25 Horrible Bands Named after Places: Music from Hell and Elsewhere

July 14, 2008 | Lists

"Europe band"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.

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69 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Lest we not forget Children of Bodom, the metal band named after a lake where a bunch of kids were killed…although i suppose that doesnt suck, but whatev, shout out!

  2. Bush is indeed quite horrible. I would pull out the term "Radiohead for retahds," but I'm above that.

  3. Danzig is a great band name! Let us remember the name of this jerkoff's blog, The SHARK BOOK That's the worst name for anything. Grow a penis and balls little girl!

  4. Dear Anonymous (if that is indeed your real name): First off, we aren't taking umbrage with whether the NAMES themselves are good…Manhattan Transfer, for example, is a GREAT band name…Secondly, you should spend your allotted daily half-hour of library time before roll call, doing something more productive than lambasting us for your inability to comprehend the point of our article. Thanks.

  5. I must say that Rascal Flatts are one of the top country groups out in the markets these days, and they truely are the best band out in the music business. You may not like country music but that does not means you can put down these band.You can not be putting these bands down until you see for yourself what their live concerts are really about. They put on one heck of a concert. So, before you say anything else about these bands you should go and see them in concert.

  6. On the contrary…We love country music. In college, we drove from Toronto down to Cash's house in Hendersonville, visited Conway Twitty's mansion and stopped at the birthplace of Jimmie Rodgers in Meridian Mississippi. These guys, along with Hank I and III, George Jones, Haggard, Nelson, et al represent country music with cojones…they'd eat Rascal Flatts for breakfast and spit 'em out. If RF are, as you say, among the top acts on the market right now, my god are we in trouble.

  7. So, on what basis are you listing Bush and Marcy Playground as horrible?… Really reaching for bands, eh?

  8. @ACLU Anon: Actually, most of the time we welcome, appreciate and leave all comments, even the ones comparing us to types of canned food products. (You'll notice that there is no moderation here — said moderation is on other websites to filter out comments like the one you're complaining about)BUT when the comment is so moronic and ill-considered that it would be out of place if uttered among a group of 10-year-olds who hated each other, it doesn't belong here and we will delete away. We had to read it once, so why do we need to subject our readers to it?It's only happened this one time, as far as I can remember, so, well, congrats, I guess.

  9. Well I liked it, most of these bands do suck pretty hard…

    Although I think its a stretch throwing the Village People on there since, as you said, they never took themselves seriously, but whatever, all in good fun :p

  10. Don't be too amazed…You see, here's how it works:You submit something, and if Gorilla Mask deems it link-worthy, they run it. Gorilla Mask benefits from funny, well-written content such as this, just as much as we do from getting a link. Thank you for your interest.

  11. Censoring your Blog? freedom of speech? You guys can slam bands but you can’t take the heat yourselves? You guys are more like little sardines than Sharks.

  12. I thought that was a great list…doesn’t anyone have a sense of humor?

  13. "You may not like country music but that does not means you can put down these band."Yes it does.

  14. I’m amazed people went to this blog but the Sardine Guys owe everything to Gorillamask.net. You should send them a check for at least 6 dollars.

  15. oof. The guy had a semi-good idea for an article, but the writing was BAAAAAAD. Stupid internet. Anyone can be a "writer".

  16. What about Dimmu Borgir? They're named after a rock formation in Scandanavia…however they are halfway decent…

  17. This list is dead on accurate! (And damn funny, too)

    Rascal Flatts’ most popular song “Life is a Highway” is a cover of a Tom Cochran original. Cochrans’ previous band, Red Ryder, is a far cry from any real country music, just as Rascal Flatts is. So yes, this does “means you can put down these bands”, DOLT!

    In addition, the basis on which Bush and Mary Playground were included is easy to answer.

    They SUCK, eh?

    Thanks for the humor, your lists are always entertaining.

