Ask Run-DMSteve

Posted: August 13, 2017 in music
Tags: , , , , ,

“Ask Run-DMSteve” returns, after a refreshing intermission of five years, thanks to fascinating questions from two of my three readers. This week we hear from Dr. D, another working stiff with a Ph.D. Next week we’ll “get down” with my mentor, Accused of Lurking.

Dear Run-DMSteve,

The other day I was listening to Alt Nation (as in alt-rock, not the other alt) which I often do when [redacted] is not in the car. The DJs on it don’t talk much (good!). But the guy who was on said the following: “Next up is a new release by Car Seat Headrest. Gosh, I hate that name. That is the worst name for a band. The best band name? It has got to be U2.”

OK, so what are the best and worst band names in your CD land?

–Sincerely, Dr. D

Dear Dr. D,

I agree with your DJ.

The one official rule in naming your band is that your name has to be a name that people remember. Bonus points if your name scares adults. When the teenaged Paul Hewson, David Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. chose U2, they fulfilled the one official rule. Their name wasn’t scary, but it implied that the fans could do what the musicians do or that the fans and the musicians were part of a movement (à la The Who and the Mods), and they did all that with TWO CHARACTERS. No band will ever beat this name.

(The Who fulfills the one official rule because you have to think about it. The Guess Who is a game you play with your tiny clients at pre-school.)

Car Seat Headrest might as well be Car Seat Stuffing. It’s just three words on the side of a box. The Portland band Nu Shooz used two words everyone says, but they changed the spelling and ended up in a nu place.

Bands with memorable names that also scare adults usually evolve from the punk neighborhoods: The Fuck-Ups, The Dead Boys, The Dead Kennedys, The Butthole Surfers. Add a feminist perspective and you hit a lot harder: Hole, The Slits, The Coathangers. (Politer versions: The Breeders, Bikini Kill.)

Hole is my nominee for the second-best band name.

Third place is AC/DC.

Fourth is Herman’s Hermits because it’s alliterative and because a gang of actual hermits would never put a band together. They’re too busy being hermits.

Fifth is probably And And And.

A special shoutout to Big Head Todd and The Monsters, because our dogs Emma and Sailor were known as Big Butt Emma and The Monster.

As for names as bad as Car Seat Stuffing, there is no shortage. How about The Dentists? An OK band, sort of a more fanciful version of the Hoodoo Gurus. Bands that go with the formula “The” + “plural noun” often run intro trouble. No disrespect to dentists – some of the finest people on earth – but their profession doesn’t lend itself to rock ’n’ roll glory.

There was a Seattle band called Seafood Mama that signed with a major label that changed the band’s name to Quarterflash. What was wrong with Seafood Mama? Quarterfuckingwhat? Another Seattle band, The Dynamic Logs, immediately changed their name to Quarterlog.

This is all a matter of taste, of course. I like the name Bananarama, so why not the name Kajagoogoo? However, by any objective standard, U2 is u-nanimous. It’s the best. As for the worst name ever, here it is:

Portugal. The Man.

Thanks for writing. For those about to rock while listening to their alt-rock station in the car, we salute you.

–RDMS

(Editor’s note: Dr. D was the first physicist to drive a motorcycle lengthwise through a superconducting supercollider.)

 

Comments
  1. thecorncobb says:

    lol!

  2. ofelia says:

    My favorite band name is The Angry Squirrels.

  3. thecorncobb says:

    I have always been fond of “?” And The Mysterians,, a rather enigmatical rock/punk band name.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      Excellent name, great song, and the enigma comes from the singer and writer, who changed his name to Question Mark back in the 60s and is still Question Mark in 2017. I only found that out today. See what you learn from blogging? What I haven’t learned is what his partner calls him. Q?

  4. Accused of Lurking says:

    Band names that pose severe problems when searching on Google or Amazon:

    !!!

    This band name eventually evolved to “!!! Chk Chik Chick”, perhaps so they could finally make money selling MP3s.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      !!! Chk Chik Chick is an improvement?? I don’t want to know anything about them. In fact, I’m banning them from this blog right now. Bill! Do NOT send me a link to a video, which I KNOW you’re about to do!

      • Accused of Lurking says:

        According to Wikipedia:
        “The band’s name was inspired by the subtitles of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which the clicking sounds of the Bushmens’ Khoisan language were represented as ‘!’.”

      • Run-DMSteve says:

        I just banned these fuckwits. Why are they back? Put Wikipedia down and walk away!

        “!!!” “!” “!!! !!, !! !!!!! !!” “!! !!!
        [silence]
        “!!! #!!!!, !!” “!!” “!!! !!! !!; !!! ! !!”
        [door slams]

      • Accused of Lurking says:

        Check.
        Check…

        Check!
        !!

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