18 June 2014


Children's Programme "Fake" Band Smackdown, Round 3A!
(Revisit Round 1 and Round 2)

If you were paying attention last weekend, when I published a backdated Locus Focus post, then you know that I don't plan parties as much as I improvise them. So although I planned to have wildcards to liven up this smackdown party, I've since changed my mind. These posts will continue to be interactive--but only because comments are my energy source and without them I shrivel up and die. You wouldn't want that, would you? (Would you???)

Last week, Fat Albert and the Junkyard Band trounced School of Rock. Which of these next two bands do you think will come out on top after seven days?

Jesse and the Rippers vs. Mystik Spiral

A "fake" band doesn't always have to play a big part in the plot of its programme. Sometimes it's just there to flesh out a character some more. I mean, of course Elvis and Beach Boys fan Uncle Jesse of Full House would have his own cover band. And it tells Daria fans a lot about the sarcastic, unimpressed title character that she can be reduced to blushes by the slacker lead singer of a Grunge garage band. (I had a 90s flashback just typing that sentence.) Having had to round out a singer-songwriter character of my own by writing a song for him, I appreciate writers who go the extra musical mile.

Voting for one of these bands today will not get either of them a wildcard slot, but it will get you another entry in the June Giveaway Rafflecopter, which is embedded at the end of this post. [UPDATE: I forgot to add the entry to the Rafflecopter last night, but it's there now!] But first . . .

Round 3A
The "Fake" Four

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem . . .

Do you know what my first idea for this year's June smackdown was? A "Muppet Show Special Guest Smackdown"! I dropped it only because I didn't have time to review a decent sample of Muppet Show episodes and wasn't confident in my ability to arrange a bracket of sixteen with nothing but hazy memories and other people's lists to guide me. So now Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem are either making up for that decision or showing me how silly I was to give up even with so much against me. You decide. =P

I confess that I wasn't a very big fan of this "fake" band until I started this blog series. As much as I loved the musical numbers on The Muppet Show, I preferred to see the other Muppets (with or without their human guests) creating skits around well-known songs. Long before music videos were a thing, Jim Henson and company understood how to wed melody and lyrics to visuals and characters, in order to create something that was greater than the sum of its parts. In contrast, The Electric Mayhem were a "straight" house band that usually performed without gimmicks. Now that I've finally paused to ponder that, I "see what Henson was doing there" . . . and I understand that he didn't want anything distracting us from the fact that the puppets in this band are three-dimensional characters and very serious musicians.

Yeah, even Animal. What a drummer!

. . . Jem and the Holograms

You already know that I was a big fan of this band--another one which was all about creating a believable character on stage. And in one of the darker twists children's programming has seen, Jem! also explores what happens when the relationship between creator and creation turns dysfunctional. But you'll only get a hint of that from the songs themselves; the real clues are in the music videos. And it's really the videos that give Jem and the Holograms their legitimacy as a band.

So it's ironic that there's a sense in which the videos are "fake" as well. When most of the world has no idea that Jem and Jerrica Benton are the same person, and the success of the band depends on keeping the secret, then why would they hint at it so baldly in a visual medium? We can consider these videos less an interpretation of the songs than the inspiration behind them--which is also a big deal in modern pop. At least I keep running into fans who like knowing the stories behind their favourite songs. And for at least the past two years I've been hoping to do a "Taylor Swift Songs about Ex-Boyfriends" Smackdown! (ROFLMAO, right? But seriously, yes!!!)

Even with nothing but "fake" videos of Jerrica's inner life, Jem and the Holograms are a great media artefact from MTV's first decade. This Final Four should have probably seen them squaring off against the equally Eighties Kidd Video--but there's a good reason why I decided not to do that, which I'll be sharing in next week's post.

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem vs. Jem and the Holograms

Winner: Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Angie Tusa said...

Mystik Spiral, Mystik Spiral, Mystik Spiral! What do you mean saying it multiple times doesn't count as additional votes? :)

While I loved Full House as a child, Trent from Daria is one of my rare cartoon crushes. I totally understood why she was blushing!

cyurkanin said...

Gotta stick with what I know - Jesse.

Itinérante said...

It's awesome how you can find these!
I liked Mystik Spiral more =)

Enbrethiliel said...


Angie -- I think my cartoon crush was Jonny Quest. LOL!

Christopher -- You got it, dude! ;-)

Itinerante -- I had to do quite a bit of research to find them! And there are still several others that I wish I could have featured, too. I'm thinking of having a "Found Music Friday" feature in the future, for musical numbers in movies and TV series.

Paul Stilwell said...

Mystik Spiral.

Anything that's even remotely linked to Full House I will smack down - no questions asked - even it meant voting for Jen and the Holograms.

Which is why, by the way, looking up Out of Control sent my memory bank for a loop as I went, "GAH! NO!"

Now I'm wondering about something. Would fake bands from movies count in these smackdowns?

This is Spinal Tap?

But there's a case of a fake band actually becoming something of a real band, with tours, performing as the band in the movie.

Enbrethiliel said...


You're not the only one who looked up Out of Control recently! LOL!!! My own Full House memories are kind of positive, so the dissonance I felt when watching Dave Coulier in that earlier Nickelodeon show came from knowing that while it was being filmed, the host "Dave" was giving Alanis Morisette grist for her Grammy-winning mill. You're so interesting, Canada!

I initially didn't want to feature bands from movies . . . but School of Rock was such a shoo-in. =P So I decided to keep the focus on bands created for children.

But now that you bring it up, This Is Spinal Tap is probably the only band that would be a worthy wildcard for what the final round is shaping up to be. Not that I'm doing wildcards, either, but you know what I mean!

Brandon said...

Mystik Spiral, without a doubt.

mrsdarwin said...

I have not one, not two, but SIX votes here for Mystik Spiral. We couldn't even watch Uncle Jesse's video all the way through, and the girls were appalled at the beginning: "He's NAKED!"

Yes, we diverge from Christopher, and that's painful, but this is how it has to be.

Enbrethiliel said...


Brandon -- Thanks! =)

Mrs. Darwin -- I listened to Uncle Jesse's video rather than watched it, so I didn't notice--but yeah, that's an unfortunate creative choice!