ByScott Wardell, writer at
Editor at MP. It never gets easier, you just go faster.
Scott Wardell

Not all battles are fought with swords and shields, some are fought with axes and sticks. Not all battles are fought in open fields, some are fought in high school auditoriums. Not all battles are won through bravery, some are won through tasty jams and tireless chops. Whether it's winning bragging rights or the affection of a crush, these on-screen music melees are simply awesome.

9. Bass Vs. Treble — One Man Band

This Pixar short premiered with the theatrical release of Cars and was even nominated for an Academy Award. Told through pantomime and music, this charming story pits two busking musicians against each other — one, the bellowing brass player known as "Bass" and the other, a suave string player called "Treble." While both performances are entertaining, little Tippy is the true showstopper of this film.

8. Dave Grohl Vs. Animal — The Muppets

These two rock gods have been banging on the drums for decades. Grohl got his start in 1987 with grunge band Nirvana, while Animal began his frenzied antics with Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem way back in 1975. This clash was a long time coming, as Grohl menaces to his opponent that "he's been waiting years for this." To which Animal replies, "Now we see who best!"

7. Scott Pilgrim Vs. Todd Ingram — Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World showed us the world through the eyes of slacker musician Scott, effectively turning every situation into an epic musical battle of video game proportions. Complete with flying notes and comic book cutaways, this gut-busting bass battle proves to be one of Scott's toughest challenges.

6. Eugene Vs. Jack — Crossroads

There's no better setting for an '80s head-cutting guitar duel than a dimly lit bar filled with snappy dressers, Ralph Macchio in a two-sizes-too-big sport coat and Steve Vai rocking a pair of too-tight leather pants. The tension is as thick as the sweat rolling down Vai's face as the two guitarists attempt to out solo each other to win back their souls from eternal damnation.

The best part? Immediately after defeating his nemesis, Macchio launches into a crowd-pleasing riff that inspires an ensemble dance number. Long live the '80s.

5. Marcus Vs. Myran Vs. Anders Vs. Johannes — The Sound Of Noise

This scene is less of a battle and more of an all-out war. Swedish film The Sound of Noise tells the story of rogue percussionists attempting to evade capture while creating a racket everywhere they can. After the drummers have been assembled, they must decide who among them gets the first solo. Three hours of percussion madness ensues.

4. Sex Bob-omb Vs. The Katayanagi Twins — Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

What made Scott Pilgrim vs. The World such a fantastic film was its ability to reach into the comic realm and pull out some over-the-top moments. Not content with a simple amp versus amp battle of the bands, this scene turns it up by manifesting the bands' sound into massive battling monsters reminiscent of something out of a kaiju movie. Now this is a real battle of the bands!

3. Toki Vs. Skwisgaar — Metalocalypse

Metalocalypse isn't afraid to push the stereotypes of metal into sheer absurdity and chaos, and this origin story about how Toki joined Dethklok is no exception. Told in the style of an ancient epic, the battle between the Scandinavian axe men plays on the greatest tropes of metal music, including:

  • A Body Counter
  • Pitch Harmonics
  • Mythical Creatures
  • Energy Beams
  • A polite interlude featuring two upper-class country gentleman

2. Atlanta A&T University Vs. Morris Brown College — Drumline

This Nick Cannon gem from 2002 showed us the intimate side of collegiate marching bands, where school spirit and glory come together for 15 minutes of halftime fame. It's only fitting that the final battle between Cannon's A&T drumline and his Morris Brown rivals was executed with dramatic fanfare. The lone spotlight on the turf, the shoulder-to-shoulder battle formations and the thousand-yard stares between the two bands make this snare showdown a truly epic moment.

1. Drew Vs. Lonnie — Deliverance

No other musical duel in the history of cinema can claim the same level of recognition as "Dueling Banjos." This string versus string showdown first twanged into fame back in 1972 and has remained one of the greatest musical duels in the history of film.

Pretty sure it goes without saying that these battles would destroy your local high school talent show.

What other on-screen music battles should be on this list?


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