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S Bands

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Bands on this page:

• Samhain
• The Scorpions
• Sepultura
• The Brian Setzer Orchestra
• Sevendust
• The Sex Pistols
• Silverchair
• Simon and Garfunkel
• Skinny Puppy
• Slash's Snakepit
• Slayer
• Smashing Pumpkins
• Smash Mouth
• Soft Cell
• Sonic Youth

• Soil
• Soul Coughing
• Soundgarden
• Britney Spears
• Spin Doctors
• The Spice Girls
• Stabbing Westward
• Steely Dan
• Steppenwolf
• Cat Stevens
• Rod Stewart
• Sting
• The Stray Cats
• The Strokes
• Stone Temple Pilots
• System of a Down

Coming soon: Snoop Dog, The Stooges, Salt-n-Pepa, Joe Satriani, Seal, Selena, Shakira, Tupac Shakur, Sisqo, Sisters of Mercy, Skid Row, Slaughter, Slip Knot, Social Distortion, Staind, Barbra Streisand,  Frank Sinatra, Sugar Ray, Sum 41, Styx.

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 why every band and their brother starts with an "s".

Samhain

Genre: Metal
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 7
An early punkish death metal type band fronted by Glenn Danzig after the Misfits broke up, and before he went solo.  You know Danzig, he's the guy who looks just like Henry Rollins, but with more hair and fewer bad tattoos.

I can't remember any of their music in particular, probably since I'm about five years too young.  They were big (well, as close to big as they ever got) in the early 80's, when I was in grade school.  I'd hear about them as a cool band, mostly from older trouble-making skateboard type kids, or see them mentioned in graffiti or independent music store ads in Thrasher, but they got zero radio play, so had to be sought out.  I didn't do so, since at the time I hadn't heard anything closer to actual metal than Def Leppard and Mφtley Crόe.  This did no more than slightly delay my eventual discovery and almost immediate embrace of the dark side.

The name isn't much, but for some reason it seems evil, and is inexplicably-memorable.  The word is the pagan name for Halloween, which doesn't mean anything especially evil or subversive, unless you are very Christian and suspicious.

 

The Scorpions

Genre: Metal
Name Score: 3
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 3
Old time German metal band.  When they were big, in the 80's, I and other kids I knew were sort of amazed that they had heavy metal in Germany, and that these guys did their songs in German.  Our world views at that time were quite rudimentary, and we imagined German music was like what you heard in WW2 documentaries, or played with lutes and people banging on tables after a tiring day of pitching hay.  Their big song was Rock You Like a Hurricane, which we often chose to hear as, "Raunchy Like Her a Cane".  That didn't mean anything, but when you're 12 you work words like "raunchy" into anything you can.

The name is pretty weak, when you analyze it.  First of all, do they even have scorpions in Germany?  I think of them as hot-weather insects, fond of deserts and the tropics. Secondly, it's just not cool.  The name sounds like the name of one of those dancing street gangs you see in 50's musicals, the ones where all the tough guys wear matching denim jackets with their collars up, while looking like their biggest regret is coming along 20 years before they could have auditioned for 'Nsync and 98Ί.

 

Sepultura

Genre: Metal
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: +2
Total Score: 9
Almost all rock bands are "self made", with the notable exception of various Svengali manager-created pop bands.  The self made label is never more accurate than when applied to Sepultura though.  Read their full history some time, it's like a TV movie.  Born in Brazil, very poor, they literally taught themselves to play by listening to early metal albums, and through their personal drive and endless concerts they managed to attract some attention from outside of Brazil.  Upgrading to better equipment and a quality recording studio, they released two of the best speed metal albums of all time.  Before blowing up.

They score major bonus points for tragedy and vicious infighting.  The lead singer and creative force, Max Cavalera, married their manager, a woman nearly 20 years older than he was. A couple of years later they got word that her teenaged son had been killed in a car accident just before they were due to perform at England's Monsters of Rock festival.  Max and the manager grabbed the next plane home, while the other three guys performed as a trio.  After a couple of months of inactivity the other guys approached Max about getting new management and moving on, and that apparently didn't go over well, for he quit the band shortly afterwards. The remaining three guys are trying to go on, but given that Max did all of the singing and most of the writing, the next two Sepultura albums haven't sold for crap, while Max's new band, Soulfly, has been a bigger success, relatively speaking.  Tragedy and squandered opportunities are what bonus points are made of.

