25 Horrible Bands Named after Places: Music from Hell and Elsewhere
July 14, 2008 | Lists
Much like hypertension or obesity are predictors for cardiovascular disease, geography is a measure for determining whether a band’s music will make you want to cover your ears.
Before you start penning a terse letter to your city councilor, we’re not referring specifically to where a band might be from, but one whose name is geographic in origin.
Now, there is no question, there are a handful of talented place-derived bands in genres other than rock/pop. These include punk bands UK Subs, New York Dolls and MC5, soul bands like the Sugarhill Gang and the Ohio Players, not to mention traditional acts like the Blind Boys of Alabama or the Clinch Mountain Boys. However, with few exceptions, the vast majority of rock/pop bands at least, whose names reference a particular place are overwhelmingly and unspeakably awful.
There are several reasons for this. First, if you’re feeling less than creative when coming up with a band name, say, Julius & the Epileptic Caesars is already taken, the first thing that may spring to mind after a failed bid by the drummer to name the band after himself (The Tommy Hitzenberger Three), is a particular land mass or continent—especially if you were excited about tectonic plates in high school geography class.
Second, some bands are filled with a great sense of civic pride. The Doors, for example, whose version of Alabama Song received kudos in our Top 10 ‘Bar’ Songs of All Time would famously be introduced: ‘From Los Angeles, California, the Doors’. If an announcer isn’t available, or for some reason your band doesn’t believe in loosening up a potentially hostile crowd with whimsical banter, naming yourselves after a particular city works as this removes any doubt as to where you’re from for future ‘why don’t you go back to __________ ?’ heckling.
And thirdly, there are several bands, who for whatever reason, likely because they’re fond of anything and everything ironic go out of their way to name themselves after somewhere they’re NOT from. Perhaps you’ll find them on our next list, that is, if they have enough staying power and a big enough fan base to extend beyond Brooklyn or Chapel Hill.
Here, alphabetically then, is an in no way definitive list, (as awful acts sporting geographic monikers are sprouting up literally everywhere as we write this), of 25 of the most notable, and quite horrendous bands with geographic names.
Awful Bands Named after Places
1. Alabama: Not coincidentally, as far as your ears are concerned, this band hails from Fort Payne and brought us Christian Rock-like crossover hits like Dixieland Delight, proving that a taste for piss-poor country translates to a lousy taste in MOR pop.
2. All Saints: after All Saints Road, London. Pure Brit blasphemy
3. America: Their songs have elevated people, but unfortunately only in the context of entering, and pressing your floor. America’s big hit ‘Horse with No Name’ is often mis-attributed to Neil Young–a guy who’d never pen anything like this. I mean, what good is a horse going to do in the desert? That’s what camels are for.
4. Asia: A wretched prog-rock outfit whose keyboards were so large they’d likely need to be hauled off by Hercules jets.
5. Backstreet Boys, after Back Street Market, a shopping area in Orlando, Florida. If you name your band after a shopping area, what more can be said, other than your tunes will provide musical accompaniment to mall teen loitering. As far as their Youtube videos are concerned, embedding has been disabled by request, and not by us either. A big thank you to whoever that was.
6. Bay City Rollers: According to legend, the Scottish ‘Rollers’ threw a dart at a map of the continental US and landed upon Bay City, Michigan. At least they really did put Bay City on the map.
7. Boston: Thankfully, a band that only puts out an album every decade. Right now, a radio station somewhere, is spinning More Than a Feeling and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it, though we’ve mulled over every legal option.
8. Bush, after Shepherd’s Bush, a district of London. The best thing this moribund outfit did, was attach itself by marriage to a successful one, Gwen Stafani/No Doubt
9. Chicago, after the city of Chicago (originally Chicago Transit Authority). Touted for their musicianship, horn section, as well as their consummate blandness, Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful U.S. pop/rock and roll groups of all time, something more difficult to grasp conceptually, than String Theory.
