Eric Keihl is the managing editor for Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. Each week, he will accept a reader challenge to write a entire, quiz-ready trivia round on some tricky or obscure subject. You can challenge Eric here.
This week’s theme is “fake bands,” suggested by Jessica Galvan at the Congress Park Taproom in Denver. Thanks, Jessica!
From songs that aren’t really songs to bands that aren’t really bands – and just in time for filming to start on the Spinal Tap sequel. Fun fact: During early screenings the first time around, test audiences asked why Rob Reiner couldn’t have picked a good band to film. Everybody should get the joke this time, now that mockumentaries have been made old hat by such comedy classics as Borat and Vaxxed.
Honestly, I probably could’ve done this whole round on fake boy bands. Or fake animated boy bands. Or even fake animated boy bands from the aughts: A rapidly-fading Simpsons put Bart in The Party Posse in 2001; SpongeBob introduced Boys Who Cry in 2005; Kim Possible had to rescue The Oh Boyz; American Dad had Boyz 12; and yes, I’m seeing a pattern too.
My personal favorite has got to be 4*Town from Turning Red (released in 2022, but set 20 years earlier), if only for the sheer amount of real talent pumped into a fake band. All three of their songs were written by soon-to-be-Oscar-winner Billie Eilish, and the members included her brother/co-writer Finneas, a Dancing With the Stars champion, and this cool guy. Seriously, all of you: Just form a real band. I’ll swoon, promise!
Until they get their act together, though, we’ll have to settle for lesser not-real music. Let’s see what we’ve got!
1. By total coincidence, probably, a squeaky jazz group called the Nutty Squirrels debuted the year after Ross Bagdasarian created what cartoon trio? Alvin and the Chipmunks
Canadian musician Brian Borcherdt had the brilliant idea of making an album out of playing Alvin and the Chipmunks records at half speed… in other words, how they were recorded before they sped the tracks up to get those chipmunk voices. Check it out, it’s a trip.
2. After singing with Josie and the Pussycats, what actress had big solo numbers in Rent, Pluto Nash, and hopefully one day, Ahsoka? Rosario Dawson
Speaking of Star Wars, the house band from Jabba the Hutt’s palace in Return of the Jedi had their own spin-off comic where Jabba rigged their speakers with explosives and sent them to blow up a rival on the ice planet Hoth. Don’t tell me it’s not canon anymore! You’re not canon!
3. This squad of animatronic horrors is most of Munch’s Make-Believe Band, the soundtrack for many a nightmare birthday party at what pizza chain? Chuck E. Cheese
From left to right, that’s Helen Henny, Mr. Munch, Jasper T. Jowls, and Pasqually (or as four-year-old Eric called him, Nightmare Fuel.)
4. The film Dreamgirls is all about Detroit, but the original musical opened with the Dreamettes rocking what theater’s famous Amateur Night competition? Apollo Theater
The original Effie, Tony winner Jennifer Holliday, was a tad miffed that Jennifer Hudson didn’t consult her about the film role. Presumably Holliday spent the next 11 years cooking up the Byzantine plot that ended with her taking over Hudson’s Broadway role as Shug Avery in The Color Purple. Revenge! … I guess?
5. Viagra, Dom Perignon, and diamante-studded bananas are written in the tour rider for Murdoc Niccals, cartoon bassist for what “Feel Good Inc.” group? Gorillaz
Gorillaz lore is deep – like, Knausgård playing Magic: The Gathering deep. My personal favorite tidbit is that when Murdoc was sent to jail on a bogus smuggling rap, the band brought in minor Powerpuff Girls villain Ace as their bass player. Seriously, don’t get me started on this stuff.
6. Riley Keough has more Emmy nods than grandfather Elvis Presley and former stepdad Nicolas Cage, thanks to what Amazon mini-series about a certain septet? Daisy Jones & the Six
Most of these bands straddle the real-unreal line in one way or another: A full-length album by Daisy Jones & the Six made them the first fictional band to top the iTunes charts. Tough luck, Love Händel!
7. Speaking of Emmys, an ‘80s special featuring the very apt songs “Tutti Frutti” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” earned a nod for what desiccated ad mascots? California Raisins
The Raisins were also in the Emmy-winning special A Claymation Christmas Celebration, singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” My dudes, “Raisindeer” was right there!
8. On Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, the band Dethklok performed “Go Forth and Die” at what sort of ceremony that usually opens with “Pomp and Circumstance”? College Graduation
Metalocalypse pulled off the rare “fake-band-within-a-fake-band” gambit: Their bassist has a side project called (naturally) Planet Piss, whose sole output is this masterpiece.
Bonus: Double fake! For part of the ‘70s, David Bowie actually did call his backing band the Spiders From… what planet? Mars
Ever ahead of his time, David Bowie founded his own internet service provider back in 1998. For $20 a month you got a blazing 56K connection, 5 MB of online space to create your own website, and an @davidbowie email address. Rest in peace, Starman.