There are few films out there about the music industry, and even fewer out there that are downright hilarious. But This is Spinal Tap manages to do both in stride while also remaining a powerful testament to the difficulties of a career in music. This 1984 mocumentary was far from a commercial success in theaters but it has stood the test of time as one of the funniest films out there.
This is Spinal Tap is a fake documentary covering the career of an ill-fated band known as Spinal Tap. The band’s genre has varied throughout history, from Beatle’s imitation in the 1960s, to psychedelic rock in the 70s, to metal in the early 80s. The band itself is representative of the popular music of whatever time period it belongs to. For the most part, they seem to be nothing remarkable. They’re one band among many playing the same style of music. At the time of this particular film, metal was the fad.
Within the music industry, one of the most important parts is maintaining image. Spinal Tap certainly tries to do so: their album covers and song lyrics revolve around sex and questioning religion (to put it mildly). They even have an album cover that is completely black. How black? But even the image isn’t enough to keep them completely going. Gigs are cancelled because not enough people are showing, album signings are void of fans: its phase that many bands go through and some never come out of. Half of the difficulty in the music industry is getting your name out there for people to listen to.
There are a plethora of other items that the film touches on: small dressing rooms, getting lost backstage, the reason why amps go to 11 instead of 10, song composition, fights in the band, and those band destroying relationships. All of these things are part of the life of a musician and all of them are important. But at the same time, these little troubles and difficulties are part of the life of the musician.
But perhaps the most absurd thing about this film is how accurate all of it is. Eddie Van Halen supposedly didn’t understand why the movie was funny because “Everything in that movie had happened to me.” Many of the artists who have viewed the film themselves have found that it captures many of the difficulties but many of the joys and quirks so accurately it was near biographical in some instances.
All though Spinal Tap certainly isn’t as deep as many of the other films on this list, it certainly provides a remarkable look into the life of a band and some of the things they have to go through.