Flip Flop Flying

Name calling

with 16 comments

Once upon a time musical groups had self-explanitory names: The Carter Family, The Mills Brothers, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra; all fine examples of band names that are essentially descriptions. But at some point all that changed. At some point bands started picking a plural word and sticking the definitive article in front of it: The Inkspots, The Beatles, The Tornados, The Shangri-Las. Fast forward to now and we’ve had a gazillion bands with all manner of names: from the ordinary (Radiohead) to the exciting (Roxy Music). What’s my point? Well, there is none really, I’m just wondering which was the first group to ditch the descriptive name and go for something a bit more wild.

I’m guessing the naming process evolved from being stuff like Craig Robinson and The Flyin’ Flip Flops to just being The Flyin’ Flip Flops. Once that step was made, a band could just call themselves The Anythings. And once that step was made, a band could drop the The and the plural and just be some kind of object: Jefferson Flip Flop. After a few years of that, bands can just choose any old grunt and it can be their name: …And You Will Know Us By The Flyin’ Of The Flip Flops.

In general, though, band names aren’t getting better.
Of course there are exceptions, but really, band names are pretty shoddy these days. And it’s not just the The Bands (Killers, Kills, Thrills…), which seem to be in vogue, and I’m sure must’ve been documented to death in various places.

The ones that get me are bands that tell you nothing: Blur. Oasis. Keane. Radiohead. Coldplay. And I know from reading my trivia that Coldplay took their name from another band in their area with that name after they split up. If that’s the level of band name-aspiration that they have, there’s no wonder their lyrics are shit.

And there’s the other extreme: the stupid name bands (Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Gaye Bykers On Acid, etc.).
Worst of all, and I think it might be my most hated name ever, is the boy band A1. I assume it’s not named after a road that goes near to my hometown. I assume that the idea was to show how tip top grade A number 1 they were. Open the Yellow Pages, chaps: every campany that offers a taxi service, makes fences, sells washing machines, cuts keys, sells storage space: there’s an A1 EVERYTHING!

Oh why why why am I allowing a minor tinkle in pop music’s history to annoy me?
Maybe it’s because the thing I’m working on at the moment is an animation. I’m not enjoying doing it. I never really enjoy animating. It’s a tedious, dull process that only highlights the limitations of my skills by ending up as a pale facsimilie of the glorious fun-filled plan I saw in my head.
But, really… A1? I ask you…

And while I’m on the subject of names: since when has it been okay to be a banking and insurance company called Egg?

Written by Craig

July 13th, 2005 at 4:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

16 Responses to 'Name calling'

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  1. A1’s kind of apposite, though – as contrived a name as they are a band.

    The ‘The’ thing is funny, though. Retro backlash, I s’pose. Pink Floyd were originally The Pink Floyd. Guess they thought ‘The’ was passé, that The got quite enough exercise as it was, thank you very much.

    Band names, like pet names, should be utterly made up. Ascribing human names to pets is wrong. Bet Billy doesn’t think of himself as Billy; in his canine mind, he’s probably called Raharafarwarf The Mighty or something. Granted, Billy’s easier to pronounce…

    Dan (henceforth known as Rooglethrigbutterworth)

    13 Jul 05 at 17:44

  2. I think Billy imagines his name to be King William The Cutie Bastard from the way he behaves in front of strangers.
    If he was an adult human, he’d have a perma-tan, white suit and streaked hair, and he’d be reeking of cologne, leaning against a wall in a bar, drinking something colourful and winking and the laydeez.


    13 Jul 05 at 18:23

  3. at the laydeez” is what I meant.


    13 Jul 05 at 18:25

  4. It seems there are still good times ahead for the The… band names.
    Oh, and what about The The?


    13 Jul 05 at 22:31

  5. I was just about to say The The.

    But have you ever tried to do a Google search on one of my fave bands: A? I’ll repeat that in case you think it’s a typo; the name of the band is A.

    A1 is just too long a name.

    George in Grasse

    13 Jul 05 at 23:03

  6. Wasn’t your Mum’s taxi firm called A1 taxis, or am I just making that up?


    13 Jul 05 at 23:44

  7. on the topic of company names, who in god’s name gave the go-ahead for cillit bang?


    14 Jul 05 at 01:40

  8. Benp – Thanks for the link. I love the name The Bwah-Ha-has. That’s fantastic.
    George – I imagine that’s tough.
    Andrew – Yes.
    Tugboat – What’s cillit bang?


    14 Jul 05 at 08:55

  9. A1 is also a kind of steak sauce.

    Sort of takes meat marketry to a whole new level, doesn’t it?


    14 Jul 05 at 09:25

  10. I tried out your thoughts on a random pile of CDs that genuinely just happen to be sitting next to my computer: Boris, Smog, Dungen, Superthriller, Arcade Fire, Cocteau Twins, Coco Rosie, Cheap Trick. Personally, I think they’re largely pretty good names, though Boris is maybe a bit stupid, and I never cared that much for Cocteau Twins (as a name, ‘natch.) What do you think?

    Ian Mac

    14 Jul 05 at 09:46

  11. Modern bands should take a leaf out of death / thrash metal bands naming book. You just know what kind of music Hellbastard, Atrocity, Napalm Death and Obituary are going to give you!


    14 Jul 05 at 13:14

  12. And I guess you’re never ever gonna forget a band called Anal Cunt, are you?


    14 Jul 05 at 15:54

  13. Cillit Bang is the new wonder cleaning product that has the cheesiest adverts, both in the UK and France.

    I am slightly scared by it ‘coz it’s one of those things that seems to strip dirt off stuff really quickly, it’s almost chemical warfare.

    It does sound somewhat dodgy, don’t you think?

    George in Grasse

    14 Jul 05 at 16:29

  14. I think A1 were trying to make sure they get stacked first in the shops, like ZZ Top wanted to be last in the racks. Only it works with Z, because there won’t be anyone else’s CD after yours, but A1 would just be covered up. SO maybe they’re just named after the road after all. Or a really big piece of paper.
    I know The Beatles was a pun on The Crickets, who of course used to be Buddy Holly and The Crickets. And I like Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, who eventually came up with the best band name in the history of the world: The Band. I love that, it’s so cocky.


    14 Jul 05 at 19:30

  15. Those Cillit Bang adverts are mental. But only in kinda subtle ways, so it’s even more unsettling.

    First the name. “Cillit Bang”. Cillit? What the hell does that mean? (Apart, presumably, from nothing offensive in any language in the world.) And then “bang”. Alarming.

    Then there’s the guy. I think his mouth moves as if he’s speaking English, and yet his voice is still clearly done as a voice over dub. And on the voice over dub, he’s shouting just a little bit. More than the visuals would have you believe. And all the gaps between his sentences have been chopped a bit.

    Basically, the ad looks like I what imagine many German tv ads look like. And yet is shown in Britain.


    15 Jul 05 at 14:14

  16. Some Cillit Bang ads can be viewed HERE
    We have a similar product here in Canada called CLR.
    That stuff is scary!


    15 Jul 05 at 18:46

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