Friday, 2 November 2007

What's in a Name?

Have you ever had sleepless nights worrying about what to call your brand new, state-of-the-art, cutting edge band? No, me neither, but some people obviously have.

There was a recent article in the Times, no less, claiming that new bands were having the most awful difficulty thinking up new names, moaning that all the best ones were taken. I mean, what’s the matter with them? Can’t they even come up with obvious monikers – like ‘The Electric Prunes’ or ‘Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band’? Kids today eh?

If they mean boring names like ‘Blue’ then they’re right as there must be about 10,062 bands with this label already, but I really can’t believe that the cupboard is that bare. It just needs a bit of imagination. Let’s see. How about ‘The Names’, or ‘No Name’? Hmm…unfortunately both of these have already been bagged, so perhaps it’s not so silly after all.

Of course, brand names can become quite valuable and you often see very unseemly squabbles over who really owns a band name when there is a personnel split. The spat between Messrs Waters and Gilmour over who really ‘owned’ the Pink Floyd name was a case in point. So it is clearly important to choose a memorable name, as it can become a real asset if the band is successful. And this is the nub, I think. What these potential stars of tomorrow are really saying is that all the memorable names have been taken. No one wants the ‘Warty Toads’ or ‘Yellow Sick Bowl’. (No doubt someone will now tell me that they have a band with one or other of these names and how dare I…etc.)

You would’ve thought that in our brave new green, re-cycling conscious world, bands would be looking to re-use names when they become available at the termination of employment rather than just confining them to the great musical landfill. I understand that ‘The Beatles’ is already 50% available as is ‘The Who’. I’m sure that there are many that have fallen into disuse and could be put to better employment. How about ‘The Bay City Rollers’? No, perhaps not.

The difficulty with this wheeze is that the former incumbents may suddenly re-appear, like Marley’s ghost, complaining that they haven’t quite finished with it yet so I recommend staying away from ‘The Spice Girls’ or ‘The Police’ unless you have a very good lawyer indeed.


Charlie said...

I agree with much of what was written here. I think the world has officially run out of band names. Why else would we have bands with awful names like "The Hold Steady" and "Death Cab For Cutie?" UGH!

Jayne Ferst said...

I understand that ‘The Beatles’ is already 50% available as is ‘The Who’.

Hahaha, good point. I interviewed a band a good while ago, Rooster they were called, and they said they had huge trouble coming up with a name, as everything they liked was taken!

My problem with thinking of a band name is that everything I think of doesn't sound like it would ever get in lights. Maybe (if allowable) I'd name it after a film eg Hot Fuzz, The Breakfast Club etc. As I think as long as it is different eg not two bands, you can call it the same as another - eg Oasis - there are tons of products (not bands) that are called Oasis. Or if people complain you could do as Blink 182 did, or Liberty X and add something on - eg Hot Fuzzy, Hot Fuzz 999, or something!

musicobsessive said...

I suppose the only good point to come out of all this is that people are becoming more inventive. My current favourite is 'Be Your Own Pet'. Not sure I like the music though...

Alan said...

I'm not sure you could take a name just because somebody else has stopped using it. How about something similar to the copyright laws whereby the name becomes available 50 years after the last record was released?

If so, there must be plenty of classic doo wop group names coming available even as I type. For example, how about The Eagles who recorded "Trying To Get To You" - as covered by Elvis. Oh no, somebody's jumped the gun on that one.

musicobsessive said...

Unless your name is Cliff Richard - then you'd be looking at a 70 year (or more) rule. Not sure anybody would want the name now though!