Face of the Band

The Color Stealing Squad in action.

"Ziggy played guitar
Jammin' good with Weird and Gilly
And the Spiders from Mars
He played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were Ziggy's band"

In most cases, whenever a high-profile band becomes well known, most casual fans can only identify one particular band member by name. Usually it's the lead singer. Sure, there are a few other people playing the drums, guitar and bass, but who cares about them? They're just background noise, so they don't get much of the publicity, if any at all. One possible explanation for this involves the rise of the music video. For the most part, when a band makes a music video, the camera tends to focus on the person singing, thereby giving a lead singer much more camera time than the rest of the band. In extreme cases, the lead singer will be the only one in the music video.

This is especially prevalent in bands that are named for one or more of the founding members (Santana, Gladys Knight and the Pips), bands with rotating casts aside from one or two consistent members, or bands with one female member (even in the rare case where she doesn't sing lead, which is a sure-fire clincher of "face" status, she'll at least be the other Face Of The Band simply by virtue of being The Chick). It's also rather fascinating just how often this tends to be a rare human-specific case of What Measure Is a Non-Cute?. (Not really surprising, but fascinating.)

Depending on the genre, the person linked to the band will inevitably go solo, and the rest of the band will often fade into obscurity afterwards.

The two-person version of this trope, and also its opposite (where one band member is much more forgettable than the others) is Garfunkel. Taken to its Logical Extreme, becomes I Am Not Shazam. See also I Am the Band and Spotlight-Stealing Title. When a group tries to carry on after losing its most prominent member(s), the result is The Band Minus the Face. Can occur even on a Long Runner Line Up. Not to be confused with The Face but the roles can overlap if the one member everyone knows is also the most social. Quite common if the band is named after the guy.

Also, no points are given out to tropers for knowing the names of all the band members who are NOT the Face of the Band, so don't list them. This trope refers to the general public, of course you can probably name all the members of your favorite band, but casual fans usually don't. This is not a game of "Hahaha, I can name all the members of The Moody Blues and you can't, so I'm superior!" So don't add that stuff in, please.


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  • Mark Hall of Casting Crowns.
  • Mac Powell of Third Day.
  • John Cooper of Skillet would be a perfect example — if not for the fact that there are two female members in the band (John's wife Korey and drummer Jen Ledger, who also provides co-lead vocals). This ultimately leaves the band's guitarist as its least known member.
  • Jon Foreman of Switchfoot.

  • A Seinfeld episode pokes fun at the fact that two of the Three Tenors (Pavarotti and Domingo) are considerably better known than the third one (Jose Carreras). Of course, at the end of the episode they find a character who knows Carreras "and those other two guys".
    • Whose Line Is It Anyway? also made fun of this, during a Greatest Hits game. Colin said to Ryan, "I love the Three Tenors; Pavarotti, Domingo... and the other guy. So I guess I only like two."

    Comedy / Parody 
  • A lot of people don't even know that "Weird Al" Yankovic has a real, honest-to-God band that he's been recording and touring with for decades.
    • Of which most people can only name the drummer (Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, but only because he's Yankovic's official band historian).
    • Notable in that, with the exception of Ruben Valtierra (who got started doing keyboards for Al during concert), the band has been the exact same since Al's first album.
  • Fans of The Nick Atoms can usually name all three members, but fans of The Nick Atoms tend to be pretty far and few in between...
  • Mitch Benn and the Distractions. Dedicated fans can name Kirsty Newton, but might take a bit longer for either drummer (Tasha Bayliss and Ivan Shepherd).
  • While the members of The Lonely Island generally appear on their songs and videos more or less equally, the casual viewer / listener is more likely to recognize Andy Samberg due to his being a cast member on Saturday Night Live and his starring role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, among other projects. Akiva Schaffer generally only does backstage work and Jorma Taccone hasn't really scored a major role.
  • Tenacious D is Jack Black and a guy who isn't one of the most popular comedy actors of all time.

