Puddle Of Mudd? Toad The Wet Sprocket? Or groups called things like Car Parked Selfishly or Boy Raised By Chimps? Martin Aston referees MOJO's
Terrible Band Name Smackdown.
What's in a band name? An explanation, a badge, a cri de coeur? A window, perhaps, onto an artist's soul. Those most cherished of acts have a name indivisible from their DNA--The Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, The New York Dolls, The Smiths, The Clash. I only mention this because I was recently sent an EP from Surrey emo band, You Me At Six--arguably as pointless a band name as it gets. It made me think of Manic Street Preachers Nicky Wire's rant against mimsy shoegazers Slowdive--"worse than Hitler," he opined.
Lazy art can get to you like that. Now, I know there can only be one Beatles, one Mercury Rev, one ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. But with the entire lexicon at their fingertips, You Me At Six is clearly not a band name that looks to the stars. Unlike, say, the enlightening They Came From The Stars, I Saw Them--themselves victims of Crappy Band Name hate blogs I encountered while researching this monograph.
Shoegaze was defined by its one-word band names--Blur, Lush, Ride, Spin. Repetitive, yes, but you can see the intention: to mirror the music's gauzy textures. At the other end of the bluster spectrum, emo band names extol the art of saying nothing, importantly: Christie Front Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, Hot Water Music, Dogs Die In Hot Cars--make up your own shameful version at The Emo Band Name Generator.
At least an inexcusable name can be constructive. I know without hearing a note that I'll never enjoy Scouting For Girls or The Pigeon Detectives. A flick through a gig guide last week turned up the following bands that I can happily avoid--Apples For Everyone, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, Bill Posters Will Be Band, My Tiger My Timing.
Chronic monikers can also be intriguing. Had I not known indie feys Grab Grab The Haddock, winners of BBC Radio #1's Worst Band Name poll of 2003, I'd have wondered what music deserved such risible baggage. Runners-up were Spandau Ballet, which expertly nailed New Romantic pretension, while the fact Crispy Ambulance came third also shows how the crux of a great name escapes some folk.
I haven't even begun to recount the horrors of the goth/industrial scene (hi, Anaal Nathrakh! you are named after a spell uttered by the wizard Merlin in John Boorman's 1981 film Excalibur that means "serpent's breath"). But it's not only rock; rap has its share of name shame. Calling yourself after a cotton bud, Q-Tip? Chali 2na, what were you thinking?
News just in: Nickel Eye is the solo project of The Strokes' bassist Nikolai Fraiture. From names sunk by puns to those calculated to annoy (Does It Offend You, Yeah?) and unintentionally induce yawns (sorry, The Milk & Honey Band), there are many reasons to get riled. I haven't decided which category the following fit into, but I know, on a cranky day, they're worse than Hitler: Puddle Of Mudd. Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Baboon Torture Division. Enuff Z'Nuff. Bowling For Soup. Dysfunkshun Junkshun. Mr Mister. Toad The Wet Sprocket. Crazy Town. The Hobbits Of The Shire. Keane. Come share some healthy anger and let MOJO know your worst.