Five of My Favorite Band Names

In the International List Headquarters (located at the Hague), there is a special subsection for rock music. In this subsection is a series of many wings, each for a different facet of the discipline. One such wing is for “Great Bands.” Another is for “Great Band Names.” These last two wings are completely distinct from one another. They occasionally communicate and overlap, but more often do not. This is a list of my favorite Band Names. Some of these are also my Favorite Bands. Most are not. Here we are, in no such order.

1. Blind Faith

The Eric Clapton/Ginger Baker/Steve Winwood/probably some other guy supergroup was likely to be bloated and overblown from its inception. Given the sheer amount of ego contained within Blind Faith’s various members, it’s amazing that they lasted as long as they did. Here’s how much clout the gentlemen in Blind Faith have: They got us to be okay with looking at a naked 12-year old girl. We don’t even care!

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Image result for blind faith album

That said, it’s remarkable that they showed restraint when picking a name. “Blind Faith” is everything a band name should be; it’s brief, yet evocative. Open-ended, yet definitive. Too bad they only lasted one album.

2. Violent Femmes

Apparently, “femme” is Milwaukee-era slang for a “sissy” or “otherwise effeminate” man. It could be construed as gay-bashing (and I’m willing to bet a lot of Midwestern folks use it in a not-so-cool way), but “femme” can really be directed as any sensitive man who doesn’t necessarily fit in to traditional molds of masculinity. The fast-yet-brittle tunes of the Violent Femmes couldn’t be described as “tough” in the usual sense of the word. Rather, we’re seeing the rise of all the misunderstood kids. They may be sensitive, but they can make quite a ruckus.

3. Tragically Hip

Some might find it to be a little on-the-nose, but “Tragically Hip” is one of those names that keeps popping up when we’re talking “Greatest Band Names.” The Canadian group has weathered 34 years (and lead singer Gord Downie’s terminal cancer diagnosis), all while suggesting an almost accidental stardom. “Tragically Hip” is such a colorful phrase that it’s almost like reading an incredibly brief short story.

4. Butthole Surfers

I can say with some certainty that, though I think “Butthole Surfers” is one of the best names in history, I don’t fully understand the group itself and would not count them among my favorites. As the story goes, the psychos from San Antonio began playing depraved, druggy sets around the Lone Star state, but tended to change their name at every gig. Other names included:

Ashtray Babyhead

Nine Inch Worm Makes Own Food

The Inalienable Right to Eat Fred Astaire’s Asshole

I think they made the right decision when they settled on “Butthole Surfers.” It’s easy to remember, and perfectly suggests the sometimes frightening anarchism contained within.

Plus, it’s the subject of a classic Simpsons joke.

Image result for flanders butthole surfer

“I’m a surfer!”

5. Mission of Burma

The fact that there is no longer a country called “Burma” makes this Boston post-punk group’s name even more mysterious. What was the mission? It couldn’t have been anything good, that’s for sure. The name apparently comes from a plaque that bass player Clint Conley saw on an NYC building. It’s probably good that he didn’t seek any context. It sounded cool, and in Conley’s words, “murky and disturbing.” I’d say they hit the nail on the head.

What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Photo: Violent Femmes – Credit: By GothEric [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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