10. Chilliwack, after the town of Chilliwack in British Columbia, Canada. Their song ‘My Girl’, is not even among the top ten best songs called ‘My Girl’. They’ve been ‘gone gone gone so long’ and hopefully there aren’t any signs of an imminent return. Snap your fingers to it by clicking here.
11. Danzig is the German name for the Polish city of Gdańsk, though the band got its name by way of Glenn Danzig. Either way, drift your eyes left, and you’ll get a pretty good indication of what you’re dealing with.
12. Europe was a living, breathing and sucking embodiment of the phrase ‘all sizzle, no steak’, and the sizzle in question here was hardly enough to start even a modest grease fire, however striking a match anywhere near any of the band members’ noggins might have.
13. Hedley, after the town of Hedley, British Columbia, Canada. Hedley is one of the countless acts featuring songs under 3 minutes, lots of screaming, Major Key power chords, a bunch of skinny guys, spiky hair, tattoos, wallets on chains, and other signifiers of North American suburbia.
14. Kansas: Kansas is known for two epics, Carry on My Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind, that are no doubt being cranked to oblivion in an El Camino right now, somewhere between northern Maine and southern California, with air guitar accompaniment.
15. Linkin Park, after a park (now known as Christine Reed Park) in Santa Monica, California (spelling was changed from Lincoln to Linkin because the domain name lincolnpark.com was unavailable). One of the many 90s bands who merged hip hop and metal, a musical marriage more doomed than the nuptials of Liza Minnelli and that overtly gay guy whose name escapes us.
16. London Beat. When we listen to this, we can’t help but think they deserve a good beat-ing. Actually, this could be its own category, as just about every band with London in its title is awful. Due to space restrictions, they’re not listed here.
17. The Manhattan Transfer, after John Dos Passos’s novel Manhattan Transfer, which is in turn named after the Manhattan Transfer train station in New York City, and this is all you need to know about them, trust us. Disclaimer: some really really bad dancing here
18. Marcy Playground, after the playground of Marcy Open School in Minneapolis. The band achieved success ten years ago with Sex & Candy, middling 90s Nirvana-lite, sans shotgun blast.
19. Mannheim Steamroller, Mannheim Germany. We almost hate to do this to you good people, who were kind enough to stop by and enjoy our list, but here it is. The Steamroller doing a rock instrumental version of ‘Joy to the World’. One of us has been to Mannheim, a lovely city, and it pains us to see the musical atrocities committed in its name.
20. Miami Sound Machine. This band helped launch Gloria Estefan, but not in a good way, like out the window of a sufficiently tall building.
21. Nazareth, after the city of Nazareth. Famous for a vocalist, who, like Axl Rose of Guns ‘n’ Roses sounds like Edith from All in the Family, they were known for this ballad, which is uglier than twinned cow arses, Love Hurts. Listening to this, it’s clear something hurts, though it isn’t love. They’re also known for choice lyrics:
“Love is like a flame, It burns you when its hot”
The above prompts the question, when is a flame not hot? Is there some aspect of fire we’re missing here?
22. O-Town, after a common nickname for Orlando, Florida. Not to be confused with, the Big-O, an experience quite opposite to what you’d feel after having to endure any of this craptacular act’s hits.
23. Rascal Flatts, after a geological formation in Oklahoma. Rascal Flatts is an embodiment of what country music, unfortunately, has become: your nouveau riche uncle who’s moved out to the burbs and bought a speedboat that he likes to show off and needs musical accompaniment. Rascal Flatts are about as far removed from real country, as The Olive Garden is from a trattoria in Palermo.
24. Styx. Nitpickers might point out that this is a mythological place, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that if there is a Day of Reckoning, these guys will have a lot to answer for, musically speaking. [see below]
25. The Village People, Greenwich Village, NYC. One good thing that can be said about them, is that unlike everyone else on this list, they never took themselves too seriously.