We all have our favorite bands. Whether they’re groups you grew up with, groups your parents showed you, or groups you discovered in your later years, we often identify with bands that have meant something important to us over the years.
From the posters hanging on our bedroom walls to the bands at the top of our digital playlists, there are myriad acts in the world that have meant so much to so many.
But some of those bands don’t exist. Or, rather, they’re fictional. They’re not groups you can buy tickets to and see at your local venues. They’re bands that were put together in television shows or movies, but their songs are nevertheless compelling.
Here are the 14 best fictional bands you should be listening to right now.
1. The Beats
Whether it’s Bangin’ on a trash can! Drummin’ on a street light! or Oooo-eeeee-oooo! Killer tofu! or I need more allowance! Why? Because I do! the Beats (aka the fictional band from the Nickelodeon TV show, Doug) is one of the greatest groups that never existed. Who can forget when they rolled up at the Honker Burger after Doug and Skeeter couldn’t make the show? All time classic stuff.
2. The Blues Brothers
The group that made wearing sunglasses on stage famous, The Blues Brothers, a creation of Saturday Night Live, have lived in movies, television, and in our hearts. Whether belting out lyrics or jamming on the harmonica, they’re classic.
3. The Clash at Demonhead and Sex Bob-omb
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is one of the best movies of this century. Not only does it boast a great premise (a prospective boyfriend fighting ex’s for the love of his life), but it also boasts amazing music from multiple fictional groups, two of which are The Clash at Demonhead and Sex Bob-omb. Rumor has it Beck wrote many of the songs for the film. BECK!
4. Crucial Taunt
Maybe the sexiest fictional band of all time, Crucial Taunt was fronted by the great Tia Carrere (aka Cassandra Wong). Who can forget Wayne (of Wayne’s World) fantasizing about the group and its lead singer with “Dream Weaver” playing? If Crucial Taunt was a real group, they’d be platinum-certified.
5. Dewey Cox
Perhaps the most versatile fictional artist, Dewey Cox, went through phase after phase in the movie, Walk Hard. He went through his folk singer Bob Dylan phase and his cowboy phase to his greaser rock phase. How many Grammy Awards would he have today? Seven? Eleven?
6. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
The group made famous by The Muppets, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem are an amalgam of Dr. John and Janis Joplin with a dash of Jimi Hendrix. If the group was real, they’d probably be in New Orleans right now playing from noon to midnight, earning tips from locals and awards from the world.
7. Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Over the years this band has fudged the line between real and fictional given all of the stage performances of this standout play. Hedwig & the Angry Inch boasts some truly classic songs that have landed on mixtape after mixtape. Rock meets poetry meets heartache meets marginalized identity in this standout group.
8. Josie and the Pussycats
This fictional band was put onto the silver screen in the early 2000s. Based on the Archie Comics series and the Hanna-Barbara cartoon, the movie features Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson, along with Parker Posey and more. While the movie wasn’t a huge success, it’s since enjoyed a cult following due, in large part, to the music.
9. School of Rock
The movie that made Jack Black a global star also put out a mighty fine fictional group. School of Rock was a huge hit and it rocketed its lead man, of the real group Tenacious D fame, to even bigger popularity. Black can act and he can perform rock with the best of ’em.
10. The Soggy Bottom Boys
The group that made “The Man of Constant Sorrow” a household name, The Soggy Bottom Boys, were so good they helped the movie earn several Academy Award nominations. With classic harmonies and self-deprecating stunts, The Soggy Bottom Boys are a hit then, now, and forever.
11. Spinal Tap
Perhaps the top of the mountain when it comes to fictional bands, this group, which starred in its own fictional “Mock-u-mentary,” or “Rock-u-mentary,” created and broke the mold when it comes to popular groups that don’t actually exist. And there are rumors of a comeback. With a new movie slated for 2024.
Feeeever dogggg, scratchin’ at my back doooooor! These are the words of the famed fictional band from Almost Famous. Led by Jason Lee (in real life), the group had inner turmoil, acrimony, and hits for days. The movie made rock and rock journalism central and Stillwater was in the eye of the tornado.
13. The Wonders
Formerly The One-ders, The Wonders were a fictional band managed by Tom Hanks as a fictional manager. A ’60s Beatle-esque group, the band had harmonies, songs that hit the top of the fictional chart, and enough swagger to make teenagers squeal. Why? Because of “That Thing You Do.”
14. Riverbottom Nightmare Band
The fictional foil bad guy band from Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas took home the top prize at the talent show, upstaging Emmet and his Ma. But in our hearts, they’re the nemesis to the one true victor. Even so, the Riverbottom Nightmare Band had hits in this Jim Henson-led holiday classic. (Though we still love the song “Barbecue” from Emmet has his gang.)
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images