02 June 2014

+JMJ+

Children's Programme Fake Band Smackdown!!!

If you were around last year, then you know that nothing . . . NOTHING . . . will ever top the June 2013 smackdown, which may be fondly remembered among future historians as the June "The Dragon" 2013 smackdown. But I'm not going to let the fact that I peaked one year ago stop me from reaching for a different level of greatness now. (Thanks for the idea, Brandon!)

To help me determine which "fake bands" make it to Round 2, pick your favourite out of each pair below and let me know in the combox.


Round 1
The Archies Sixteen

vs.
The Archies vs. Josie and the Pussycats

I thought I'd begin with the two most famous cartoon bands of all time, one of which even had a hit that charted in the "real" world! If I had been around in the mid-1960s, when these two cartoons first came out, I would have been a little skeptical about these bands' making the transition from print media to TV. Writing and animating the stories is one thing; composing and recording original music is another. But Filmation and Hanna-Barbera clearly knew what they were doing, and I'm amazed at how high both The Archie Show and Josie and the Pussycats set the first bar for "fake" bands.

vs.
The Banana Splits vs. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

What would convince a truly talented musician to let a mascot or puppet get all the credit for his work? Music writer Rob Sheffield has mused that sometimes we need to wear a mask before we can speak the truth. More prosaically, I wonder whether they understood that their honest selves wouldn't have attracted a tenth of the audience their fuzzy personas did. The Banana Splits were the hosts and band of a variety programme especially for children, while The Electric Mayhem were the house band of The Muppet Show, which wasn't quite for kids. The former were inspired by British bands and Motown, while the latter were inspired by counter-cultural music like the score of Broadway's Hair. Which group would you like to hear more of as we proceed with this smackdown?

vs.
The Beagles vs. The Chipmunks

Given how much fun children have with anthropomorphic animals, I'm a little surprised that there aren't more of them forming bands in children's programmes. The Beagles, supposedly inspired by The Beatles, don't sound like the Fab Four at all--and despite some decent songs, their cartoon was short-lived. In contrast, The Chipmunks were supposed to produce a one-off novelty album and fade away . . . only to hang around past their creator's lifetime! But which of them deserves to hang out longer in our smackdown? (Note: I couldn't find just the theme song for The Beagles on YouTube, but I did stumble into some good quality audio recordings.)

vs.
Kidd Video vs. Kids Incorporated

Which one of us didn't spend a few hours of childhood pretending to be a pop star? Every fantasy is unique, of course, but I think it's safe to say that if Kidd Video and Kids Incorporated were two extremes on a spectrum, you'd know exactly where to plot your own playtime. The New Wave garage band Kidd Video get sucked into an animated world where they must defeat an evil music executive's plans to ruin pop music for everyone else. But is this more or less realistic than the Kids Incorporated members reopening a venue which once hosted Elvis and Frank Sinatra, and running it as a successful business with themselves as the headliners?

vs.
Barbie and the Rockers vs. Jem and the Holograms

Characters in children's shows are usually children or animals, with teenagers pushing the envelope a bit--but it's rare to find a cast almost entirely made up of adults. We have two here who take "fake" bands and their backstage drama to heights that younger characters never could. I'm cheating a little with Barbie and the Rockers because they didn't have a TV show of their own, just a couple of direct-to-video movies. But they were developed precisely to compete with Jem and the Holograms, whose TV success was translating into major doll sales. We know whose company eventually dominated in the doll market, but which band would you rather see get ahead in this smackdown?

vs.
California Dreams vs. The Zits

Let's throw in two bands from teen programmes, just because we legally count teenagers as children. (Besides, I can't be the only one who watched both California Dreams and Degrassi Junior High before she was a teenager herself.) The "Dreamers" entered music history halfway between The Mamas And The Papas and Katy Perry, which makes them the essential missing link . . . but it's hard to remember them when they played their last gig in high school. (LOL!) We could say the same for The Zits (originally Zit Remedy), who could earn a spot in Canada's Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame (I'm 100% positive there is one . . .) for writing the anthem of their entire class's high school years--their entire class being all Canadian teens in the 1980s. Which band sounds like it could have been on the soundtrack of your teenage years?

