Secret agent chimps, Beatles-esque mop toppers, comic book heroes, heavy metal thunder and Fake-sta rappers. Sometimes the parody ends up better than the real deal. Here are a few of our favorite fake bands.

The Monkees – The original fake band, the Monkees were the brainchild of rock impresario Don Kirshner. We all know and love their songs … and for very good reason. The band employed top tier writers including Neil Diamond and a team of Brill Building all-stars. When the band decided they wanted to play their own instruments it was the beginning of the end, although the album Head is an undisputed psychsploitation classic. Steven Stills was even in the running to become one of the original Monkees. He was turned away because producers felt his receding hairline didn’t bode well for a future made-for-TV teen idol. Here’s the band doing the original punk classic “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone”:


Spinal Tap – Set your amp all the way to 11! Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and a literal army of drummers and keyboardists (some of whom have even been known to spontaneously combust mid-set!) are the high watermark of faux-bands. Tap had roots all the way back to the skiffle scene of late ’50s Britain and dabbled in flower power before settling into heavy metal. Smell The Glove, Break Like The Wind, and the critically panned Shark Sandwich are just a few career highlights. The same crew hit the mark again when they took on folk music as the Folksmen in the Christopher Guest directed A Mighty Wind. The obligatory “Stonehenge” clip follows:


Bad News – The comedy troupe behind BBC cult classic The Young Ones took the Spinal Tap formula and ran with it. The resulting movie, while a clear rip on Tap’s heavily treaded ground, is hailed by discerning fans as even funnier than its more well-known inspiration. Queen’s Brian May handled production duties for the band who recorded a few singles and an album. Here’s their “Warriors of Ghengis Khan” with its upbeat refrain of “Burning, shooting, raping, looting!” It’s like the worst of Priest meets Crüe meets Zep meets Queen meets Tap.


The Archies – After his experience with the Monkees, Don Kirshner wised up quick and realized that dealing with animated performers (literally, not figuratively) would be less of a headache than with real live actors. Adapted from the squeaky clean comic, the band with Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and the rest of the gang released a slew of venerable Bubblegum classics. Songs like “Sugar, Sugar” and “S.K.O.O.B.Y. Doo” were built around hooks, hooks, and more hooks. The Archies dominated Bubblegum alongside fellow comicish band the Banana Splits (who employed one Barry White in their stable of writers!). Their songs were so crunchy sweet that it’s no wonder they were used to market breakfast cereal!


Lancelot Link & The Evolution Revolution – Lancelot Link was a crime fighting chimp by day and a rocker by night. At least that’s what the creators of the show would have liked you to believe. Employing an age old comedy gag—a chimp in a wig doing anything is funny—the producers of Lancelot Link would dress the cast up in rock regalia, and they would lip sync to a new song at the end of every episode. The music is classic gum with a blueprint that would go on to launch dopey bands like the Ramones, Dickies, and Queers a decade or so later. Their signature song “The Evolution Revolution” is an undisputed classic!


N.W.H. – No list of fake bands would be complete without the mention of N.W.H., the fictional gangsta rap group from the gut-bustingly hilarious mockumentary Fear of a Black Hat. Hailed as the Spinal Tap of hip-hop, the band takes on all the sacred cows with cheap shots at Spike Lee, John Singleton, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Dre, and the rest of N.W.A., and hippie flower power MC’s P.M. Dawn with hilarious repartee. MC’s Ice Cold, Tasty Taste, and Tone Def drop serious science on tracks like “Booty Juice,” “Grab Yo Stuff” and “Ice Froggy Frogg” as well as a bunch of other rhymes with titles too unsavory to be mentioned here.