With the June release of The Lonely Island and Judd Apatow film Popstar: Never Stop Stopping, The Deadshirt crew decided to take some of our favorite fictional bands and artists and pit them head-to-head, college basketball style. There’s a wealth of great music that’s come out of characters from film and television, but there can only be one champion, and it’s up to our panel of Deadshirt writers—Julian Ames, Madie Coe, Dominic Griffin, Kayleigh Hearn, and Joe Stando—to determine the winner!
Sex Bob-Omb (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Jem & The Holograms
It’s been a long, hard road to the championship. Each of the two finalists have felled legendary fake artists to ascend to this level. Sex Bob-Omb defeated ’80s pastiche Pop!, ’60s cult favorite The Wonders, and perhaps the most iconic fake band of all time, Spinal Tap. Jem & The Holograms had to get past Hedwig & the Angry Inch and the powerhouse that is Josie & the Pussycats to get their shot at the big time. Jem has some strong momentum coming into the final round, but Sex Bob-Omb managed to defeat The Dreams/Dreamettes—a group that includes Beyoncé—by unanimous decision, and is the clear mathematical favorite. Which fake band will take home the fake prize?
Kayleigh: The final round is a curious battle between my childhood and my twenties. Jem was the first television show I fell in love with, mixing a convincing feminist message with bubblegum pop music and cartoon shenanigans—pretty good for a show designed to sell dolls. I’m also a big fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s kinetic, anime-influenced Scott Pilgrim graphic novels and Edgar Wright’s wonderful film adaptation, which I saw in theaters three times. So if it came down to any two fake bands, I’m glad they’re the Holograms and Sex Bob-Omb. Who do I vote for? In the end, my love of catchy, big-haired ’80s pop rules all (and I like Britta Phillips’ singing voice). So here’s to glamor and glitter, fashion and fame.
Dom: I’m kind of amazed it’s come down to these two acts, considering how much I love both of them, but this is an easy one for me. Scott Pilgrim’s been in my life a third of the time Jem’s been around, and the bonds are just too deep for me to bother feigning any kind of impartiality. The 2015 Jem film being such a misfire really hurt the franchise’s chances at finally breaking out from relative obscurity. The excellent, innovative comic series has done wonders undoing the damage, but the property is still seen as so niche. Even its Tumblr fandom remains pretty slim. Regardless, Jem’s fictional body of work stands for itself and this, above all others, is a hill I’m willing to die on.
Madie: I’m not sure what I can say that I haven’t said about this already. I’ve steadily championed Sex Bob-Omb throughout this entire competition and I think they’re finally ready to win this battle of the bands. Real listenability and their garage rock vibe are better than nostalgia.
Joe: I can claim whatever I want, but this was only ever gonna end one way for me. I love Jem, I really do. But the once and future king of the fictional bands, in my opinion, is Sex Bob-Omb. I’d be hard pressed to find any band from the tournament who could defeat them in single combat. They’re the perfect mix of garage rock band parody and actual catchy, well-written tracks. It’s a soundtrack I can both laugh at in the context of the movie, and find myself humming before I even remember what it’s from. I love Sex Bob-Omb, and I will not apologize.
Julian: The thing about Sex Bob-Omb’s music that is fascinating to me is not only how catchy it is, but also how unique it is. The musical genius Beck, who composed all of Sex Bob-Omb’s music, found a way to make a standard guitar, bass, and drum configuration sound unlike anything that most audiences had ever heard before; mostly by distorting both the bass and an acoustic guitar, (an instrument not usually distorted) and having the drums often play nontraditional patterns. Jem and The Holograms’ music sounds like exactly what you’d expect knowing that the people behind the Transformers and GI Joe TV shows wrote pop music. That’s not a bad thing, it’s pretty good mid-’80s pop, and it’s fairly catchy.
But the sticking point for me is, and has always been, Jem’s voice—it’s reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper’s, but it’s weaker and a little bit pitchy. Of course, Sex Bob-Omb’s Stephen Stills’ (played by Mark Webber) voice isn’t any good either, but that’s kind of the point, garage rock is supposed to be amateurish. Pop, on the other hand is supposed to be perfect; that’s why pitch-correction software, or AutoTune, was invented (a decade too late for Jem, unfortunately). Besides my love for garage rock and my relative unfamiliarity with Jem, I just think Sex Bob-Omb does what it’s trying to do much better than Jem and the Holograms do what they’re trying to do; Sex Bob-Omb is a no-brainer for me.
Winner: SEX BOB-OMB!!
Thanks for joining us for the Real Songs, Fake Bands bracket. Be sure to check out our previous March Madness-style song tournaments: MI-6 Madness, The Liverpool and The Best Christmas Song of All Time. We’ll be sure to do another of these real soon. If you have a suggestion for our next topic, hit us up in the comments below, or on Twitter @DeadshirtDotNet.