As for their name, it's not bad. Means nothing in English, and that's the language they sing in, but "sepultura" means "grave" in Portuguese.  I think it's safe to assume it's "grave" as in "burial spot", rather than "deeply somber mood".  It's much cooler to have called "Sepultura" than "Grave" anyway, as I think we can all agree.  It wouldn't be a bad rock band name even if it didn't mean anything death-related.

 

The Brian Setzer Orchestra 

Genre: Swing
Name Score: 4
Bonus Points: -1
Total Score: 3
Late of the Stray Cats, Brian Setzer somehow found a bunch of guys who wanted to play the sort of music that used to back Elvis up, got them matching Mariachi band outfits, and through the careful application of his sheaf of goat porn staring Gap executives, wormed his way into their advertising campaign.  The rest is history.

As for the name, it's pretty much WYSIWYG, but see it fast, since this novelty sound will be as gone as The Stray Cats before you know it, leaving us to wonder what permutation of 50's rock Brian will cook up for his next comeback, scheduled for a McDonald's old style burger ad in 2009.  Eponymous bands/artists have one advantage, and that's immediate name recognition.  One thing this band misses out on is the whole "name it after someone famous" portion, which is sort of mandatory, as it turns out, so that costs them a point.  Only the "orchestra" part saves them from a really low score.

 

Sevendust

Genre: Metal
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 7
A hard band to classify. They have some hard rocking songs, but a lot of others give you "GNDN" (goes nowhere, does nothing) Living Color flashbacks, mostly due to the gospel-sounding lead singer.  They are an odd beast, one of those bands that you like a lot more before you hear their albums, and keep wanting to like even as you're skipping song after song and slowly realizing that you don't really like any of them.  Then your hopes slowly regenerate, and you run out and buy their next album since you like the first single, only to suffer the inevitable disappointment yet again.

The name is cool though. It sounds like a rock band, or perhaps some new and lethal narcotic, and that's the vibe that rock bands should evoke.

 

The Sex Pistols

Genre: Punk
Name Score: 10
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 10
One of the first true punk bands, these UK boys set a standard for societal upset and general anarchy that may never be surpassed.  They lasted just two years before utterly imploding while on a legendarily-disastrous US tour that lasted just 14 days, and only released one full album, yet remain famous over 25 years later, which is a hell of an achievement in of itself.

Their musical style wasn't new; they just played fast and very loud rock and roll.  It was mostly Johnny Rotten's lyrics that were so upsetting to society, as he sung of anarchy and abortion and other subjects that were unmentionable at the time. Their first single, Anarchy in the UK, was banned by the BBC and got them dropped by EMI, their record company, but still went to #1. It was listed on the charts at the time with a blank space, since official publications would not mention the band or song by name.

Their original bassist, Glen Matlock, was fired after their first single and replaced by Sid Vicious, a street thug who could do everything required but actually play his instrument.  He's become as famous as the band mostly due to his girlfriend/groupie Nancy Spungen's heroin OD, for which Sid was arrested.  He died in similar fashion while out on bail before the trial could begin, and for whatever reason this particular junkie tragedy has refused to fade into history quietly, even inspiring a feature film many years later.

Much like Mφtley Crόe, the bonus points for this band would be so great as to break the scale, so the previous two paragraphs must unfortunately be stricken from the calculations.  Despite this cruel twist of judicial fate, they score very well.  Is there a more perfect name for a band?  Is there a more appropriate name for this band?  That's almost double perfection.

 

Silverchair

Genre: Grunge
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 7
Frequently and unfairly confused with those little Mmmm-bop pussies, Silverchair are a very young threesome from Australia who play hard rock, and are actually pretty good.  Their youth prevented anyone from taking them seriously, and as their entire first album was basically Nirvana/Pearl Jam down under, they probably didn't deserve to be taken seriously.  However when you consider that all the songs were written and played by guys who were 15 years old, them turning out anything half decent is quite an achievement.  They get a bonus point for not being Hanson.

Since their first album they've pretty much vanished from US radio, but are still apparently pretty popular world wide, and their sound has also evolved and become less of a grunge rip off.  At least that's what the information I read about them said, as far as I know they were all eaten by squid in 1996, since that's the last time I heard anything about them.

