Spinal Tap: Real or Fictional Glam Rock Band?
By Mike Crum


The film This Is Spinal Tap is directed by Rob Reiner and stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer who are in the band, Spinal Tap. This is Spinal Tap was released in 1984. The storyline of this film follows the fictional rock and roll band Spinal Tap across their North America tour. This film depicts the glam rock and roll style of music that was popular during the 1980’s. Some of the bands known for doing glam rock include Poison, Motley Crue, and Whitesnake.

There are several reasons why this film is a portrayal of the rock and roll scene of the 1980’s. First, the members of Spinal Tap have really long, bad-looking hair, which was a staple of any rock and roll band of the 1980’s. Another reason this film is such a good representation of the 1980’s rock music scene is that Spinal Tap’s music is not very serious and their lyrics do not have any profound deep meaning. Furthermore, This Is Spinal Tap is a good representation of the glam rock music scene because, as hard as the band tries, they are never able to be taken as a serious rock and roll band because of all of the mishaps that occur to the band while they are on tour as well as Spinal Tap’s comical attitude towards making music.

This Is Spinal Tap is realistic because the band looks and sounds like a band that would have been popular during the glam rock era. The film is a parody of the glam rock era because it makes fun of the era by showing just how ridiculous the rock and roll scene of the 1980’s was. Thus, it is apparent that This Is Spinal Tap does an excellent job of being a true representation of what it was like to be in a rock and roll band in the 1980’s. This Is Spinal Tap is a very realistic view of the rock and roll scene in the 1980’s because the band members in Spinal Tap look just like the rock bands that they are making fun of. Additionally, in the 1980’s, lyrics to rock and roll songs were very shallow and were usually about girls. In This Is Spinal Tap, the band performed songs that had very shallow meaning and were about girls. For example, the song entitled “Big Bottom” talks about the butt of females and how big they are.

The soundtrack in This Is Spinal Tap plays a very essential role in the film. Without the soundtrack, This Is Spinal Tap would not have been such an accurate portrayal of 1980’s rock and roll music. By having original songs that the members of Spinal Tap wrote and played, the film is more realistic because it made the viewer wonder if Spinal Tap was a real band. Another reason the soundtrack played a vital role is that the viewer got to see how ridiculous Spinal Tap’s show were when Spinal Tap were playing these songs live. Also, their live show made it clear that the band could not be taken seriously when they had to overcome obstacles during their performances like the “Stonehenge” incident in which a miscommunication between the band and their management resulted in a monument of Stonehenge being only eighteen inches tall instead of eighteen feet tall.

Although the band Spinal Tap is not real and has actors posing in make up as a real rock and roll band, This Is Spinal Tap still manages to do a good job of portraying a realistic view of the rock and roll lifestyle of the 1980’s. Many bands have cited This Is Spinal Tap as being a very honest film about what goes on behind the scenes of a rock and roll band. Also, by having the actors that were in the band Spinal Tap write and play their own music, the film is better able to do a good job of portraying the glam rock sound of the 1980’s. The only way that This Is Spinal Tap could have done a better job of showing what it was like to be in a rock and roll band in the 1980’s would have been to follow a real rock band on tour and record them.

In closing, This Is Spinal Tap gave a better understanding of how absurd the rock scene was during the 1980’s. Although the film uses actors in a fictional rock and roll band, it is still very realistic because the actors in the band wrote and preformed all of their own songs like “Big Bottom”. The band Spinal Tap will always have its place in rock and roll history because no one will ever be completely sure if they were a real band or not because they looked and sounded like a glam rock and roll band of the 1980’s. This film does an excellent job of portraying the musical genre of glam rock so much that this film is almost a documentary and not a Hollywood full length film. When looking for films that focus on the glam rock and roll era of music, This Is Spinal Tap should definitely be included in the films that are viewed because it did a fabulous job of highlighting the glam rock genre of the 1980’s. Another film that was about glam rock that did not depict the genre as well was the film Rock Star (2001). Rock Star did not do as good of a job as This Is Spinal Tap in depicting glam rock because the film did not have the actors playing music that they created themselves or dressing like the glam rock and roll stars of the 1980’s.