  • Union Station consists of Alison Krauss and, um...maybe Dan Tyminski, only because of him singing Avicii's "Hey Brother."
  • Parodied in Joan Hess's Much Ado In Maggody, in which country singer Matt Montana's band consists of four nearly identical guys with four-letter first names starting with "B". Even their manager only bothers to keep track of who's who because the drummer's the only one who can be trusted to drive the tour bus.
  • Sugarland is Jennifer Nettles and that guy with the guitar. Apparently, they used to be a trio, too.
  • The Pistol Annies are Miranda Lambert and a couple other girls. Their first CD even had an insert ad for Lambert's solo albums.

Examples from other media:

  • The Kelloggs "Special K" breakfast food is aimed at women who want to stay healthy, regular and slim. The adverts tend to use groups of happy, shapely, unconstipated-looking women. Swimming costumes, post-bath towels or skimpy summer clothes feature a lot, just to make the point that Special K keeps you slim. Most of the women in the adverts wear white or dull neutral grey. But the Special K Girl, the star of the show, the one who typifies the brand to platonic perfection, the leader of the gang, the one the others follow - she, and only she, wears the corporate red. She is also usually black-haired when the rest around her are blonde or mousy.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astonishing X-Men, Cyclops recruited Kitty Pryde to act as this for his team, as his powers and Beast's appearance made it difficult for them to interact in public, while Logan was an unapologetic thug and Emma was an Ice Queen, making Kitty the most personable and normal looking of the original line-up.
  • Though all the characters are mainstream, except possibly Reggie, The Archie's is basically "Archie Andrews and..." in-series and out. Similarly Josie is the face of Josie and the Pussycats.
  • Black Canary's band is even called "Black Canary".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lampshaded in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. The band Stillwater is given a prototype promotional T-shirt to look at - which shows the charismatic and handsome guitarist in a nice portrait - and the rest of the band in shadow. Which gets even funnier in the next scene, when they start to argue over which one of them is going to emulate which "Face of the Band:" "I'm the light, you're the dark! You know, Keith and Mick! Page and Plant!"
  • This Is Spinal Tap Somewhat parodied by Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap, who to say the least is rather meek and quiet in comparison to the other two (founding) members of the band.
  • Still Crazy: Jimmy Nail's character Les. He fumes in the background while Bill Nighy's character (who replaced the original singer) is interviewed. "Why do they always assume the singer is the voice of the band?" Les and Beano are later shown in a television interview given when drunk they identify the Keith and Brian, the two deceased members of the original line-up as being 'the band' which leads to Ray quitting and the band (temporarily) splitting up for a second time.
  • This forms a great deal of the plot of Wayne's World 2. Wayne's girlfriend is Cassandra, lead singer and bassist of the band Crucial Taunt. Her manager sees great potential in her... but not so much the rest of the band, nor for having a boyfriend keeping her from traveling to more lucrative venues.
  • Satisfaction/The Girls of Summer... The fictional band consisted of "star" Justine Bateman, a then-unknown Julia Roberts ("the slut") and...um....
  • Dewey Finn initially is this for the School of Rock but part of his Character Development is not hogging the spotlight for himself. He also attempted to be this in No Vacancy but that's one of the many reasons why they kicked him out.
  • Deconstructed in The Runaways (based on fact too). Cherie Curie is pushed as the Face of The Runaways and the other members end up resenting this. Cherie also suffers an emotional breakdown because of all the pressures of being the famous one (especially since she's only sixteen) and that's why she chooses to leave the band. As Joan Jett puts it...
    "It's my band. She was just the singer"
  • Also deconstructed in the Korean horror film White: The Melody of the Curse. The protagonists, all part of the same K-Pop group, begin competing against each other to be the main member when their popularity peaks. Cue three of the four girls becoming insanely jealous of each other (the fourth, who serves as the Team Mom, simply tries to control the younger three). It goes From Bad to Worse, in no small part because of the vengeful spirit tied to the titular song.