vs.
2Ge+her vs. Big Time Rush

Of course I would throw in a boy band! =P How do these guys manage to seem more artificial than the puppets? LOL! The members of 2Ge+ther were meant to be a send up of 90s boybands--and like 90s boybands, they all had to stay in character whenever they performed. As much as Big Time Rush also seem like a parody, they are a real boyband. It's only confusing inasmuch as all boybands are "fake" to some degree. The point is that they don't exist just to drive the show; the show also exists to drive their record sales. Which engineered pop concept are you swooning over?

vs.
The Monkees vs. The Partridge Family

Let's close the Archie Sixteen with two "fake" bands that produced "real" music stars. The actors hired to play The Monkees, envisioned in the writing as a Beatles-esque but unsuccessful band, got serious so about the music on the show that they released actual singles which ended up outselling The Beatles! A few years later, David Cassidy would chafe at his role as The Partridge Family's squeaky-clean lead vocalist and would be one of the first teen stars "to go wild" in the name of musical emancipation. And he did enjoy success as a solo artist in the 1970s . . . although the catchy Partridge songs cast a longer shadow than anything he ever did on his own.

* * * * *

If you're also entering the June Giveaway, remember to claim your extra entries on the Rafflecopter just for voting in the smackdown!

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14 comments:

Angie Tusa said...

What a fun smackdown idea!

1.Josie and the Pussycats gets my vote, largely because I have a fondness for the movie version that came out much later.

2.Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem! I'm too much of muppet fan to vote otherwise.

3.The Chipmunks helped expose me to some modern bands of the 80s and that earns them my vote.

4. I'm going to admit I'm voting for Kidd Video solely because my main memory of Kids Incorporated was changing the channel as quickly as possible once it came on. :P

5. Barbie and the Rockers - It's silly, but in my youth I was insulted at the idea that Jem could dare to be as cool as Barbie was, and I refused to watch her show because of it! In reality, it was probably because my parents refused to buy me dolls that would need their own separate clothes and shoes.

6. California Dreams - I know nothing of either of these, but I can't bring myself to vote for a band called The Zits. :P

7. 2Ge+her - Once again, I'm not familiar with these, so I'm sort of choosing at random.

8. The Monkees! I'm currently watching season 2 (with plans to cover the show on my blog when I'm done) so I'm secretly hoping they get far in the smackdown. :)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thanks, Angie! It's always nice to know everyone's reasons. =)

I wish I had time to watch The Monkees with you! I know I saw some episodes as a child--and at least one made me laugh until my stomach hurt--but my memories are vague and I really should revisit them as an adult.

Our mutual friend NoelCT also voted on Twitter.

Brandon said...

(1) Josie and the Pussycats. There's something about the Archie theme that just grates on my nerves.

(2) The Banana Splits.

(3) The Chipmunks.

(4) Kidd Video. I know what you're thinking -- this kid is up a tree -- but I'm not crazy; come on and follow me....

(5) Jem and the Holograms.

(6) The Zits, I think. But I don't remember either of these -- DeGrassi I know about, but that's the closest contact I seem to have had with either of them.

(7) 2Ge+her, for coming as close as a boy band can come to telling the truth about things. I had almost completely forgotten about them.

(8) The Monkees. I used to love The Monkees when I was little.

mrsdarwin said...

1 Eleanor and I both say Josie and the Pussycats, though we don't like either.

2. Two votes for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

3. I don't know that I want to *hear* more of the Chipmunks, but I vote for Alvin, Simon, and Theodore for sheer nostalgia's sake. Eleanor says The Beagles.

4. Kidd Video for me; Eleanor prefers the Kidd Video's video but the Kids Incorporated sound, so I guess that's a vote for Kids Incorporated.

5. 2 votes for Jem.

6. 2 votes for The Zits.

7. 2Ge+ther, definitely. That was actually pretty funny. Eleanor disagrees, and says Big Rush because she didn't like the kissing in the 2Ge+ther video. All the peanut gallery is with me.

8.Everyone votes Monkees, of course, though I was surprised that I was almost swayed by the Partridges. I remember watching The Monkees when I was little, and my dad used to sing a parody of the theme song called "The Skunkees" which included the line," 'Cause we're the pew generation/ And we've got something to spray."

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Brandon -- The Archies theme is definitely not up to Sugar Sugar standards!

Mrs. Darwin -- I remember mostly the corny plots from The Partridge Family, so I was surprised that listening to the songs again also swayed me a little. Casting David Cassidy was the best thing the producers could have done . . . even in the light of what happened later! =P

Eleanor -- Thanks for voting, too! =) I'm not a fan of kissing in music videos, either!

