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Six Best Battle of the Bands Movies

Image of Museum of Pop Culture building with 20th anniversary logo laid over it

This year marks 20 years of the Museum of Pop Culture, and in the spirit of celebration, we’re chronicling some of our favorite pop culture moments from the last 20 years.

Coinciding with Sound Off!, MoPOP’s annual 21-and-under music showcase, we’re looking back on some of our favorite music competition movies (in no particular order).

1. PITCH PERFECT

Barden University freshman, Beca Mitchell, is trying to find her place on campus. The Barden Bellas, the school’s recently disgraced acapella group, invite loner Beca to join, hoping to redeem themselves after a crushing defeat from their all-male rival group the Barden Treblemakers. While Beca is initially reluctant to participate, her talent for singing can’t be ignored, and her internal innovations of the starched-collar Bellas bring them to the raucous, cut-throat final competition. This immensely entertaining and equally absurd college comedy is to the brim with “riff offs,” song-and-dance numbers, a little bit of romance, and a lot of amazing zingers delivered ebulliently by Rebel Wilson.

2. CAMP ROCK

A movie about swoopy hair, puppy love, “finding your voice,” and unnecessary vocal runs, Camp Rock was the film that definitively launched Demi Lovato’s career. This classic tale of rich boy meets poor girl (at summer camp) has all the expected tropes: jealous bully, hidden talent, and kind teacher — but that doesn’t mean it’s not full of pop BANGERS. A generation of kids count this movie as one of their childhood faves, and there’s a reason!

3. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

Scott Pilgrim is crushing on Ramona, but her exes are hellbent on crushing him. Scott’s band Sex Bob-Omb is hoping to win the battle of the bands sponsored by big-time record exec Gideon Graves, but first, Scott must defeat Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes. The actual Battle of the Bands really takes center stage in this transmedia comic book flick.

4. SCHOOL OF ROCK

Li. Ter. Al. Ly. One of my favorite movies of all time. Jack Black is Dewey, a has-been rocker who burns bridges with everyone around him by being super irritating. He’s kicked out of his band RIGHT BEFORE the big battle of the bands (!), and just as he’s poised to get evicted from his apartment at the behest of his roommate’s girlfriend, he’s graced with a job opportunity in the form of impersonating said roommate to get a substitute teaching job at an uptight prep school. Instead of teaching elementary school, which he is in no way qualified to do, he decides to coral the buttoned-up kids, many of whom are skilled musicians, into a budding rock band so he still has a shot at the Big Gig. Along the way, he teaches the kids confidence, musicianship, and how to not be so dang stressed all them time! In turn, the kids teach him how to not be a selfish loser and take a little responsibility for his life. They do a great job at the battle of the bands and Jack Black is not arrested. 😊

5. DRUMLINE

A very fun coming-of-age movie about the fantastically competitive world of historically black college drumlines. Devon, played by Nick Cannon, is a talented drummer who begins his drumline career at A&T University. Everything seems peachy at first: his talent flourishes, and his budding crush seems reciprocated. However, soon Devon’s cocky attitude gets in the way of the unification of the A&T drumline, whose motto is “one band, one sound.” Can Devon get it together in time for the big competition (battle of the DRUMLINES)? The answer is of course, yes.

6. FREAKY FRIDAY

Another much-loved early 2000s teen dramedy with a very solid soundtrack. You know the drill. Mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter (Lindsay Lohan) just can’t see eye-to-eye! What’s a quick solve to that? Forcing them to switch bodies and live each other’s lives, of course. But Jamie Lee is about to get married and LiLo has her big battle of the bands! Will these gals hold it together? Will I ever get this song out of my head?

Learn more about MoPOP’s Sound Off! program + for contests, the latest news, and behind-the-scenes content, be sure to follow us on YouTubeFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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About the author

Hannah Sandle is the Marketing Copywriter at MoPOP.

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