If necessity is the mother of invention, then a road-trip along the desolate I-70 corridor in Illinois is the mother of random conversation. So it was that my wife and I came to discuss the worst band names of all time. (This is the worst names, mind you, not necessarily the worst bands, but there is a whole lot of overlap.) Passing judgment on band names is an inherently subjective pursuit, so I would like to propose a set of criteria to bring a modicum of consistency to this project. There are always exceptions to the rules, but in general:
Band names should never be only one syllable
While monosyllabic band names have been around for years (Free, Bread, Can, Yes), their popularity has risen alarmingly since the 1980s. Relatively benign (but silly) band names like Ratt and Kix have given way to a glut of bands with names like Train, Fuel, All, Tool, Tar and Cake, proving that less is rarely, if ever, more. While these names may have seemed muscular or pithy after a few bong hits at the band meeting, nothing grates on the nerves or screams "we chose our name at random out of the dictionary" more than a monosyllabic band name.
Awful: Live (no matter how you want to pronounce it)
Honorable Mention: Creed, Spoon, Ween, Slint, Rush, Crunt, James, Seam, Ride, Squeeze
Exceptions: KISS (because it may be an acronym for Knights in Satan's Service, which is awesome), Queen (because it's truth in advertising) and Fear (because that's pretty punk rock)
Fun Fact: Monosyllabic band names can almost always be improved by the addition of the definite article. The Who, The Fall, The Kinksâ€”all great band names that would be horrendous if not for "the."
Band names should never contain prepositions
When I hear a band name like Puddle of Mudd, it sends me into a homicidal rage. As lame as it would undoubtedly remain, Mudd Puddle is a much better name for a band. This category is extra-special, because it has what must be the worst band name of all time.
The Aforementioned Worst Band Name Ever: Archers of Loaf
Not Much Better: Letters to Cleo
Virtually Indistinguishable From #2: Fountains of Wayne
Honorable Mention: Rage Against the Machine, Alice in Chains, Souls at Zero, Mouse on Mars, Apples in Stereo, After the Fire, Porno for Pyros, Tears for Fears, Death Cab for Cutie
Exceptions: There is a major exception to this rule, and that is if the preposition is part of the classic band name formula: [someone] and the [something] [preposition] [something else]. For example, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, or Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Someone should really call their band Brevity and the Soul of Wit, don't you think? Also, Lords of Acid is a pretty awesome name.