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Bands on this page:

Nelly
The Nelson Brothers
New Edition
New Kids on the Block
Nickleback

Nine Inch Nails 
Nirvana
No Doubt
'N Sync
NWA

Coming soon: Willy Nelson, New Order, Notorious B.I.G.

Send feedback here.  Use this address to submit new bands for ranking; include any information you feel is relevant to their scoring and bonus points. You may also bitch/cheer about current rankings, this page in general, or just ask where to send me money.

Nelly

Genre: Rap
Name Score: 2
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 2
A rapper or R&B guy or something like that.  Black guy.  I think he's bald, and goes easy on the bad jewelry (which generally earns bonus points for something approaching taste), but those are faint memories from glimpsing a photo in a fluff article in Entertainment Weekly that I flipped past at some point.

The name is worthless.  It's not a bad name for a female dog, something like a Golden Retriever or Labrador.  My grandparents had a bird dog when I was a kid named Sadie.  Same vibe. "Nelly" sounds like a girl's name, it sounds nothing like a musical artist, gives no No indication of what type of music, has no coolness factor, nothing.  Next.

 

The Nelson Brothers

Genre: Rock
Name Score: 4
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 5
Nelson, a mercifully short-lived hair metal band in the late 80's, is the sad end of the Nelson family musical legacy.  Tracing the descent from their famous grandfather Ozzie Nelson to their famous father Rick Nelson, to this pair of Swedish Bikini Team haired pretty boys.

Their official site has a detailed biography of them that is so packed with unintentional humor it should win some sort of special award. I'm capping them at one bonus point, because they suck, and I know they didn't write it themselves.  Here are a couple of quotes. 

Their songs transcend time. Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, revered for unforgettable past hits, explore fresh creative territory in the present. Magically melodic songwriting and soaring sibling harmonies ensure that this pair will be a vital part of the music scene's future.

With the rise of grunge rock in the mid-90s, pop music grew dark and foreboding. Matthew and Gunnar chose not to compromise their positive, drug-free posture to suit the trend.

Contributing to their audience's extraordinary devotion is the fact that Matthew and Gunnar tirelessly try to please. They take time to meet and greet each and every fan following all performances.

Their name does nothing, other than trying to trade on their limited familial fame, and since no one in their target audience knew who they were or who their father was, it was seemingly doomed to failure.  And if you didn't know anything about them or their last name, you really had no clue from the eponymous title.

 

New Edition

Genre: Pop
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 6
While initially a boy band managed by NKotB creator Maurice Starr, New Edition soon broke away from him, and signed a record deal with MCA while the members were all just 13-15 years old.  There was a ton of talent (or at least commercial potential) in the band, with Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown,  Ralph Tresvant, and Ronnie DeVoe.  Bobby Brown went on to a huge solo career, and Bell Biv DeVoe had a couple of big albums as well.

Their glory days were the early and mid-80's, when the softer do wop rhythms and New Jack Swing were dominant and had street cred, unlike the 90's with Gansta Rap taking over the streets and charts and softer R&B stuff existing only for the tin-eared Top 40.  Bobby Brown left the band in 1986 (later marrying/slapping around Whitney Houston), and the rest of them split up in 1989. They reunited in 1996 and in a rare feat for a reunion, proved as popular as ever with new material.  Their Home Again album debuted at #1 and their supporting tour selling out every show.  They still hated each other though, and broke up after the big pay day, returning to dwindling solo careers.

The name is pretty good.  It certainly applies well to the young teens that they were when the group started off by winning talent shows around Boston. They were a young, had a newish sound, etc. It's less accurate a title for the "We're 30 and broke." late 90's reunion, but few bands create timeless names.

 

New Kids on the Block

Genre: Boy Band
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 8
The first modern, white, boy band, NKotB, as they were (affectionately?) known.  They had an initial hit that was almost rock, Hangin' Tough, which led to some confusion for music fans.  Fortunately they soon cleared that up by descending completely into the wimpy half-ballad crap that pre-teen girls love and everyone else prefers the emergency broadcast warning sound to, and that cleared up any lingering doubts about what type of music they really were.

The New Kids made no pretense to being a real band; they were a bunch of kids hired by Maurice Starr, the producer who had previously created New Edition, to sing music he wrote for them and wear clothing he picked out.  They weren't even original for their packaged look, since they were just the white version of New Edition, the black boy-band Maurice Starr had created a few years earlier. NKotB became even more popular than New Edition had been, as white rip offs of black artists usually do (Elvis, Vanilla Ice), since they are less-threatening to the white teens who become their biggest fans.  This just goes to show the eternally horrible taste teenagers demonstrate in their musical purchases.

Their name is good, it sums them up pretty well, and it's even a partial rip off of their New Edition forebrothers.  They get a bonus point for burning out by the early 90's, though that just paved the way for the Biblical plague of identical boy bands we are currently inflicted with.

 

Nickleback

Genre: Pop Rock
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: -1
Total Score: 7
Another of the borderline rock bands, these guys may or may not be heard on a rock station near you, depending on which way the coin toss went for the program director.  It's not that they are essentially interchangeable with Matchbox Twenty, Spin Doctors, Bare Naked Ladies, et al, it's that... oh wait, I guess that's it after all.  Anyway, they are another feel good, power chorus, some guitar band that you hear and forget thirty seconds later.

