The History of Terrible Band Names

How did we go from the Rolling Stones to Fartbarf?

The answer so far has been through weird capitalization and punctuation use. Case in point, tUnE-yArDs, which actively seeks to inconvenience. All-caps and strange, gratuitous stylings are also popular: HAERTS, CHVRCHES, DIIV, and POP ETC.

Then there's fun., who managed to simultaneously employ three separate horrible trends: improper case usage, punctuation, and dull, defeated irony.

There's also an artist called CALLmeKAT.

The awfulness finally became numbing: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!, Diarrhea Planet, Oneohtrix Point Never. The worst part? Groups like Milk Dick can't even explain why they chose their names.

In the end, this threatens to ruin music for a generation of fans. While our parents reminisce about Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin, we're left with tales of acts like Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt and Vagina Panther. It's enough to make you start your own band, one not with a nonsense name, but with an entire nonsense language. Oh wait, Sigur Rós did that in the '90s.

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22 comments
dr.proximo
dr.proximo

no Cherry Poppin' Daddies? Either they assumed they would never get played on the radio and didn't care how icky it sounded, or they hoped they'd get played on the radio and didn't care how many DJs would really not want to say it. either way, ick.

seanswind
seanswind

Death Cab For Cutie is name after the song performed by the BONZO DOG DOODAH BAND (now there's a name) in Magical Mystery Tour


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbkdelZigwc


Singing lead is Neil Innes, AKA the guy responsible for the music of The Rutles

seanswind
seanswind

Death Cab For Cutie is named after the song the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (now THERE'S a band name) performed in the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbkdelZigwc


That's Neil Innes singing lead, AKA the guy responsible for The Rutles

xhidden99
xhidden99

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Anal Cunt

Between the Buried and Me

Spanish for 100

The New Christs

red.blackdawg
red.blackdawg

Is the village voice just written by cranky old people now? This article sounds like the music writers equivalent of yelling "Get off my Lawn!"

bitmiller
bitmiller

The reason you know (and accept) the 60s and 70s band names is because they're bands that you grew up hearing and everyone has lauded.  You forget the Peanut Butter Conspiracy and 1910 Fruitgum Company, two names that sound like they could be playing any college bar on a Wednesday night with Dale Earnhart Jr Jr.  Lots of stupid names are forgotten about because the bands didn't go anywhere - not because the name sucked, but because they weren't as good as Led Zeppelin.  In 30 years, no one will remember CHVRCHES or the Fuck Buttons, just like you aren't remembering 60s bands that don't fit your theory.

jmazz80
jmazz80

One point and one question:

- The Misfits should considered a "70's" band.

- Would you @nal consider C*nt to be a "bad" name, or a "good" name? 

AnthonyBozza1
AnthonyBozza1

Some good points and a solid idea for an article, but this could have been compiled and written much, much better. Best and worst names per decade for example. What is more interesting than the perceived lack of imagination is the (de)evolution of language over time due to the internet, texting, Lol has cheeseburger, etc. Speaking of (de)evolution, no mention of Devo? or Blondie?

SaltyOne
SaltyOne

How about writers with fancy hyphenated last names? That's not going to make you a British aristo ripe for Downton Abbey, you know. It's just pretentious.

EightySix
EightySix

Ah, but those bands with "awful" names have succeeded in one thing... They're being talked about. And for MANY of these bands, only the "Indie" or "niche" programmers/DJs will even consider them for inclusion. So they HAVE to stand out! It doesn't always work, and probably backfires more than they figured. But it beats a blank.

elaineshute
elaineshute

As a DJ who does an indie rock show on a community radio station, I am, actually, interested in this topic. I know a band's success these days is not so dependent on radio airplay, but I'm so annoyed  when band names include words the FCC won't let me say on the radio, or strange, unpronounceable symbols, like "!!!"  (Yes, I know it's supposed to be "chk, chk, chk", but I had to look that up, and it was more trouble than the band's music was worth). I tend to pass over such bands when I'm preparing a show. Given the fact that band publicists call our music director to find out if their music has gotten airplay, I guess they care. But not enough to put more thought into the name?

Animal names are becoming a problem, because too many are too similar. I love Deerhunter, but there's not even enough space here to list all the bands with "Deer" in their names. It's hard to keep them straight, so they may get shortchanged on airplay, too.

Lastly, it's really helpful when a band name gives you an accurate image of a bands music. Recently discovered a Detroit band called The Headstones. Were they, as I surmised,  garage-punk? Yes they were. And great, too. Only there's so much profanity in their lyrics that I can only play about two songs on the air without having to do a radio edit. But that's another topic entirely.

t.h.miller
t.h.miller

BTW- 

This Bike is a Pipebomb

Made out of Babies

1000 Homo Djs

...and You will Know us By the Trail of Dead

architecture in helsinki

Black Moth Super Rainbow


The list could go on forever.


Ellycakes
Ellycakes

Portugal. The Man best band ever. And the band name is pretty awesome. That is all.

ianmwalter
ianmwalter

I want to read an article about the decline of thought provoking writing and see this as one of the case studies. You have Portugal. The Man as the article photo. First of all, awesome band name and even cooler band. Second, you reference Sigur Ros as made up words? It's Icelandic! Are there lame band names today? Yes. Have there been lame band names in the past? Yes. Will there be lame band names in the future? Yes. Will there be lame articles written in the future? If this is a template, then yes.

Instead of struggling to write an article, go out and live a real life and write something interesting. .

ILPS9000
ILPS9000

@SaltyOne  

Some people are born with hyphenated names, and some create them. But it's not pretentious in the least.

Do you also think that people with Spanish names are also pretentious? Many add their mother's maiden names to the fathers, so you get a name like "Juan Pablo Fernández de Calderón García-Iglesias".

There are customs that people have in some countries that you may not agree with, but to call them pretentious, is, well...pretentious.

EightySix
EightySix

@Ellycakes Amen! I like everything I've heard from them! But I STILL haven't gotten a clear answer at to why the "dot" in their name. It's not like it's "Portugal.com"!

t.h.miller
t.h.miller

@ianmwalter

Sigur Ros are Icelandic, but sing some of their songs in "Hopelandic"- a made up language which they invented.

Ellycakes
Ellycakes

There is an in review John Gourley did where he talks about how they came up with the name. He also mentions when they saw the period in print they knew they'd made a mistake. But at least people are talking about them (even if it is an article about terrible band names).

 
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