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The Worst Band Names Ever, Part II

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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).

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About parenthetical

  • S.T.M

    How about band names taken from children’s books … like a friend’s, that was named A Dog for Jonathan.

    Absolute shocker.

  • S.T.M

    INXS was pretty bad too, until you got the joke. Great band though, mostly

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    I committed the acronym sin in the 80’s, with the band name OPM. At the time, I thought it was damn clever: OPM (Other People’s Money), but the joke was “Opium”. Needless to say, the band went nowhere.

  • http://jpspencer.blogspot.com/ J. P. Spencer

    How about bands named from lyrics from other, more talented people’s songs?

    I’ve seen a LOT of bands out there, both nationally and locally, that take their names from lyrics either by Bob Dylan (i.e. Cowboy Mouth) or Tom Waits. I remember one town I lived in had a band named Dragstrip Courage. There music was so appallingly bad that I wanted to just smack them with an open hand for sullying a Tom Waits song (“Goin’ Out West”) by their very existence.

  • http://www.moviesteve.blogspot.com Steve C.

    On the last point, there’s a lame-ass indie rock band that calls themselves Portugal. The Man. They say the period and second clause are there to differentiate themselves from, you know, the country. The title of their debut album takes the punctuation abuse to new lows: Waiter: “You Vultures!”

    Still, it’s not worse than Deep Blue Something.

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    I agree that it’s a sin to name your band after someone else’s much better song/lyrics/book/movie. Faster Pussycat would be a good example. Not that the movie was even remotely good, but then, neither was the band. Grapes of Wrath is another. Other examples?

  • zingzing

    KLF escapes any criticism, if only because they mention themselves so much on record: “KLF! uh huh, uh huh-uh huh! KLF is gonna rock you! justified! ancients of mu-mu.” damn skippy.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Exceptions: Actual religious bands…

    See, but that’s still a hard one to debate because any of the decent Christian metal bands didn’t get any credit and they didn’t incorporate Christ’s name in their moniker,i.e. Devastation,Believer,etc..

    But, ofcourse their are the shitty supposed Christian band who sell out: Creed, Jars of Clay.
    Granted they didn’t use his mane they still sucked ass..LOL!! Jars of Clay… Now that’s the shittiest band name ever!!

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    *oops* Granted they didn’t use his MANE they still sucked ass

    Duh..Name

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Hey..what would you think if someone named their band with an acronym with umlauts *Smirk*

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    fun Stuff here…

    i can’t believe you actually know who “Godspeed” are, they are from my olde stomping grounds, and used to open for my last band before they got signed by Geezer Butler’s wife and toured Europe..then promptly fell apart…only viewing of them i am aware of is on the original “Beavis and Butthead” when they used to watch videos and talk about them as they played… great band whose name was taken from the olde English “fare well” blessing…

    oh yeah..good life decision not to fuck with Lemmy, he’s geting up there in years, but those hands can still crack walnuts like they were grapes… and i think they may be the band that started the whole unlaut thing in the first place…at least they were the first i’de ever seen in the late 70’s

    besides, Motorhead still kicks the shit out of everybody in live performance…

    Excelsior?

  • Mark Saleski

    don’t know if “Godspeed…” is a bad bandname or not but they were a great band.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    heh..only band i’d ever seen with a guitar, drums, singer and TWO bassists…

    talk about a “heavy” sound…

    Excelsior?

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    There are several bands with two bassists including the quite popular Tortoise. And, of course, Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottoms” was performed with three bass guitars and the keyboards may have been playing a bass line, too.

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    Also Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. They had two bassists and one horrendous band name. How did I leave them out of my first Worst Bands post?

  • Vern Halen

    How about

    :Umlauthead

    ………?

    I bet nobody’s done a side Umlaut yet.

    Or, ala ?and the Mysterians –

    : and the Umlautians.

    Ach du lieber, I’m reaching now. Geshundeit.

  • zingzing

    um… gonzo? godspeed used to open for your band? you are talking about godspeed, you black emporer, right?

    there must be two godspeeds, or i am reading you wrong.

    if godspeed opened for you… much respect…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    well now, i only know of one Godspeed, they were from the Jersey shore

    if the band has an “ugly” singer and two bass players, then it is the one i’m talking about..if not, i stand corrected… i think there was only 1 album, and like i said the appearence on the original Beavis and Butthead before they were a series

    and back in the early to mid 90’s..if you went down the Shore and wanted to see a “heavy” show there were 3 locals hero bands that played together a lot…

    Daisey Cutter and Godspeed being two of them… Rope being the one i was in, and we got close, but never got signed before breaking up

    hope that clarifies

    oh yeah…”and the Umlautians” made me spew soda out of my nose…thanks Vern!

    Excelsior?

  • zingzing

    ahh, different godspeed. godspeed ybe! is a montreal-based postrock group… their songs are usually quite long and follow a pattern (to a fault) of slowly building up the sound before what is usually a motherfuckin huge crescendo.

    looked up your godspeed though. also looked up rope, but only found a polish group. you aren’t polish, eh?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    nah, and there won’t be anything on Rope, we were heavy underground at the time..tho we played everywhere in our “scene” from the Stone Pony to CBGB’s

    all that thanks to one of the True Punk’s who lived by the Ethic hepreached..Jacko, former singer for Dirge.. the drummer of which was in Rope and the bassist formed Daisey Cutter…

    but enough hijacking this Thread…

    my bad

    Excelsior?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus
  • Vern Halen

    Glad you got a smile outta that, gonzo. Actually, the article itself and this whole thread are both pretty hilarious.

  • http://www.knownjohnson.com Tom Johnson

    How about the Steve Wilson (of Porcupine Tree – and that name is probably a contender right there, I regret having to mention it among those who don’t know their incredible music) side project, Incredible Expanding Mindfuck? It has to be abbreviated in stores, obviously, to simply IEM.

  • eben

    Next time instead of saying that your words are irrefutable fact you should realize that all of what you have written is basedentirely on personal opinion, and the criteria and organization of this entire [grouping of words] is objective

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    Please do point me to the passage where I say my words are irrefutable.

  • oleostrut

    More bands with TWO bassists: Strawberry Alarm Clock (up until ’68), the UK band Marmalade (which had 4-string bassist & a 6-string bassist), and the French band Magma (which had an “earth” bassist & an “air” bassist).

  • Jennifer

    i laughed out loud, kudos and extra applause.

  • http://www.ooblick.com/weblog/ arensb

    I can see where you’d hate Velvet Acid Christ for violating both the gratuitous Jesus reference and dadaist collage rules, but I happen to think that Combichrist is a cool name.

    And other entries in the “too much punctuation” category include :Wumpscut: and Tack>>Head.

  • Speighticus

    I think :( deserves mention in the unnecessary punctuation section. They’re a good band, but I had to hear from friends that :( was literally pronounced “colon open bracket”. Now that is a bad band name. Well not bad, more annoying as f**k

  • http://www.kitotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    To expand on zingzing’s comment–any band who not only has a dorky name, but refers to themselves in their lyrics, is generally lame.

  • a dude with no band

    What do you guys think about the name Everyone’s Version of Evil?