Friday, August 19, 2005


It may not be immediately apparent to the casual observer, but band names run in cycles of fashion. These days, any self-respecting band has a name consisting of a definite article and a noun (The Coral, The Vines, The Greenskeepers, The Strokes, The Hives and The Bees, who are presumably related somehow). Ten to fifteen years ago, it was just the noun (Blur, Oasis, Nirvana).

But twenty to twenty five years ago? For reasons only half-expressed in the murky collective id (or because of delirium brought on by inhaling too many hairspray fumes) the really happening band names were as florid and pretentious as the era's candy-coloured renovations of Victorian buildings.

Spandau Ballet

Spandau was one of the Nazi concentration camps. The Ballet part is thought to be slang used by the Nazi guards to describe the writhing of prisoners as they inhaled Zyklon-B in the gas chambers. So, on the one hand, we have the victims of the Nazi regime brutally and horrifically murdered in their millions. On the other, a bunch of ponced-up New Romantics with big hair. Frankly, it's a wonder they weren't dragged off stage by Holocaust survivors and beaten to death.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

"Listen up, Fitzsimmons! Tell the string section to crest that hill in attack formation, with the woodwind providing air support. I want bassoonists here, here and here. And if we can't get the timpani in place by moonrise, then heaven help us all!"

The Human League

What's the subtext here? Were they 'The Human League' because they are so different and androgynous and transgressive that we might not otherwise notice their species? Did they imagine that we might mistake them for fey, otherworldly beings, or perhaps just dugongs who had mastered 4/4 time?


Pretty big opinion you have of yourself there, Midge. Why not just call yourself Stupendo-Voice and be done with it.

Depeche Mode

Economy Mode gives you good fuel efficiency. Sports Mode gives you good acceleration. Depeche Mode gives you leather pants, lip gloss and big pastel blouses.

Electric Light Orchestra

How ironic, how wonderfully droll, to name one's electronic-based band after a hundred year old icon of technology! See how quaint the lightbulb looks next to our cutting-edge green phosphor screens, video-cassettes and Pong!

No wonder all the cool indie kids listened to The Smiths.

Disclaimer: I have Best Of CDs for both Ultravox and ELO. I was never a cool indie kid.


Blogger MC Etcher said...

Dear Emperor Blandwagon the Merciless, I have been reading and enjoying your blog for five years

(yes, I know that's quite a feat - I come from the future and this is how I spend my time)

but I refuse to tell you about it, as I plan to pillage what I can of your style (we call it 'quiet genius' in my timeline) and put it to my own uses, rocketing to fame and fortune.

I pledge to buy you a mounted moose head once I am rolling in the resulting cash.

6:14 AM  
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2:55 AM  
Anonymous mezzogregory said...

Once again, the blandwagon destroys me.
I'm proposing.
No really. ;)

2:52 PM  

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