The 22 Worst Band Names EverBy Sean Beaudoin
May 10, 2010
And what our collective unwillingness to insist these bands legally change their
names before we’ll listen to another note says about us as a nation of enablers
When I was in sixth grade this new restaurant opened up a few towns over and everyone was excited because there was almost nothing else in the area except Friendly’s, a well-known purveyor of inedible slop. So my parents slicked back our hair and loaded up the Impala wagon for the grand opening of The Mis Steak. It was covered with balloons. Laughing families shook hands in the lobby, coming and going. Our waitress was poured into her uniform like a perky butter pat. Dad ordered a second beer. There were free cupcakes. Mom left a big tip and said we’d be back soon.
Of course, the place went out of business in about six weeks. The Mis Steak had been doomed even before the workmen finished lowering the sign into place. Friendly’s is still there. Moral: names matter.
In tenth grade I spent innumerable study halls making lists on the backs of failed chemistry tests. What should I call my band? It gnawed at me. The perfect name was like the Houses Of The Holy Grail-proof I could conquer the world with nothing but the admiration of girls in halter tops and the buzz of an out-of-tune E string. The name couldn’t be too funny (Beastie Boys) or too metal (Megadeath). It couldn’t be too arty (Sigue Sigue Sputnik) or too swishy (pretty much the indefinable space that lies between Wham! and Wham UK! ) If it offended on some level, that was a plus, but it couldn’t be a novelty like Brian Jonestown Massacreorpolitical like Reagan Youth, since those references would age poorly over the arc of my meteoric career. Which, as it turns out, was more haircut than reality. By college I’d given up searching for the perfect name in exchange for the perfect way to drop Dostoevsky into party conversation. But despite being a failure, that experience did bring one side benefit: my current certification by JD Powers & Associates as West Coast Arbiter of Band Names That (Just Might) Suck. It’s a cushy position. I’ve found most people enjoy cheap jokes being made at their favorite band’s expense.
Four Arbitrary List Rules:1. Nothing too obscure. There has to be a reasonable chance of exposure to your average Clear Channeler. No local dirt rockers or Finnish performance Goths. 2. Some bands have truly stupid names which are so integral to the national lexicon they are beyond reproach. Think what Pink Floyd sounded like to the first zonked hippie who crawled out of his yurt to hear Piper at the Gates of Dawn. 3. Let’s stick to the rock-alternative-punk-pop axis. Sure, Philly doo-wop quartets called themselves tedious things, and certainly Buxtehude is the most ass-play sounding of all classical composers, but if only for brevity’s sake, they get a pass. 4. Finally, it should be understood that the purpose of this list is not to remark on the quality of the music of any of the bands, just the aesthetic resonance of their handle. Anyone who wants to stand up and defend the mind-blowing chops on the first three Beaver Brown Band records is welcome to do so, but it doesn’t change the fact that they remind me of the moldy Playboy the kid next door used to hide in the woods behind his house.
THE LIST OF THE DOOMED
22. Vampire Weekend
We live in a vampire world. From True Blood to Twilight, to Tom Cruise slowly draining Katie Holmes, the national vampire obsession is never ending. Twenty years ago Vampire Weekend would have been fine, even pleasingly nonsensical, but now it’s the equivalent of naming your band The Han Solo Experience in 1978, or The Titanics in 1994, or Jeff Probst’s Safari Jacket in 2000. It’s the worst example of aural product placement since Lionel Ritchie’s last single My Toyota Drives Just Fine. Suggested alternatives: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Weekend, Ringwraith Fortnight, Thank God It’s Cannibal Friday.
21. Nickleback, Matchbox 20, Sum 41, Five For Fighting, 24-7 Spyz, Third Door Down, Timbuk 3, Spacemen 3, Level 42, Sixpence None The Richer, Third Eye Blind, UB40, Maroon 5, Old 97’s.
Rock and Math were born to go together like peanut butter and veiled references to Leviticus. No good band has ever had a number in their name, with the possible exception of Nine Inch Nails. It’s the hip-quotient difference between a skull-plastered Ford Econoline and a turd-yellow Kia, between a thrashed fifties Stratocaster and an endless bassoon solo, between publicly calling your blank-eyed girlfriend “sexual napalm” and playing drums for Napalm Death. Suggested alternatives: Try something with Sleepy, Spooky, or Jethro.
20. Pantz Noyzee
Somehow existing in that rare gray area where The Unfortunate Z and Creatively Dull As Spackle meets Men In Leg Warmers. Suggested alternatives: Pants No More.
19. Counting Crows
A name perfectly encapsulating the desperate, wheedling need that is the band’s musical output. Or the ability to translate maudlin lyrics into dates with the cast of Friends. And maybe a reach-around from Schwimmer. Apparently a few years ago some kid found one of Adam Duritz’s dreadlocks lying in the gutter at the corner of Sunset and La Cienega and sold it on eBay for a dollar. Suggested alternatives: Counting Crabs, Ignoring Calories, Tallying The Minutes Spent Trying To Forget The Melody Of “Mr. Jones”.
Our generation’s least clever reference to toking up. Puts the listener in mind of floppy Dr. Seuss hats, microwave tamales, scented candles, relationship discussions conducted on two sleeping bags zippered together, and unidentified couch-spills. I’ve never heard any of their songs and am fairly confident I never need to. Suggested alternatives: A job folding thongs at American Apparel.
