Recently Brian Jonestown Massacre, a seminal and well-named act, announced the release of a new double CD, The Singles Collection (1992-2011), out at the end of August. It got us thinking about indie rock band names, and how they've gone from fun ironic to kill-yourself ironic.
Someone we can't remember once said that a good band name should sound odd at first but then perfectly natural after that. Like Led Zeppelin, or Smashing Pumpkins.
Again, it's not that irony is bad. In fact, the greatest group name of all time, Shitty Shitty Band Band, has a strong ironic component to it. Why is it, then, that most band names from the last decade or so — the pinnacle of human irony — suck so hard? Let's analyze some of the worst to see if we can't answer that question. (P.S.: Yes, we know this isn't a comprehensive list, but these are names that have floated into our inbox recently for whatever reason, and we were so annoyed we had to speak up.)
Crappy band name: Portugal. The Man
Location: Portland. The One In Oregon
Facebook followers: 109,232
Why This Name Sucks: It's obviously an SEO nightmare, but, hey, rapper Game has done all right. Indeed, the fact that this is a quartet and not, in fact, a "Man," is not what really bothers us, either. No, the main problem is that you can almost see the shit-eating grins on their faces from incorporating a period into their handle. They clearly believe they broke all of the naming convention rules, just as they presumably believe they're doing in their music.
Crappy band name: I Was Totally Destroying It
Origin: Chapel Hill, N.C.
Facebook followers: 85
Why This Name Sucks: It's a sentence, and one that fancies itself on the cutting edge of modernity, at that. It's also kind of arrogant. Like, if the truth ever comes out, don't be surprised to learn that these folks weren't destroying it all that much.
Crappy band name: The Dear Hunter
Origin: Providence, R.I.
Facebook followers: 18,157
Why This Name Sucks: As far as twee handles go, this one is particularly "fail." It's not just a bad pun; it's the worst pun. But even more than that, it seems to be speaking to some sort of gooey sentiment, like the title character or whatever is searching for someone to love.
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Crappy band name: Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt
Location: Bloomington, Ind.
Facebook followers: No Facebook page
Why This Name Sucks: See, the reason this handle is so bad is because ... um ... well, come to think of it, this one is actually not bad at all. In fact, this act has one-upped the rest of these jokers, who could only achieve ironic irony. Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt manages to be irony on top of irony on top of irony, and the result is something so blissfully ridiculous that it makes us want to call our mother and tell her we love her. There you go: redemption for the double-irony band name generation. It has somehow managed to transcend its own crappiness.