The name is sort of cool, I mean it's "silver" and "chair".  It gets your attention at least, though you're probably like me and have no idea what it means or was inspired by.  Supposedly they wanted to be called "Sliverchair" but misspelled it on the copyright form.  That seems like a bullshit story to me, frankly.

 

Simon and Garfunkel

Genre: Folk Rock
Name Score: 4
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 4
One of those bands that you see today and wonder what your parents were thinking during the 60's.  These two were together forever, and changed a lot over time, as did their music, and the world.  They originally teamed up as teens, doing a few early Everly Brothers style songs, but never really hitting it big.  They got back together nearly a decade later when folk rock was becoming very popular, and tried an album in that style in 1964, to zero success.  They actually broke up and moved far apart, until being saved by a producer who took their best song, added electric guitars and other instruments to the initial acoustic strumming, and turned it into a #1 hit.  With that they got back together and of course began playing in the style of "their" hit.

They went on to release five more albums, all of them quite successful and the last one most of all.  It was released in 1970 and was #1 for ten weeks.  They capitalized on this by breaking up, in true rock and roll style. Paul Simon had done almost all the writing and Art Garfunkel's vocals were really all he contributed.  Simon went on to be as or more successful with his solo career while Garfunkel began a busy career of eating out of garbage cans and sleeping on park benches.  There has been talk of a reunion for decades, but it's never happened, aside from a few charity concerts and short tours in the early 80's.

As for the name, it's boring and unimaginative.  They at least got the order correct, since Simon did all the heavy lifting/song writing, and therefore deserved and hopefully demanded top billing.  For two guy's last names, this isn't a bad band name.  You could do worse than "Garfunkel" for a folk rock act, even if it is his real name, rather than some funny name they thought up for their band.  They'd score better if this were a stage name, come to think of it.

 

Skinny Puppy

Genre: Industrial
Name Score: 8
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 9
One of the pioneering industrial/techno bands, their dark and sample-heavy sound has influenced every industrial band since.  Much of NIN is just more melodic and poppy Skinny Puppy, not that that makes Skinny Puppy any more listenable to the general public.

The long time trio lost one of the members to a heroin OD during the long and difficult post production of their last album, and as always, that's good for a bonus point.

The name is awesome.  It sounds sick and weird, and that's very appropriate for their sound and image.  I can't think of a better name for them, based on their recordings and career.

 

Slash's Snakepit

Genre: Hard Rock
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 7
A semi-vanity project Slash headed after GnR self-destructed.  Yes, that Slash, ex-lead guitar in GnR.  What, there is some other slash out there in the music industry? Their first album was somewhat anticipated, since it came soon after GnR began to self-destruct, however just like all of the other albums by former Guns and Roses members, it just sort of sat there, proving that GnR, like all great bands, was much more than the sum of its parts.

Slash is one of the ugliest men in rock and roll, and he wears an enormous ugly top hat, as well as burying his face in straggly nappy curls.  Despite this myriad of handicaps he still manages to be a sex symbol, and for this a bonus point is awarded.

The name isn't real imaginative. His rock name was Slash, and he was well known for having pet snakes, and of course "snakepit" is a word for a really sleazy or criminal dive.  It's sort of clever and alliterative, but it's such an easy "clever" that we can't in good conscience part with a bonus point.

 

Slayer

Genre: Speed Metal
Name Score: 9
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 10
One of the better names, or at least the most appropriate ones. This oh-so-heavy speed/thrash metal band has been around since 1980, and has had basically the same sound almost the entire time.  That's no real accomplishment for a normal rock band like say, Aerosmith, but for a band that's famous largely for the incredible speed and aggression with which they play, it's damn impressive.  Let's see you do anything at 40 as hard as you could at 20. For this a bonus point is richly-deserved.

The name is pretty self-explanatory.  They're an evil hard thrashing metal band, and they've got a name to go with it.  Over their career they've written lyrics about everything from Nazi medical tortures to first person serial killer accounts to detailed accounts of the deepest pits of hell.  Admittedly it's not that great a range of topics, but they certainly live up to their name.

 

Smashing Pumpkins

Genre: Alternative
Name Score: 5
Bonus Points: +1, +2, +1
Total Score: 9
It's hard to think of a name that would define this band very well, with their songs ranging from nearly-metal hard rock to very slow and overlong dirges.  Their videos were generally as schizophrenic as their music, and might feature crazed concert performances or green rolling hills and ice cream trucks with lots of bright paint.  I always suspected there was enough heroin involved to sell by the pound.