17. Live, Bush, Oasis, Lush, Low, Train, Muse, Jet, Shins, Vines, Hives, Killers, Korn, Toto
Indistinguishable one-word band names may seem fine individually, like rogue piranhas, but as a group feel like an insidious, soul-killing, Orwellian trend. Someone snaps their fingers and suddenly everyone in the cafe realizes they’re wearing Che Guevara T-shirts, but aren’t sure whether it’s ironically or not. Panic ensues. Fair trade coffee spills. An abandoned laptop keeps playing The Jetson’s theme. The day is saved when a barista quickly orders in a gross of Johnny Cash XXL’s. Suggested alternatives: Commodify My Icons. Or maybe just Icon.
16. Prefab Sprout
Evocative of the metric tons of cabbage-y gas they eventually had to pump into Biosphere II to fertilize the plants and aerate the research teams. Suggested alternatives: Smell The Tofurkey Glove.
15. Mudhoney, Faster Pussycat, Spiderbaby, Motorpsycho, Vixens
Having one band named after a Russ Meyer movie? Fine, we’ll let it slide. But two is unforgivable, and five is a sign of the D-cup Rapture, during which the saved will ascend to heaven while listening to the free verse poetry of Kitten Natividad. Suggested alternatives: Roddy Bottum and The Mondo Topless, Beyond the Valley of The Anatomically Accurate Doll Parts, The Immortal Mr. Teas Experience.
14. Asia, Europe, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, Beirut, Kansas, Bay City Rollers, Utah Saints, Manhattan Transfer, The Bronx, Ankgor Wat, Hanoi Rocks, Alabama, L.A. Guns,Georgia Satellites, Black Oak Arkansas, of Montreal, Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Taking some sort of sub-textual cred from a location seems just plain lazy, the same way that naming your son Brooklyn or your heiress Paris dooms them to an early twenties paparazzi-and-Vicodin tailspin. Like British Intelligence finally getting their hands on the Enigma Machine, the fact that a high percentage of these bands are keyboard-and-mullet driven supergroups should begin to crack the code. Suggested alternatives: Stick with thieving from Greek mythology.
13. Thelonius Monster
Never make fun of, or trade in on, the man who wrote Crepuscule With Nellie. Monk is musical truth and Monster is a downtown junkie giggle. The totality of the karmic shit-hammer due to descend upon this band is frightening. Suggested alternatives: Go away.
12. Collective Soul, Soul Asylum, Soul II Soul, Soul Coughing, De La Soul, Warrior Soul, Liquid Soul
If you have to announce you got it, you don’t. Suggested alternatives: Collective Arrhythmia, Arrhythmia Asylum, Arrhythmia II Arrhythmia, Liquid Arrhythmia.
It’s true there are many similar names that qualify at this spot, but there’s just something so sadly acid-torched, suede-fringe, and homemade-yogurt sounding about Hawkwindthat it manages to transcend an entire sub-genre. The noble hawk. The whisper of a gentle wind. Separately, these ideas epitomize creative honesty and musical rigor. Unified, they represent a commitment to recycling. The Hawkwind concept is the sum of everything wrong with seventies guitar extravagance: Middle Earth lyrics, forty-minute solos, sixty-piece drum sets, leg bandannas, foam Stonehenge, etc. Suggested alternatives: Emerson Lake and Duritz, Chawking Crowswind
10. Limp Bizkit
The scars from the dawn of rap-metal will never heal. A true nadir in American culture-that brief insidious moment in which this band, and the dyed goatee movement in general, was granted a semblance of musical legitimacy. “Pulling A Bizkit” is now street slang for that sense of regret that sets in before your new Velcro tattoo is even dry. “No, dude, it’s cool. It looks just like….a strip of Velcro.” Suggested alternatives: D’urst, Fred’sLimp Speedwagon, Flaccid Bizkit Overdrive.
Ah, David Coverdale. You sort of have to love his willingness to embrace his stature as the walking Romance Novel Cover of rock. But here he’s just gone too far. The beyond-dimwitted genital allusion is deserving of ridicule enough. Especially considering the neutered brand of hair metal they larded the 90’s airwaves with. Throw in Tawny Kitaen air-humping a Jaguar, plus David’s creepy, permed-uncle vibe, and you’ve got a solid #10 on any self-respecting list. Suggested alternatives: My Caucasian Penis, Such Penis As Is Mine Reserves The Right To Be Used In Reptile Metaphors, The Queasy Leather-Pants Smell Of My Backstage Penis, There’s A Party In The Groupie Van And Me And My Snake Are Coming.
8. Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
We still haven’t recovered from the old self-anointed bohemians, have we? I mean the people who couldn’t get into the back room at Max’s Kansas City. The people who actually bought Basquiat paintings. The people even G.G. Allin wouldn’t throw his shit at. Who says we need new ones? The naiveté of Edie’s lyrics combined with the band’s Industrial Cappuccino sound is a snapshot of a particular strain of ‘90’s dot-com malaise. Suggested alternatives: Mort Susskind and The Old Napkins, Pathet Lao and The New Communards, Ear Pain and The Delivery Vehicle.