The name is cool, a non-word that sounds like it should be one.  Perhaps it's slang for something?  You think they're saying, "Nickle bag" at first, which would be crack for those on a really tight budget, I guess. They lose a point for sounding like everyone else to the point that I can't summon up a single song of theirs from memory, despite them being on the radio all the time.

 

Nine Inch Nails

Genre: Industrial
Name Score: 9
Bonus Points: -1
Total Score: 8
An amazingly famous band, considering that they've actually only released three actual albums and an EP (and about 200 remixes, live recordings, and soundtrack contributions).  NIN basically created Industrial as a viable musical style; viable for more than entertaining a few really stoned kids in your basement, that is.  They were the first popular band to use lots of electronics, and thus paved the way for the mainstream acceptance of Electronica and ultimately Raves.  They also spawned lesser rip off acts like Gravity Kills and Stabbing Westward, and influenced hundreds of bands to do the "slow, then fast, then screaming chorus" style, and for that we must deduct a point, despite the fact that The Fragile took up 2/5 of our CD changer for about a year after release.

The name is very cool.  It means nothing, spawns endless speculation about what it might mean (fingernails on the statue of liberty, the length of the nails used to crucify Jesus, etc) and has a creepy sound.  Which pretty well parallels the band's sound, come to think of it.

 

Nirvana

Genre: Grunge
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: +1, +1, -1
Total Score: 8
Another band that offers so much to talk about it's hard to know where to start with the smart remarks.  Perhaps the least likely to succeed band that sold the most CDs to the most people who were utterly ignorant of the band's message, if that makes any sense.  Nirvana (well, Kurt at least) was disgusted with their success and set out to destroy their fan base with angry, intentionally-painful music.  They weren't entirely successful, though might have been if they'd lasted long enough.

There is a bonus point awarded for the pathetically tragic rock star death, and another one for persistent rumors that Courtney actually had Kurt whacked.  They lose one for disbanding, thus freeing up Dave Grohl to create the blandly-popular Foo Fighters.

As for the name, it can be argued both ways. The sense of loss and desperation in many of their songs work well with the name, once you know it, but a cold reading wouldn't gain any knowledge just from the appellation. A seminal college rock/grunge band or a touring Anglican choir?  If the band's sound had been very short thrash rock songs, the name wouldn't have fit at all, and the score would be lower (or perhaps it would have fit, as a sort of opposite?  We'll never know.)

 

No Doubt

Genre: Alternative
Name Score: 4
Bonus Points: +1,-1
Total Score: 5
Briefly-popular poppy alternative band, sort of like the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a shorter shelf life and a smaller-breasted/shorter-haired lead singer. Gwen is sort of cute despite being a carpenter's dream, and they had a few good songs on their one album of any consequence. They get a bonus point for sticking to their adolescent-pleasing surf punk alternative sound through multiple non-selling albums, and for Gwynn not being afraid to whip her boobies out, despite their bug bite size. She eventually married the lead singer in Bush, which costs them a point.

The name is cool and stupid at the same time.  If you take it as an act of hubris, then it's pretty cool, and almost gutsy.  If you take it as the sort of thing a snotty 14 y/o says when trying to be clever, then it's horrid.  So the score splits the difference.

 

'N Sync

Genre: Boy Band
Name Score: 8
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 9
Younger clones of the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync are just what you'd expect from the name.  Creators, of harmless, dancy, meaningless songs composed to keep their pre-teen girl fan base squealing along.  Critics have for some reason begun to say that they aren't really that bad, and they are one of the more talented of the boy bands, but that just shows you what payola will buy.  In any event, being the most talented boy band is pretty much the same as being the warmest spot on the surface of Pluto.  Their talent or lack there of is irrelevant; no self-respecting music fan or adult will ever buy anything by these guys, and their fans don't care if the music is written by fat bald puppet-master producers, as long as they are cute and wink a lot when lip synching it.

They get a bonus point for that guy who banged Britney and then, apparently having no remaining goals on planet earth, began working on dying in a Soviet space accident.

The name is perfect.  Short and cutesy, but it calls to mind layered harmonies and nice white boy dance steps, which sums them up very well. The fact that it's short for "synchronized", but might also be a wink at "lip synch" should be another bonus point for honesty, but I just can't bring myself to award it.

 

NWA

Genre: Gangsta Rap
Name Score: 8
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 9
One of the first gangsta rap groups, and one packed with talent (though this depends on if you feel rap is actually music or not), since virtually everyone in this band went on to have successful solo careers.  Ice Cube, Easy E, MC Ren, Dr. Dre and DJ Yella.  Their first album was crap, but their second, Straight Outta Compton, is probably the most influential rap recording of all time, as it basically started Gangsta Rap.  This was a good thing, since after all, who can complain about music that promotes such wholesome and positive values as murder, rape, drug abuse, drug dealing, armed robbery, and more?  They get a bonus point for being started with drug money, and Eazy E dying of AIDS.

The name is an acronym for, "Niggaz with Attitude".  You just can't argue with that.  Only the fact that you have to know what it stands for to get it keeps them from scoring a perfect 10 on the name alone.


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