Fake songs? How can a song be fake?
For the purposes of this article, a “fake song” is any song written exclusively for a TV show or movie that is sung by a fictional character or band.
Some of the songs below were so popular, they were eventually released as singles, and today, many of these songs have versions available on Spotify or YouTube. Nevertheless, they all got their starts in their respective fictional worlds.
1. “That Thing You Do!” by The Wonders
In the 1996 film titled after the song, the fictional band the “One ders” were just doing their thing when they performed “That Thing You Do!” at a talent show.
Tom Hanks played Mr. White, the manager who changed the spelling of the band’s name and led their ‘60s sounding one-hit wonder “That Thing You Do!” to the No. 7 spot on the “Billboard Hot 100.”
The “fake song” was written by Adam Schlesinger and later released as a single. It didn’t fare quite so well on the actual charts, peaking at No. 41, but it’s an insanely catchy and fun tune.
2. “She’s So Gone” by Lemonade Mouth
“She’s So Gone,” please don’t ever go away. This “fake song” from “Lemonade Mouth” was top tier karaoke material after the Disney Channel original movie’s release in 2011. The lead vocals are sung by Naomi Scott, who portrays “Mo,” and her voice is just as strong as the message of the song: embracing who you are.
It’s been 10 years, but I’d still belt this “fake song” while dramatically looking at my reflection in the napkin holder at a restaurant.
3. “Catching Villains” by Beast Boy
Even if you hate Cartoon Network’s reboot of “Teen Titans Go!,” chances are you’ll love the song “Catching Villains.” It’s a clever play on “catching feelings,” and Beast Boy lip syncs this R&B masterpiece to Raven in the “TV Knight 2” episode of the cartoon’s fourth season in October 2017.
With the overwhelmingly positive reception, the actual singer and songwriter, Chizzy Stephens, got the green light to release Beast Boy’s song as a single nearly two months after its premiere on the show.
4. “Smelly Cat” by Phoebe Buffay
It’s not your fault if “Smelly Cat” by Phoebe Buffay lives rent free in your head.
The song was written by “Friends” writers Adam Chase and Betsy Borns, with help from musician Chrissie Hynde and Buffay herself, Lisa Kudrow.
Buffay had several other songs I really would like to hear full versions of, if only for the comedic effect, but “Smelly Cat” was by far her biggest hit.
The song recurred throughout the series, being a main focus in two episodes. In “The One Where Eddie Moves In,” we get a full version of “Smelly Cat,” complete with a music video with dramatic effects and background singers. Later on, in “The One with Phoebe’s Ex Partner,” “Smelly Cat” becomes a cat litter jingle.
5. “Let’s Go to the Mall” by Robin Sparkles
C’mon everybody, let’s listen to “Let’s Go to the Mall” by Robin Sparkles, the Canadian pop star and teenage alter ego of Robin Scherbatsky in the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”
Although “Let’s Go to the Mall” was released as a single in 2007 and even later appeared on Just Dance 3, this “fake song” was written exclusively for “How I Met Your Mother.” It premiered in “Slap Bet,” the ninth episode of the show’s second season, with a total Tiffany and Debbie Gibson ‘80s pop style music video.
While this song is the reason Robin refuses to go the mall, it’ll leave you craving Auntie Anne’s pretzels and searching the Forever 21 racks for an oversized denim jacket.
6. “Give It Up” by Cat Valentine and Jade West
Nickelodeon’s “Victorious” was full of musical performances, but the one that really stands out is “Give It Up,” performed at the fictitious Karaoke Dokie by Cat, portrayed by Ariana Grande, and Jade, portrayed by Elizabeth Gillies.
This “fake song” will forever be Ariana Grande’s first hit in my mind.
7. “Walk Hard” by Dewey Cox and The Hard Walkers
The comedic and fictional biopic parody “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” took one thing seriously: the music. The movie includes 33 original songs, among them the Johnny Cash-reminiscent “Walk Hard,” about persisting despite the struggles of life.
Actor John C. Reilly delivers on the vocals as he portrays the film’s title character, Dewey Cox. Reilly even went on tour as the fictitious musician, performing the fictitious songs to promote the movie.
8. “Gitchee Gitchee Goo” by Phineas and the Ferb-Tones
MOM, PHINEAS AND FERB ARE MAKING ANOTHER HIT SONG!
“Gitchee Gitchee Goo” secured the numbered spot, as it was purposefully written for a music contest in the episode “Flop Starz” of the Disney cartoon “Phineas and Ferb.” The song was performed on stage by PFT, and the one-hit wonders were a big hit in Danville.
But the musical world of the tri-state area is filled with nothing but bops.
We can’t forget Candace Flynn’s spontaneous acronymous song “S.I.M.P. (Squirrels in My Pants)” or her-spell-it-out-for-you soul ballad “E.V.I.L. B.O.Y.S.” Not to mention Ferb’s summer reggae classic, “Backyard Beach.”
9. “The Pit” by Mouse Rat
Anytime you feel like your life has fallen into the pit, you can turn up and shamelessly sing along to this rock song from Andy Dwyer’s band of many names in “Parks and Recreation.”
Although in the sitcom the song is actually referencing a literal pit that Chris Pratt’s character Andy falls into, it acts as a perfect metaphorical reference for the year 2020.
10. “Ultimate” by Pink Slip
Ultimately, we wind down the list with “Ultimate.” This “fake song” was one of Lindsay Lohan’s first musical hits.
As the credits roll on Disney’s 2003 version of “Freaky Friday,” Lohan’s character, Anna Coleman, performs the tune with her band Pink Slip on stage at her mother’s wedding.
You probably remember hearing “Ultimate” play on Disney Channel and Radio Disney, so anytime you need to feel nostalgic, look no further, this “fake song” is it.
Honorable Mention: “Please Mr. Kennedy” by Jim Berkey, Llewyn Davis and Al Cody
“One second, please!” The list of fake songs wouldn’t be complete without the novelty folkstune “Please Mr. Kennedy” from the 2013 movie “Inside Llewyn Davis.” For all cinematic intents and purposes, the song was supposed to be “bad,” but it’s actually an insanely catchy sing-along.
With Justin Timberlake’s lead vocals, accompanied by Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver’s background interjections, the musical world is reading it loud and clear. “Please Mr. Kennedy” is a certified space jam.
Bonus Verse: “All About You” by Boys Who Cry
It’s really only a single chorus but “All About You” by Boys Who Cry is a must-play for a Sweet 16, or any birthday celebration for that matter. This trio of fish perform for Pearl’s 16th birthday in the “Whale of a Birthday” episode of “Spongebob Squarepants.”