-off thing. The creator just wanted to write a novelty song featuring squeaky voices, which he had done before. The song became a big smash and, just from that novelty act, Alvin and the Chipmunks became a hot franchise that people and children recognize today.
BONUS #1: The Blues Brothers
Who would’ve thunk Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi could sing? Well, I didn’t but, thanks to happenstance, they happened to join forces for a one-off Saturday Night Live sketch, both of them formed the Blues Brothers and there was no stopping them until the untimely demise of John Belushi. While the “band” still performs sporadically with guest performers, it’s just not the same.
Still, the Blues Brothers, even though they’re just a fictional musical group, they did write up a couple of full-length albums, a hit film and a stinker of a sequel, and, of course, Soul Man.
Now, the reason why The Blues Brothers aren’t on the official list is because most of the songs they’re known for a just covers of older songs. I’m not sure if they actually have an original song to their credit. So, as much as I like their sound, I can’t feature them officially as they didn’t make any original songs.
BONUS #2: The Wedding Singer
I’m not sure how popular Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer is as well as how memorable the music is. While most of the music from this romantic comedy were cover songs, there were a couple of original songs composed for it. One is The Who parody song Somebody Kill Me. The other is the song that everyone remembers. You know the one. It’s from the climax of the film where Adam Sandler’s character sings a love song to Drew Barrymore’s character to properly express his feelings for her. Yes, that one.
I can only speak for the Philippines because that’s where I live. But, for some reason or another, that one love song was and still is incredibly popular. I can even remember it being played on the radio one time! But, since I’m not entirely sure how big this song was, I couldn’t put it on the list proper.
BOUNUS #3: Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits
Here’s another incredibly popular animated group that inspired a lot of children growing up. Jem and the Holograms was one of those cartoons that was tailor made to sell toys to young children in the ’80s. But like most 30 minute cartoons of the time, Jem and the Holograms became much more than that.
One of the hooks, if you can call it that, is that, in each episode of the show, there will be a new musical number, either by Jem and the Holograms or their rival band, The Misfits. Honestly, I like the music made by The Misfits a whole lot more than the titular band because they have more of an edge to them.
Still, even though both Jem and the Hologram and the Misfits must’ve pumped out around a hundred songs combined, only the theme song is the one that everyone remembers. Which is why they both didn’t make the official list but they do deserve a mention.
What other fictional bands do you know of that made real memorable music? Let me know in the comments section below!