The Top 10: Fictional bands

This list grew out of last month’s Top 10 songs by bands about being in a band, because I had several nominations for “Benny and the Jets” and ruled them out of order because Elton John is a solo artist not a band. Thanks to Adam Greves for suggesting this one. 

1. Spinal Tap. Nominated by James Irwin, Tom Doran, Mark Brookes and others. Although you can buy their output, pointed out Patrick Hennessy. 

2. Disaster Area. Plutonium rock group from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the second Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book by Douglas Adams. The band earned so much that its lead singer, Hotblack Desiato, had to spend a year dead for tax purposes. Thanks to Paul G, Paul T Horgan, Andrew Ruddle, Tim O’Kane and Ian Rapley. 

3. Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. House band on The Muppet Show; made their debut in 1975 and often had real rock stars as guest performers. From Robert Boston and Oisin Rogers. 

4. Drive Shaft. From Lost, the TV series. Second album called Oil Change. Nominated by Audrey.

5. Mouse Rat. From Parks and Recreation, one of James Moore’s all time favourite comedies. The band’s lead singer was Andy Dwyer, Chris Pratt’s character, who went on to bigger things as a Guardian of the Galaxy. Also nominated by Dominic Moffitt and Paul Turner. 

6. Weird Sisters. From the Harry Potter books. All-male group whose hits include “Do the Hippogriff”. Thanks to Guinevere. 

7. Sadie Killer and the Suspects. “Teens by day, we’re all right/ Teens by day but every night we’re/ Sadie Killer and the Suspects.” From the Steven Universe animated series. Nominated by Praise-God Barebone and Priscilla, who also suggested Sev’ral Timez, from Gravity Falls, and Dingoes Ate My Baby, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

8. The Band With Rocks In. From the Discworld book Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett. Thanks to Jen Pattenden and Bruce Napier.

9. Otis Day and the Nights. From Animal House. Sorry, I thought the name was funny. 

10. The BC-52s. In The Flintstones film, the fictional band was played by the B-52s. Thanks to Mike Mason. 

Hundreds of nominations for this one. Honourable mentions for Gandhi’s Hairdryer, in a few novels by Robert Rankin (Adam Howe); the Soronprfbs (“They may even be my favourite band”, said Joel Dimmock); and Savage Earth Heart, in Chris Brookmyre’s book Dead Girl Walking (so well described that every time Stephen Marr rereads the book “I get the same feeling of frustration that I’ll never hear their music or see them perform”). 

Several attempts to get round the “no Beatles” rule. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is still the Beatles; and the Rutles are disqualified as a parody. 

A lot of other questionable nominations. Celia and the Mutations was a name used by The Stranglers in 1977. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: fact or fiction? Several artificial bands such as the Partridge Family (US sitcom 1970-1974: “none of the band could play the instruments they were filmed with and only two did any singing,” said Robert Boston). 

Then there are real bands that took their names from fictional bands such as Heaven 17, from A Clockwork Orange (Chris Shaw, Antoine Tinnion); and Toad the Wet Sprocket, invented by Eric Idle (the subject of his monologue “Rock Notes” in Monty Python), and a group that took the name has lasted 30 years (Andrew Ruddle). 

Next week: Anonymous books, such as Gulliver’s Travels and Primary Colors.

Coming soon: Songs that mention other songs, such as “Thunder Road”, in which Bruce Springsteen listens to Roy Orbison singing “Only The Lonely”.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

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