  • Figures heavily in "The Band's Tale" from the Star Wars Expanded Universe anthology Tales from Jabba's Palace, tells the story of the Max Rebo Band, who were seen playing for Jabba in Return of the Jedi. It turns out that the manipulative singer Sy Snootles took control of the group after it's original leader was killed in a shootout, but she put the cheerful, friendly and easily manipulated keyboardist Max Rebo at the front of the group with the intent of making herself The Man Behind the Man. This backfires immensely, as Jabba's agent approaches Rebo, who ends up getting the band trapped in an exclusive contract at Jabba's palace in return for a lifetime supply of free food.
  • Tricky Business has the band's drummer, who while not extremely bright is a remarkable Pornomancer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Beautiful Corrs. And their brother Jim.
  • One episode of CSI featured a murdered rock star who wrote all of his band's songs and would have kept the lion's share of the group's earnings if they'd broken up. This is a strong motive for his bandmates to kill him, but it turns out that the killer is his ex-girlfriend, who was afraid she'd lose custody of their child to him and didn't want the kid caught up in his drug-fuelled lifestyle.
  • In an episode of Quantum Leap Sam leaps into the leader of a Glam Rock band. He writes and sings all their songs and plays guitar; when the other guitarist asks him to play one song he wrote, Sam refuses.
  • Face it, there's a lot of NCIS merchandise and promotions where Gibbs dramatically overshadows the rest of the main characters (even the page picture on this wiki is subject to this), although to be fair, Mark Harmon has had a significant part in the series aside from just his acting. In-universe, Gibbs is the literal posterboy for NCIS.

  • As quoted atop this page, the song "Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie is about how lead guitarist Ziggy becomes this for his band. It goes to his head, and the other members become so tired and envious of Ziggy's success and ego that they ultimately kill him.
  • Wait a minute, there are other Vocaloid singers beside Miku?

  • Invoked in Bally's KISS pinball, which places Paul Stanley front and center on the backglass.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • In-universe example: in Dreamgirls, when the Dreamettes break out from the shadow of Jimmy Early and become the Dreams, Deena is promoted as the most marketable face. This leads to original lead singer Effie trying to steal the spotlight back.

    Video Games 
  • The Heavy from Team Fortress 2. His "Meet the Team" video came out first, and he's in the center of the game's loosely-defined "cover art". And he's also a loud, funny Russian guy, which helps a lot.
  • Freddy Fazbear is this, in-universe and out, for Five Nights at Freddy's. It helps that he's actually in a band, and that his face is plastered all over the games and the restaurant they take place in.note 
  • Splatoon has the in-game band ABXY, also known as the Chirpy Chips internationally. Their lead vocalist is an adorable sea anemone girl, who has already become the most popular of their quartet amongst the game's fans.
  • Backyard Sports: There were thirty kids originally, but few will deny that Pablo was the franchise's face.
  • Pokémon: Let's face it. Most people who're not into the game only know Pikachu. Of the human characters, only Ash from the anime is well-known in the mainstream.

    Visual Novels 
  • The third case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney revolves around a murder at a concert featuring the recurring prosecutor's band, the Gavinners. Despite the band having five members (and an early puzzle requires you to listen to all five musical parts to determine a discrepancy), you only ever see or talk to Klavier and Daryan.

    Web Original 
  • As far as one's concerned, The Escapist's only contributor is Yahtzee Croshaw.
  • yo go re writes so many of the reviews on OAFE that people assume he writes the non-review content as well.
  • Mr. Creepypasta is The Midnight Society. To the point where he actually used to have a trope page by himself. So, of course, he's also one of the best voice actors on YouTube.note 
  • Vinesauce is Vinny and Joel to most people, the former because he's the founder (and his corruption videos, even though that's something he only occasionally does) and the latter after his destruction of a Windows XP virtual machine (as well as a since-disowned joke in the same stream) put him on the map. Originally, it was just Vinny that was the most well known, but even after Joel's popularity added another face to the band, the other streamers still tend to be less well known.
  • Channel Awesome? The Nostalgia Critic is usually the first that comes to mind for people who don't follow the site.

