These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: This Is Spinal Tap
Crosses the Line Twice: The original cover for Smell The Glove (which the Band can't understand why the label finds offensive).
Label Head: You put a greased naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck, and a leash, and a man's arm extended out up to here, holding onto the leash, and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it. You don't find that offensive? You don't find that sexist?
Ian: [...] Well, you should have seen the cover they wanted to do! It wasn't a glove, believe me.
The pedophilia humor in "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight."
You're sweet, but you're just four feet
And you still got your baby teeth
You're too young, and I'm too well hung
Tonight I'm gonna rock you
Crowning Music of Awesome: Not only are some of the songs (Stonehenge particularly) fairly awesome, but when you remember that they were written as parodies of real rock songs, they become all the more so.
It is telling that the songs still really work even though they're comical and mostly parody. The follow-up album, Break Like The Wind, has this in spades too, and has a bunch of prominent musicians who got the joke (and didn't take it too seriously) guest-starring in the songs.
Dude, Not Funny!: Many prominent rock musicians of the time saw the film and were not amused, many because they thought that it was an actual documentary.
Iron Maiden thought the movie was directly parodying them.
Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler is reported by his fellow band members to have completely failed to see any humour in the movie the first time he saw it. Likewise, Eddie Van Halen also found the movie too close to home to be funny — "Everything in that movie had happened to me".
Averted with Lemmy Kilminster of Motörhead who admits enjoying the film for being so close to reality. Then again, Lemmy would be the last man on Earth to take anything too seriously...
Similarly averted with Metallica, who chose the cover of The Black Album as a Shout-Out to the movie, and described their joint tour with Guns N' Roses as similar to the movie.
The Prince of Darkness himself - Ozzy Osbourne - has claimed that he 'doesn't get' the comedy element of the film — because he thought it was so realistic, and so much of it had happened to him and his band over the years, that it was a GENUINE documentary!
This being Ozzy Osbourne, it was more a case of him failing to get the comedy because far more hilarious things have happened to him, than him being offended by how closely the film imitates reality (which seems to be the case with other rockstars)
The fact that the only people who don't find it funny seem to be rock stars themselves indicates that this may be more a case of Misaimed Fandom.
Mike Mills of R.E.M. said that their early tours were "very Spinal Tap", even including playing a gig at an Air Force base.note Though, presumably, not being second-billed to a puppet show.
Alice Cooper, meanwhile, wondered if the writers had been following him around on tour, because "There were a lot of little things going on in the movie that really do happen, that just a writer wouldn't know about."
This movie has iconic status among musicians who don't think that it's their biography.
Regardless of some artists' egocentrism, some incidents are based on specific events:
The miniature "Stonehenge" fiasco was a parody of a gigantic Stonehenge set used on Black Sabbath's Born Again tour.
The "lost backstage" incident was based on something that happened to Saxon, although performers of all performing media and genres can attest to similar incidents. It even happened to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before a game!
Some of the bandmembers were recognizably modeled after real people, notably Nigel Tufnel (Jeff Beck) and Derek Smalls (Steve Dawson of Saxon).
The band's career arc is very similar to that of Status Quo, who began around the time of the British Invasion, had a novelty psychedelic hit, and evolved into a hard rock band whose popularity by the early 1980s was limited to Britain. Uriah Heep also follows a similar timeline, notably with a dip into Prog Rock similar to Spinal Tap's.
Marseille wrote a song which contained the line "Tonight, I'm gonna rock you tonight".
Harry Shearer mentions in the DVD Commentary that the Air Force show was specifically a reference to Uriah Heep, whose keyboardist John Sinclair had met the actors just before filming began and told them that Heep had been booked to play an air force base.
Fridge Brilliance: The "Mach" piece. It's a combination of Mozart and Bach, but it's also a mach piece (as in, say mach 5), something the band members would likely call their music, as well as a "mock" piece, because it's not a real song.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The story about Spinal Taps first drummer dying in a "bizarre gardening accident". On August 5th 1992 the drummer Jeff Porcaro from the American rock band Toto died from what was originally believed to be an allergic reaction to a pesticide he was spraying in his garden. The coroner's report later stated his death was due to heart failure resulting from cocaine abuse.
Ronnie James Dio had a thumb severed while working in his back yard. He even started calling it a bizarre gardening accident.
Billy Joel retiring from rock to write classical piano pieces is bizarrely reminiscent of Nigel's own hidden talents.
Ho Yay: Nigel seems to have a crush on David. At the launch party, both Nigel and David have venereal diseases on their lips (indicating if they weren't kissing each other, they were engaging in a three way.) As Roger Ebertnoted in his re-review of the film:
Ebert: When Nigel learns that David's girlfriend Jeanine Pettibone is flying over from England to join the tour, his heart sinks. His crush on David is obvious to everyone except, of course, David.