  18. Bush is a horrible band.
    If I were to pick one of the worst bands ever formed, Bush would a top choice.

  19. Not a really good list. Of course this list is your opinion, but I don’t understand how Boston, Kansas, Styx, Bush, and Danzig are sharing a list with the likes of Linkin Park and Rascal Flats, two bands I’ve often opined as deserving of AIDs. I mean come on, how are you gonna put Boston down for More Than a Feeling? Or Styx for Mr. Roboto? I’m not even a fan of those bands, and I still don’t think they deserve to share ranks with fucking O-town. I think you missed a decent bit of bands (Children of Bodom, Halifax, Oasis, and Sugarland just to name a few) that would have been better choices for a list of shitty bands named after places.

  20. @Tim, thanks for dropping by.

    @the two anons after Tim: Thanks, it’s safe to say that your MP3 collection would not give us each heart attacks.

    @Camille Martinez: Thanks mom! Actually, we had a look at your blog, and the font was so small that the bespectacled member of our pair had to put eyeball to monitor screen to read it. Then he figured out how to enlarge the font… then he read a sample of what was on there.(The blog is entitled, ahem, “Blisspill”) Sample entry: “I’m a failure. I suck. Sucky Ducky. I am such a shame.”… and then he decreased the font size again. It was perfect the way it was!

    @anon after Camille: Thanks for your feedback and for your suggestions. These lists are of course subjective and obviously when we hit a number as high as 25, we’re bound to include someone’s favorite band/song etc — that’s just impossible to avoid on a list like this. Offense is also impossible to avoid as we discovered many moons ago when we ripped Hank Williams JR and had half the blogosphere breaking out the pitchforks. Someone else wrote in with a defense of Roscoe Flatts — though a far more schoolyard and less pleasant one than your defence of Styx and co. It seems that people are about split on Bush too.

    The main point of this one was to show that there are few less creative ways to name your band than throwing an olive fork at a map and going “Yeah! We’re Europe!” And hopefully on the balance that got across and a good time was had by all who weren’t upset.

    Thanks everyone for making this blog by far our most comment-heavy.

    And keep ’em coming!

  21. It surprises me just how critical some people can be. I found the list to be what it was supposed to be: entertaining.

    It also confirms a long-standing rumor that’s been circulating around newsrooms: bands named after places aren’t really that good.

    Here’s an idea for those with nothing nice to say… write your own list.

  22. while i feel that you don’t have a good ear for music in a few of these instances, i applaud you for teaching me about some band name origins i wasn’t aware of…good job

    fuck you other idiots for taking shit too seriously

  23. I should add two things: Nazareth based it's name on the fifth word of the song "The Weight" by The Band. This may be apocryphal, as I heard it said by Casey Kassum on the radio, but I thought it might interest some. Also, Bush is a horrible band created, like some second-tier boy band, specifically to cash in on the Nirvana grunge movement. Sometimes, imitation is not a sincere form of flattery, it's just rip-off.

  24. Shouldn't it be 'Love, when it's hot, burns you like a flame?' There is that pesky 'it' ambiguity

  25. Loved the list, and agreed with everything except “Love Hurts”. At the time it hit the top ten I was in high school and love did, indeed, hurt, so maybe I have prejudicial memories. In any event, my nit to pick: “Love is like a flame, it burns you when it’s hot” presents a simile. The second part, about the hotness, refers to “love” not “flame”. I’m sure you know this, but judging by the comments (even the one I have to imagine), perhaps many of your readers don’t.

