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Most Thought-provoking Band Names Ever

Had a side convo last night in the jacuzzi with a couple Zep fans, discussing this. We ended up going off on a tangent and rattling off what we thought were the best band names of all time.

There are, of course, tons. There are great straightforward names pulled from familiar terms in English, like The Cure, Rush, Cream, Suicidal Tendencies, Heart, R.E.M., Dire Straits, The Pretenders, KISS, The Rolling Stones, Blind Faith, Yes, Rainbow, The Misfits, Journey. There are also more creative names, composed by using English words in unconventional contexts and combinations. Killer names like Soundgarden, Foghat, Aerosmith, Iron Butterfly, Vanilla Fudge, Deep Purple, and maybe even Cheap Trick. Then you’ve got names that fall into a more personal category, with a hidden meaning that intially excludes outsiders from completely understanding the name. Seemingly nonsensical names like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Limp Bizkit, Jimmmy Eat World, Smashing Pumpkins, Blue Oyster Cult, Stone Temple Pilots, System of a Down, and perhaps even The Who. There are overlaps in all these categories.

After hashing this out for a while, I realized that, for me anyway, the most thought-provoking names contain one or both of the following two factors:

— striking use of metaphor (example: Pearl Jam)
— an oxymoron or paradox (example: Quiet Riot)

Any name that plays with these factors makes you think twice or three times. It makes you talk about it in the jacuzzi, perhaps even provoking debates over subjective interpretation. In any case, it beckons a blog entry.

That stated, off the top of my head, here are what I would consider my Top 5 Most Thought-provoking Band Names Ever:

5. Tool
4. The Grateful Dead
3. Black Sabbath
2. Led Zeppelin
1. The Doors

What are yours?

10 comments… add one
  • vincenzo December 13, 2006, 10:38 am

    incidentally, Soundgarden is named after a sculpture installation in the Seattle area. See http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/visualart/hart221.shtml

    band/group names I find interesting and/or amusing:

    16bit Lolitas


    Spooky Tooth


    Astro & Glyde


    The Tubes



    Lexicon Avenue


    p.s. have you heard “Army of Anyone”? wow…

  • CJ December 13, 2006, 10:42 am

    always loved…

    Huckleberry Manilow

  • BohemianBrad December 13, 2006, 10:44 am


    Not much of a blogger, but if I had to think of a thought provoking band name it would have to be {The Butt Hole Surfers}



  • thundy December 13, 2006, 11:03 am

    oxymoronic names as well as silly thought provoking ones…or ones that can have multiple meanings like “the doors” or “tool” can ultimately be the coolest name or have the abiltity to be stupid (depends on how good the band is i guess). i know “pearl jam” isn’t vedders grandma’s recipe con “cock”tion like i remember them saying back in the day. but you get a few dudes together and the topic always comes back to their dicks anyways…knowhati’msayinbrutha!

    brian jonestown massacre
    black rebel motorcycle club
    young sixties
    stanford prison experiment
    AC/Dshe (female covers)

  • thundy December 13, 2006, 11:06 am

    yes butthole surfers is one of the best!

    also – urine america! (punk rawk!)

  • matt December 13, 2006, 12:47 pm

    the dead kennedys
    they hate us band

  • san December 14, 2006, 7:45 am

    just for the sheer genius…I think ‘NSYNC should be on that list

  • Ner December 14, 2006, 5:07 pm

    The Clash
    Sex Pistols
    The Band
    Guess Who

  • Bret December 16, 2006, 3:35 pm

    Camper Van Beethoven
    The The

  • Steph December 26, 2006, 12:35 pm

    The Beatles
    Barenaked Ladies
    The Flaming Lips
    Bad Religion
    30 Odd Foot of Grunts

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