When you name your band after a character from the “Amok Time” episode of Star Trek you’re pretty much screwed from jump. The intersection of arcane Trek knowledge and ‘80’s synth pop would seem like a natural, but only if that intersection occurs in the corner of the rec room where the Commodore 64 is stashed. Suggested alternatives: Th’pent, D’sposible, A’tLeastNoVocorder.
6. The Goo Goo Dolls
Pretty much saddling a decade with the unwanted mental image of a vinegary baby crap. Suggested alternatives: Steel Leather Fist, Muscle Wrestle Chainsaw, Golf Golf Beer.
5. Chumbawumba, Scritti Politti, Oingo Boingo, Bananarama, Kajagoogoo, Dishwalla, Milli Vanilli, Ebn Ozn, Nitzer Ebb, Mr. Mister, Enuff Z’nuff
Alliteration+unnecessary rhyming+neon overalls=a sophomore year of rampant forehead acne. Suggested alternatives:The By, The At, The On, The Up.
Quick, you have two choices: 1. You’re backstage at The View, somewhere between Joy Behar and the craft services table, wearing nothing but a falafel Speedo. 2. You’re at a bar, you’ve just met someone you’re really attracted to, and you have to work Weezer into the conversation three times before they remember they have an early meeting and split in a cab….time’s up.
3. And You Shall Know Us By The Trail of Our Dead, Godspeed You Black Emperor, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Neutral Milk Hotel, They Might Be Giants, Death Cab For Cutie, Everybody Was In The French Resistance…NOW.
There was a while after Raymond Carver’s story collection Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? came out when almost every other book title tried to emulate his genius sense of off-beat rhythm and unexpected tension. Suddenly commas were everywhere, irony abounded, and a cribbed sense of post-modernism ruled the day. It still hasn’t completely dissipated. So it should come as no surprise that Ray’s stylistic blip has crossed over into music. These are the sort of bands whose name-defenders always say “But, they got it from the first season of Dr. Who!” or “But they got it from Breakfast at Tiffany’s!” neglecting the fact that no matter how hip the source (yes, that means you, Toad The Wet Sprocket), coolness is not automatically conferred. Hey, Steely Dan is the name of a dildo in Naked Lunch, but it still manages to work nicely context-free. Suggested alternatives: They Might Be Turgid And Unlistenable, And You Shall Know Us By Our Trail Of Pretension, We Were Promised Relevance, Remainder Bin You Plodding Emperor, Death Stab For The Aggressively Twee.
2. The Darkness
Very, very scary. Like the screen name of a serial killer who digs Billy Idol’s early stuff. Like soaking in a pentagram-shaped hot tub. Like having your bedroom haunted by a pale, Depression-era child only you and Morgan Freeman can see. Dare you listen to this band? Are you willing to risk exposure to solos that may cause you to speak fluent Aramaic? Suggested alternatives: The Comfy Sofa, The Lite Mayonnaise, The Customized Huffy Ten-Speed, The Newly Fabreze’d Turtleneck.
1. Hootie And The Blowfish
Without question the worst band name ever. It absolutely owns each of the Four Hallmarks of Aural Misery: 1. Unforgivably cutesy, 2. Ultimately meaningless, 3. Unwarranted self-satisfaction, 4. Unmistakable hints of dorm room horseplay. It evokes the smell of someone else’s pizza. It says “I once broke up with an otherwise terrific girl because she kept whining But I love Hootie! every time I ripped the disc out of the changer and tried to Frisbee it across the quad”. Suggested alternatives: A Merciful Slide Into Cultural Oblivion, the same dark, forgotten crease where Poi Dog Pondering nurses The Dandy Warhols at its milk-less teat.
BONUS EXTRA CREDIT: The worst band with the best name:
I tend to have a soft spot for the universally loathed. I always think, yeah, sure, but can they really be that bad in person? Maybe they just need a quiet place to sit for a while and someone to listen who doesn’t want anything from them. For a hypothetical all-male band, Hole is offensive and moronic. For a band fronted by an aggressively non-apologetic woman in a ludicrously macho industry, Hole is a courageous post-feminist statement. It’s short, fearless, entendre-laden, and satisfying. It’s a big middle finger to a bunch of head-banging gropers who, after fifty years of gleeful misogyny, truly deserve it. Unfortunately, in Courtney’s case, Hole seems depressingly prescient. And that song about cake is really hard to get out of your head. If they were a bit less abrasive, and Courtney were, say, PJ Harvey instead, Hole might be the single best band name ever.
This is brilliant. Love the way you grouped them, and especially loved the Coverdale stuff. And the Counting Crows stuff, the Schwimmer reacharound especially…come to think, The Schwimmer Reacharound is a pretty good band name.
Thank you for putting Death Cab for Cutie on the list; although that name alludes to a Beatles move (just as Toad the Wet Sprocket alludes to a very good Monty Pynthon routine), it is still a terrible name for what is otherwise a great band, and one I don’t enjoy telling to my kids when they asks who sings the song on the stereo.
One of the first pieces I ever wrote for TNB lamented the fact that I liked a band with the clunky name My Morning Jacket.
My vote for best band name of all time (or, best one I can think of right this minute)? The Kinks. Although for what they were, you can’t do better than Black Sabbath.
Ha. Schwimmer Reacharound should definitely open an entire tour for Dillinger Escape Plan.
I like My Morning Jacket. Although it always seems like it should be My Mourning Jacket. The album where he sounds exactly like Prince With A Beard is hilarious.