Despite outward appearances of being a band, almost everything was done by the legendarily-smug Billy Corgan, including the invention of the name, which Billy allegedly got from a dream related to him by Gene Simmons of KISS.  Which makes for an interesting anecdote, but doesn't help their score any.  What does help their score are the myriad of nasty internal fights.  The bass player was a girl, and she and the guitarist were lovers for a while, then broke up while on tour. That had to be awkward.  On their next tour the drummer and keyboardist were doing heroin together and the keyboard guy OD'ed fatally, while the drummer survived and was fired.  This delayed the tour for two months while they got new musicians. They also released their last 25 left over songs for free over the Internet, which is damn nice of them, even if most of their fans were pretty burned out on them by then.

They also broke up for real, on purpose, while still popular.  Rock stars always say they'd rather burn out than fade away, but that's as big a lie as when they claim to be drug free and/or sober.  "Burn out" comments aside, nearly every band hangs on as long as possible, and then reunites and does a few reunion tours 10 or 15 years later, if they think they can play for any larger crowds than your average Long Island bas mitzvah.

As for their name, it's weird and puzzling, and yet strangely-appropriate.  "Smashing" is a great word to have in your rock band's name, but following it with a type of large gourd most often seen at Halloween is quite debatable. Better would have been a noun that might be applied to humans, like say, "bastards" or "homunculi".  That way the name would appear to have two meanings.  Alas.

 

Smash Mouth

Genre: Rock
Name Score: 4
Bonus Points: -1
Total Score: 3
One of the few signs of integrity exhibited by the the sad stinking corpse that is corporate rock radio in the late 1990s was the fact that after their initial album, Smash Mouth were banished to the pop stations, despite spawning numerous hits.  They do occasionally approach rock and roll, but basically they're Hootie and the Blowfish with a ska influence, and less vocal talent, and it's fitting that they not be played where rock fans might accidentally hear them.

It's hard to say what Green Days possess that Smash Mouth lacks, since they are so similar in their punk/pop rhythms, but somehow Green Day has an authenticity and soul, while Smash Mouth always feel so plastic and cheap.  They lose a point for essentially ruining four minutes of Shrek with their crappy All Star song, and while that's not entirely their fault, someone must take the blame.

The name is like everything else about them; catchy and meaningless.  The common assumption about the origin is that it's from the football term, which means just what it sounds like.  Playing with a very aggressive and attacking style, with nothing fancy.  Just running up the middle, smashing the defense in the mouth.  However it can be used for just about anything hard-hitting and powerful.  How accurate this is for a catchy, light-punk sound like this band possesses is certainly open to debate. I would say "not very" but it's still a pretty good name for a rock band, though ideally it should be hung on one with a lot bigger balls.

 

Soft Cell

Genre: Pop
Name Score: 4
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 5
An early 80's British synthesizer-heavy pop band, these guys are almost entirely remembered for their biggest hit, Tainted Love, which to my great chagrin I could still sing from start to finish.  I liked it when I was about 11, but no one is really responsible for their musical tastes at that age.  It's embarrassing, I mean look at them, for God's sake. It's like George Michael, circa Wham, with his gay goth younger brother.

Fortunately Marilyn Manson did a pretty good cover of it, with a colossally cool video, which redeems things somewhat.  From 1981 followed twenty years of sorrow, but since the MM cover, at long last, there's an antidote.  So now when the  at last, when the cheesy "Whoa-ooh-ooo Tainted Luh-uvh..." chorus happens into your head, you can just pretend you're humming the MM cover version, and think of those hot cheerleaders and the goth strippers and the girls in the bead wearing giant animal heads. For this a bonus point is presented, though undeserved.

As for the name of the band, I always assumed it was a pun or play on words.  "Soft sell" as opposed to "hard sell" which is very aggressive marketing tactics.  And that it meant they were sort of sneakily implanting their product (music) in your mind.  Which is nifty, if they really meant that, but in the mean time, what the hell does "soft cell" mean?  Biology reference?  I dunno, but it's dumb, and doesn't help their score much.

