When a music act (band or solo) gets big enough, sooner or later, someone will probably attempt to make a TV show featuring said musician(s). This show is often animated, and the band members may be Not Quite Starring.
The standard format for such shows usually goes like this: the band is Touring the World, often riding in a Cool Car or tour bus (or even better, a Cool Tour Bus!). They have an adventure in every city. They solve the issue in time to sing a song at the end of the show.
Alternately, it may be a flashback series, showing the band in their hometown as upcoming performers looking to make their big break. And getting in and out of adventures and singing a song at the end. Other series may go even further, casting the band as Superheroes, secret agents, or the like who just happen to be able to sing or play really well: a very literal Five-Man Band. If the group also recently had a movie released, the cartoon may be a continuation of that, usually (when necessary) changing the names of the movie's characters back to the performers' real or stage names. Expect a Gratuitous Animal Sidekick to be added to the crew. Often, they fight against evil using The Power of Rock.
Note that shows using this format need not be based on an existing real-life band. Shows such as Josie and the Pussycats, Jem, or Jabberjaw all fall into this category. Also note that occasionally a song from such a "fictional" band will be a break out hit, such as "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies. And that's all without mentioning live-action series like The Monkees.
Part of the appeal of this format for animation studios is that the inevitable music sequence(s) always rely on Stock Footage, which saves on animation costs. Studios would sometimes even retrace the instrument-playing animation from a previous series, using the new characters.
Inevitably, fame being what it is nowadays, most groups end up declining in popularity shortly after the airing of these shows. This might be because getting one's own cartoon usually happens at the height of one's popularity, and one can only go down from there. It could also be claimed, however, that getting your own cartoon is a sign of "selling out." (Though one could argue that many of the examples listed never bought in.) Whether this is true or not, you gotta admit: If someone offered the opportunity for you to have your own cartoon, wouldn't you take it?
- The Beatles (1965) - Trope Maker.
- And later, Yellow Submarine, which almost didn't get made because the real Beatles hated the stinging criticism of their BBC special Magical Mystery Tour. They also wanted to get rid of their film contract with United Artists. The company told them Yellow Submarine didn't fulfill the conditions, so they made Let It Be instead.
- ABC in the video for "How to be a Millionaire".
- Alvin and the Chipmunks is an edge case - this "band" exists only on records and in animation, but the records came first.
- The Jackson 5ive about The Jackson 5.
- In The New '10s, Japan had a trend of creating fictional bands - both Idol Singer style, and rock band style, as well as various other types - played by popular voice actors. They would release singles accompanied by drama CDs, and often also have a rhythm game. If they're popular, they'll even get an anime. Examples include Tsukipro's 10+ units, Marginal #4, and others.
- The Osmonds - The show featured only the brothers; Marie had not yet made into the music scene when the Osmonds cartoon was made (1972—she would record her first song, "Paper Roses," in 1973).
- Partridge Family 2200 A.D.
- Kidd Video - One example of a band being made specifically for the purpose of the series. Other examples include Josie and the Pussycats, The Archies, Fire Bomber (of Macross 7 fame) and The Monkees.
- New Kids on the Block has New Kids on the Block
- Kid N Play
- MC Hammer has Hammerman
- Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi. Unusually, the show wasn't made in response to the band's popularity, but as an attempt to establish them as popstars in the United States. The group and the show were only moderately successful. In Japan, where Puffy AmiYumi are popstars, the show is a more conventional example of this trope.
- The Brady Kids
- Inverted with the Gorillaz; the animated characters are the band.
- South Park parodied this in "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery". Korn drive around in a van solving mysteries.
- Homestar Runner parodied the trope with Limozeen: "but they're in space!", a cartoon featuring the fictional band Limozeen which was cancelled during its pilot episode.
- "I'm afraid I have some bad news, boys... our pilot episode has been cancelled."
- TV Funhouse parodied the trope with a cartoon based on Black Sabbath. (This was years before The Osbournes.) Robert Smigel also did a TV Funhouse segment on Saturday Night Live about a fictional Kids' WB! cartoon called Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Outer Space.
- Family Guy also parodied this, with the show-within-a-show "KISS Saves Santa."
- Metalocalypse, of course, is a parody of this trope painted pitch black with the brutal nature of its stars' extramusical activity, a nature reflected in the music itself (though not necessarily in the lyrics).
- Sons of Butcher, although the band and cartoon came out at roughly the same time.
- Pink Lady. Yep, their career was turned into an anime show. Though it lasted longer than the American variety show (see below), it's about as obscure today.
- Not a "toon" per se, but Blood Red Dragon is a comic starring Yoshiki created by Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane.
- This one for One Direction was fan-made, but epically done. Here it is, folks. You'll love it.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.
- Filmation once made a series based on The Hardy Boys, which portrays them as a band.
- AKB0048, based on the real life-theater performance group AKB48.
- Spellbound! Magical Princess Lil'Pri, sort of. While the three girls become a singing group, it's more of a Magical Girl series than a Band Toon.