Calling yourself The Kinks in 1966 or whatever is definitely deserving of praise. It suits them well. If they came out last year, though, it’d be pretty eh…
Agreed. Black Sabbath is probably the band whose music sound more precisely like their name than any other. Except maybe Sly and the Family Stone.
“Death Cab for Cutie” is a Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band cut…
Chili with the deep knowledge!
The only thing with The Kinks is that their manager or record company came up with it to attract attention and publicity…
They used to be The Ravens.
They used to be the Pete Quaife Quartet.
They used to be (my personal favourite) The Bo-Weevils.
Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Soundgarden are the best band names that spring to my mind immediately.
Quaife is an unfortunate surname, says the man whose middle name is Beldon, but he always tells people it’s Bellend.
I agree with Greg–this is genius. Not too mention, deeply hysterical. Though I am a little surprised you left Blink-182 off of the list.
I’ve never thought of it in this context before, but now that you juxtapose the two, I wonder if a big part of Courtney Love’s problem–and why I’ve never really cared for her–is that she kind of thinks she is PJ Harvey, and has no capacity to realize otherwise.
I have to admit, “courageously post-feminist” strikes me as awfully generous.
If she–or anything she does–is, then so am I. I can get absolutely wasted and hurl shoes and obscenities at Madonna. As could most of the crackheads on Hennepin Avenue.
Besides. I bet Kurt named the band, anyway.
Or Billy Corgan. She was with him before Kurt, and he wrote or co-wrote a lot of Hole’s songs. I believe his name is on every song from Celebrity Skin.
The woman is kryptonite to introspective musical martyrs.
God almighty. How does she do it? You’d think she’d frighten that type off immediately. Setting Courtney Love on guys like Corgan and Cobain SHOULD work about as well as running at a herd of horses blowing an air horn.
Well, there’s the whole “crazy=dynamite in the sack” thing. Courtney even said in an interview last week that she got good at fucking because she wasn’t all that good looking.
I remember, the first time I watched Sid & Nancy I sat there thinking, “Wow, Nancy Spungen was like the prototype for Courtney Love.” And then, lo and behold, who turns up in the movie, playing, of course, a junky?
Well, yeah. But she still needs to get as far as the sack with them for that to be a selling point.
I’ll never understand, I guess. I just think she’s foul.
Man, cannot believe I spaced Blink-182. Very deserving of inclusion. I must have deleted it somehow.
Good point about Courtney. That capacity seems to have been lopped off and replaced with collagen.
Hilarious AND genius.
I cannot even tell you what my favourite bit is because there are just too many shining gems in here.
Wonderful piece. I may just have to print it out and keep it on my desk.
“Printing and keeping” is the best possible compliment. Thank you.
I’ve been waiting for this all week. Shattered my already-high expectations!
I love that you went with categories where appropriate, and I almost slammed my fist on my desk with enthusiasm when I saw Hawkwind. So very perfect. Also love the worst band with the best name. Hole is a great candidate.
You will undoubtedly receive a long list of suggestions, so here are a couple of my own:
Insane Clown Posse
Panic! At the Disco
30 Odd Foot of Grunts (I hesitate to include this, but it’s always vexed me. Perhaps more than it should…)
Mott the Hoople (I love these guys but I’ve always wondered if something as simple as a name change would have propelled them a bit further)
Great stuff. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s comments!
Oh, 30 Odd Foot of Grunt – That’s Russell Crowe’s band, yeah?
When he was starting out in NZ as a singer -he went by the name “Russ Le Roq”
Oh yes he did.
No. No he didn’t. Really?
Do people in NZ take 30 OFOG seriously, or are they written off the way they are here?
Oh yes. Yes he did.
He seems to have a bit of a following here… Last time they played, it was sold out.
“Russ Le Roq”….god, that’s so utterly perfect…it’s like overhearing your 12 year old brother and his friends talking about what their porn star names would be…
Excellent. You’ll be gratified to hear that only Insane Clown Posse out of your list didn’t get consideration, mostly cause I forgot about it. All the rest were at one time or another in play. I decided in the end Mr. Mister might actually be clever and it was my problem. Russell Crowe Side Projects we finally deemed unworthy of even mentioning. But, yeah, it’s a truly awful name.
Is it just me, or is everyone who loves Insane Clown Posse incredibly creepy?
No, I’m sure both of them are incredibly creepy.
Hey, Mr. Mister IS on the list….way to read for comprehension, Joe….
Wait- what? It is? But I thought I… Ah, geez.
OK, five laps around the TNB outfield for me…
#21 – what about the Jackson 5?
Okay, I’ll keep reading now.
Ah. I should have read caveat number 3 under the “Four Arbitrary List Rules:” category.
Yeah, the Jackson’s get a pass….as do groups with numbers that actually reflect how many members they’re toting in the line-up, The Harvey Averne Dozen being by favorite of that variety…
Ben Folds Five.
I always gave that one a pass. Partially because it made me laugh that there were only three of them, and partially because it’s a play on Folds’ last name being a verb, which I thought was kinda clever.
I think you’re both right on Ben Folds. At first I thought it was annoying, but when I found out it was his real name, sorta cool. And that Chat Roulette thing he did pretty gives him a big credit deposit in my book.