 

Sonic Youth

Genre: Alternative
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 7
One of the first well-known alternative bands, these guys and girl formed in 1981, released a bunch of independent albums that didn't sell much, then signed with Geffen in 1991 and released a few major label albums that didn't sell either.  I was sure I'd know some of their songs, it seems like I've heard them mentioned on the radio constantly for a decade, but once I started trying to think of one, I came up blank.

They don't appear to have ever released a Greatest Hits album, and since I'm feeling merciful, I'll let you insert your own joke here.  Yes, I know, it's pretty much taking a sawed-off shotgun after a dead carp in a shot glass.

Their early work was experimental (also known as "can't write real songs") and weird, which is the sort of thing that critics love and fans like if they are stoned enough. Over the years they grew more conventional (also known as "learned to write songs" and gained a large underground following.  Despite their biggest selling album ever hitting an unimpressive #34 on the Billboard chart, they were briefly popular enough to get the headline spot on Lollapalooza in 1995. (Even more surprisingly, "Lollapalooza" was in the spell check dictionary of Front Page 2000.  Remember that next time you're about to rip on Microsoft for something.)

The name is certainly appropriate for a rock band, but it's one that will not age well, at least not unless the band has a turnover rate like Menudo used to. They don't, and most of the same people are in the band that were in it back in 1981 when they first started off, and actually were young.  At that time the name would have earned a top score, but with everyone in the band now boasting more gray hairs than Mariah Carey + Whitney Houston's boast hospitalizations for "exhaustion", it's a bit less accurate. It also sounds like a boy band, and probably would be, if it hadn't been taken already.

 

Soil

Genre: Nό Metal
Name Score: 2
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 2
Yet another Nό Metal, one largely indistinguishable from the rest.  These guys have more facial hair than ZZ Top, at least in their band photos on their first album, but that's hardly enough to build a distinctive identity.  Yes, it makes them look dirty, but that's a stretch to get to "soil".

The name sucks, frankly.  Yes, it's short, but it's not distinctive, it doesn't sound rock and roll, and it's not memorable.  If you had to guess you'd probably think they were some sort of country band, singing about the day them rev'nuers came to take pa's farm away.

 

Soul Coughing

Genre: Alternative
Name Score: 2
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 3
Unlike a lot of other college radio-friendly bands, Soul Coughing have a very unique, distinctive sound, interesting band members with individual personalities, and even witty lyrics.  These qualities combine to give them a certain something those other sound-alike groups can't hope to match, as their legions of rabid, yet discerning, fans are eager to point out.  For this a bonus point is awarded.

Their name is not their strong point, however.  It screams for attention, in a pretentious way.  If it were the new kid in junior high, it would be shampooing with tidy bowl and doing without lunch money for at least a semester. Cute, artsy, and annoying, it tries much too hard.  It does sound something like a rock band, but only just.

 

Soundgarden

Genre: Grunge
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 6
One of the original big four grunge bands, they sold fewer records than Pearl Jam, Nirvana, or Alice in Chains, but outlasted all but Pearl Jam, before breaking up amicably in the late 90's.  There aren't any stories of huge band fights, OD episodes, tawdry marriages to Baywatch stars, or anything else of any real interest.  While these are certainly marks of solid moral fiber, they also cause the guys to miss badly on potential bonus points.

Their music is probably the hardest of the grunge bands, often being classified as heavy metal, but it's never especially angry or speedy.  Chris Cornell, their most famous member and one of the best known rock vocalists alive, was originally a drummer (in pre-Soundgarden bands) amazingly enough. A bit like putting Joe Satriani on keyboards that, and his trademark wailing is probably Soundgarden's best known element.  You want to talk about vocals. the guy sung Ave Maria on a Christmas album, for Christ's sake.

A walker passes through "Sound Garden" near Magnuson Park in northeast Seattle. Jeff Larsen/P-I

The namesake sculpture.

Soundgarden's albums are all quite long, almost too long.  You get up to about track 11 with all the songs good, but sounding quite similar, and figure the next CD will click on pretty soon.  You're still thinking that 20 minutes later on track 15.  It's hard to fault a band for giving you more music, but at the same time, there are songs that could have been trimmed, or saved for dumping on a soundtrack, like other bands do.

Their name came from a large public sculpture in Seattle, a collection of huge pipes on poles that make eerie noises in the wind. This isn't especially edifying to know, but it might serve you well in a music trivia contest someday.  The name isn't great, but it obviously sounds musical, though perhaps more like a chamber orchestra or a string quartet than a rock band.

