It’s not easy to pick a band name. After 60 years of rock & roll, everything has been taken. There’s the Eagles and the Eagles of Death Metal, the Who and the Guess Who. There’s Asia, Europe, Chicago, Boston and Kansas. If you want to pick a color and an animal, there’s already White Lion and Whitesnake. If you like the word “wolf,” get in line behind Wolfmother, Wolf Parade, We Are Wolves and Howlin’ Wolf.
All this said, there’s simply no excuse for picking a truly horrid band name, and rock is littered with them. Here are 13 bands with horrible names. Please note we aren’t saying these bands suck, just their names. That’ll become abundantly clear when you see the last group on the list.
The Devil Wears Prada
This Ohio-based Christian metal band picked their name one year before the 2006 adaptation of the Lauren Weisberger novel hit the big screen, but it’s still a stunningly stupid name for a group. It was already one of the most popular chick-lit books in years.That’s like calling your band Jurassic Park in 1992 or Gone With the Wind in 1938. The group swears they picked it only to signify that materialism and consumerism is the path to hell, but it just makes people think of Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. It’s frankly quite shocking no label or manager made them rethink the decision. It’s also a wonder they weren’t sued, but maybe it means every time they play, a group of women in their mid-30s line up thinking the movie is playing.
Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head
The 2005 movie V for Vendetta wasn’t quite the massive box office success the filmmakers were aiming for, but it did introduce the the world to the Guy Fawkes mask commonly used by the activist group Anonymous. It also gave a bunch of high school kids from Seattle a really, really bad idea for a band name. Natalie Portman has no hair in V for Vendetta, so they named their band Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. Against all odds, the band became pretty popular even though they were hobbled by this horrid name. In 2010, they came to their senses and changed their name to Brite Futures.
“We chose our band name on a whim when we were still in high school,” they said in a statement. “And ‘Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head’ has seen us through an unexpectedly amazing four years . . . But now it is summer once again, and time for a change. Also, it has recently come to our attention that our muse Ms. Portman is not so keen on us using her name in ours . . . so we feel it is time to move forward with a new name. We are Brite Futures.”
The band broke up two years later. Turns out their futures weren’t so brite.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
The guys on Wayne’s World once made a list of singers and bands that sound like the male sex organ. High on their list, right near CeCe Peniston (I believe it even won), was Toad the Wet Sprocket. To be fair, the group took their name from a fictional band briefly mentioned in a Monty Python skit. But John Cleese finding some nonsensical/vaguely sexual name funny doesn’t mean you have to spend nearly 30 years touring and recording as Toad the Wet Sprocket. That’s not say they’re a bad band. They just made a bad decision back in 1986 and are stuck with it forever. They could always change their name to Brite Futures. That name is free now.
Dogs Die in Hot Cars
Before we make fun of their name, let us say that this Scottish band has a very well-meaning lesson in their name: dogs do die in hot cars. Please, never leave your dog alone in a car for anything length of time over a couple of minutes. Cars get very hot in parking lots, even if you roll down the window. That comfortable, once air-conditioned vehicle becomes an oven. Please, please, please, don’t leave your dog alone in a car.
Equally important, don’t name your band Dogs Die in Hot Cars. It’s a bummer. It reminds everyone their beloved dog will die one day, maybe even at their own hands. Babies die in hot cars, too. Even responsible parents sometime forget their kids are strapped to the car seat. It’s just about the most horrible thing in the world, but it happens. We don’t want to think about that while listening to music, either. This band should change their name to something more upflifting, like Dogs Love Long Walks or Dogs Enjoy Snausages.
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
Where to even begin with this one? Much like the simple fact that some dogs die in hot cars, some daddies do horrible things to their daughters. It’s just about the most heinous act on the planet short of murder. It may be the last thing anyone wants to visualize when listening to music. Sure, the band took their name from an old blues record. Also, they don’t specifically say whose cherries these daddies are popping, but it’s (inadvertently) implied. That’s enough said about this one.
