Fake It ’Til You Make It
If these guys became rockstars, you sure as hell can
By Maren Tarro and Laura Marrich
There are a multitude of phony-baloney "bands" that have made the jump from fiction to radio. Bands that blurred the line between fantasy and reality so effectively that even Stephen Hawking’s sexy Speak and Spell voice can’t explain the phenomenon.
If your 2008 resolution is to break into music stardom, take a page from these hucksters. Adapt a few easily mimicked, time-tested gimmicks and you'll be on the path to rockstardom. Here's the best of the best (or best of the worst) ranked from best to worst (or worst to best). You be the judge.
GWAR's satirical shocker-rockers make you wonder if their parents regret footing the bill for their art school tuition. By donning elaborate costumes that the Sci-Fi channel only wishes it could afford and committing crimes against nature to less than stunning death-metalesque disquietude, GWAR has entertained the easily entertained for years. Thanks to Beefcake the Mighty and crew, the rubber wiener is out of the dark confines of nightstand drawers and back in the spotlight.
Workin' it: Janet Jackson already had famous pipes and show-stopping moves, but it took stealing GWAR's (malfunctioning) wardrobe to make her infamous.
When "golden-eared" producer Don Kirshner lost control of The Monkees, he brought The Archies to life. Its sterilized, animated rock gods and goddesses shot to the top of the charts with "Sugar, Sugar" and showed the world that cartoons are more than just a Saturday morning diversion—they're a musical force to be reckoned with.
Workin' it: A pasty, freckle-faced, red-headed mama's boy that's hugely popular with pre-pubescent girls? Are we talking about Archie Andrews or Clay Aiken? (Word has it that, in lieu of working genitalia, Aiken sports a patch of "flesh-toned" plastic bioengineered by Simon Cowell.)
This rock-mockumentary band reduced hesher heroes down to what music snobs know they really are: well-hung misogynists in Spandex. Sophomoric lyrics coupled with a long line of ill-fated drummers make this band the comedic epitome of hair-farming, head-banging, pelvis-thrusting bar bands across mid-America. And they had the cajones to go on tour.
Workin' it: Velvet Revolver is so far down the excessive rock rabbit hole, it's almost a parody of itself—almost. Besides, that rabbit hole is lined with dollar bills.
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
While most musicians just smell like a used bathmat, these monsters of rock were actually made of them. The house band of "The Muppet Show" first appeared in the pilot episode, and its furry frenzy of puppeted rock carried it through five seasons and several movies, leaving us with approximately 17,000 drummers who have nicknamed themselves "Animal."
Workin' it: A rash of bands like Broken Social Scene are capitalizing on DTatEM's mildly Canadian, folk-rock-collective-in-bright-colors racket. Gather up some friends and learn to play the harmonium. You'll have your day, too.
Unlike the popular hangover cure it's named after, this musically innocuous group has unsettled stomachs for decades. Menudo drove home that puberty is anathema to boy band success and changed its members frequently—sprout a chest hair and you’re out faster than a gay man window shopping at Lane Bryant. Don’t forget to thank Menudo's manager for Ricky Martin.
Workin' it: Lil Mama neatly solves the impending chest hair dilemma by not being a a flock of 11-year-old Puerto Rican boys. Voila. Eternally cute.
Blame it on the rain, or blame it on a fickle public, but even pop-loving 13-year-olds used to find lip-synching offensive. After having their Grammy revoked, Rob and Fab attempted several comebacks, but the public was simply unable to forgive the counterfeit duo. They didn’t even get the chance to do an apologetic jig.
Workin' it: Ashlee Simpson was busted for lip-synching during her 2004 "Saturday Night Live" appearance, but it didn't sink her career. In fact, just about every pop star is doing it these days and no one seems to care. Milli Vanilli wasn't unethical—just 15 years ahead of its time.
Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate
Eddie Murphy’s parody of this soul-ish group made Coming to America an instant classic when, while sporting the requisite Soul-Glo ’do, Randy Watson ruthlessly murdered Whitney Houston’s "Greatest Love of All" at a rally.
Workin' it: R. Kelly picked up where Sexual Chocolate left off with masterstroke jams such as "Bump N' Grind" and "Feelin' on Yo Booty." Let's not forget he released an entire album called Chocolate Factory in 2003.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Not only did its magical horns end WWI but also the careers of several cast members of the star-crossed flick. The world just wasn’t ready for the musical train wreck of Peter Frampton leading the Bee Gees in Beatles covers.
It seems that all actors want to be rockstars deep down in their silly little hearts. Drew Carey used his sitcom as a vehicle to live out his rock ’n’ roll fantasy in several episodes as the frontman for a band that eventually ends up being comprised of The James Gang. The band storyline did allow for some classic music cameos, including when The Horndogs turn down Joey Ramone because they “already have a tall, skinny guy” and when they lose a battle of the bands to the Reverend Horton Heat.
Workin' it: Tenacious D has the best actor-musician gig of all because Jack Black and Kyle Gass parlayed it backwards—they used music as the entrypoint to a lucrative career in TV and film. Granted, for a plan like theirs to work, you'll have to be as musically gifted as The D. And that involves selling your soul to satan.
Jesse and the Rippers
Admit it. Twenty years ago, Friday nights signaled you were glued to the boob-tube watching as Danny, Joey and Uncle Jesse patiently guided Michelle, Stephanie and D.J. into womanhood on "Full House." When Uncle Jesse wasn’t busy sorting out the latest Tanner family crisis he was crooning saccharine-sweet lyrics to harmless guitar riffs. Though he never was able to move out of his brother-in-law’s attic, he did get to sit in with The Beach Boys. Have mercy.
Workin' it: Hair accounts for a lot, and British cutie Mark Ronson—whose productions are unapologetically referential to the ’90s—is feathered with the best of them.
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