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Battle of the Bands

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"So the Rainbooms want to turn this into a real Battle of the Bands? Then let's battle!"

A contest where two or more musical bands (usually Hard Rock or Heavy Metal) decide who is the best. In Real Life, this is usually determined by a judges panel, but in fiction, it often gets turned into an actual battle, especially when Magic Music, Instrument of Murder, and the literal Power of Rock get involved.

A staple in Music Stories, being the only type of direct conflict that can take place between musical bands. Everything else is either indirect competition (selling more records, gathering more concert audiences, etc.) or off-stage brawls.

Sub-Trope of Team-Based Tournament. Compare Dance-Off. In some cases characters may enter to win the attention of a Love Interest, in which case this trope overlaps with Artists Are Attractive.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Show by Rock!! has one between the Protagonist band Plasmagica and a band of middle-schoolers called Criticrysta, which ended with the latter winning by the nose. Eventually they had a rematch in which Plasmagica wins, much to Criticrysta's manager's rage.

    Films — Animation 
  • Marvel Rising: Battle of the Bands, as the title suggests, has Ghost Spider's band The MJs entering one, although the story ends with their performance, so we don't learn who actually won. But their main rival, Screaming Mimi, had already been defeated in regular battle and missed the contest altogether.
  • The entire plot of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks involves the Dazzlings turning a friendly school musical showcase into a competition; it is an example of both the proverbial (in the form of the overall battle), and the literal (with the Dazzlings and the Rainbooms using magic-enhanced musical attacks against each other in the climax). The Hasbro website includes a promotional game for the movie that's actually titled "Battle of the Bands", providing the page image. Also the very title of the Dazzlings' first song in the film is "Let's Have a Battle (of the Bands)":
    You want to win it!
    Let's have a battle!
    Battle of the bands
    Let's have a battle!
    We'll go on in it
    Let's have a battle, battle, battle!
    Battle of the bands!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bill & Ted:
  • Blues Brothers 2000: The film ends with a Battle of the Bands between the title characters and the Louisiana Gator Boys. Unusually for this trope, the title characters LOSE, but band leader Elwood Blues is on good terms with the Gator Boys' leader, Malvern Gasperone (portrayed by Blues legend B.B. King) after an earlier encounter with him, and so the two bands decide to team up and play one more song together to close out the film.
  • Crossroads climaxes with a high-stakes guitar duel between Eugene and Jack Butler (real life guitar god Steve Vai), the latter of whom made a Deal with the Devil and now works for him.
  • In School of Rock, the one with Jack Black, the climax of the movie is a competition which is called, well... Battle of the Bands.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the Battle of the Bands between Sex Bob-omb and the Katayanagi twins turns into an epic showdown between Energy Beings representing each side.
  • In Voyage of the Rock Aliens, the aliens show up at the cotillion as ABCD and the EFGHI JKLM NOPQR STUVWXYZ and pit their '80s techno music against the Pack's '50s-style rock and roll.

