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.
Compare Dance Off.
- 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 finale). 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!
- 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 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 Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure they dream about being in the school's battle of the bands. In Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey they end up at the battle, battling the Evil Robot Usses' band.
- 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.
- The Graeme Base book The Worst Band in the Universe.
- 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.
- King Dork: Tom & Sam's band enters the school BotB and sucks on purpose.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- C Hi Ps 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.
- The majority of season 1 of School of Rock revolves around one and the preparations for it.
- In Brütal Legend, the Battles of the Bands are called "Stage Battles" and are actual battles, with music and instruments used for indiscriminate murder.
- There is a Wii game called Battle Of The Bands.
- 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.
- Charlie Murder features the titular Punk Rock band battling against the rival Death Metal band Gore Quaffer, lead by Charlie's ex-friend.
- Teen Girl Squad issue 8 sees the girls forming a band called "Kissy Boots" 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).
- RWBY Chibi has a skit 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 the villains, the only ones who showed up with actual musical instruments, and get pounded as a result.
- The webcomic Scary Go Round has a whole chapter named "Battle Of The Bands".
- Happened in TV Tropes The Webcomic arc "Heavy Meta", between the Troper Crue, Lady of War, and Burn the Witch.
- 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.
- 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.
- This is the central premise of Band vs. Band.
- 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.
- The 1935 Disney Silly Symphony "Music Land" involved a Saxophone from The Isle of Jazz having a Romeo and Juliet romance with a Violin from Symphony Land, which culminates in the two different styles having an all out musical artillery duel.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.