Why Do People Care About “Bad” Band Names?
Posted on August 27, 2014
August 27, 2014
by Bryne Yancey
The Thirteen Dumbest Band Names in Rock History.
The History of Terrible Band Names.
100 Terrible Band Names That Should Never Leave the Garage.
The 25 Most Ridiculous Band Names in Rock History.
Top 50 worst band names ever or most outrageous, or just plain stupid.
Long before becoming infinitely easy and shareable listicle fodder, bad band names just kind of existed as something one might gloss over while thumbing through milk crates of LPs at their local record store on a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps an especially egregious name would evoke a quizzical second look, the kind in which your head slightly tilts the way a dog’s does when you quietly say its name. Any comments about the name stayed in your brain, though. Hell, most thoughts thought and opinions opined about anything and everything stayed in your brain.
But why does anyone really give a shit about a bad band name?
Objectively speaking, most band names are not very good. Many of them are overwrought, nonsensical, vulgar or in some cases, all three. Sometimes bands take several days or weeks to settle on a name; other times, the members get drunk or high and come up with a name in a couple of minutes. The reason bands don’t like being asked about their name in interviews is not only because it’s a lazy interview question, but because the story behind it is usually uninteresting.
So what’s in a name, then? It’s often the first impression a band makes on a listener, but is it the most important? Shows aren’t job interviews. Hopefully, you aren’t meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time at a show. You’re specifically there to watch bands play. So watch them play! Judge them on their songwriting ability, musicianship, live presence or anything else you use as a barometer. Just don’t use their name against them.
Skim twitter, Facebook or (gulp) a comments section, and it’s likely that much will be made of a band’s “bad” name when brought up. Long band names—let’s say The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, for example—draw ire because the band is trying too hard (for what, exactly? That part is never made clear). “Vulgar” band names—Mannequin Pussy, for example—are derided for, I guess, needless vulgarity, when the internet itself is essentially an ocean of needless vulgarity. (The discourse is often even worse if said band has one or more female members, which can often form the “let’s discuss your band name”/”let’s discuss your appearance” double shot of shitty online behavior.)
The one exception to this “rule” might be outwardly offensive band names, which as language and cultural sensitivity have evolved, are more few and far between than ever—although if a band ever decides to call themselves, I dunno, Feminism Is Bad or Hitler Was Good or Kings Of Leon, I/you reserve the right to be vehemently judgmental and offended by that. Fucked Up, the most on-the-nose example, have been getting mainstream press coverage for years now. A lot of fucking people think that by using a fucking word with fucking regularity, it loses its fucking power. Based on our own evolution as communicators and that band’s popularity, maybe that’s true. One thing’s for sure, though: while “bad” band names can be eye-catching and curiosity piquing, a band’s merit, at least initially, should be judged by their talent and how their music affects our brains and bodies.