This is one of those fun little parlor games that only insecure music nerds play. I would like to say that they play it when they get together at parties, but insecure music nerds rarely shower and never leave their homes. So they blog about it instead (note to self: check to see if “blog” can be used as a verb). The gist of the game is this: What are your favorite band names, and why? Note that this is how it does not work: “I really like U2’s music, so U2 is my favorite band name.” Wrong, Bono breath. Your comments should be based solely on the name of the band. The quality (or lack thereof) of the music is immaterial (except when I think it’s material, as noted below). I’m looking for evidence of creativity in band names. And that’s it, mostly.
So here are mine:
- The New Pornographers – Brilliant. First, it’s bound to get all kinds of attention from various conservative factions who will wring their hands and wonder what’s happening to the youth of America. Cha-ching. Ring up those sales. But what makes it particularly wonderful is that it’s taken from the title of a Jimmy Swaggart book: Music: The New Pornography. And wow, do they make it well, too. It’s incredibly addicting power pop, and for once it’s an addiction for which you don’t need to be ashamed.
- You’re Soaking In It – Remember the old Palmolive commercial, the one where the all-knowing Madge tells her clueless friend, whose hand is inexplicably dipped in a bowl of green liquid, that she’s soaking in dishwashing detergent? As if it’s no big deal at all for people to dip their hands in mysterious green liquid while talking to their friends? There you go. You’re Soaking In It only made one album back in the ‘80s. It was terrible. But they had a great name.
- Birdsongs of the Mesozoic – This was a side project for members of the Boston punk band Mission of Burma. And the really funny thing about this name, a fact which only the nerdiest of nerds could appreciate, is that, get this, birds didn’t exist in the Mesozoic period. There were flying dinosaurs, yes, including Protoavis, Caudipteryx, and Mononykus, but to call these “birds,” in anything but the most euphemistically avian sense, or to characterize their cacophonous squawking as “songs,” is … I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yeah. Mission of Burma was a pretty cool name, too.
- When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water – First, they really were a terrific early ‘90s band who did utterly unclassifiable covers of music as varied as Herman’s Hermits, The Singing Nun, The MC5, The Stooges, and Herb Alpert, and who eventually released a drunken, disheveled punk version of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess – yes, the entire musical. But what a great name. The very specificity of its meaninglessness intrigues me. Kind of like this entire post.
- Fine Young Cannibals – This was actually a fairly popular band of the ‘80s. And really, if you’re going to be a cannibal and munch on manflesh, there’s no reason to be nasty and Orc-like about it, and you might as well put your best foot and fang forward and impress the style mavens of the day. These were fine, fine young cannibals – natty, stylishly hip, and not at all long in the tooth.
So what are yours?