Well, to be fair, “Soul Coughing,” in the urban dictionary sense, is violent vomiting–the sort, I suppose, that threatens to make you cough up your soul.
So that one’s open to interpretation…it might not be as self-laudatory as you think; though I’m not sure this definition makes it any better as a band name.
Band name I hate more than any band name ever (at least this week): Rise Against.
Rise Against fucking WHAT? Just rise against whatever? Sure, your milquetoast suburban metal-head rage is petty and nonspecific, but you don’t have to ADVERTISE.
Hoobastank or however it’s spelled always reminds me of an old pal o mine’s band Hobo Skank.
Agreed on Hole.
Truly awesome and hilarious. I find myself grateful that so many bands I both loved and loathed are on this list, although I dare not tell you which ones…
Definitely share the loved ones….this post can be considered a “safe space” for musical confession…
I belong to an earlier generation, but I really enjoyed this piece even without knowing anything about at least 95% of the bands, no, make that 98%. Good God, those names.
I wouldn’t ever claim that the 50s and 60s were any better. Maybe less turgid and self-involved and consciously weird. Um, or not.
Good job. Funny under all circumstances.
Thanks Don. It’s true that most 50’s and 60’s names were pretty innocuous and sort of copied each other with tiny variations, Crickets, Beatles, Turtles, Monkees, Hollies, Zombies, etc…..Same thing Motown-wise, Ike and Tina, Sam and Dave, or The Temptation, The Spinners, The O’Jays, The Stylistics…..not much to flog there. I’m fairly sure it was all just as self-involved though. Maybe there was more self to involve?
“The totality of the karmic shit-hammer” would be a pretty great name for a band. Great phrase, Sean.
A job folding thongs at American Apparel – hahahaha.
Oh this was funny. Loved it. And I am SO glad you called out the bands with numbers in their titles. Pet peeve of mine, big time.
Yes. Yes. Although now I have an uncontrollable urge to start a tribute band called Falconzephyr.
You need a bass player, I’m in.
Trashing people’s favorite bands, some of whom you ADMIT never having listened to, is pathetic.
Taking it personally isn’t?
So is leaving a comment calling someone pathetic when you haven’t really understood what was said.
This is about band names, not musical talent and no one so far has attacked the creative output of any bands mentioned.
Also, calm down, they’re just fucking bands.
Read and weep:
Wake up her mother, tell her You’re sorry now
All gods children walk before they run
Everything is beautiful in dreamland
Everything is much, much better when we’re gone
Think I’m going to write myself a letter
Something you can keep with you forever
Because everybody gets to be perfect when they’re gone
….by the Counting Crows
It ought to be obvious to anyone WITH A BRAIN that this is genius, as opposed to writing a sleazy column picking on the names the talented musicians choose to represent their work!
Again, you miss the point entirely.
No one is saying that Counting Crows aren’t a good bad, what is being said is that the BAND NAME isn’t very good.
Although I’ll happily step right up and say that the Counting Crows are a long way off genius. Competance? Certainly. Mopey? Definitely. Genius? No.
”Everything is beautiful in dreamland”? jesus christ, what a profound sentiment that doesn’t at all sound like an overly emotional fifteen year olds journal, written whilst crying because nobody ‘gets’ him.
You aren’t actually Adam Duritz are you?
This was definitely an entertaining read. I do have to say that I like the names Lush and Mudhoney, but that’s a birthright necessity I’m pretty sure. I started high school in 1990 and graduated college in 1999, so my relationships with Lush and Mudhoney are deep and foggy in all the ways high school and college are lush with mudhoney.
And the butter crunch sundae with butterscotch topping at Friendly’s was the best thing to hit my palette until… maybe ever. Sadly, the local Friendly’s in Jersey shut down. Happily, I live in Venice, CA and haven’t been to Jersey in 5 years, so who cares.
What do you think of this? The Sizzler. That was the steak joint in my suburban childhood parts. I’m pretty sure it had a good run as the happening spot.
Oh, man The Sizzler. That and Ponderosa were The Mis Steak’s fancy older cousins.
Golf *snort* Golf *smirk* Beer … love!
I miss CMW.
I know you were listening to T’Pau’s “give a little bit of heart and soul” when you wrote that. You know it, too. Way to pounce on the Monster. Don’t fuck with Monk. Ever. And while I applaud your appreciation of Hole as a name in theory, there can be no better band name than, wait, what was our band name back in College? Ask David, that was the best band name ever. That and Moby Grape.
It’s true. But not only listening. Also singing along, dancing, and massaging the transponder badge on my Captain Kirk Terrycloth Commander’s Bathrobe.
We Were Scrofula. At least for one public cover of Welcome To The Jungle.
The smell of someone else’s pizza is a pretty perfect line
but I would think Black Oak Arkansas
would be one of the best band names ever
because they sound exactly like you’d
think they sound from that name.
Overall a quite witty list.
I really love Faster Pussycat too.
Bathroom Wall is a killer.
Black Oak Arkansas
or maybe just
Should get a pass
for releasing an album called
“Raunch and Roll Live”
Been enjoying your
Free verse and various
throughout the site
Faster Pussycat didn’t just have a great band name, Taime Downe is a pretty righteous name for a frontman!
He should have hooked up with Tura Satana from the movie:
Theme song by the Bostweeds, by the way….
I saw Taime a few years back
& he looked like a little ogre.
