Top 10 musicians in film
#10 – Strange Fruit (Still Crazy)Who wouldn’t want to see a glam rock band fronted by Bill Nighy? None. None, that’s who. And since we’ve wanked on about Billy Mack in another recent blog, here’s an entirely different mad rockstar he played one time. Twenty years after a dramatic band implosion, Bill, Stephen Rea, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall, and Billy Connolly attempt an ill-advised reunion tour, like the badass rock gods they are. Were. There are tantrums, there are embarrassing gigs, there are dutch girls, and ABOVE ALL there’s the desperate fight to prove themselves Still Crazy. (We worked the film’s title into a sentence, just like a marketing department. Do we get a cookie?)
BONUS FACT: The band name is taken from a Billie Holiday song, which is brilliant, and was written to protest lynchings, because music can actually change the world.
#9 – The Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother, Where Art Thou?)George Clooney’s a bit strapped for cash, right, due to recently having escaped from jail. So what does he do? He becomes an overnight singing sensation, along with his two fellow escapees and some guy they picked up at the side of the road who claims to have sold his soul to the devil for sweet guitar skills. Which comes in totally handy down the line when he needs to claim to be someone he’s not. SEE? Coen Bros + folk music = genius.
#8 – Sex Bob-omb (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)Never has there been so satisfying a name for a drummer to yell before she starts banging the hell out of her toms. Never has there been so spunky a drummer to yell it. Never have so many people looked so bored in sequence.
#7 – Rex Manning (Empire Records)One of the plot points of Empire Records involves Liv Tyler (of the “her father’s in Aerosmith” Liv Tylers) is in love with floppy-haired tosspot, Rex Manning. For reals, she smooches his record cover, and no, we don’t understand either. As you can tell from his singing, they guy’s a class A über-douche which, alongside poor Liv’s lispy naiveté, leads to one hell of an awkward attempted seduction. He definitely doesn’t deserve to have a life-size cardboard cutout of himself.
#6 – The Wonders (That Thing You Do!)Don’t try to make us stop listening to the That Thing You Do! soundtrack. You will lose and you will cry and it will be embarrassing for everyone. As peppy as any actual bands from the actual sixties, The Wonders look excellent in suits, and are just generally cute as buttons. We will track Steve Zahn in this movie down one day and just marry the hell out of him.
SIDE NOTE: Tom Hanks set up a real Playtone Records after the film, and one of The Wonders’ songs can be heard at Nia Vardalos’ Big Fat Greek Wedding.
#5 – Marie deSalle (High Fidelity)Denise from the Cosby Show is now mostly famous for being Khal Drogo’s missus, but in between she was sexy biscuit singer Marie deSalle, who rescued Baby, I Love Your Way from being awful. And banged John Cusack. And by the way she has a real name, guys, jeez, it’s Lisa Bonet, how hard is that.
#4 – Stillwater (Almost Famous)Loosely based on The Allman Brothers Band, The Who, and the Eagles, and director Cameron Crowe’s experiences rock journalising them when he was a young un’, Stillwater are a simmering pot of discontent. Is Billy Crudup going to walk? Will Jason Lee ever stop complaining? But in the middle of all there angst, there’s a young boy being just super inspired, and hey, at least they can get over themselves long enough for a sing-a-long on a bus.
#3 – Mitch & Mickey (A Mighty Wind)Who knew an autoharp could be so sexy? Catherine O’Hara. She knew. What a babe. Erstwhile folk duetists and lovers Mitch & Mickey (if you’re a folk singer, you have to be a lover) have a lot of feels to overcome in order to reunite in the name of gentle music. But they’re so, so delicious while they do it, and if you would’ve preferred one of the other acts on this list, you are just a giant stupid-head.
#2 – Wyld Stallyns (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and also their Bogus Journey)What’s the best thing you can do with a time machine? Give yourself time to become excellent at guitar, that’s what. And not shave. And, ok, so they haven’t also given themselves time to write their own songs, but come on, they also had the princesses to shag, give them a break.
#1 – Du Jour (Josie and the Pussycats)Ok, all right, FIRST we’d just like to stand here on our soapbox and talk at you about how Josie and the Pussycats is a GROSSLY underestimated film. With Parker Poser and Alan Cumming being casually hilarious, and Rachel Lee Cook’s vocals being dubbed by the girl from that band that was in 10 Things I Hate About You. And, AND, it’s about innocent musicians being used for evil by the corporate machine. Just, like, we love it, ok, shut up. It may seem cold to ignore the eponymous girl rockers, but seriously, whoever cast Donald Faison, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, and that other guy as a boy band and made them sing about anal is a stone cold genius. DU JOUR MEANS HYGIENE.
#WHAT EVEN – Spinal Tap (This Is Spinal Tap)OH WAIT, we forgot to say, THIS LIST GOES TO ELEVEN. A fictional band so good they became real, Spinal Tap rock hard enough to make your great grandmother’s great grandmother’s get her jam on, and we’re not talking strawberry, no sirrie Barnaby. They’ve dealt with more tragedies, and lost more drummers than almost anyone, but nothing can stop them bring the rock to… rock. I mean, they played at Live Earth. And Glastonbury. They’re so real we couldn’t find a clip of them playing in the film, because YouTube is too full of them playing in real life. They are so earnest. And so hairy. And so wearing leather. And we love them for it.
ADDITIONAL TIDBIT: while they were promoting A Mighty Wind, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer went on as The Folksmen, playing as their own support act on a Spinal Tap tour. No one knew who they were and they got solidly booed.