My Top Ten Band Names

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We all probably have band names that we’ve just always really liked or found cool. I thought it would be fun to do a list of My Top Ten Favorite Band Names. This is not a list of my favorite bands (that would be a very hard list for me to make!) – it’s just a list of names I like. Okay – I do love most of these bands, which is interesting… I think a really great band name probably sometimes helps a band to become big. However, I can’t even name one song from my top choice… Hmm! My one rule when I thought of this list was that I had to have already heard of the band – there are all kinds of odd band names out there if you do a Google search but the below bands are ones I already knew of.

Here are My Top Ten (er, 11) Favorite Band Names counting down from ten to my number one favorite plus my favorite song from each band:

10. TIE: Massive Attack & Blue Öyster Cult
My Favorite Songs: Teardrop & (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

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Massive Attack apparently had to change their name to just “Massive” during the Gulf War. Well, Massive is a sucky name so I’m glad they didn’t go by that forever. Teardrop & Protection are also amazing songs that are unlikely to ever leave my iPod. As for Blue Öyster Cult, that name just rules. Of all the band names with dots over the Ö, I have to say Blue Öyster Cult is even cooler than Motörhead & WAY cooler than Mötley Crüe. I’d never before thought to look into the meaning of the Blue Öyster Cult name so this is what I just found on the almighty Wikipedia: the band’s name comes from a poem by manager Sandy Pearlman in which the “Blue Oyster Cult” was a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth’s history. Huh. Love it!

9. The Chemical Brothers
My Favorite Song: Setting Sun

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Interestingly enough, The Chemical Brothers were originally called The Dust Brothers (another band name I quite like). Well, they had to change their name due to there being an existing Dust Brothers but I think it worked out for them as The Chemical Brothers is the better name & they went on to be more successful than The Dust Brothers anyway. (I’m a big fan of The Chemical Brothers. I highly recommend their current single, Go, featuring Q-Tip).

8. Radiohead
My Favorite Song: Paranoid Android

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Radiohead are another big favorite of mine. Maybe I AM a sucker for a good name?? Not exactly true – the music comes first but the name & image do matter too. This is a very simple but effective name that I think works very well with Radiohead’s style of music & their values (especially everything since OK Computer).

7. Black Sabbath
My Favorite Song: Black Sabbath & Spiral Architect

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Okay, yes – another very favorite band of mine. But you HAVE to admit that Black Sabbath is the best & most METAL name ever. It sounds dark, evil & Satanic. I love it.

6. The Velvet Underground
My Favorite Song: I’m Waiting For The Man

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Classic album cover as well, of course. I don’t have much to say about this name… I just like it! The Velvet Underground were just one of those bands I always wanted to be a big fan of simply because the name sounded so cool but, in reality, I don’t know very many Velvet Underground songs (although I do really love I’m Waiting For The Man). I was a little worried that “velvet underground” may be a reference to a part of the female body or something so I’ve just looked up the meaning. According to THIS, The title of a book by Michael Leigh, The Velvet Underground, was embraced as the ideal band name. And that is no wonder, because the novel was about the secret sexual subculture of the early sixties. Kinky! Still sounds like it could mean “vagina”, though, which leads me to my next favorite band name…

5. Pearl Jam *see also band name 10cc* 😉
My Favorite Song: Alive

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Honestly, I had no idea at first that Pearl Jam was a totally filthy name. I’m of the age where it was a requirement for me to like Pearl Jam when their first album came out. And that first album WAS great & I far preferred them to Nirvana. However, I can’t say I’ve listened to them ever again since my early twenties… Anyway, while I was still a fan, I remained completely naïve & innocent to the real meaning of “Pearl Jam”. I thought it actually sounded quite sweet! Well, from what I can gather, I think Eddie Vedder & Co have always denied that they named their band after sperm. 10cc, however, haven’t exactly denied the origin of their band’s name: “Producer Jonathan King is supposed to have been the inventor of the name 10CC, convinced as he was that an average ejaculation yields about 9 cc semen and therefore that 10 cc is an enviable quantity.” And in looking that up, I see that the band name Lovin’ Spoonful also means the same thing. Just how many bands are named after semen?!?!

4. Iron Maiden
My Favorite Song: Phantom Of The Opera

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Anyone who reads this blog often enough may know that Iron Maiden are my very favorite band ever. Well, I love their music first & foremost (and Eddie, of course) but naming your band after a medieval torture device is even more METAL than Black Sabbath. I don’t care if anyone accuses me of being a middle-aged man with a big fat beer belly (I’m middle-aged but a girl & beer belly-less) – Iron Maiden kicks ass as a band and as a band name!

3. Daft Punk
My Favorite Song: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and Instant Crush

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I do know how Daft Punk came up with their name & really like the story: The members of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, were originally members of a rock group called Darlin’. An early negative review of their work in Melody Maker dismissed the music as “a bunch of daft punk.” Two words I really like on their own, I think they work perfectly together. And I love these robots! (I reviewed Daft Punk’s Electroma film HERE). I also think Random Access Memories is one of the best albums in years.

2. Strawberry Switchblade
My Favorite Song: Since Yesterday

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I’d never heard of this one-hit-wonder until I moved to the UK & I had to remind myself of the song when putting this post together. It’s quite a good song, actually! I’ll include the YouTube link to it at the end. Anyway, if I were cool enough to be in a band, Strawberry Switchblade is THE band name I’d want! Sounds so female PUNK. Love it! It makes me think of the movie I watched recently with a very young Diane Lane in a female punk band (Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains). I wish I’d seen that movie when I was younger – I’d have wanted to BE her! (Who am I kidding? I still want to be a female punk rocker…). Anyway, I don’t know a thing about Strawberry Switchblade but I dig their look & the song – it’s too bad they didn’t get anywhere after this.

1. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
My Favorite Song: No idea – I don’t know any.

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Ned’s Atomic Dustbin! YES! What the HELL possessed them to name their band that?! Let’s look that up on Wikipedia, shall we?: “The band took their name from an episode of The Goon Show”. Huh! Well, that’s a pretty boring story but it’s a GREAT name. I’ve been curious about Ned’s Atomic Dustbin since seeing their name carved into a desk I was sitting at in college. Now, to you young people, this is back in the early nineties so it wasn’t like I could easily go YouTube their stuff or something. So, to this day, I’ve never heard a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin song. I suppose I could finally go have a listen online now? Does anyone know anything by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin? Any recommendations? You know, I think I won’t bother YouTubing them just yet – I have fond memories of that time in my life and, in case their stuff sucks, I don’t want it to ruin my love of their name. 🙂

Honorable Mentions:
A Tribe Called Quest
Rancid
Death From Above 1979
Lick The Tins
Kraftwerk
Bomb The Bass
The Prodigy
Modest Mouse
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Teenage Fanclub
Squirrel Nut Zippers

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