Like he went completely mad
in a Hot Topic
I was always very fond not only
of the band name
but also their song
“All My Friends Are Dead”
Rich Ferguson once told me
I looked like a roadie for
Black Oak Arkansas.
It was a compliment.
i always used to wonder if the title of the black sabbath greatest hits collection we sold our soul for rock and roll meant they had a collective soul… and i always kinda thought the band collective soul must have always wondered the same thing. so i like them. i mean, i like their name. also i like it in that one song when they go “…yeah!” or “…hey!” or whatever they go. also i like the name mudhoney, i think it’s a good name. also “touch me i’m sick” is a great song. not that anyone was disputing that. that i am aware of. frankie goes to hollywood is the worst name for anything, ever. and so perfectly suited to that fucking “band.”
Glad you called out Edie Brickell and her Bohemians here too, at least the towering pretension in name matched the music. The unfortunate name Death Cab Cutie gets slightly redeemed by the lead’s better project The Postal Service. But, thanks for this piece which doesn’t have a single false note in it.
The first band I ever saw live was Uriah Heep…so I pretty much had nowhere to go but up, both in terms of name and musical output. Amazingly, they’ve released 21 studio albums, 12 live albums, 13 compilation albums and 27 singles. They are still touring. Maybe they are vampires.
“Uriah” similarity to “Urea” simply too great to ignore.
No one had a problem with Aretha Franklin. Just sayin’….
Speak for yourself.
I almost always do. (:
Wow, can’t believe I left the little tidbit out about the fact that Uriah Heep was the opening act for…Def Leppard (from the 2-armed drummer era). I challenge anyone to top that double bill for overall patheticness. Hey, it was the early 80’s…
blue oyster cult opening for kiss? kiss without make-up? on the Asylum tour? 86?
2-armed def leppard was pretty good, in my opinion. high and dry is good album. it was only after they discovered synthesizers and car accidents that things went horribly wrong…
IN 10/76, Black Oak Arkansas played some Mid-West shows supported by Mahogany Rush; that wood have been awesome, wooden it?( I own bootlegs of both bands.)
Dire Straits always lived up to their name, imho.
Hahah! God, this is funny! I wasn’t aware of the genesis of many of these names so it was an eye opener besides being hilarious.
I can’t believe Pearl Jam didn’t get a shout out!
Wow, I can’t believe it either. I knew someone was going to call me on a incredibly obvious band that I’d overlooked soon, and you did it. Pearl Jam is a terrible name. At least for what I’d always assumed it meant. I could be wrong, but it’s like Eric Burdon and War’s “Spill the Wine” line where they keep saying “dig that pearl”, right? Or, maybe it’s something more innocent. I need my Vedder knowledge upgraded.
This may have already been addressed, but I do hope we get to read “The 22 Best Band Names Ever” at some point.
Amazingly, I hadn’t considered it. But it’s an excellent point. The sarcasm yin without the compliment yang. It may just have to be my next post.
I always felt funny about the recent crazy for bands called “The _____s.” It’s perfectly fine, but in large numbers it’s a little strange.
When I had a band – briefly, until I feel off a stage drunk and puke on myself, thereby losing any courage I had previously mustered to overcome my stagefright – I called it “Tin Can Banana Dogs.” A reference, of course, to Ginsberg.
There was a post on here a long time ago where someone talked about band names. My suggestion then was to have variants to counteract the inevitable exhaustion of names. Example: We’ve already had “The Beatles,” but we still have room for “A Beatle,” “The Beatle,” and just “Beatle.”
A Kink, The Eagle, A Moody Blue, The Yes, The Motor Heads.
I’m gonna be laughing about this for a loooong time. I can’t wait to put the radio on or listen to some internet station just to know what band is on.
I don’t get how bands with such crappy names get so popular. Especially Hootie!! That was a HUGE album the year it was released.
Good God, what are people thinking?
My good friend, who is an amazing singer-songwriter, and I used to try to come up with ridiculous band names that we thought would smash the charts solely based on the name. But they couldn’t beat some real band names, like all the ones you mentioned.
I especially love your suggested alternatives for Limp Bizkit: D’urst, Fred’s Limp Speedwagon, Flaccid Bizkit Overdrive.
thanks Jordan…I am also completely mystified by the Hootie phenomenon…..they were the biggest band around for a little while there. You couldn’t escape them. How is that possible? On the other hand 55 million people voted for George Bush twice…
I think there should be an award for Laziest Band Name and it should go to The The.
Also, not sure if it was intentional, but the band is actually Three Doors Down. Unless, there is a band called Third Door Down, that I’m not familiar with.
Nailed. It is Three Doors Down. I was hypnotized by their balladry and forgot to type them into google…
17 years in radio. I’ve had to say every bad band name numerous times over…and listen to their music.
Hold the line – how dare you batch Toto and Jet with ’90s Power Pop gods like Live, Bush and Oasis. Okay, maybe they’re not quite the emblems of Power Pop that were Matchbox 20, The Verve Pipe, and Marcy Playground, but their tunes suited my mid-20’s self-righteous coolness and libido to a T-Pain.
(mega-dittos on Collective Arrhythmia)
Marcy Playground! “I like sex. I like candy. Hey, you know what? I like sex AND candy.” Yeah.
