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‘Turning Red’s’ Boy Band Heartthrobs Have Reminded Me of Some of My Other Fictional Music Loves

"They don't turn my tummy the way you do."

Fake Bands

Going into Pixar’s Turning Red, I knew it was a coming-of-age story about balancing your parent’s expectations with trying to figure out who the heck you are as a person. There are a lot of things I liked about the movie, particularly the parts where its protagonist, Meilin “Mei” Lee (Rosalie Chiang), would keep telling herself that she was very much her own person and not someone doing things because her mother, Ming (Sandra Oh) told her to. It’s a hard truth to swallow when you realize that you might not actually like all the values your mom has instilled in you, especially when those values clash with your current loves.

As our Rachel Leishman writes in her review:

What makes Turning Red so special is that it’s a story so many young girls understand growing up. It’s a look at growing up and changing and accepting those changes within us, and it’s honestly emotional to see a young girl at the center of this movie just trying to balance her life as a teenager while trying to make her mother happy.

What caught me off guard with the movie is how it illustrates this through Meilin’s desire to, well, go see a boy band in concert. It was such a delightful plot beat and one that spurs on the major conflict of the film. It’s so charming to see this girl try and defend something as simple as a boy band crush to her mother, especially when you see the band and realize that they are the 90s/early 2000s definition of “buy magazines just to tape our pictures to your wall.” The fact that Backstreet/N’Sync/98 Degrees Boy Pop is what sends Ming into a tizzy is so entertainingly relatable to my teenage self.

This, is course, led to me thinking about other fictional music groups who are so totally cool, OH EM GEE, so I’ve put together a list of some of my favorites ranging from “I wore out my VHS copy of the movie you’re in” to “I’m a little older, a little wiser, and still a fangirl for your jams.”

Jem and the Holograms/The Misfits (whose songs were better)

Series: Jem and the Holograms

If you ask me what actually happened in an episode of Jem I wouldn’t be able to tell you. The music, however? That brings a delightful wave of nostalgia every time.

Josie and the Pussycats

Series: Josie and the Pussycats

This is a series that aired before my time, but thanks to Cartoon Network, I was able to, honestly, sing the lyrics incorrectly (ooooh, it’s “long tails and EARS FOR HATS,” lol I got it now).

The Beets

Series: Doug

A clear parody of “The Beatles,” the band had a lot of catchy tunes that would focus on things like not eating a lot of fried food and, um, shouting your lungs out. You had to be there.

Mystik Spiral (though we might change our name)

Series: Daria

Did the lyrics to “Ow! My Face,” make any sense? No. Did it matter? Again, no, because Trent was so cool. You play that guitar and sing those nonsensical lyrics, Trent!


Movie: A Goofy Movie

When I tell you I wore out my VHS tape replaying this concert over and over again… It didn’t help that I was already in love with Tevin Campbell, so Powerline was an immediate favorite. This is still one of my favorite fictional music acts today.

Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Chipettes

Series: Alvin and the Chipmunks

Movie: The Chipmunk Adventure

There’s a lot I can say about these two groups but honestly this back and forth song battle in The Chipmunk Adventure nails why I loved them so much. And this damn song to the baby penguin gets me every time.

BRB, sobbing about penguins.

Boyz ‘N Motion

Series: That’s So Raven

It’s just one episode of That’s So Raven but it perfectly captures the magic of boy bands and how fans can gush over every little thing, including the group singing a single sentence.

Sex Bob-Omb, Envy Adams, just a lot of Scott Pilgrim love

Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Picking one performance from this would be unfair so I’m just gonna say “yes to all” on this one. From the Sex Bob-Omb intro to that sooooo SAD song and, of course, Envy Adams, you can’t go wrong.

Bad Luck/Nittle Grasper

Series: Gravitation

Oh, Gravitation, my very first boy’s love anime series that centered on a disaster baby gay trying to break into the music industry, inspired by his idol, Ryuichi Sakuma, who can be seen performing here:

Probably one of the first anime series where I hunted down the CDs since they all had songs that weren’t in the series.

Black Stones/Trapnest (just Nana all around)

Series: Nana

Filed under “thank goodness I realized that I like girls when this aired” because damn. Sadly, this is one of anime’s “series was never finished” gems, but gosh, watching Nana step on stage is making me fall all over again.


Series: Given

Yeah, I’ve sung the praises of this series a lot already. I love it. So much. When you get to the part where the group performs it’s so rewarding that it’s almost therapeutic. I could listen to this song on repeat – hell, I already do.

Kids on the Slope

Series: Kids on the Slope

If you want a series that will tug at your heartstrings and make you tap your foot along to some fantastic jazz, this is it. I love these kids with my entire being.

Songstress Yuna

Game: Final Fantasy X-2

Listen. I wasn’t expecting a sequel to Final Fantasy X nor was I expecting it to start with a concert, but that song is a bop. Koda Kumi did her thing here. The English version is also pretty catchy.

Don’t worry, they explain it, for now just enjoy the concert.

The Hex Girls

Series: Various Scooby-Doo adventures

I feel like this is one of those groups you see making the rounds on Twitter, look up the source, and go, “SCOOBY-DOO?!” I’m saying that because it feels like this is a group that has their own series, but nope, they just kept making appearances in Scooby-Doo.

We Are Lady Parts

Series: We Are Lady Parts

Filed under “what is this trailer I’ve stumbled onto” followed by “Oh my GOOOOOOD I need to watch this!” An instantly binge-able series with songs you’ll be unconsciously humming along and characters you’ll love.

I could keep going for a while, to be honest, but I’ll stop here so we can all vibe to the music. What are some of your favorite fictional bands, and more importantly, what songs are you going to be playing as you sound off in the comments?

(Image: Disney/Pixar/Crunchyroll/Universal Pictures/Hasbro)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)