  26. Why again wasn’t Oasis on the list? They’re a pretty lame band to give a pass, except for the fact that so many Brits think they’re the best band ever – even better than the Beatles.
    — Pagan

  27. Oasis at least have 2 good songs, which are 2 more than any other band on this list…

  28. Another band you misses – Toronto – Here's the video of one of their songs from 1982 – <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcjyC8_8lXchttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcjyC8_8lXc<br />Here's another – <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KAjxxdR1XQhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KAjxxdR1XQ<br />Here's another – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZSlrrQaMTQ

  29. Thanks Andrew, We're actually FROM Toronto and briefly considered their inclusion, but figured they weren't popular enough (and besides, we felt vaguely guilty and like we'd have to return the keys to the city)

  30. You guys love country music but didn't know that "Love Hurts" is by Boudleaux Bryant (who also wrote "Rocky Top" and "Bye Bye Love", among many others)? And that the Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris version predates the Nazareth version by 3 years?OK, you said you "loved" country music, not that you obsessed over its minutia.So I'll be obvious and throw in the band Texas for your list. They, of course, hailed from the hot, dusty, wide open spaces of Glasgow.

  31. loved – disagreed with some of it, but that’s the point of discussion – right.

    How about an ‘odd musical heritage list’ things like Paulo Nutini (New Shoes) grandson of an Italian immigrant to Scotland who owns a fish and chip shop?

    Or maybe stupid rapper names – no hang on that would be all of them

    Good piece of humor though liked it

  32. I'm not sure that Chilliwack belongs on this list. I mean, to each their own, of course, but I find the majority of their catalogue to be pretty enjoyable, regardless of "My Girl".

  33. regardless of all else, I would just like to point out that Julius & the Epilleptic Ceasars may be the greatest band name since the fall of Alexandria, thanks for bringing my attention to that

  34. nothing wrong with the band ASIA or its name. great talent and amazing sound- you’re off base there


  35. I agree whole-heartedly with all the bands on this list, with exception of one.

    Marcy Playground actually isn’t all that bad. have you heard any other songs besides ‘sex and candy’? opium, or poppies, or st. joe, shapeshifter?

  36. Maybe people can dispute that certain bands in this article are relatively palatable, and there’s no accounting for some people’s horrible taste in music, but the coincidence of really horrible music, and their being named after geographical locations is worth noting. maybe the same originality in band name inspired their insipid lyrics and unremarkable composition?

  37. I hear you about”Alabama”and”Rascal Flatts”!!!GAWD!!What the If You see Kay(Tell her I said hi)were and are the suits in Nashvegas thinking when they let these”Up With People”rejects record what they think passes for Country Music???!!!
    GAWD DAMMIT!!!Country Music was originally written and recored by hard edged men and women like George Jones;Hank Williams;Johnny Cash;Merle Haggard;Willie Nelson;Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn who saw and wrote and sang what life’s other side was all about!!

  38. Say it brother! You’re spot on King Bushwick…

  39. I second the request for “List of stupid rapper names.”

  40. well. This site seems so very productive. Poking fun at names of bands… I come here lookig for an album cover picture for a school project and all I see is a whole lot of mean remarks on what these people do for a living. I’m sure this makes them all feel great about themselves. Lol. I’m all for expressing your opinion, but isn’t making a website designed for making fun of people a smidgelet over the top? Just wondering…. You could be doing something much more productive with your time. And I could too. So I’ll get back to that school project I’m purposefully procrastinating by writing this. Think about it…

  41. Every time someone clicks through one of our ads, the proceeds go to alleviating Third World debt.

  42. That’s enough out of you Kayla. Back to your project before I have you drummed out of the academy.

  43. wow, chicago and boston? both great band names, both great bands. How can anyone hate chicago? article writer sucks. There are a million great ones he missed, and most of the ones on here are fine.

  44. Here’s a good reason Oasis is not on the list – IT’S NOT A FUCKING PLACE. Morons.

  45. I liked the list, and I also understand why several persons got upset about it, they like crappy things and they want you to respect them and for some of us that’s not possible. If it’s possible check out my blog.

  46. anyone who thinks rascal flatts is a good representative of country music obviously doesn’t know what country music is.

    I’m surprised nsync isn’t on the list…although i guess it’s a little more original than asia or europe.

  47. Somewhere out there must be a city called Air Supply so we could list those suckmeisters at the to of this list!

  48. If you ever do a list of terrible band names period, I have your first contender: Dead Fetus. Disgusting.

  49. Danzig doesn’t belong in that list. Awesome music + clearly it’s named after his surname… Not some random Polish village… Wtf.

