I started thinking about this the other day when I downloaded a song by I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. I have a thing about band names. People have always said that you can't judge a book by its cover, but I have a theory that you can, in fact, do just that. I know I wrote about it on my other blog, but I'll summarize it here because I can't find it there. The theory is this: if you like the band name, you are more likely to like the band and its music, because (stay with me now) the band and you think alike-- you both think that name is cool, and so you both might like other things in common. Follow me on that?
Never mind. The point is, band names have come a long way from the Hollies or The Beatles or even Pink Floyd. They are all over the map now. You'll notice, as you peruse the list of some of my favorites (culled off my iPod just now) that I tend to like the longer ones, but I have some criteria for declaring a band name the best that I'll explain more in a moment.
Anyway, here are the ones I like just on the basis of I like them:
The Apples In Stereo
Cake (and there's a story behind why I like that one.)
The Flaming Lips
Fountains of Wayne
Kings of Leon
Mercury Radio Theater
Nine Inch Nails
Over The Rhine
Say Hi To Your Mom
Remember, I'm not saying these are the best bands, just great names for bands. Although since they're all on my iPod I do like them, or at least some of their songs.
A good band name -- not the best ever, but a good one -- catches your interest, makes you think for a second, and, ideally, tells you what category your music is in. Group called "The Killers"? Straightforward pop, right? (Which is why it was so sad that Da BoDeans became The Bodeans, and why Spooner became Firehouse -- and both suffered a little as their name watered down their music.) But "Nine Inch Nails?" You know you're not getting Clay Aiken-stylings there. When My Sister first made a tape for me with a band called "Modest Mouse" I knew to expect something a little different.
But the absolute best is not listed there. The absolute best is not just kind of lengthy (which I like) but also sticks in your head because it's self-contained, and also happens to more or less give you a feel for the kind of music they make: when you say the band name, you get a sense of what kind of music that band should make, and then when you listen to the song, they actually make that kind of music.
I'm talking about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, which is commanding, and kind of funny, and also captures the mood of their quasi-Talking Head-esque music, which is complex and interesting and also mysteriously upbeat -- like the band name. So Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, you've got my vote for The Best Band Name. To help you agree with me, here's a video for "Over And Over Again."