Making the Brand: The 40 Greatest Band Names of All Time
Our nerd cabal separates the Whos from the Hoobastanks
Why It’s Great: There’s something about Lizzy: whether it’s the suggestion of a female-fronted band, the alluring appeal of the word “thin” (see: Thin Mints, Wheat Thins), or just some cosmic interplay in the arrangement of Ts, Ls and those unlikely Scrabble-winning Zs. (JNSQ, WP) K.G.
Why It’s Great: TJ&TJ, and the no-wave scene to which they belonged, took a baseball bat to every aspect of rock orthodoxy. Borderline blasphemous, deliberately ludicrous, an absurdist salute to rock’n’roll tradition itself, their name suggested (accurately) that Lunch took herself both very, very seriously, and not at all. (T, JNSQ) D.W.
Why It’s Great: Attention, all you young garage-bound chumps threatening to name your band “Free Beer” or “To Be Announced” or whatever: You were beaten to that joke by, like, five decades. It’s short, it’s knowingly self-deprecating, it lends itself to a (hilariously phallic) logo, and it looks fantastic on T-shirts, posters, banners, and especially a bass-drum head. And there really should be no other criteria for a rock band’s name beyond “It looks cool on a bass-drum head.” (WP, I, VA) R.H.
Why It’s Great: By combining the classic gangsterisms beloved by hip-hoppers (“Mafia”) with the VHS-brewed satanic imagery adored by metalheads (“666″), Three 6 created something truly unique and mysterious, a horrorcore fog bubbling up somewhere miles away from hip-hop’s two coasts. (I, VA, T) C.W.
Why It’s Great: Had some college-rock nerdballs resurrected the term, the knowing irony would’ve been unbearable. But these unquestionably cool grungesters make the dated slang sting. The stark letter-number pairing stands out visually, too, especially when surrounded by the bold circle of the band’s logo. L7 is also apparently mistaken for a sex position — a variation on 69 — by Internet commenters who either have limited bedroom experience or only can bend at the waist like Lego people. (WP, I, VA)
From the Band: “We were all shooting down each other’s band-name ideas, most of which were god-awful,” says vocalist and guitarist Donita Sparks. “I halfheartedly threw out L7, which was met with silence and shrugged shoulders. So we went with it! Gender-wise, it was nonspecific, which we liked. We also discovered it could be made into a silly gang symbol using one’s hands, which we also liked. L7, of course, is slang for someone who is a square. If you don’t know what that is, sadly maybe you are one.” KEITH HARRIS