"That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn't see and the synchronised dancing from the room service chaps."
It's time for a character to display his incredible musical talent! The stage is set, an audience gathers, he begins to sing and...
Whoa! Where'd this choir come from?
It's the Invisible Backup Band!
When a single character begins to sing or play a musical instrument a capella, he will immediately be accompanied by suitable background instrumentals, vocals or both (and maybe even some neat stage effects) with no conceivable source. Piano
, gospel choir
... you name it and it will be a member of the Invisible Backup Band.
thrives on this concept.
May or may not accompany Magic Music
- Creamy Mami had this effect as part of her Magical Girl powers, which is how she ended up with a career as an idol singer.
- In a more literal sense, an episode of A Little Snow Fairy Sugar has the musical accompaniment played by fairies that nobody can see or hear.
- The scene in Gundam Wing where Quatre and Trowa play a duet on violin and flute, respectively, while there are also drums and guitar in the background. Apparently a couple of Maganac soldiers were playing right behind the camera.
- Azmaria Hendric of Chrono Crusade has a gospel chorus and a soft church organ playing beneath her songs. She also uses Magic Music.
- The titular character of Kobato uses hers in the first episode. She's accompanied not only by a piano, but also by synth effects, a spotlight, and flower petals.
- Lampshaded in Ouran Highschool Host Club: Haruhi is seen singing with beautiful music the background, when someone accidentally unplugs the music player.
- Fancy Lala has one in the anime of the same name.
- In Macross Frontier, when Ranka begins to sing in public for the first time, initially you can see a guitarist at a music shop add some of his strings to her performance. This doesn't, however, explain the full drums and keyboard accompaniment.
- Lilpri does this whenever they "Himechen" (the shows name for their transformation).
- Parodied a bit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (of course). Any time Herbert even mentions wanting to sing, music starts to play. —Only to be followed by his father Letting the Air out of the Band
- Subverted in There's Something About Mary: Every time the theme music was played, a breakaway shot showed two musicians, normally playing from an implausible position.
- Used straight in The Girl in Gold Boots with solo guitarist Critter being accompanied by harmonica and other instruments from nowhere. Snarked by the The Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys: "I love the way you play the harmonica with your ass!"
- Ditto for Eegah!! "I see he remembered to bring the Isley Brothers camping with him."
- Likewise, in Wild Rebels, when the (anti-)hero is playing guitar for the love interest in the forest, and a horn accompaniment suddenly breaks in:
- Road to ... Zanzibar discusses this together with Mickey Mousing in a Genre Savvy dialogue which ends with Bing Crosby conducting the invisible orchestra to accompany his singing of the love theme:
"What killed me is that from nowhere, an orchestra started. You know, violins and everything, right in the minute of a jungle. Isn't that silly?"
- Subverted in Blazing Saddles. Just as you're wondering where the music is coming from, Bart rides past Count Basie and His Orchestra.
- Harpo Marx's harp solos are typically accompanied by an invisible orchestra playing quietly in the background. Chico's piano solos are more often unaccompanied, but when he plays "Collegiate" in Horse Feathers the orchestra accompanying him obviously isn't with him in the hotel suite.
- The musical pocket watch in For a Few Dollars More is accompanied with what sounds like an orchestra and a mariachi band.
- Happens several times in Camp Rock, most noticeably when Shane is singing to Mitchie by the lake. This is very Narmy as the movie is heavily promoted as not being a musical but a "movie with music".
- Most of the songs in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny have, at the very least, invisible drummers and bass guitarists. A couple also have a guitar playing out of nowhere, or an electric guitar playing when Kage and Jables only have acoustic guitars. "Classico" is probably the only song without an invisible backup band.
- A running joke during the making of Star Wars was how come there's sound in space to accompany the fancy special effects shots? George Lucas would claim there was a huge backing orchestra floating around in spacesuits.
- Sort of parodied in Rock 'n' Roll High School: Riff Randall is daydreaming about Joey Ramone serenading her in her bedroom, and even though a full-band recording of "I Want You Around" is being used in the scene, it appears that he's only being backed up by Johnny Ramone on acoustic guitar. Then she opens the bathroom door and it turns out that Dee Dee and Marky were playing bass and drums in there the whole time.
- In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Cameron is accompanied by a ghostly offscreen chorus while singing sadly to himself in bed.
- Sonny Eclipse, the animatronic intergalactic lounge lizard at the Magic Kingdom's Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe has his Space Angels, who are even the subject of a tribute song that mentions how much he appreciates them even with being unable to see them.
- This happens quite a bit in Ar tonelico, whenever one of the Reyvateils sings, thanks to their Song Server manifesting the song right as they imagine it, while they sing the main melody.
- It pops up in Dragon Age: Origins, in a scene at the camp.
- This shows up in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and probably a few of the other games in the series.
- Inverted in Loco Roco, everybody is aware of game's background music and sing to it. It's played straight in a few cutscenes.
- In No More Heroes, Dr Peace sings a rousing tune (with full accompaniment, natch) when Travis meets him in an empty baseball stadium. Given that he's singing over the PA system, it's possible that's where the music track is coming from.
- Averted in Gitaroo Man, wherein every time a musical duel begins, the backup band is seen somewhere, even if only as barely recognizable faces in the background, whether it's a crowded street downtown or the depths of space, but played straight in the fact that they are never aknowledged by anyone. Their in game biography suggest that being the invisible backup band is their sworn duty.
- The Arkenhammer of Erfworld functions like this, allowing the attuned user (Stanley) to "Rock Out" by using it like an air-guitar. This confers some massive combat bonuses and is the Titanic aspect of dance fighting. Dance fighting in general seems to use this trope when invoked, but not to nearly the same impressive degree (the Arkenhammer almost deafened Parson when demonstrated in an enclosed space).