 

Britney Spears

Genre: Pop
Name Score: 3
Bonus Points: +1, +1
Total Score: 5
This well has been so completely drilled (so to speak) that it's hard to come up with anything juicy at this point. Everyone knows Britney: Tiggle bitties, more cheap clothing than a closet at the Mustang Ranch, dubious professions of late-term virginity, weird Marilyn Monroe crooning style that most everyone assumes is lip synched, Internet fame... this girl (not a woman) has it all.

Well, all except an interesting name.  "Britney Spears" screams "female singer".  Which I guess gets the basic message across well enough, and helps build personal fame, but it's utterly lame as a band/artist name.  Bonus points for the inexplicably variable boobie size.

 

The Spice Girls

Genre: Pop
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 8
While they've by now become famous for being (briefly) famous, for a time in the late 90's this pop quintet was smashing sales records the world over.  Basically a female version of New Kids on the Block, they were more entertaining than the manager-created US pop bands due to having distinct personalities, annoying accents, attitude galore, and boobies.

They hit it huge with their first album and several #1 hits off of it, sold far less of their second album but squeezed out a quickie movie based on it, and pretty much vanished from the face of the earth with their third album, before which Geri Halliwell, owner of the most famous (and most often seen) boobies in the band left to launch her own tepid solo career.  Despite this, they get a bonus point for the tons of Page 3 style nudie shots she did pre-Spice.

Their name is hard to beat.  Most boy bands have boring but functional names.  You hear "New Kids on the Block" or 'Nsync, or 98Ί, you pretty well know what to expect. The names identify them for their formulaic choreographed crap, and that's good enough.  The Spice Girls have a much more clever name, while it's still obvious enough what they'll be when you hear it.  Everyone likes spice, and most everyone likes girls, even if they are all near 30 by this time.

 

Spin Doctors

Genre: Alternative
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 7
Unlike a lot of other college radio-friendly bands, Spin Doctors have a very unique, distinctive sound, interesting band members with individual personalities, and even witty lyrics.  These qualities combine to give them a certain something those other sound-alike groups can't hope to match, as their legions of rabid, yet discerning, fans are eager to point out.  For this a bonus point is awarded.

As for the name, it would be a great one for a bunch of DJs.  For a regular alternative band, it's not quite as appropriate, but at least it does sound like a rock band.

 

 

Stabbing Westward

Genre: Industrial
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 6
Another industrial rock group that's basically a NIN tribute band. Though they likely wouldn't agree with that assessment.  Like most of the various NINesque bands, they've never had a tenth of the success or credibility, despite doing all they can to sound virtually identical to the genre trend setters.

As for the name, who knows.  It sounds like a country band to me, or perhaps a 50's cheesy B flick, or even a name hippy parents would give their kid.  I can't remember any way to differentiate this band from Gravity Kills, and since I gave GK a 7 and they have a slightly better name, it's 6 for SW.

 

Steely Dan

Genre: Classic Rock
Name Score: 3
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 3
A band I've heard of but couldn't tell you a damn thing about.  I'm not much on classic rock.  They aren't really classic rock anyway; it's much more jazz in sound, with very low key vocals and a nightclub feel.  I find it quite boring myself, but then again this isn't exactly 1978 and I'm not exactly flying on righteous bud.

The name is sort of nonsensical. A friend tells me that they're named after a dildo, but I have no idea if that's true.  It makes for a good quote, at any rate.  The name isn't bad for a band, but there's no one in the band named Dan or Steely, and they don't really have a "steely" sound.  Probably they got the name from some old song lyric, since that dildo thing sounds pretty unlikely.

 

Steppenwolf

Genre: Classic Rock
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 8
Another of the old bands that popped into my mind while typing up this page, but that I can't make a single informed comment on. After some quick research, they are one of the prototypical Classic Rock bands, and get credit for inventing the term "heavy metal" by using that in the lyrics of one of their early hits, Born to be Wild.  They get a bonus point for disbanding when they were done, rather than just dragging on and on and reuniting for a profitable but ultimately nostalgia-ruining tour in the late 90's, as so many other hippy rock era bands have done.

They also did that Magic Carpet Ride song, which continues to be popular for one reason; you can use it to try and get girls to drop acid with you, and then potentially engage in deviant sex acts they wouldn't normally attempt with a 10 foot pole.  Or even your 5" one.