The Onion used to create a similar list as this. Don’t know if they still do. Somehow a local band from Harrisonburg, VA made it: Order of the Dying Orchid. These guys had intense shows. Almost a decade ago I saw them perform. The lead singer accidentally busted his forehead open swinging the mic. Blood was dripping down his face and into his mouth. He kept singing. Kept going. After the show, he bummed a cigarette off me. Calm as ever. Quite the opposite of his stage personnae. He was Iggy Pop one minute. Next minute Iggy Pop on Valium.
I guess they (or someone) sent in their album. Personally, I always thought and still do think Order of the Dying Orchid is/was a great band name but after The Onion dissed them and I believe another one of the founding members left, they dropped “of the Dying Orchid” and stuck with “Order,” which, to me, is lame as shit — up there with Oasis, Bush, Live, 311.
By the way, was it just me and my friends or did everyone in the U.S. call Hootie and the Blowfish one of the following:
– Hooters and the Blowjobs
– Bloatie and the Whofish
Yeah, I think this list has been made many, many times. Only mine is brave enough to take on Edie Brickell, though….There’s two different versions of New Order, one including the remnants of the Stooges. Order of anything names are sort of handicapped from the get go. A lot of people I knew back then called Hootie “awesome”.
For your consideration: Radiohead, Coldplay, Green Day, Blind Melon, Linkin Park. The Spice Girls, Pussycat Dolls, Sugababes, Honeyz.
Another category – band names which are just the names of the band members: Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Emerson, Lake, Palmer, Mel, Matt, Kim, Peter, Paul, Mary, Bjorn, John, Bel, Biv and Devoe.
I think I was in my thirties before I realised The Beatles is a horrible pun (and that Sandie Shaw probably wasn’t her real name).
When the band !!! became moderately popular they had to start explaining their name’s pronunciation. Posters read “!!! (Chk Chk Chk)”. Like a typewriter. It’s no surprise that f#4 were never very successful.
To be fair, Limp Bizkit was a deliberately bad name, although I don’t know whether it was a deliberately bad band. Sum 41 had a rather good video out when The Strokes were huge; their manager told them “Number names aren’t cool now”, so they renamed themselves The Sums and made a VHS-looking studio performance clip.
Soul Coughing is indeed violent vomiting. Also pretty much my favourite band. Still a rubbish name though.
Stereo MC’s deserve a kicking for that grocer’s apostrophe.
Ah yes, those names that come from somewhere: “But it’s a really good story!” Fine, but The Sea and Cake is a hopeless band name. Modest Mouse – from a thoroughly condescending Virginia Woolf quote – redresses the balance somewhat.
I like bands who cheerfully scupper any chance of mainstream play by calling themselves Holy Fuck, Fuck Buttons, The Fucking Champs etc. Anal Cunt’s just childish, though.
I’m very fond of UK artist Sam Duckworth’s stage name Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
(No full stop)
And, although I’m no Morrissey worshipper (despite being in my late thirties and from northern England), I think The Smiths is a champion name. Top prize in my book – spelling and punctuation aside – goes to Mötley Crüe.
Wow, Steve, lots of good comments to get to:
-I think Blind Melon is the worst in your first group. Does it come from Blind Lemon Jefferson? Even less forgivable if it does. I always thought it was some dumb pot joke. Linkin Park really sucks. Not sure I consider some of the others as “bands” as opposed to “manufactured entertainment vehicles”, and so didn’t seem worth a mention, but Honeyz is particularly grating.
-It took me forever to catch on to The Beatles as well.
-I pretty much agree about “fuck” bands, if only because I find it admirable they are willing to sacrifice radio play, distribution, etc. for a dumb name, and so I assume they really believe in what they’re playing. Even if it’s crap, that goes a long way in my book. A lot of people have mentioned Butthole Surfers as being horrible, for instance, but I think that’s a name that took a lot of guts to carry around down in Texas during the Reagan years. And, also, I like (a fair amount of) their music.
-I like The Smiths as well. Especially coming from the 80’s and so being sort of all-encompassingly everything anti-spandex.
-The Crue is too much of a cartoon to be horrible to me. While it is truly a horrible name, it is everything the band is and more. The umlaut in itself disqualifies them from any seriousness. A puerile band for a puerile decade, and so aptly (if not well) named.
No, no, I think…well, “Motley Crew” is a tremendous name. Actually they’re unique in that they’ve taken a potentially great name and messed it up. And it’s pretty hard to separate the name from the music and image – so that’s another mark against them. Damn it, now I need a new favourite band name!
hootie and the blowfish
puddle of mudd
archers of loaf
and you shall knolw us by the trail of the dead
Red hot chili peppers
hawkwind got their name by their forwst bassist’s bad habits of both hawking and breaking wind. budkt.
Yes, Puddle of Mudd made my early list, but for some reason I pardoned it. Shouldn’t have. I also realize as I’m typing this I forgot The Blow Monkeys. No excuses.
“And You Shall Know Us By The Trail of Our Dead” is actually named “…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead”
Just sayin’. I might have been willing to let this go had you not dissed the all-mighty ‘Wind.
