In the past we posted a list on fictional bands – this list supplements it in a sense. Here, instead of just fictional bands, we are looking at fictional cartoon bands. Most of us will remember at least one or two of the entries here. Be sure to add your own favorites to the comments.
Hanna-Barbera, through the 60’s and 70’s had a serious, one could say even disturbing… want for TV shows about music groups. The Neptunes were the band that starred in the Saturday morning cartoon, Jabberjaw. They, along with other fictional mystery solving bands from the era, such as the Chan Clan and even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, seemed to be the mutant bastard offspring of Scooby-Doo and Josi and The Pussycats. Starring an almost duplicate cast of the characters from Scooby Doo (including the awful laughtrack), with the switch of a giant talking shark who was, himself, a 3 stooges ripoff, in place of a dog. They Solved mysteries between gigs in an underwater future society.
The Junkyard Band
Created, produced, and mostly voiced by Bill Cosby, Fat Albert and the Cosby kids was an educational Saturday morning cartoon about a group of low income black youths who hung out in a north Philly junkyard. They would usually sing a song about what they had learned in each episode, and single-handedly managed to skew the view for suburban white kids on what it was like in the ghetto.
From the MTV animated series Daria, Mystik Spiral was the band of Daria’s best friend Jane’s brother, Trent that made numerous appearances on the show. They were an amusingly awful grunge band, but that didn’t seem to keep Daria from crushing so hard on Trent that she would occasionally break out in hives. They also had a running gag in that they were always on the verge of changing the band’s name, though they never did.
Jem and the holograms
Created by Christy Marx, a staff writer for Transformers and G.I. Joe, Jem was a show about a music superstar named Jem and her band, The Holograms. The twist was that she had a secret identity as a music company owner named Jerrica Benson, and only turned into Jem with the help of a holographic computer. And if this idea sounds somewhat similar to a certain irritating other show/pop culture headache, Hannah Montana, you wouldn’t be far off. Just replace “magic computer” with blond wig.
Josie and the Pussycats
An early 70’s Saturday Morning cartoon, pulled from the Archie Comics universe, about an all girl pop group who solved mysteries. It spawned a live group to go with it, and decades later a piece of godawful cinema. And, from my view, a template that Hanna-Barbera just didn’t want to give up. It’s also noted for being the first show to having a regularly appearing black female. Though this was only because the music producer threatened to walk after Hanna-Barbera wanted to recast the band to being all white! (Valerie was black in the comic and they had already cast a black woman in the live band as well).
TIMMY! and the Lords of the Underworld
Appearing in the South Park episode “Timmy 2000″, T.a.t.l.o.t.u. (I’m not typing all that again) was a band fronted by the most talented handicapped kid in South Park (not Jimmy!). The episode satirized many issues; from how society deals with the disabled, to how they over medicate children for acting like children, to revenge on Phil Collins beating out “Blame Canada” for a best song Oscar, for that Tarzan song I bet only one in 30 of you can remember the name of.
Created in the Archie Comics universe and composed of all it’s main cast of characters, The Archies were responsible for one of the biggest pop hits in the late 60’/early 70’s, “Sugar,Sugar”, which hit #1 on the pop chart in 1969 and sold over 6 million copies. And since fictional bands can’t die, and Archie comics are still somehow around (Do people really still read that?), they even had a Christmas album released in 2008.
Alvin and the chipmunks
Created in 1958 by Ross Bagdasarian Sr. (who also wrote the song The Witchdoctor) Alvin and the Chipmunks are serious heavy weights when it comes to a fictional band achieving real success. With more awards than most real bands ever, see including 5 Grammys, and with the latest movie and sequel, it seems these 3 lovable chipmunks may be scratching the chalkboard in our brains for years to come. (I also wonder.. were these little anthropomorphic abominations the birth of Furries?)
Created by Damon Albarn, the lead singer of The British band Blur, and the Tank Girl comic co-creator Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz is the most successful Cartoon/virtual band, ever. Period. They are in the Guinness Book of World Records as such. Though they only have one grammy, they have been nominated for different awards 25 times and have won 7. There are 4 members in the virtual band, 2D, Russle, Murdoc and Noodles, though they have many guest musicians appear on their albums. The style is a mix of rock/pop/hiphop/techno coolness. Sorry for the quality of the video – the Gorillaz have blocked all their videos from embedding on youtube.
This will probably be a controversial pick since they aren’t as commercially successful as some others on this list, but I didn’t feel right putting Gorillaz as #1 since even though they have had minisodes, they have never had an actual cartoon series, and Alvin.. well… I hate them. Besides, I like this band the most and I’m writing the list. Dethklok is the virtual Band from the Cartoon show Metalocalypse, created by Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha. It’s a comedy/horror about a metal band that is so popular, the worlds economy hinges upon them. It satirizes the stereotypes of heavy/death metal and at first most people thought it was silly or stupid. But the show got more popular as people began to realize that while yes, it is funny, the music is actually some of the best metal heard in ages, and combined with the brutal bloody imagery that the show creates, its like they have distilled heavy metal down to an almost pure form of awesome! With all the music being written and performed by Brendon Small, he’s gone from the uncrowned king of adult swim (he voices on almost every show in the block) to a very seriously respected musician in his own right. Dethklok has opened for Iron Maiden and headlined its own tour with Mastodon (which this author went to. Trust me, it really WAS Brutal)
I really wish I could include these guys, because they would be at the top of the list, but, while you never see the members in any videos, and they practically hide themselves on stage, they aren’t a virtual band. They are just fantastic musicians who know how to combine that with genius imagery. They also have a HUGE and very loyal following. Their nearly signature stop motion videos speak for themselves, running from the surreal to the psychedelic. If you want to see talent, art and genius, all rolled into one, check out the video for the song Prison Sex, armed before hand with the knowledge that its all about child abuse, and see if doesn’t make perfect sense through sad, surreal beauty.
Notable extras: The Beets, Beck