1. Not Another Teen Movie - Good Charlotte (2001)
Few things encapsulate the early ’00s high school experience the way pop-punk does, few bands as delightfully bratty as Good Charlotte. The entire world knows this, which is why the band sheds their bad boy image for the 2001 film Not Another Teen Movie, acting as the prom band for the film’s penultimate scene.
In true prom fashion, Good C cover “I Want Candy” and Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” (which is about as good as Anka’s cover of “Smells like Teen Spirit.” Sigh.) If you’re looking for “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” you’ll have to look elsewhere.
2. The Brady Bunch Movie - Davey Jones (1971)
Marcia claims she can get the illustrious (and totally babely) Monkees frontman Davey Jones to show up at her school dance, knowing full well that it’s basically an impossibility. Somehow she convinces him and her life remains perfect, the world keeps spinning, etc.
But, like, seriously: Eff Marcia. Girl was gorgeous and got to do whatever she wanted. Davey Jones even liked her (I guess you should just ignore the weird age gap?) Team Jan FOREVER.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You - Letters to Cleo (1999)
There was a period in time when Letters to Cleo made moves. They were featured on an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, they had a few singles that did okay on the Billboard charts, but most notably, they were the prom band in 10 Things I Hate About You, where they covered the Isley Brothers’ “Shout!” and Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind.” Now they’re the stuff of ’90s nostalgists, but also super cool and quirky in the Julia Styles-Heath Ledger sort of way.
4. She’s All That - Usher (1999)
I used to always think if prom had a DJ instead of a band, it was because your school was cheap and/or the principal didn’t like you. She’s All That proved that wrong with Usher on deck as MC, who instructs the actors to do some strange swing dance that is some parts the Monkey, some parts “Thriller,” all parts weird. Why was everything so choreographed in the ’90s?
5. Drive Me Crazy - The Donnas (1999)
Preforming under “The Electrocutes” moniker (why isn’t this their real band name? this is an excellent band name) the Donnas play prom in the movie that made every teenage girl (myself included) obsessed with Adrian Grenier. Too bad Melissa Joan Hart gives him that weird makeover, ya know? He was really great at the whole “dark and moody” thing.
6. Valley Girl - The Plimsouls (1983)
So this is actually the club scene before prom but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about The Plimsouls. Sorry. (Not Sorry.) The power-pop act started by Peter Case of The Nerves are in many ways the perfect fit for this scene: their brand jangly-surf rock is loud, but free of danger. Plus, this is one of the few instances where the actors actually talk about the bands performing. They basically all decide that the Plimsouls are better than Disco. Well, duh.
7. Sleepover - Allister (2004)
If Allister will go down in history for anything (other than being from Chicago and writing that one song about being from Chicago) it will be for their performance in the prom scene of the mid-aughts movie Sleepover, starring a bunch of unrecognizable actors and the girl from Spy Kids.
8. Idle Hands - The Offspring (1999)
What happened to the genre of horror comedy? They keep adding to the Scary Movie franchise but nothing seems to be as bizarre as Idle Hands, the 1999 film that features So-Cal pop-punk band The Offspring playing a school dance (horror prom?) The performance ends with band frontman Dexter Holland scalped by a severed hand. Comedy.
Oh and Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge makes an appearance as a burger joint employee. Just because.
9. Pretty in Pink - The Rave-Ups (1986)
Pretty in Pink is a well known film, The Rave-Ups performance in the club scene is not the cause of it’s fame — but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. The band also has a song in Sixteen Candles so either Molly Ringwald is, like, super into them or they were the one quintessential ’80s band no one remembers. Or, at the very least, can name.
10. Serial Mom - L7 (1994)
L7 brought their feminist punk rock to the silver screen under the name “Camel Lips” (cloaking their identity because, come on, sell outs.) The song is called “Gas Chamber” and was co-written by John Waters and is basically perfect.
11. Encino Man – Infectious Grooves (1992)
Infectious Grooves is a fictitious funk-metal supergroup that plays at the end prom sequence of Encino Man. The band features Suicidal Tendencies members Mike Muir, Dean Pleasants and Robert Trujillo (who currently plays bass with Metallica) as well as Excel’s Adam Siegel on guitar and Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction. Yes, I said funk-metal.
12. Clueless - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (1995)
Clueless is without a doubt the ultimate in high school movies. The era of Phoebe Cates came to an end when the adorable girl from the Aerosmith videos decided to play the part of a lovable, and often gullible, rich girl.
While Clueless avoided the faults of the teen sex comedies that would follow (looking at you, American Pie, and all your weird franchised nostalgia,) they did manage to include Boston ska band the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in a dance scene, who I just discovered are still a band. Someone please tell me why ska is still a thing.