Sunday, January 11, 2009

No. 4. Everyone Has One...What The F*ck Is In A Name?

In our fourth installment of Everyone Has One (an opinion, that is), I wanted to discuss band names. The latest episode of Sound Opinions briefly mentioned the Canadian band Fucked Up and it reminded me of something Brian had written in passing for one of our year-end lists regarding the inordinate amount of “fuck” bands (Fucked Up, Holy Fuck, Fuck Buttons, et al) currently driving the kids wild. Pretty great names, huh? In fact, all three are really good bands (I currently can’t get enough of that Fucked Up record), so it’s not as though they have to use shock value as some sort of crutch. But I can’t help but wonder, what exactly was going through their R-rated heads when they sat down and had the “band name” discussion?

Let’s see, I’m thinking we need a name that makes us increasingly difficult to market and eliminates any chance we ever had of playing on Letterman. Who’s with me? [Everyone nods in agreement.]

On the other end of the spectrum, you have bands with completely ungoogeable names like Office and Women. It almost makes me wonder if any band has snatched up the name “The” yet. I have no problem with these bands, mind you. I like Office and Women, and would probably listen to a band called The. And as for “fuck bands,” I still believe in that element of rock music that is supposed to make your parents angry, so I’m all for it.

But my question is this, what does a band name mean to you? If the Replacements had decided to call themselves “Windshield," would you still enjoy Let it Be as much?

Also, I want to see a list of the worst possible and/or least marketable band names you can think of. For example, I think a band that just has a silhouette of a tennis racquet as their name (like what Prince did with his symbol), but actually refers to themselves as “Golf Club” just for the sake of confusion would be pretty great.

(Oh, and let’s have a concerted effort to keep them moderately clean. I rule the comment section with an iron fist straight out of East Germany. And besides, anything you can think of has already been one-upped by Seth Putnam. Let's hope he's not reading.)



Travis said...

If I had heard good things from reputable sources, I don't think that I would avoid a band over their choice of name. Actually, Fucked Up is the perfect example, as I REALLY hate the name. Nevertheless, I heard enough to make me want to check them out, and I liked what I heard.

In the discussion of unmarketable names, you have to mention !!!. When (trying) to talk about this band you either have to struggle with the correct pronunciation of three consecutive punctuation marks, or risk coming off smug and pretentious because you know the far-from-obvious pronunciation is chk chk chk.

Alex said...

Yes, !!! should have been mentioned. I remember one time telling Jimmy Valpo that I didn't want to listen to !!! because if they weren't going to put forth a serious effort to name their band, I wasn't going to put forth a serious effort to listen to their music. I was wrong though. At least live, anyway.

Jim P. said...

I don't think a good band name increases my appreciation for a band, but a bad one definitely turns me off, at least initially. I hate it when bands try to be shocking with their name like Fucked Up and AIDS Wolf (an exception being the excellent Fetus Toast).

If a band is good though, the name means little. Take The Beatles for example. That is a stupid name. Last time I checked, though, they were pretty good.

Alex said...

I remember a band playing Reggie's in Chicago that went by the name Slutbarf. I have no idea what I think of that name. It's either horrible or excellent but certainly nowhere in between. What separated Fetus Toast from others was the music was so damn good...the fact that they had an outrageous name and a lead singer well over 7-feet tall seemed pretty secondary.

No one can contribute a good band name? C'mon. I thought Golf Club was nothing to sneeze at, but that's how I often feel about my own ideas when they are, in fact, usually universally scorned.

Jim P. said...

My estranged college roommate and I have an incredible list of band names that cannot be disclosed for fear of everyone taking the names, which are 100% awesome. If you want a band name, just watch any episode of the Simpsons. There are at least 5 awesome names in each episode.

Also, I'm right at 6 feet.

Anthony Berbiglia said...

I agree. However if a band has a good name and no substance behind it, they get a listen and then are cast aside. Take the awesomely named "Anal Cunt". Even their songs have awesome names, like Van Full of Retards, I Noticed that You're Gay, You Look Divorced, Women - Nature's Punching Bag, and The South Won't Rise Again, the songs are really awful (somehow). If I were starting a band, it would be called Ben Affleck and The Flecktones. Society is so critical that someone would probably have a problem with that name.

Anthony Berbiglia said...

oops, didn't read the last paragraph.

Alex said...

You're skating on thin ice, Berbiglia.

Hey, Jim P., you mean like "Fall Out Boy?" Also, forgive my blunder. For some reason I remember reading on some blog that Ralph Sampson was the lead singer of Fetus Toast. But then I did a Google search and realized he was actually the star player on Univ. of Virginia's basketball team in the early 80s, and from what I can tell, in no way affiliated with Fetus Toast.

Audrey said...

Ben Affleck and the Flecktones should have no problem given Natalie Portman's Shaved Head and my personal favorite, Dananananaykroyd.

Travis said...


Good name, but unfortunately after Blues Brothers 2000, by Court order, Dan Ackroyd and Music are not to come within 1000 yards of each other.

Audrey said...

On a side note, Pitchfork has made an premature mess all over the place and has given away their Best Album of 2009 five days into the new year. AC's Merriweather Post Pavillion received a glowing 9.6

Alex said...

Just wait until you see the c-jerk session we have in store for MPP.

Thomas said...

And what about bands with lengthy names, usually attempting to be clever, that inevitably have to be abbreviated... a lesser known example being "Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk". And by 'lesser' I mean unknown by full name or abbreviation.


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