Musical Space: Ridiculous Band Names

Aug 1, 2017

At a club the other day I saw a sticker for a band called REO Speedealer. I checked into them; as far as metal records go, they were OK, but the name is hilarious. Every town has them - bands with joke names.

There are so many called “Free Beer” that I stopped counting. These names can be self-deprecating, snarky, or way too clever for their own good; a way of saying “Don’t take us seriously,” and an endless source of entertainment.

They can be grouped in different categories. There are the random references, like Spoon, The Shins, Echo and the Bunnymen, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, even one called Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. Some test the limits of the English language - non-sequiturs like Bowling for Soup, Throbbing Gristle, Death Cab for Cutie, Atomic Rooster, Wall of Voodoo. There are complete sentences, like Pop Will Eat Itself, They Might Be Giants and That Statue Moved. There are issues with articles with The The and An Horse. Some put logic itself into question: Was (Not Was) and Fatboy Slim. There are distasteful ones: Dead Milkmen and John Cougar Concentration Camp. Puns might be even more distasteful: Camper Van Beethoven, Ringo Deathstar, and The House That Gloria Vanderbilt. Let’s not forget The Beatles, spelled with an “a,” is a low-level play on words.

And why should a name be serious? It’s only Rock and Roll, after all.



Mott the Hoople, “All the Young Dudes,” (1972)

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, “Kill Your Television,” (1990)

Never heard of these guys before. They have two bass players, though, so how could they not be good?

They Might Be Giants, “Birdhouse in your Soul,” (1990)

(Mention Dial-A-Song)

Del Tha Funky Homosapien, “Mistadobalina,” I Wish My Brother George Was Here (1991)

Uses a sample by The Monkeys

Fatboy Slim, “Praise You,” You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (1999)

Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” (2006)