    Western Animation 
  • In Sabrina: The Animated Series when Sabrina, Chloe, Hilda and Zelda cast a spell to make them into a famous Girl Group "The Flavour Babes", Sabrina becomes lead singer and lead guitarist to boot. Naturally she's the one who has to learn An Aesop about letting her ego get the best of her. An in-universe "Where Are They Now?" report describes her as "the face of the Babes".
  • Jem:
    • The band is called "Jem and the Holograms" after all so it's obvious Jem would be this. She's the one who gets the media attention and is an actress. The Live-Action Adaptation and IDW comics both deconstruct this. In the movie Jem getting the spotlight causes her bandmates to leave. In the comics Rio thinks Jem comes off as a spoiled diva and complains why the band isn't just called "The Holograms".
    • Zig-zagged in a meta fashion with The Misfits. While Pizzazz is the lead singer and is well known for being outrageous, Stormer is the fan favorite.
    • In-series The Stingers fanbase consists predominantly of women who are hot for Riot. He is the lead singer and an attractive one at that.

    Real Life 
  • This happens outside the music industry. Bet you can't name more than two men who walked on the moon.
  • The Pythons that aren't John Cleese, occasionally. Eric Idle even hung a lampshade on it in a 30- or 40-year anniversary special by naming them as "John...Paul...George...and...Spike".
  • In a non-music example, John Romero was this for id Software at the height of their Doom-based popularity. This was encouraged by the other company members, who preferred to avoid the spotlight anyway.
    • If you read the credits at the time, American McGee wasn't an easily forgotten name. Even before Alice.
    • After Romero left (and fell from grace), programmer John Carmack, who creates all of id's engines, started to get his recognition.
  • Maxis? Most people only think of Will Wright, and not all his colleagues that did the artwork and music.
  • Thanks to his constant efforts at self-promotion, many people are under the impression that Stan Lee singlehandedly created all the Marvel superheroes. This is even more the case after the latest wave of Marvel movies—after all, Jack Kirby is dead and Steve Ditko is not exactly up for making cameos in movies.
  • Apparently a lot of people believed that the entire Apple Corporation consisted of Steve Jobs putting together laptops and iPods in his garage. When people began hearing that Jobs was in bad health, Apple's stock took a dive.
    • Though ironically the company did start in his garage, though Steve "Woz" Wozniak, the other co-founder of Apple who was arguably more this trope in the early days, did most of the single-handed inventing. Wozniak moved on since, though.
      • Jobs was pretty much always the face; Woz was just the guy who actually, y'know, knew a damn thing about computers other than that you could get people to pay money for them.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto is Nintendo to most people, even when the company has enlisted other talented producers like Eiji Aonuma, Masahiro Sakurai, and Katsuya Eguchi. Takashi Tezuka has about the same role as Miyamoto, but tends to be ignored (he directed The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and the Twin Peaks influence in that game was his idea, and he produced the original Animal Crossing before Eguchi was promoted from director to producer). Also of note is Yoshiaki Koizumi, a major force behind Mario and Zelda titles, Satoshi Tajiri, the mastermind behind Pokemon, and Gunpei Yokoi, the guy who turned the company into what it is today.
    • Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president, was also in this territory. The Nintendo Direct program/press releases might have something to do with this. (Note that in Europe, an entirely different Satoru, Nintendo of Europe president Satoru Shibata, does the Nintendo Directs.) Sadly, Iwata passed away in 2015.
    • The American fanbase can hardly forget about Reggie. He is also well known enough in PAL regions for a Mii based on him to appear in the European Tomodachi Life Nintendo Direct alongside one based on Nintendo of Europe's president, even though Reggie has no control over the European branch.
  • On a similar note: To many people, Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb is the face of the Xbox brand due to being Microsoft Studios' most public figure, although Phil Spencer has gotten recognition after being promoted to "Head of Xbox" and has become well-liked by the fanbase due to his focus on bringing in as many games as possible.
  • Speaking of game companies, Valve Software owner Gabe Newell is the face of the studio. Valve's policy of not crediting individual employees on its works probably contributes to this (though the company maintains a fairly informative staff directory). However several other Valve staff members have some public recognition, usually based on work they did before joining the company.
    • Robin Walker is known for Team Fortress 2, and in fact is himself very much the face of TF2. Hardly anyone can name the other two creators of the original Team Fortress, still less most of the others who have worked on Team Fortress Classic and TF2 inside Valve. This remains the case even though he's now in Valve's Dota 2 team rather than the Team Fortress 2 one.