  • Goosebumps: My Hairiest Adventure has the main protagonists as part of a band, who are preparing for a Battle of the Bands at their school when the weirdness begins. They win, in part due to their "special effects": the hero starting to turn into a dog during the performance.
  • King Dork: Tom & Sam's band enters the school BotB and sucks on purpose.
  • In Rock Star the protagonist's band gets into a nationwide Battle of the Bands, but the protagonist himself is grounded from playing because he's failing math. When his replacement gets injured he does it anyway and the band wins, which leads to him running away from home to become a rock star. It doesn't work out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CHiPs once had a battle of the bands between a number of punk rock bands, one of which resorted to some illegal moves in their effort to win. One review site for the show claimed this would have been acceptable punk behavior if it hadn't been to win a battle of the bands. This is an unusual application of the trope in that the show's regular characters weren't participants in the battle.
  • MTV Brazil had a game show, Covernation, featuring a duel between two cover bands, with contests ranging from knowledge (quizzes on the original artist, identify songs from short snippets on the piano) and ability (playing a song from the other band with just a tab, playing in sync with one of their band's music videos when the sound cuts off) to just plain whimsical (Volleying Insults between bands, the singer trying to enter on his cue in spite of fans delaying him), all culminating in a rock-off between one member of each band.
  • The Drew Carey Show had one of these in "That Thing You Don't". Drew's band, the Horndogs, went up against Satan's Penis, a band fronted by a rival from high school. Two other bands involved were the Underprivileged (played by The Reverend Horton Heat) and the Unreliables (who didn't show up).
  • Portlandia had a the "Battle of the Gentle Bands" skit, a battle between an acoustic band, a band that didn't use microphones because they don't want to hurt insects, two women kissing a large bell, and the winner: a woman blowing on some hanging feathers.
  • The majority of season 1 of School of Rock revolves around one and the preparations for it.
  • So Awkward: In "The Band", Ollie, Rob, Jas and Sid enter Battle of the Bands along with the tuneless Mr Malone.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess had this for one of it's musical episodes; Xena convinced warbands fighting over a magical lyre that it was more appropriate than an actual battle. She ended up winning it herself by accident by busting out a metal version of the theme song during a fight scene, so it ends up being a mix of the two styles.


    Music Videos 

  • One of the dimensions that the Sequinox girls get clapped to in Episode 10 starts in the middle of one, with the Sequinox team going up against Stars Pollux and Castor.

    Video Games 
  • There is a Wii game called Battle of the Bands.
  • In Brütal Legend, the Battles of the Bands are called "Stage Battles" and are actual battles, with music and instruments used for indiscriminate murder.
  • Charlie Murder features the titular Punk Rock band battling against the rival Death Metal band Gore Quaffer, lead by Charlie's ex-friend.
  • In Goodbye Volcano High, an annual Battle of the Bands takes place at the local music venue Lava Java, and the winner gets to perform at the prestigious music festival CalderaFest, where young bands get their first big break. One of the plot threads of the first five episodes involves Fang trying to ensure their band, Worm Drama, excels at their audition and then wins the Battle.
  • My Singing Monsters: A "battle of the bands" is what the turn-based "combat" of the Collisingum essentially boils down to, with teams of up to three monsters each, duking it out against other teams of monsters - using their musical talent.
  • In the third episode of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Baddest of the Bands, Strong Bad hosts and later even enters one of these. Unfortunately, once he enters, his bandmates are terrible, and the other three acts far better, causing him to resort to sabotage in order to win.

    Web Animation 
  • Season 2 of RWBY Chibi has a storyline revolving around the various teams gearing up for a "Battle of the Bands", each of them decking themselves out in band apparel and instruments. The villains decide to get in on this with their own band, only to realize too late that this was a literal Battle of the Bands. Despite using instruments and dressing as musicians, the various teams compete not in music, but in combat. All of their instruments have hidden weapon capabilities. Except for the villains, who were the only ones to show up with actual musical instruments, and get pounded as a result.
  • Teen Girl Squad issue 8 sees the girls forming a band called "Kissyboots" to perform in their school's Battle of the Bands. Naturally, it leads to The Ugly One getting attacked by her own floor tom during rehearsal, So and So getting crushed by a giant twenty-sided die, and What's Her Face's bass guitar turning into a shark (which eats her, and later Cheerleader).

