Note: this post isn’t about the MTV show credited for bringing us such quality acts as O-TOWN and Danity Kane.
If you were like me in elementary school and went through a phase of wanting to start a band (let’s face it, my roommate and I thought about in college too), then you’ve definitely brainstormed potential band names at some point in your life. My first experience with this was on the playground during recess. My friends and I found a spot on the pavement that had a splotch of tar in a star shape. That was our stage and we were the stars. I believe our band name was Triple A (yes, like the insurance company) because all of our names started with the letter “a” and we thought it was a clever play on words. Triple A never signed a record deal or had a number one hit, but that “band” gave us a sense of belonging and purpose; something that made us feel more important than three 10-year-old girls.
I wonder if people in actual bands get the same feeling. I’ve always thought there was something romantic and nostalgic about being in a band. The combination of being a part of an entity bigger than yourself and collectively creating music that inspires people. But as good as your music is, you can’t ignore that first impressions do exist. And for a band, that first impression is your band name.
I started thinking about how a band gets its name to stand out among thousands of other bands out there. I can relate because growing up there was always more than one Amanda in my class. Triple A could have been Octuple A. So is there a way to make your band name stick out more? Is that why do so many bands call themselves “The “? Does the initial “The” give a band more credibility or somehow strengthen ownership of the name?
Whatever the reasoning behind it, the “The” band trend has stood the test of time and crosses all genres: the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Four Seasons, the Carpenters, the Cure, the Flaming Lips, the Strokes, the Game, the Pussycat Dolls, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Just to name a few.
But I’ve noticed an emerging trend that’s taking a run at title for the best-formula-for-a-band-name since the “The ” band trend. Or maybe I just notice insignificant things. It’s really not that much different, it’s just about where you put the word “The”. Maybe you’ve noticed this too. Instead of putting “The” at the beginning of a band name, you put it in the middle à la Foster the People, Young the Giant, Pedro the Lion, Portugal. The Man, Minus the Bear, Dry the River. (My theory is that Toad the Wet Sprocket was way ahead of its time and unknowingly started this trend in the late eighties)
While I’m inclined to latch onto the trend because I like all the bands I know that have adopted this template, I’m not sure that these names will make the same first impression a “The ” band would. I also have a hard time understanding the meaning behind the band names. But maybe that’s the point. I’m left to wonder what the name means, therefore, remembering the band. Ah I see what you did, sneaky clever bands.
Who knows, maybe I’ll discover a band out there called Triple the A.