Shitty Band Names: A History
Somewhere around the time that George H.W. Bush's no new taxes turned into Bill Clinton's saxophone solos, band name trends began to change. No longer were they trying to sound cool. Now they were trying to sound clever. Or ironic.
For every excellent name (Outkast, Nirvana) there were whole heaping shit-piles of monikers trying too hard. They used three words, or related to food somehow: Bowling for Soup, Archers of Loaf, Neutral Milk Hotel, Stone Temple Pilots, Blind Melon, My Morning Jacket. Pearl Jam sprung from the equally awful Mookie Blaylock.
Even the names that don't totally stink, like Smashing Pumpkins, Built to Spill, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Dinosaur Jr. and Modest Mouse, still have something about them that stick in your craw. Limp Bizkit, Boyz II Men, Death Cab for Cutie, *NSYNC, KoЯn, Linkin Park, Jimmy Eat World and Color Me Badd, meanwhile, are abortions. The Backstreet Boys might not be so bad if it wasn't such a misnomer.
Still, for as lame as these names were, they weren't actively trying to offend you. They were like that hippie dude on the street with dreds and a hackey sack: Sure, he might smell bad, but he really just wanted to share his pot and chill out.
Timothy Norris Vampire Weekend
In the aughts bands actively sought to repel people with tweeness. The most obvious offenders were Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, !!!, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Portugal. The Man, The Dear Hunter, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Of Montreal. Who are from Georgia. Some bands in this category started in the '90s, but it wasn't until the Bush II years that they came of age.
Bands used the f word in their names -- Holy Fuck!, Fuck Buttons -- or confusingly spotlighted their race or sex (the Whitest Boy Alive, Black Kids, Girls). Ironies doubled in on themselves until all that remained were giant, clever turds.
A new wave of emo and emo-like bands included Panic! at the Disco, I Set My Friends on Fire, Taking Back Sunday, and Boys Like Girls. Oh, and of course, Cute Is What We Aim For, which sort of sums of the whole ethos of the era, or at least one miserable layer of it.
Like the '60s there were lots of animal names, but now they were animals with stupid characteristics or modifiers: Wolf Parade, White Antelope, Frightened Rabbit, Crystal Antlers, Deer Tick, Bear in Heaven, New Young Pony Club, Animal Collective, Tiger Bear Wolf.
As for the worst names of the decade? It was a tie between Vampire Weekend and H∞bastank.