We aren’t a bunch of prudes, but this one is a bit much. What exactly does this gross name even mean? Do they mean that someone they have labelled a “cunt” is acting in an anal fashion? Are they describing some previously unimaginable hybrid female orifice? We don’t know. Unsurprisingly, the Massachusetts grindcore band meant the name only as a joke on their first recording, but it somehow stuck. They’ve broken up a bunch of times since their formation in 1988, but somehow or another Anal Cunt keeps coming back for more.
Panic! At the Disco
This Las Vegas emo band is on this list solely because of that oddly placed exclamation mark. It introduced the idea of creative punctuation into the music world. They hit right around the same time as Portugal. The Man, and they certainly paved the way for Fun. They dropped the exclamation mark in 2008 when they released the Beatles-inspired Pretty. Odd. The fans went absolutely bonkers, and the exclamation came back in 2009. Sadly, their large fan base didn’t come back, though a faithful cult still remains.
We generally don’t have a problem with nonsense band names. Something about Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and even Kajagoogoo works. But Hoobastank is just too much. It sounds vulgar and gross, and the fact they usually stylize it as h∞bastank doesn’t help matters. The band hasn’t had a real hit since “The Reason” in 2003, but you can catch them this summer at McGuffy’s in Dayton, Ohio or Mojoes in Joliet, Illinois.
Here’s a pro tip for everybody: when you’re known for saying viciously anti-Semitic things, naming your band Confrontation Camp probably isn’t a good idea. But that’s exactly what Public Enemy’s Professor Griff named his 2000 side project with Chuck D. For those who don’t remember, Griff infamously told the Washington Times in 1989 that “Jews are responsible for the majority of the wickedness in the world.” He said he learned about it in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a hoax book (loved by the Nazis) that didn’t exactly paint African-Americans in the best light, either. The uproar from his comments caused a huge scandal and (temporarily) got him kicked out of Public Enemy. The whole thing had largely blown over by 2000, and few people raised a fuss when he named his band something that sounds awfully similar to “concentration camp.” Still, it probably wasn’t the best idea.
Dave Matthews Band
There are probably people with less exciting names in the world than Dave Matthews, but we’ve yet to hear about them. When Matthews formed a band in 1991, he could have called it anything. He didn’t have to name it Dave Matthews Band to let everyone know he was in charge. Trent Reznor (a much cooler name than Dave Matthews) went with Nine Inch Nails, yet everyone knew he was the mastermind behind that group. But Dave Matthews went with the Dave Matthews Band, and forever we’re stuck with it. I guess he’s smart, though. There’s no way anyone can fire him, though we imagine John Geils felt that way once too – until the J. Geils Band fired him last year. Poor guy.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
To clear up any confusion, Dale Earnhardt Sr. is a legendary NASCAR driver who died in a 2001 race. His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is an extremely successful NASCAR racer who’s alive and well. Then there’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. They’re a Detroit indie pop group with a stupid name. “Living in Detroit, listening to sports-talk radio, you don’t hear much about NASCAR, even though it’s one of the most popular sports in the country,” the group’s Josh Epstein told ESPN. “It was interesting to put into indie rock the fear of this pop culture icon . . . I sent [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] an email explaining that we didn’t intend to mock him . . . He was responded and was so nice and down-to-earth.”
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Many of the Seventies punk bands made fun of Emerson, Lake and Palmer for sounding like a law firm, but their name practically rolls off the tongue next to to Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. To be fair, Yes members Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe were in a tough spot in 1988. They wanted to record a new album that got back to the prog roots of Yes, but the “Owner of a Lonely Heart” incarnation of the band owned the name. They couldn’t exactly tour as No, so they combined all their last names. Prog fans knew they were getting four-fifths of the classic Yes lineup, and they actually sold a lot of concert tickets. About a year later, both versions of Yes teamed up for the dreadful Union album and everything was resolved. Now, only Howe is in the touring version of Yes. If he ever leaves, we could get the long-awaited reunion of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe.
Before you start writing furious comments, stand back and think about this stupid band name. The Beatles is a dumb pun. That’s all. They took the idea of naming themselves after an insect like the Crickets, but changed the spelling for a pun on musical beats. It’s a simple as that. There’s no deep hidden meaning. There’s no wisdom here. Just a pun that might have provoked a very mild chuckle back in 1962. We accept it because we’ve heard it 50,000 times and they’re the best group in history, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a stupid name.