The Best and Worst Band Names, As Determined By Me

I decided against anything too serious this week. I figured people are getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, preparing to face the rabid masses on Black Friday, or going balls-to-the-wall to wrap up the month with a win at NaNo. Either way, I didn’t feel like writing anything too lengthy or serious, either. I decided to look at band names a little bit.

Band names are a funny thing. If a band is around long enough, or if their music is good enough, their name just sort of becomes accepted no matter how nonsensical or silly it is. But if you strip away the name and just look at it for its own merit, what do you have?

Sometimes band names have deep meaning (Rage Against The Machine). Sometimes they’re just random words thrown together (Foo Fighters). Sometimes the names fit the band perfectly, and sometimes you’re embarrassed to speak them aloud. Let’s take a look at a few.

The first band I was ever in (who never played a single gig) was called Doomsday Parade. Pretty dumb, but I guess there’s a certain ring to it. Nah, it’s dumb. The next band, and first “real” band, was called Grimoire (grim-war, phonetically). It’s the name given to a textbook of magic and things of that sort. We basically just picked it because we thought it sounded cool. I still like that name okay, but the spelling threw people off, so it wasn’t especially catchy.

The band with whom I spent most of my time trying to pursue a living playing music took their name from a comic strip. The Far Side by Gary Larson, to be exact. Try as I might, I can’t find the original comic online. It featured a three-piece elephant punk band. Across the bass drum were the words ‘Tarzan must die’. The caption read “Angry Young Pachyderms”. We used the name (and acronym AYP) for quite a while. At first, it fit our style perfectly. Our music was angry, but we definitely had a light side. Later, as we became more serious we used the acronym exclusively and felt like the name didn’t fit like it used to, but we had built a bit of a following under the name and didn’t want to change it.

I have a feeling some of the bands on my list fall under that category, too. It may have been a good idea at the time, but they would’ve changed it later if they could have.

The Groundrules

I’m sticking with fairly mainstream bands here, that hopefully most people have heard of. If I wanted to get totally obscure, there are over a dozen bands out there I’ve never heard of with ‘Anal’ as the first word of the name. I’m not going there. I’m also trying to keep this somewhere near a PG-13 level.

Saying I don’t like a band’s name is not necessarily a condemnation of their music. There are lots of great bands with stupid/silly names out there.

This list is obviously extremely subjective, and I want to know your nominees for best and worst in the comments. Okay, let’s start with the good ones.

Best Band Names

The Clash – Simple, effective. Also fit the band’s musical stylings to a tee.

Massive Attack – Great name. Fun to say. Maybe it’s something about those soft ‘a’s. Doesn’t really fit the music they put out, but an awesome name nonetheless.

L7 – Slang for “square” and easy to scratch on your notebook or Peechee folder.

Black Flag – Opposite from the white flag of surrender, black flag means to not give up. They were not, in fact, named after bug spray. I stand corrected.

Misfits – Again, simple. You know what you’re gonna get when you hear the name. They were more goth and horror inspired than the name implies, but a great name. They also hold the distinction of having one of the most instantly recognizable logos of all time, but that’s a subject for another post.

misfit2

Sex Pistols – One of my favorite names, for the sheer audacity of it. What I like is hearing people say it. It’s kind of dirty, but not so dirty people would refuse to say it (like the more recent Pussy Riot).

Public Enemy – Such an obvious choice for a name it’s hard to believe no one else thought of it first. Completely fit the music – there couldn’t have been a better name for a rap group in the ’80s.

Worst Band Names

The Meat Puppets – Ugh. I have the feeling it sounded funny when they thought of it, but it’s really hard for me to take seriously. At the same time, the music isn’t jokey at all either. Fail on both counts.

The Presidents of the United States of America – The only way I could’ve gotten behind this name was if the members actually wore presidential masks when they played. But they didn’t.

Tool – I’m going to take a lot of heat from my friends on this one. Like I said before, I’m separating the name from the music. Great band. Awful, phallic name.

Hoobastank – Enough said.

Limp Bizkit – What can I say about them that hasn’t already been said? Not much. Generally, it’s a good idea to not put the word ‘limp’ in your name.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – On the good side, it was taken from a Monty Python sketch. On the bad side…well, everything else. Not catchy, not funny, not anything good.

Goo Goo Dolls – Whenever I hear this name all I can think is ‘what the hell?’ What is a goo goo doll? Is it for babies? Is it for adults? *shudder* I don’t know, and now that I think about it, I don’t want to know.

Cinderella – Yeah. Let’s name our rock band after a girl in a fairy tale. I really have no idea what these guys were thinking. Not just thinking the name up, but sticking with it after all the chances they could’ve had to change it. It just boggles the mind.

Okay, your turn. Tell me who I forgot or who makes your list. Good luck to all my writer friends scrambling to hit their word count for NaNo, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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4 thoughts on “The Best and Worst Band Names, As Determined By Me

  1. Best: Refused, fartbarf (it so fits), white zombie, Lumineers (even if they are a little in love with themselves), Asleep at the Wheel, The Replacements, Soul Coughing, Black Sabbath, and Enabler (they’re funny and ruthlessly awesome),

    Worst: Cock Sparrer (seriously a real band), Failure, Deftones, Blind Melon, Mother Love Bone, Elbow, Oingo Boingo, and Annie Lennox (I just hate her).

    • I meant to put Black Sabbath on the list and forgot. I thought this would be a fun little thing to write and I quickly got overwhelmed. There are so many, good and bad…this is to be continued. Just between the two of us we could probably come up with some real winners. I remember a band we played with in Riverside once called The Pissboners. Agreed on Annie Lennox.

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