  • This is the central premise of Band vs. Band.
  • The webcomic Battle Creek, NE is all about a "less than talented no-name pop punk band" from Nebraska who wind up representing earth in an interplanetary Battle of the Bands.
  • During a crossover sequence between Ménage à 3 and its spin-off Sticky Dilly Buns, "Zii and the Troublemakers", the band led by one of the three main characters from the former comic, gets into an informal but serious duel with "Pretty Boyz with Electric Toyz", who are led by Zii's old rival, Angel, who usually shows up in the latter comic. (Angel used to work with Zii, but the relationship broke down when Zii had sex with Jerzy, who was Angel's boyfriend, at least in Angel's eyes, at that time.) Angel looks set for victory, as the other two Troublemakers are fighting each other as usual, but then Angel makes the mistake of gloating over Zii in their earshot, and if there's one thing that can unite them, it's their loyalty to Zii...
  • How the historic battles are fought in the American Revolution webcomic The Paul Reveres.
  • The webcomic Scary Go Round has a whole chapter named "Battle of the Bands".
  • The subplot of Soul Symphony revolves around John and his heavy metal friend Charlie forming a band to compete in their school's Battle of the Bands. Of course, Charlie just really wants to win to defeat his bitter rival.
  • Happened in TV Tropes: The Webcomic arc "Heavy Meta", between the Troper Crue, Lady of War, and Burn the Witch.
  • A major part of the world of Nova 44.

    Web Videos 
  • The Joueur du Grenier episode "Des Jeux et du Métal !", about games inspired by music, has Fred and Seb in a musical fight against the group "Wet Fingers" for the right of passage through Shiny City.

    Western Animation 
  • The CatDog episode "Battle of the Bands" had the titular duo enter said competition with Cat playing guitar and Dog playing the drums. However, due to Cat's insistence that they play really, really soft, they were nearly booed out of the competition, until the Greases showed up, having mistaken the competition for an actual battle, which results in CatDog finally winning the Battle of the Bands.
  • The Crumpets episode "CrumStep" has Lil-One and Granny's music act partnership fall apart, and they duel in a concert in Ma's workshop with recruited family members in their sides and entertain with hammer pounding or saw blades. The concert ends when Ma arrives and she and Pa remind the family of her Forgotten Birthday, and the duo reunites at the end.
  • In Episode 6 of Detentionaire, A. Nigma High has one, featuring several acts of questionable quality alongside the school's own rock band, the Dudes of Darkness. When Lee accidentally and indirectly causes the DoD's frontman Cyrus to break off, it's up to him to get the band back together in time to perform.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy had an episode titled "Battle of the Bands". In it, Grim chooses to join Sperg's band, making Billy jealous. As revenge, Billy and his dad decide to sneak into the competition with the latter disguised as "MOOOGAAARRR!!!"
  • Grojband often had these as episode plots. Given the surreal nature of the show however, none were ever ordinary, including a scary campfire song contest featuring a Humanoid Abomination, one against alien invaders where the destruction of Earth is at stake, and even an extreme curling competition.
  • In one episode of Milo Murphy's Law, Milo and his friends compete in one, with Murphy's Law in full effect throughout their performance. They also end up having to compete against Zack's old Boy Band, the Lumbermaxes (formerly the Lumberzacks).
  • Sea Princesses: In "Battle of the Bands", the three princes have started a band so they can enter the 'Battle of the Bands' competition. Tubarina, Polvina and Ester decide they'll start a flute-playing band, and beat them. But who will win the 'Battle of the Bands'?
  • The 1935 Disney Silly Symphony "Music Land" involved a Saxophone from The Isle of Jazz having a Star-Crossed Lovers romance with a Violin from Symphony Land, which culminates in the two different styles having an all out musical artillery duel.
  • Sonic Boom had the episode "Battle of the Boy Bands". Justin Beaver uses Mind-Control Music that enslaves girls. To stop him, Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles pose as a boy band and challenge Justin to a musical showdown. In reality, they are stalling for time until one of Tails' gadgets can analyze Justin's music and create a counter frequency to free the girls.
  • Wishfart features one in the episode "We Are Cheetah Face!", with Dez, Puffin, and Akiko having to play against the Jerkass God of Rock and their former idol, Hairy Smilez.


Video Example(s):


Note Block Battle

Impressed by their music skills, Green decides to duke it out one last time and turn up the heat by the power of block and roll against his friends.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BattleOfTheBands

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