[…] The dude knows his music. Like, he once deejayed a party using only music by bands and artists that start with the letter “A” (too bad for you, ZZ Top). And he knows who Captain Beefheart is (or was). And he has very strong opinions about what makes a lousy band name. […]
Found this a little late but in the spirit of better late than never- Sean has been riffing on this band name exercise since at least the seventh grade. I can recall Sean arriving fresh from Spanish class with an air of self-satisfaction over the name of his new cover band, The Gomas (you know, “Hola. Te quiero. No me dices tu nombre?…”)
My friend, Liberace Coughs Up Blood was an actual band. I was the ‘singer’.
We were a Hull (UK) based post punk combo.
I’m a painter now.
Our one vinyl record ‘Meesserschmidt’ was reputedly played on John Peel,
MARK H WILSON
Best band name of all time…..a 60’s garage band on the “Nuggets ” compilation ” The Uncalled For ”
just utter genius & way ahead of its time !…honorable to Canned Heat which was apparently an old slang term for whisky and leaves Black Sabbath (and pretty much everyone else ) for dead.
No Harry No ( Sydney band of the nineties )—ya gotta love that…
In Adelaide circa 1979 there was a band name competition….can’t remember for who or why but DO remember the winner was “Liberace Coughs Up Blood”….brilliant AND prophetic, as it was well before Libbers was diagnosed with AIDS…pity it wasn’t an actual band….The Bodeans is a great name…just sounds great…The Who still rings true….”Mott the Hoople” is an appalling name….somehow managing to combine kiddy cute & clever with a kind of depressing prog-hippy ethos…..my vote for names that “must be expunged from the universe immediately” are ALL band names that include colours Greenday ( who I actually like )…Blue Mink…Red Riders & 7 billion others and ALL band names that include numbers…Blink 182…Sham69….. Matchbox 20 & 7 billion others…….lame lame lame, shame shame shame…..I’ll get back to ya re more GREAT names !!
oh yeah….immediately springing to mind….this is just fantastic…….Sydney LESBIAN band of not long ago….THE OUTSKIRTS !!….how good is that !!
The Nervous Breakdown…
Travis should definatley be on there though, aswell as wishbone ash, you me at six, the national and silverstein
How about the chocolate bunnies from hell, and the butthole surfers
This is great. I never even realized how bad some of the band names were, until you pointed them out. A friend of mine from high school had the best band name I have ever heard- “Dr. Poundcake and the Muffins of Doom”.
Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in reality used to be a enjoyment account it. Glance advanced to more introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep up a correspondence?
“Chunk, No Captain Chunk!” should really be on this list.
We humbly submit gratuitously gross names — names, like the Butthole Surfers, disturbing enough to make me avoid the music regardless if talent: Circle Jerks, Flaming Lips, Meat Puppets, & Skinny Puppy.
A splendid list, though I did have to keep reminding myself that loving the band does not require loving the name, e.g. Low – bless their cotton socks, but there should be a category and a level of hell for bands who failed to anticipate internet search engines when choosing a name. The The may be the chief exemplars, but surely deserve a pass for the sheer cleverness of choosing a name which makes it impossible for their fans to laud them without sounding like complete grammatical morons.
you forgot helloween… how could you forget helloween?
You forgot bands named after people not in the band. Examples: Pablo Cruise, Travis, Charles Bronson, Ed Hall, and Kurt Vile. The latter for good measure.
Also the commenter that complained that the name “Butthole Surfers” was off-putting really missed the point.
Also, don’t diss the wind.
Haha, your writing is side-splittingly hilarious and incredibly skilled. It’s certainly a nice surprise to see on the internet. Have you ever considered writing for Cracked? I’m a big fan of it and I have to say you write better than most from Cracked.
Thank you for including mention of Toad the Wet Sprocket. That has always been my least favorite band name, and the utterance of it almost reflexively prompts me to simply say, “Shut up.”
I also love that so many of these bands are 90’s bands. If nothing else, it validates my own perception at the time and since then, regarding how prevalent the trend was.
I have to say, much as I like the band, The Psychedelic Furs always struck me as particularly stupid. Perhaps it’s clever and simply requires mental gymnastics to appreciate how it is oxymoronic rather than just moronic.
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On the whole this is a fantastic list and flogs much of the deserving, if only in name, quite mercilessly, though I only had one qualm being: They Might Be Giants. Referencing a strange movie that itself is referencing Don Quixote seems to me to be a fantastically oddball name for a band that has written songs about anything and everything. Just my opinion against a more experienced writer and probably greater musical aficionado but I think the name fares as well as Steely Dan in obscurity and oddity though not as delightfully wicked. To me they seem out of place next to something as bland, airbrushed, prepackaged and unpalatable as Death Cab for Cutie, as trite as Godspeed Black Emperor, or as pretentious and contrived as …And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead.
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Im so fucking mad so so so fucking I just want my fucking chat back
stupid shitty fucking mods
U2 actually were a reasonably good band with a number in their name until success went to their heads and Bono decided to become a caricature of himself. Think everything up to and including “The Unforgettable Fire”. Everything they have done SINCE that album may be pseudo-intellectual masturbation, but at least they were good once upon a time.
We arrived tired and hungover but there was beer and cake waiting and a great (but, of course, small) crowd crammed in to hear us. It was such a nice atmosphere. The owner, Sylvia Benedikter, used to be in the music business and opened the shop in 2004, focusing on pop, rock, punk and singer-songwriters. It’s got a great vibe and Camden-like feel, and besides vinyl and CDs there’s music-related merchandise such as cool T-shirts, and baby clothes with band names on.