  50. firstly, to those who agree and those who don’t, I think “to each his own”..
    But I think it’ll be great to have names of all bands or groups or singers who have weird names albeit their songs suck or not…
    Sodom/poison anyone?
    maybe someone can come up with a short story using just band names! haha!

  51. oh dear! canadian music truly sucks to me. no powerof any kind deadly limp,i ‘spose like the country itself…….sorry

  52. mostly agreed, though i do have to stick up for danzig- the names not great but the music is!

  53. I know I’m late in the game, but I wanted to respond to Nick’s comment about the Danzig name. Firstly, Gdansk is not some random Polish village, but a major, bustling global center. And b) I would imagine the proud Danzig family name is derived from its members having once hailed from there, perhaps as far back as the early 14th century when the Teutonic Knights consolidated the northern German and Polish boundaries into the long-reigning duchy of Prussia. In short, logic dictates that Danzig’s inclusion on this list is not only legitimate, but 100% germane. Oh, and Danzig (the band) sucks.

  54. Mannheim Steamroller is the absolute worst music ever. It sounds like it was all recorded on a 1988 Casio keyboard. Generally, I’m opposed to censorship, but no one should hear this music…ever!

  55. I’d love to hear what this post’s author actually enjoys. Seems like if something is more than 5 years old, it’s crap in his/her opinion. Sad to cut yourself off from such a huge amount of great music. And just because something is popular and radio stations everywhere decide to overplay it, doesn’t make it a bad song. You’re just tired of it.

  56. Hey, STYX is awesome. They get a bad rep from Mr. Roboto but they are one awesome classic rock band.. and they still sound amazing today, unlike Ozzy and numerous other people that sound terrible old.

  57. Styx was instrumental in supplying enough bad music to the mid/late 70s that it ended up helping to usher in the punk movement, which is a good thing we suppose.

  58. FAIL.

    Are the Shark Guys supposed to be funny? Is this where those people who just don’t have the chops to write for SPIN magazine end up??

    From reading their little blurb about Linkin Park, you’d think the band was very unsuccessful, when the truth is, they’re one of the best selling rock bands of all time, whether you like them or not.

    Marcy Playground? I fail to see how this is a horrible band name or band for that matter. It’s as if these guys are just tossing in ANY band which a place for a name into this list. To date, this band has never had a single as successful as “Sex and Candy”, but they continue to release some of the best indie rock out there today. Youtube them.

  59. Actually, Spin writers don’t have the chops to make it on this site.

    • You’re right. SPIN is small-time compared to this site.

  60. this entry sucks

  61. I enjoyed this, and in general, right on the mark. I would argue that the New York Dolls were rock/pop, or at least were meant to be, so they are a fair exception to the rule. The exceptions that almost disproves the rule are Nirvana (as much of a place as the Styx) – obviously truly great, and the MN band the Suburbs – which are at least not overwhelmingly and unspeakably awful:)

    I also think Richard Thompson’s first band the Fairport Convention were truly great. I understand that you could say that they were not “rock/pop,” but I think it weakens your point if you try to draw a genre label – especially as unspecific as rock/pop is, around only the bands you hate.

    Keep up the fun observations.

  62. These people are not critics. They know nothing about music or talent


  63. After suffering through Kansas, Boston, and Europe for far too many years I also always thought that bands named after places tended to be terrible. After literally googling “bands named after places suck”, I was delighted to see this post. Great list.

  64. Whoever composed this list is a total retard who obviously has no understanding of music. Please, go educate yourself before attempting to make another list.

  65. OK, I don’t mind listening to America or Nazareth but other than that I love the list, especially the summation of Kansas, Boston, and Styx.

  66. What kind of musical retard put this together?

    Boston…one of the most musically talented bands ever…still touring…more than I could say about 99% of the bands you would say were good.

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