- Barbie and her friends become one in a two-part TV special, which has two different titles for each part. Part 1 is called Barbie and the Rockers: Out of This World, while part 2 is called Barbie and the Sensations: Rockin' Back to Earth.note In any event, it may have been done as a response to:
- Jem was this and also had an in-universe example in the "Starbright" trilogy. The Holograms were commissioned to star in a movie, but rival band the Misfits took over production and made it all about themselves, while the Holograms went independent. The Holograms' movie was a criticla success, while the Misfits' was a bomb.
- Generation O!
- Each episode of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids has at least one song where they are seen as a junkyard band, but the show is more about their real-life experiences in general.
- In 1998, Disney had plans to do with an animated One Saturday Morning series of the Spice Girls, however it failed to materialize due to Geri Halliwell's departure.
- Parodied in The Country Bears, where in one scene the Bears watch a rerun of a badly-animated old cartoon about themselves while staying in a hotel.
- Jabberjaw is this trope UNDERWATER... IN THE FUTURE!
- Happy Monster Band.
- Fresh Beat Band of Spies.
- Folk rock trio The Roches made a guest appearance on the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "New Character Day". that followed this trope: The segment focused on a girl band, who were played by the Roche sisters themselves, drawn to look like their real-life counterparts and given the same names, and were at one point depicted performing their song "We"... The twist was they were depicted as cockroaches trying to put on a show in Hampton's kitchen. The group had a cult fandom and had been performing for 20 years at that point, but the cartoon was largely Parental Bonus, as the young audience probably wouldn't have heard of them.
- Mini Moni The Movie: Okashi na Daibōken! is a live-action/animation hybrid movie starring the then-popular Morning Musume subgroup Mini Moni. While it has an original story, the movie was made as a way to explain Mari Yaguchi leaving the group and Ai Takahashi joining as her replacement.
- Freefonix features a trio (two males and a female member) of the same name and, in a way, they may also be considered a supergroup.
- And there's always Spongebob and the Hi-Seas.
- Flight of the Conchords
- The Monkees. A lot of people are under the impression that they did an animated show as well, but they never did. With reruns of their series airing on Saturday mornings from 1969 to 1974, coupled with Micky Dolenz voicing the drummer (who looked quite a bit like him) on the contemporaneous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids series and Davy Jones doing a guest shot for The New Scooby-Doo Movies, it's easy to see where the confusion comes from. There was an attempt to do an actual Monkees Band Toon around 1997, but it ended up in Development Hell.
- Starland Vocal Band, whose show was so bad, that their announcer stated that he was glad that nobody would be watching the show. It was cancelled shortly after it began. Their announcer did slightly better. His name is David Letterman.
- Similarly, Tony Orlando and Dawn had their own show around the same time as Starland Vocal Band, which was more of the same, and it's now most notable for being one of Edie McClurg's earliest roles.
- "KISS Saves Santa" may have been inspired by KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, released at the band's height of popularity. In it, the band battles a Circus of Fear with? Guess. They were also rock-based superheroes in two short-lived comic books, with the one based on Psycho Circus in turn spawning a video game.
- Another feature-length example: Spice World.
- S Club 7 had Miami 7, LA 7, "Hollywood 7", "Viva S Club" and The Movie "Seeing Double", about a British pop group trying to make it big in America (as well as the unrelated "S Club Go Wild", a safari show). It's debatable whether the band was made for this purpose or not.
- allStars* were probably made for their TV Show, STARStreet*, but again, it's debatable.
- Pink Lady and Jeff, which tried to make a J-pop girl duo into stars in America. It failed, and was canceled after only a couple weeks on the air.
- Avenged Sevenfold: The Cartoon. Need I say more?
- Who could forget The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour? OK, maybe a lot of people would want to forget that one.
- The Fresh Beat Band.
- The Aquabats! Super Show!, a live-action/animated Quirky Work featuring aforementioned superhero rock band The Aquabats!, from the fine people that brought you Yo Gabba Gabba!. Subversion in that The Aquabats have been trying to get the show off the ground since 1997 (and it serves as the closest brush with fame they've had since that year as well).
- Inverted with Spinal Tap— a fictional band, but because of the parody/mockumentary, they released a soundtrack album. Later they released a studio album of new material and a compilation album primarily made of new versions of songs from the movie and other sources.
- Subverted and averted with Almost Famous. A very fictionalized movie account of the protagonist's start, using several real examples from real musicians/bands, such as the quote about being a golden god, and the use of the name Stillwater, which was a real band, for the titular band. Songs were written for the film, and are not similar in style to the actual band Stillwater, but became well-known. So for the ACTUAL band, it was averted, and subverted in other facets.
- The Weird Al Show
- The Chris Isaak Show, where he plays himself in a sitcom originally on Showtime.
- The Blues Brothers spawned several Licensed Games from Titus Software that loosely fall into this category. There was also an Animated Adaptation produced but never released.
- The Doodlebops is an inversion. The eponymous band was originally only made for the show, but got popular enough to warrant a few concert performances in real life. Funnily enough, it did get an animated adaptation, Rockin' Road Show.
- A Hard Day's Night and Help! in which The Beatles play themselves, or at least the public perception of them.
- The Foo Fighters have Studio 666, a Comedy Horror where the band tries recording in a haunted house.
- Journey once had their own arcade video game in which the band must collect their instruments (and Steve Perry's microphone) in order to put on a concert for the player.note