The Name of this Band is…

Talking Heads? Not quite. I was recently asked to help some colleagues come up with a band name for a forthcoming ‘talent’ competition that they’re entering. They’re based in Formby, Merseyside, and will be competing against  other ‘talent’ from the surrounding areas of the North West. As it’s essentially one town versus another, the obvious thing to do was to fit the name ‘Formby’ into the name of the group, and I found that the easiest way for me to do this was to pastiche existing popular band names.

The shortlist of potential names I came up with included such inspirational attempts as; Formbyshambles, Formby’s Midnight Runners and Echo and the Formbymen. They decided to run with Super Formby Animals, and I couldn’t have been prouder of the choice. For one, SFA are a firm Sexwale favourite, but more worryingly, they could’ve ended up choosing the far less inspired, Formby and the Machine.

This minor undertaking has got me thinking about naming a band for real. How precarious a task. Where would you even start? Should a band’s name reflect their image, or attempt to describe their sound? Should it be a statement of intent, or could it be just a nonsensical throwaway identifier? What’s in a name after all? And does it even matter? For if your band is actually any good, then the band’s name will be accepted anyway, no matter what. ‘The Beatles’ for example, is a pretty corny name in itself. But the music that they made transcended their name, ‘The Beatles’ became ubiquitous, and cherished. The major problem thereafter is that not every band can be as good as The Beatles. Which makes choosing a name for a band an unenviable task. For if you’re a pretty mediocre band, with an uninspiring name, then I’m afraid you’ve more or less had it. JJ72 anyone? Be Your Own Pet? I thought not.

Today I’m gonna flippantly praise or pooh-pooh some band names old and new. I’m not gonna get into the nitty-gritty, I’m just gonna let the names speak for themselves. I will list them at will, the good and the bad, and you may laugh and you may scorn, because this isn’t something you can analyse as just right or wrong. Some names that I might find repellent may be a source of wonder to yourselves. And likewise, a name that I may rate highly you may find to be absolute gibberish. And what if the band in question are actually pretty good? Will it cloud our judgement? All I can say is that I’ve tried to be objective, but these things very rarely are.

This isn’t a definitive list, I haven’t polled a thousand music fans, it’s just a list of 20 great, and 20 awful band names. So let’s ‘ave it.

20 GREAT BAND NAMES

01. The Rolling Stones

02. Yeah Yeah Yeahs

03. Daft Punk                      

04. The Sex Pistols

05. Roxy Music      

06. The Teardrop Explodes

07. Funkadelic

08. The Smiths

09. The Flaming Lips

10. Buzzcocks

11. Explosions in the Sky

12. Violent Femmes

13. British Sea Power

14. The Horrors

15. Mogwai

16. Slade

17. Hot Chip

18. Kaiser Chiefs

19. Super Furry Animals

20. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

 

20 AWFUL BAND NAMES

01. Neutral Milk Hotel

02. My Morning Jacket

03. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich

04. I Like Trains

05. Everything but the Girl

06. Elbow

07. …and You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

08. Yourcodenameis:milo

09. Lift to Experience

10. Unit 4 Plus 2

11. Does it Offend You, Yeah?

12. Two Door Cinema Club

13. Do Me Bad Things

14. Skrillex

15. Menswe@r

16. Blur

17. The Jam

18. The The

19. Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah!

20. Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly

So what d’ya reckon? There are plenty more out there. And yes, The Jam is a terrible name for Weller’s angry dictatorial Moddings. The Jam, indeed.

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