Just as genres and fashions go in and out of style in music, so do the conventions that come into play when naming a band. The India boom of 2000 and 2010 led artists to bend over all sorts of trends, from meaningless punctuation (fun, Portugal. Man) to (usually bad foreboding) one-word descriptors (Killers, Beehives).
These trends were stupid, and some of the more intellectual acts of the time struggled to baptize themselves with the highest and most prestigious form of wordplay: the pun.
Seeing that some of that humor has probably made it through everyone’s minds, here’s a rundown of some of the coolest band names from the movement. Let us explain why they are funny so that you can laugh too.
1. Ringo Deathstarr
These Austin shoe watchers (they actually hate it when they call them that, but hey, we didn’t come up with the genre’s semantics) hard start us with their subversive and defiant play on words. Their name is a reference to Ringo Starr, the drummer of the popular 1960s rock band The Beatles, and the Death Star, a spaceship in Star Wars, the sequel to George Lucas’s hit American Graffiti. This title uses a dichotomy and forces fans to struggle against rock music, which is for cool people, and science fiction, which is for nerds.
2. Dandy Warholes Andy Warhol was a very influential pop artist in the 20th century whose media included painting, photography and cinema. He is best known for his collaboration with The Velvet Underground, the Marilyn Monroe diptych and painting of Campbell’s soup cans. At first glance at the clever name of this Portland psyche, it can be inferred that they admired the artist’s work, because “dandy” is a slang term often used to perceive something positively. However, a deeper look at the etymology of the word – which originated in the 18th century to describe a self-proclaimed man of humble origins but is nowadays most used to describe the elegant man in the city – may suggest that it was a reference to Warhol’s Personal Life. 3. Depressed Elvis This experimental pop group from Asheville gives us another groundbreaking compilation, this time highlighting the generational differences. Elvis Presley was a singer and actor who was popular in the 1950s and 1960s and is still considered an icon among the “baby boomers”, a colloquial term for the population cohort born in 1946-1964. considered an icon among millennials because we all have it. 4. Truman Peyote Truman Capote was an American writer best known for his novels Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, which were quite large and were shot for movies. Literary references are a bit cliche in music, so a Los Angeles-based indie rock group has opted for a bolder statement, and maybe even sparked some controversy. They achieved this by invoking peyote, a cactus native to the Texas-Mexico border that has been sacred to some indigenous tribes for thousands of years but is now under threat from over-harvest. Surely their name is meant to serve as a commentary on the devastating effects of colonialism, and nothing else. 5. Joanna Maka bryczna Joanna Newsom is an indie-folk and avant-pop singer known for her calm voice and her talent on the harp, the most ethereal of instruments. This noise-pop band from Cardiff uses the word “macabre” which many might consider to be the complete antithesis of Newsom’s work. It’s a simple but effective use of irony.