      • One minor exception is Makani, artist and writer on Valve's TF2 comics, who is widely recognised by TF2 fans. She again fits the pattern of developing your profile before joining Valve, as she is a Promoted Fanboy: first her character design for TF2's Administrator became Ascended Fanon, then Valve took her on to produce the comics.
    • Icefrog was famous among Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars fans as the game's lead developer when Valve (at the instigation of Robin Walker) hired him to create its re-implementation/sequel Dota 2 for them. (This despite the fact that "Icefrog" is the Secret Identity of a Reclusive Artist and it's not publicly known who he is!) However he's not the sole face of Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars as previous lead developers have some fan recognition.
    • Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek were Internet-famous for early computer-gaming satire website Old Man Murray before becoming staff writers for Valve.
    • Michael Abrash was quite widely recognised for his earlier work as a graphics programming author and sometime John Carmack associate and id Software employee when he was at Valve.
    • Non-employee Ellen McLain achieved modest fame as the voice of Portal's villain GLaDOS (and also voiced several other characters for Valve), a rare example of someone making their public name for work which began at Valve.
    • Kim Swift's role as the creator of Portal's core game design (originally from her pre-Valve student project Narbacular Drop) was notable enough that her departure from Valve to work on similar game Quantum Conundrum was publicised to promote the latter game.
  • Back to music: Frank Klepacki for the Command & Conquer series. Jarrid Mendelson, Steve Jablonsky, James Hannigan and Tim Wynn? Who are those people? Particularly notable in that Frank hasn't actually been a composer for any of the games past Renegade - all he's really done for the series since was a third iteration of of "Hell March" for Red Alert 3.
  • The very nature of the game industry (and the film industry, too, come to think of it) promotes "faces" rather than "bands." You have a few big-name developers/directors who have either charisma or vision, and they lead hundreds of more or less faceless workers in the creation of their product. How many people are going to remember anyone besides the central creative force behind the whole thing?
    • Some other companies do at least try to give some recognition to those faceless workers - Call of Duty games, for instance, have their randomly-generated Red Shirt allies (at least the American ones) named after various workers at the company. That said, it does still fall into this on occasion (particularly among disgruntled PC fans, Bobby Kotick from the series' publisher does tend to overshadow both the rest of his company and those actually making the games).
  • For Hallam FM it's Big John, from Big John@Breakfast, and Metro-Radio it's their Frasier Crane equivalent, Alan Robson.
  • Hideo Kojima is naturally the face of Kojima Productions.
    • However artist Yoji Shinkawa also enjoys considerable name recognition thanks to his character designs and other art for the Metal Gear Solid series.
  • In the podcast world, Throwin Chat is known more for being the Darcy Rhodes show. You can forget the other guy.
  • The Kardashians? Kim's the one that everyone knows. After that comes the other Kardashian sisters, then the Jenner sisters, then the parents, and finally the sons. As of 2015, Kendall and Kylie have surged ahead of Kourtney and Khloe in fame (thanks to the millennial generation), but are nowhere close to dethroning Kim. Also, as of 2014, you can throw Kim's husband Kanye West into the mix. And Bruce's stock has certainly risen greatly now that he became Caitlyn.
  • Yoshitaka Nishimura, otherwise known as DJ YOSHITAKA, become the face of the BEMANI franchise in The New Tens, serving as the head producer for beatmania IIDX, Popn Music, Reflec Beat, Sound Voltex, and BeatStream; in other words, half of all active BEMANI series.note  On top of that, he's known for a number of "boss" songs, most notably "FLOWER", a song that has been crossed over into nearly every active BEMANI series. It is joked about amongst fans that he practically runs the BEMANI franchise now.
  • The leaders of the Soviet Union. Pretty much everyone knows Lenin and Stalin, and most people should also be able to name Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev; but just how few can name all eight? note .
  • Not too many people outside of Germany can name any member of the Nazi party besides Hitler. The only other well known leaders of Germany are Otto von Bismarck, Wilhelm II, Helmut Kohl, and Angela Merkel.
  • Israel's prime ministers were David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. Apparently, nobody outside Israel has ever heard of Moshe Sharett, Levi Eshkol, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and Ehud Olmert. And how many people even know they have presidents, and that they're not the prime ministers? (Peres was the only person to serve in both offices).

Alternative Title(s): The Face Of The Band