What Your Clichéd Band Name Says About You

Apart from seeing a bazillion bands over the course of four days, one of the fun parts of the CMJ Music Marathon is giggling at all the silly band names. Every year bands seem to want to outdo one another as far as outlandish names go — our pick this year is Vagina Panther, with strong competition from Electric Umbilical Cord and Kung Fu Crimewave — and after a while, you start to notice that the same words crop up again and again. What can it all mean? We’ve applied our highly scientific stereotyping technique to some of the most fashionable band name words of 2012 — so now, if you want to go and see Wild Magic Bear or Psychic Dirty Moon or Ghost Beach (spoiler: at least one of these names is real), you’ll know exactly what to expect. Also, if two or more of these words feature in one band name, you can be sure that the band in question a) is most likely from Brooklyn and b) had their name chosen by their PR company.


This year’s offenders: Platinum Kids, Unicorn Kid (above), Rich Kids, LIL KIDS, Teenage Kicks, Teen Daze, Teen Commandments, Young Ladies, Young Hines, Young Evils, The Young Things, Young Unknowns, Young Magic, Choir of Young Believers, Young Heel, Young Adults, Your Youth, Diamond Youth, Reptile Youth

What it’s supposed to mean: “We are exuberant and youthful and joyous and etc. All the blogs will love us!”

What it actually means: “We are regretting this already and will be regretting it even more if we are still together in 10 years’ time.”

See also: Kids of 88, Black Kids, Cold War Kids, Young the Giant, and, of course, Sonic Youth


This year’s offenders: Bearstronaut (above), Bear Crossing, Bear Hands, Sunbears, Bear Ceuse, Bear Trap

What it’s supposed to mean: “We are slightly cuddly and lovable New Age guys, but we are also manly and could totally hang your door/fix your fridge if we were required to.”

What it actually means: “We are sexually unthreatening.”

See also: Bear in Heaven, Boy and Bear, Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear


This year’s offenders: Cuddle Magic, Computer Magic, Young Magic (above)

What it’s supposed to mean: “Our music is colorful and multi-textured and reflects the time we spent at art school. We are more interesting than normal rock bands: we have synthesizers and loads of other instruments!”

What it actually means: “Why yes, we do rather enjoy taking LSD.”

See also: Here We Go Magic, The Magic Numbers, The Magic Band


This year’s offenders: Psychic Twin (above)

What it’s supposed to mean: “We are in touch with the deeper nature of the multiverse. We won’t mind if you refer to us as ‘shamanistic.'”

What it actually means: “Why yes, we do really enjoy taking LSD.”

See also: Psychic Reality, Psychic TV, The Psychic Paramount, Psychic Ills


This year’s offenders: Moon King (above), Moon Hooch, Sonnymoon, Poor Moon, Car on the Moon

What it’s supposed to mean: “Our music is cold and dark and yet icily beautiful. We prefer to be photographed in black and white.”

What it actually means: “We’d love to play at Wierd some time.”

See also: The Soft Moon, Moon Duo, Black Moon


This year’s offenders: Beach Day, Ghost Beach (above), Eternal Summer, Blonde Summer

What it’s supposed to mean: “Our music is imbued with a warm sense of nostalgia and romanticism. You can totally put on our record when you get home with the dude/dudette you met at Union Pool/Hall.”

What it actually means: “We like Instagram, Polaroids, and drinking out of paper bags in the park. We are from Asshole, Virginia, but refer to ourselves as ‘Brooklyn-based’.”

See also: Dirty Beaches, Beach Fossils, Beach House


This year’s offenders: Von Haze, Teen Daze, Joywave, Ghost Wave, Zulu Wave, Holy Wave, Chainwave, Wave Sleep Wave, Outerwaves

What it’s supposed to mean: “Listen to our record and you will drift away on hashtagged waves of warm soundscape textures.”

What it actually means: “We would really, really like to be featured on Gorilla Vs. Bear.”

See also: Every other band from Brooklyn


This year’s offenders: Ghost Wave (above), Adios Ghost, Ghost Beach, The Ghost Inside, The Lesser Ghost, Ghost Dance, Ghost Pal

What it’s supposed to mean: “Our music is mysterious and evocative. Our ethereal atmospherics would sound just perfect on your Halloween playlist, by the way.”

What it actually means: “We’ve already worn out three reverb pedals.”

See also: Ghost Ghost, Followed by Ghosts


This year’s offenders: Blackbird Blackbird, Black Bird White Sky, Bird Call, Railbird, Leaf Bird (ab0ve), Bird to Prey

What it’s supposed to mean: “We are in touch with nature. We have been to Nashville.”

What it actually means: “What? No, we’ve never seen Portlandia. Why?”

See also: The Bird and the Bee, Little Birdy, The Wooden Birds, and, um, Andrew Bird


This year’s offenders: Blonds, House of Blondes, Blondfire, Yukon Blonde, Blonde Summer

What it’s supposed to mean: “We both embrace and satirize popular conceptions of innocence and sexuality. We like vintage photography and ’60s aesthetics. ”

What it actually means: “We like Nancy Sinatra. A lot.”

See also: The Long Blondes, Neon Blonde, Blondes


This year’s offenders: Psychic Twin, Twin Tigers, Brusque Twins (above), Twin Berlin, Papertwin

What it’s supposed to mean: “Our band is close-knit and slightly creepy. We are a self-contained unit who need no input from the outside world. We have our own vision of art and music.”

What it actually means: “There are two people in the band. Or are there?!

See also: Twin Shadow, Twin Sister, Cocteau Twins, Thompson Twins


This year’s offenders: Dirty Fences, 12 Dirty Bullets, Dirty Names

What it’s supposed to mean: “Our music is gritty and edgy and darkly sexy. You may find it somewhat challenging. If you’re LAME.”

What it actually means: “We always annoy the sound guy by insisting that the guitar is turned up really loud.”

See also: Dirty Projectors, Dirty Beaches, Dirty on Purpose


This year’s offenders: The Midnight Hollow (above), Rush Midnight, Midnight Spin, My Midnight Heart, The Midnight Beast

What it’s supposed to mean: “The witching hour!!!!!”

What it actually means: “We always annoy the sound guy by insisting that the bass is turned up really loud.”

See also: Midnight Youth, Midnight Juggernauts


This year’s offenders: Wild International, Catch Wild, Wild Cub, Wild Child, Wild Nothing, Wild Yaks (above), Wild Adriatic

What it’s supposed to mean: “We are unconstrained and unfettered by traditional notions of song structure. Our music is powerful and transporting.”

What it actually means: “We always annoy the sound guy by insisting that everything is turned up really loud.”

See also: Wild Flag, The Wildhearts, Wild Child, Wild Light

Silly punctuation/capitals/etc

This year’s offenders: I Can Chase Dragons! (above!), Wakey! Wakey!, HUMANS, PLS DNT STEP

What it’s supposed to mean: “We are slightly quirky, and we’re not prepared to be dictated to by the norms of something as silly and meaningless as punctuation.”

What it actually means: “We slept through English class and our keyboard is broken.”

See also: Los Campesinos!, tUnE-yArDs, fIREHOSE, !!!, The Go! Team

Bonus round!

Vagina Panther

What it’s supposed to mean: “Understanding why a band would name themselves Vagina Panther can be hard to get your head around. But who cares? Vagina’s [sic] RULE and Panther’s [sic] are COOL. Understanding what VP does is easy. We melt faces.” [via]

What it actually means: “Wait, isn’t this Steel Panther?”