Mighty Red Pen

February 8, 2009

I’m with the band

Filed under: Lit review — mighty red pen @ 3:48 pm
Tags: ,

There are good band names and bad band names, and then there are the ones that are so bad you’d just be too embarrassed to say them in front of your mother. Author Noel Hudson has taken the trouble to go around cataloguing band names in The Band Name Book. MRP was chiefly amused by the bad band names, as mentioned in an article about the book:

Such a shame when bad names happen to good bands, but it’s a rock ‘n’ roll phenomenon dating back to the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and the Bald Knob Chicken Snatchers in the 1960s. We had the Doobie Brothers and Mott the Hoople in the ’70s, followed by Oingo Boingo and Toad the Wet Sprocket in the ’80s. The ’90s gave us Soul Coughing and Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, and where would the 2000s be without Test Icicles and Lesbians on Ecstasy? On the flip side, sometimes the name is as awful as the music (hello, Hoobastank and Poi Dog Pondering). Or how about Mary Tyler Morphine?

My top two worst band names are probably the Goo Goo Dolls (total disconnect between earnestness of music and ridiculousness of name) and Barenaked Ladies (particularly annoying now that they’ve released a kids’ record that’s quite popular with los niños de MRP).

What are your favorite band names (most clever, funniest, most interesting, etc.) or which do you think are the worst (most annoying, silly, stupid, gross, weird)? Alternatively, if you had a band, what would you name it?



  1. I get annoyed by band names that are easily confused with other band names. For example, I like both The Tears and The Dears; I was a fan of Mansun but not Hanson or Marilyn Manson; and I still haven’t sorted out the difference between Brakes, The Brakes, The Rakes and Turin Brakes (phew!).

    Comment by JD (The Engine Room) — February 8, 2009 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  2. Amusing:
    Hootie and the Blowfish

    Butthole Surfers
    The The

    I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness

    Comment by Molie — February 8, 2009 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  3. I’m a big fan of both Hootie & the Blowfish and Toad the Wet Sprocket, but I’ve got to admit that they have terrible names.

    Comment by Jonathon — February 8, 2009 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  4. This post reminded me of the article “Offensive Rock Band Names: A Linguistic Taxonomy” by Salmons and Macaulay, which appeared in Maledicta 1988/89 vol. 10. A good read for anyone who is interested in this topic!

    One of the band names I always found strange was “Bats for Lashes”. I’ve never been quite sure what to make of it.

    Comment by el — February 8, 2009 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

  5. My nephew is lead singer in the up-and-coming band whose name I can’t stand: Forever the Sickest Kids.

    Comment by Granny — February 9, 2009 @ 1:10 am | Reply

  6. A couple that I find groan-worthy:
    – Archers of Loaf
    – Does It Offend You, Yeah?
    – The Foxymorons

    Some people that I know would add The Dandy Warhols to that list, too. One of my favorite band names ever is “Apostle of Hustle”.

    Comment by tk. — February 9, 2009 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  7. “Sleazy Jesus & the Splatter Pigs” (mid-90s Ohio punk band) definitely belongs atop either the best or worst list — just not sure which one. Maybe both?

    Comment by hugh.c.mcbride — February 9, 2009 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  8. I need to find the list I created of local bands with crazy names. There’s a local entertainment paper at home which lists current gigs in bars and such around town. Will look there and report back.

    Comment by Scathach — February 9, 2009 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  9. Okay here are a few local bands in New Orleans and surrounding area:

    Pop Evil
    The Leo Project
    Flow Tribe
    Old Crow Medicine Show
    What Laura Says

    Comment by Scathach — February 9, 2009 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  10. I think the Foxymorons is a great band name! In fact, purely on the strength of the name I’m going to give some of their stuff a listen.

    Comment by JD (The Engine Room) — February 14, 2009 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  11. The Who, U2, XTC, Sex Clark Five, Guided By Voices, Arcade Fire are all great band names…..

    Comment by Slystoned — July 3, 2011 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

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