The 40 Greatest Band Names of All Time
25 The Slits    

Known Origins: The name was floated by founding member Kate Korus as a fairly genius fount of punk provocation: “It was sharp, cutting, memorable, and rather biological,” writes author Zoë Street Howe in her Slits bio, Typical Girls?

Why It’s Great: As transgressive self-empowerment goes, this is tough to beat. (Though bassist Tessa Pollitt’s previous outfit, the Castrators, comes close.) A band name no self-respecting radio station/newspaper/PR agency/major label would touch is a prerequisite for punk, really, and the Slits had quite literally the mother of them all: “The concave mirror to the convex phallic innuendo of Sex Pistols,” as Simon Reynolds once put it. Or just listen to the way James Murphy drawls out “the Slllitttts” during the neurotic band-name-rundown conclusion to “Losing My Edge.” (T, I, JNSQ) R.H.

Tony! Toni! Toné!
24 Tony! Toni! Toné!    

Known Origins: Each member of the early-’90s R&B group that helped launch Raphael Saadiq’s career has a slightly different recollection of how the triple T came to be, but all involve clowning a superfly guy by calling him a Tony Tony (in some versions of the tale, Tony was a TV character; in others, he was an acquaintance). “Tony! Toni! Toné! was a nickname that I used to call a roommate of mine,” D’Wayne Wiggins said earlier this year. “We called him that because he thought he was the freshest slice of bread ever.”

Why It’s Great: The group’s name is slick and clever, just like their music. And you cannot deny the pure alliterative pleasure of saying Tony! Toni! Toné! out loud, coupled with the knowledge that you’re actually pronouncing three words spelled totally differently. And! Punctuated! With! Exclamation! Points! (VA, JNSQ, WP) CARYN GANZ

23 The