Back in the mists of prehistory, I wrote a think-piece on the worst band names in history. It was an opportunity not only to make fun of some god-awful names, but to give some direction to up-and-coming rockers considering naming their band after a local pawn shop or something they read in a William S. Burroughs novel. I think of it as a public service, really.
This post ended up being pretty popular, particularly in its second home at Blogcritics.org. In fact, it still gets comments a year and half later. Many of these comments claim that I'm some kind of idiot, which is untrue. Mostly, people nominated their own private 311s and Archers of Loafs, and pointed out some categories I missed.
So, without further ado, here is an addendum to my original Worst Band Names Ever post. I'm sure I'm still missing some horrendous names, but I'm only one man and there's so much low-hanging fruit.
Thou Shalt Not Rock the Lord's Name in Vain
Jesus, Mary and Joseph! You can't swing a piece of the true cross without hitting a band that thought how mighty clever it would be to put "God" or "Jesus" in their name. Well, it's not clever. It's nothing more than an attempt to garner some free publicity for being "irreverent" and "daring", or it's a way to seem profound without actually having to write good lyrics. Definitely not kosher.
Why Have You Forsaken Me?: God is My Co-Pilot (with extra demerits for violating the Your Band Name Should Not Be a Bumper Sticker Slogan rule)
Jesus Wept: The Jesus Lizard (hey, let's juxtapose!)
Original Sin: Eyehategod (where to even begin with this one…)
Honorable Mention: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Jesus Jones, Nazareth, MC 900 Foot Jesus, The Ordinary Fear of God, Peter Paul & Mary, Godflesh, Godsmack.
Exceptions: Actual religious bands (if you must) and awesome satanic metal bands like Deicide or, say, Christpuncher.
Band Names Should Not Be Acronyms
It's a truism in the rock & roll world that an acronym is a bad band name created to disguise an even worse one. It's no surprise that Electric Light Orchestra went by ELO or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were widely known as OMD. It may be less embarrassing, but that doesn't make it Okay.
Note to rockers: If your name is so bad that you turn it into an acronym (I'm looking at you, Bachman Turner Overdrive), you just need to go back to the drawing board. The same logic applies to groups like NWA and A.C., who use acronyms like fig leaves to cover up the naughty bits. Extra negative points to NRBQ, whose acronym actually manages to be worse than its bland meaning (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet).
FUBAR: EMF (Epsom Mad Funkers)
SNAFU: A.B.C. (Another Bad Creation—although that is truth in advertising)
LMAO: H.I.M. (His Infernal Majesty)
Honorable Mention: K.L.F. (Kopyright Liberation Front—further demerits for the misspelling), LFO (Lyte Funky Ones), KMFDM (Kein Merheit Für Das Mitleid, which means No Pity for the Majority in English—and not Kill Mother F**king Depeche Mode, as some have said), ABBA (Agnetha, Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid), N.E.R.D. (No One Ever Really Dies).
Exceptions: REM, because the acronym is in standard usage; W.A.S.P., because while it might stand for We Are Sexual Perverts, Blackie Lawless maintains that it means We Ain't Sure, Pal; and AC/DC, because na na na na na na na na ANGUS!
Ünnëcëssärÿ Punctuation: Bad for Band Names!!
Spin magazine once called the heavy metal umlaut the "diacritical mark of the beast." The theory is that an umlaut supposedly adds a dash of Teutonic menace to a band name (not that there's anything very menacing about David Hasselhoff). The fictional metal band Spinal Tap put an umlaut over the 'n', which gets to the heart of how unbelievably silly the practice is better than I ever could.
Resorting to this rock cliche for extra oomph means you've probably got a sucky band name to begin with. The same goes for punctuation, which is a sign of an unwieldy or pretentious band name. Usually both. I shudder to think what was left off the beginning of …And You Will Know Us From the Trail of Dead. Who knows? Maybe it was the good part.
¡Forward, Russia! — Where to begin? Three punctuation sins in a two-word band name. That's actually pretty impressive.
Mötley Crüe — A classic band name sullied by heavy metal umlauts and the intentional misspelling. The correct pronunciation as spelled is "Mertly Crew-eh", which is what was allegedly chanted by thousands of fans at a concert in Germany.
!!! — This band name is reportedly meant to be pronounced "chk, chk, chk", which is far from intuitive. They best learn a lesson from Prince about what happens to your career when your name is an unpronounceable symbol. Plus, where does it get filed in the record store???
Honorable Mention: à;GRUMH…; Godspeed, You Black Emperor!; Songs: Ohia; Queensrÿche; Blue Öyster Cult; Ümlaut (because the word "umlaut" has no umlaut)
Exceptions: Motörhead, because I'm not going to mess with Lemmy. Band names that are actually German (not that I condone German bands).