04 July 2014


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

We're finally back on track this week--sort of! During the Intermission, Love Handel utterly demolished Iron Weasel . . . and I can't say I'm surprised. =P Here's a face-off that (I hope) will be a little more unpredictable.

The Sundance Kids vs. The Evolution Revolution

The 1970s were a great decade for "fake" bands. I couldn't let them dominate the Archies Sixteen, of course, but it still hurt to cull them from the final cut. Some bands seemed to exist "just because," but others came with stories. And for some reason, many of the stories involved crime and espionage. Take the Sundance Kids, a teen band with fans all over the world: they were really undercover CIA agents whose gigs gave them the perfect cover in any foreign locations where they had to solve a case. On the other hand, Lance Link already had a good thing going with the Evolution Revolution when he was recruited by A.P.E. to be one of their secret agents. The band continued to perform together because songs turned out to be great vehicles for coded messages! Which group of singing spies gets your vote?

Tell me in the combox which band you like better and earn another entry in what really should be called the June/July Giveaway! The Rafflecopter is at the end of this post.

Round 3B
The "Fake" Four

Kidd Video . . .

The closer we get to the final round, the realer these "fake" bands get. The four members of Kidd Video had to audition as both actors and musicians, and they really did sing on everything. Three of them even contributed some guitar work, and one of them wrote a song. Most importantly for the 80s, they "gave good face": every animated Kidd Video episode ended with the four actor-musicians miming their way through a live-action video that would have been perfectly at home on MTV. Who cares about low production values when the aesthetic is absolutely right?

But you can only go so far when you have four singers and no drummer. Now, this isn't to say that Kidd Video would have been significantly bigger if the producers had understood the "band formula" the way they got the "Saturday morning cartoon formula" . . . but I am wondering how far they intended to drive this cart. For it's a general rule that 80s cartoons didn't exist just to entertain children, but also to make those children buy lots of toys. In fact, the toys came first and the cartoons were written around them. But Kidd Video never came with a toy line . . . which means that it was either committed to old-school storytelling (Ha!) or interested in selling the band. But this just brings us back to the question of why they gave us a band that doesn't really deliver outside of the fantasy dimension which is the cartoon's main setting. In the only "live" Kidd Video performance I can find online, the actress who plays the drummer isn't even onstage. They couldn't even give her a tambourine???

Again, the music videos are great and the band members rival the mighty Duran Duran in photogenic-ness. Apparently, in the 80s, that was all they really needed.

. . . The Monkees

When the producers of The Monkees put out that magazine advert "Running parts for 4 insane boys, 17 to 21," they wanted neither actors nor musicians. The inspiration was The Beatles' Hard Day's Night movie . . . the plan was to find four charismatic lads who could "play themselves" in situation comedy and who could sing while session musicians backed them up . . . and the result was some gold. (Oh, the odds . . .)

And what The Monkees got was the uphill struggle to prove that a band can start out "fake" and still become real. We who were born after they wrote and recorded Headquarters can only properly appreciate this if we consider what One Direction would need to do for us to find them "real." (Now, those odds . . .)

As impressive as this success story is, we should also ask if we're letting ourselves be swayed by something utterly incidental to "fake" bands. If actors can convincingly portray the members of a musical group and the professional musicians hired to provide their sound hold up their end of the deal, isn't this good enough? There are actually two legitimate answers to that, and they are "Yes, of course" and "Yes, but now we need a whole new category for The Monkees." And frankly, The Monkees are covered by both answers: they started out completely "fake" (but totally entertaining!), earned more musical control as the show went on, and continued playing, performing and even producing music together after the show was cancelled. It isn't even a mark against them that their early stuff, the songs chosen for them, still define them as a band--not when they had the great luck of having producers who could pick pop hits. Perhaps those producers also knew more about picking pop stars than they themselves guessed!

* * * * *

Kidd Video vs. The Monkees

Winner: The Monkees

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Paul Stilwell said...


And I'm voting for those other "monkees" over the sundancers. I like the song better, and the work that the filmmakers did there was just so darned earnest.

cyurkanin said...

The Secret Chimp in all ways. I keep hoping for a brave producer to appear and add some fresh insight to the Link story with a new Lancelot Reloaded movie trilogy.

Brandon said...

That's a tough one! Going only on this, I think for me the Sundance Kids just win over the Evolution Revolution. But I don't know that I've ever heard of the latter; part of what makes a band is its story, and it sounds like it would be an interesting one.

I think the Kidd Video producers focused too much on video at the expense of making the band a band.

Enbrethiliel said...


Stilwell -- Your comment on the work behind Lancelot Link made me watch the clip again. That chimp is "playing" a real Fender!!!

Christopher -- But will he be the sort of brave which will cast Andy Serkis or the sort of brave which will use real animal actors? (Have I answered my own question? =P)

Brandon -- Lancelot Link was totally new to me until I started this smackdown, too! And I totally agree with you about where the Kidd Video producers went wrong.

Itinérante said...

I like The Sundance Kids more...
I am getting exposed to many thing though this, thank you Enbrethiliel!

mrsdarwin said...

Gotta go with the Evolution Revolution, for their psychedelic flair and their driving piano line, and, of course, monkeys in leisure suits. Also, I think the song was better.

Something that struck me when I was watching the Sundance Kids: how you'll have these fake bands playing a mediocre song, and the audience will be reacting as if it's the greatest popular ballad since "Pox On You For A Fop". Of course that's the plotline of the story, but it's not entirely convincing to the viewer.

Enbrethiliel said...


Itinerante -- You're welcome! =) I hope you like the music.

Mrs. Darwin -- Your observation reminds me of The Bodyguard, a movie with a "fake" pop star . . . who is first believable because she is played by a real pop star . . . and then completely unbelievable because the "fake" star has received a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars while the real one's acting got her a (well-deserved) Worst Actress nomination at the Razzies!

On the other hand, we get a lot of real pop stars these days getting adulation while they sing mediocre songs, so perhaps the Sundance Kids would be believable if the show got updated, a la Jonny Quest!