Mark Wahlberg stars as Chris Cole, the lead singer of a tribute band who becomes lead singer of the real band he idolizes. This movie explores the rabid popularity and backstage excesses of the glam rock bands that dominated 1980's music.
This film contains examples of:
- A Party Also Known as an Orgy: The party that occurs after Chris' first performance with Steel Dragon.
- Armored Closet Gay: Steel Dragon's original singer.
- Ascended Fanboy: The plot.
- Based on a True Story: Tim "Ripper" Owens was in a Judas Priest tribute band before joining Judas Priest itself.
- Basement-Dweller: Although he doesn't live in the basement, pre-fame Chris Cole is a grown man who still lives with his parents (a fact that his police officer brother loves pointing out), and his bedroom walls are covered in Steel Dragon posters.
- Big Brother Mentor: Mats.
- Binge Montage: Happens while Steel Dragon is on tour and living the rock and roll lifestyle.
- Book Ends: Chris impresses the lead singer by singing along at a concert; a fan later does the same thing to him.
- British Rockstar: Most of the other members of Steel Dragon, although Ghode (the other guitarist, played by Zakk Wylde) is American, as evidenced by his New Jersey accent.
- Control Freak: Chris' insistence that Blood Pollution play the songs exactly the same way Steel Dragon does, as well as refusing to let his bandmates play original songs, eventually results in him being kicked out of the band.
- Doing It for the Art: How Chris feels about his tribute band.
- The Eighties
- '80s Hair
- End of an Age: The hair-metal/glam rock era of the 80's.
- Fake Band
- Groupie Brigade: And how!
- Grunge: At the end of the film Chris becomes disillusioned with the rock star lifestyle, so he quits Steel Dragon, moves to Seattle, and starts making grunge music.
- I Am the Band: Kurt Cutty feels this way.
- Important Haircut: Chris gets one at the end, going from metal length to Cobain length.
- Insistent Terminology: Blood Pollution is a tribute band, not a cover band (at least according to Chris).
- Intercourse with You: The Steel Dragon song "Stand Up And Shout".
- Meaningful Echo: When Bobby Beers is fired from Steel Dragon, it plays out very similarly to Chris being kicked out of his band earlier in the film.
- Metal Head: The members of Steel Dragon, their fans, and their groupies.
- Metal Scream: Stand up and SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUT!
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Chris is scoffed at when he recommends this.
- Mr. Fanservice: As the manager explains, this is why the band is popular.
- New Sound Album: Chris wants to do one of these, but is overruled.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: No bands were harmed; Steel Dragon could easily be a stand-in for Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, Guns N' Roses, Twisted Sister, Poison, Winger, Slaughter, Warrant, etc.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Played straight. The singer and lead guitar are the only members written in any detail.
- Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Chris has one. Covered in (you guessed it) Steel Dragon posters.
- Power Ballad: "We All Die Young".
- Real Men Wear Pink: "Is that mascara?" "I'm in a band."
- The Rock Star: Chris becomes one.
- Running Gag: Don't call Blood Pollution a cover band.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll
- The Show Must Go On: In the very beginning of the first song in his first concert with Steel Dragon, Chris Cole slips and falls down the stairs. Despite a nasty head wound and possible concussion, Chris rallies and finishes the song and the concert.
- Sibling Rivalry: Chris thinks his brother, Joe, fight constantly. Joe thinks Chris is a pathetic Basement-Dweller, while Chris thinks his brother is a pig cop. Their relationship seems to improve after Chris joins Steel Dragon.
- Shown Their Work: In-universe, Chris knows everything about Steel Dragon. "The stitching should be green... and has anyone ever seen Bobby wear a jacket with blue lapels?"
- Stage Names: Izzy.