Paul Stilwell said...

1. The Archies

2. Dr. Teeth. The Banana Splits don't stand a chance.

3. The Chipmunks. The beagles don't stand a chance.

4. Kidd Video

6. The Zits

8. The Monkees. Me and my brothers watched it as kids. Never occurred to us it was retro programming.

Notice I didn't vote for 5 and 7.

cyurkanin said...

1) With all the odds stacked against them, I still remain aboard the good ship Archie as it heads towards the feminist ice-burg of sex-appeal called the Pussycats.

2) Though I would have liked toe have seen the Splits crush some of the other posers here beneath their yellow feet in a later round, Dr. Teeth for the win.

3) I have never heard of the Beagles nor have I ever heard a single note played from their pretend instruments. Therefore, my ballot is cast (with the United Nations Observers monitoring a 100% voter turnout) and it's unanimous: The Beagles.

4) Just awful. 14 seconds of each video was enough. Kids Incorporated because at least they tried to copy the sound of the Go-Go's. Or maybe not, but I'm not going back to listen again.

5) With two daughters, I've pretty much seen every single Barbie thing ever put on TV, DVD, VHS, YouTube, whatever. The horror... the horror... I seem to remember at least being able to root for the bad girls in the Jem episodes, so I cast this one nauseously for the Holograms as I know they will be purged before this id over.

6) California Dreams. It's 42 seconds shorter.

7) Big Time Rush. Same thing except MUCH shorter.

8) LOVE the Monkees!!! Seen every episode twenty times. It used to be on in the same hour block as Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp when I was a kid. Some of my favorite memories in front of the old boob tube. Plus the Monkey-Mobile was a GTO with that beautiful Coke-bottle design, the coolest American car EVER made and was still the fastest American production car made until the Grand National came on the scene for a year or two in the 80's. The modern Corvette is the only other American stock model that can beat it in the quarter mile straightaway.

That said, The Partridge Family because, obviously, Susan Dey.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

People's choices are so . . . interesting! =P

Stilwell -- Would you believe that I thought the Splits would get lucky? LOL!

Christopher -- Susan Dey's character Laurie was always my favourite Partridge. =)

Paul Stilwell said...

My lack of belief in their winning over Dr. Teeth probably has to do with the fact that I didn't watch them as a kid. I vaguely seem to remember them on t.v. Same goes for The Beagles. I mean, yeah, The Chipmunks voices get annoying. I watched them sometimes. But The Beagles just seem so meh.

But you know what The Splits put me in mind of? The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. No, they're not a t.v. band, but, well...this part of the show featuring the Wolfman:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoIN0XlALDA

Early Saturday mornings baby, oh yeah. LOL. I found that show so utterly fascinating.

Christopher, that's the spirit. The Archies still have a fighting chance!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Canadian TV never ceases to surprise me! How have I not heard of The Hilarious House of Frankenstein until this late point in my unworthy life???

And for some utterly weird reason, I'm reminded of Nickelodeon's short-lived Out of Control. One day I'll do research on children's variety shows . . .

Sullivan McPig said...

Never even heard of most of these....

But here are my votes:

Josie and the Pussycats
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
The Chipmunks
Kidd Video
Jem and the Holograms
California Dreams
2Ge+her
The Monkees

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I kept the polls open just for you, Sully! ;-)

But now it seems that we have a tie, so I must await one more commenter or tweeter before I can close the polls . . .

Itinérante said...

I have not heard of ANY of these shows! (I feel a little bit uncultured =/). Some of them are a bit weird. Anyway here is my vote (and thank you so much Enbrethiliel for letting me do it still!)

1- Josie and the Pussycats (I remember someone got me an Archie booklet when I was younger but I only learned English at the age of 16 so it was just a cool booklet for colourful crafts back then)
2- The Banana Splits (this one is really cool!)
3- The Chipmunks (The voices made me so much giggle!)
4- Kidd Video (I learned about them newly!)
5- Jem and the Holograms (the other one was a bit strange)
6- The Zits
7- 2Ge+her
8- The Monkees

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

That's okay, Itinerante! Your vote is just as welcome. =) Thanks for breaking the tie!

By the way, until I decided to do this smackdown, I also hadn't heard of some of the bands that I've decided to feature. This is a learning experience for me, too!