The name came from a classic Herman Hesse novel of the same name, one that postulated that men are half man and half wolf.  Not in some sort of lycanthropic way, but in their behavior and personalities.  A rather highfalutin concept for a rock band's name.  It's a good word; wolves are cool, at least they used to be before they were "New Aged" and became as ubiquitous on posters as unicorns were circa 1983.  I preferred them back when they were still rabid, livestock-savaging killers; the scourge of Middle Ages Europe.  Now they have pretty eyes and are noble symbols of freedom, like furry quadrupedal Indians, but with fewer dreamcatchers.  Bleh.

 

Cat Stevens

Genre: Hippy Rock
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: -2
Total Score: 4
Another of the hippy rockers I have remained blissfully unaware of to this point in my life, he's best known today for converting to Islam in the 90's, just in time to make some really stupid remarks about Salman Rushdie, thus getting his name back in the news as various idiot DJs make sport of smashing his records.  A loss to their play lists on the same level as dropping the Brady Family Christmas long play LP, I'm sure.  Cat changed his name to Yusef Islam, if you were struggling to remember. Yes, he went from "Cat" to that.  He leave behind his creativity in his infidel past or what? Why must every guy who converts to Islam name themselves after the prophet or the religion itself?  It must make remembering names at the Mosque easy, at any rate. And true, half of Mexico is named "Jesus" or "Maria", but picking names just as unoriginal as Catholic peasants is no real excuse, now is it?

His score is partially for his artist name, but has to lose a point or two based on the late-life personal name change.

 

Rod Stewart

Genre: Pop
Name Score: 4
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 5
Rod is much more famous than the list of his greatest hits would lead you to believe. I've heard of him forever, and would have thought he'd had dozens of big hits, yet looking at his Greatest Hits collections, there are only a few songs I've heard of. He's one of those artists who critics always say is so talented, but who chose to pursue a more commercial path, rather than really delving into his own personal style.  Everyone should be Bob Dylan, apparently.

He gets a bonus point for being the target of the enduring stupid rumor about having to have his stomach pumped of a gallon of male ejaculate, or whatever version of it you heard.  Plus he banged his way through half the models in Europe back in the big cocaine days of the 70's and 80's.  He should lose a point for that obscenely-annoying Forever Young video, where he sings into the face of a mop-headed child while riding around in a wagon, but I'd rather just not think about that memory.

As for his name, what can you say. It appears to be his birth name, or at least a stage name he's been using forever.  He was in various groups before hitting it big as a solo act, and for a while in the 70's he was the lead singer in Faces, while doing far more commercially successful music on his own.  The name doesn't sound like anything in particular, and even the penis reference of his first name is less than inspiring.

 

Sting

Genre: Rock
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 8
Ex singer of The Police, Sting went on to even greater fame and success as a solo artist, while the quality of his music dropped.  An unfortunately-common trend, given the amount of people who will buy any damn wimpy song they hear on the radio often enough. He gets a bonus point for all that tantric meditation = five hours of sex stuff, even though it's a lot more than most people wanted to know.

Now this is a cool name for a rock star.  Beats "Gordon Sumner" by a long shot, by anyone's measurement. Before you give him too much credit for the name, he got it since he used to wear a black and yellow sweater when performing. In other words, he was one karma point away from being named "Bumblebee".

Unfortunate origin aside, the name is good. If you're going to be a rock star, you might as well think up a good stage name.  One word names are iffy; you are cool if you can pull it off, but it's hard to manage without seeming pathetically pretentious.  Sting managed it, and despite his rapid devolution to the pabulum and pap of soft adult contemporary rock, he used to be cool, so still gets some credit.

 

The Stray Cats

Genre: Rock
Name Score: 6
Bonus Points: +1
Total Score: 7
One of the flukier success stories of the 80's, the Stray Cats were formed in Long Island, NY, had zero success there in the early 80's of Van Halen style metal, so hopped over to England where a so called "rockabilly revival" was underway.  They had some success there with two albums, but when it began to die down they returned to the US and released a new album with highlights of their two UK albums.  It was inexplicably huge, mostly due to the early days of Mtv playing their videos constantly.  So you have these skinny white boys in their jeans and white t-shirts, with huge Elvis style hair, sharing heavy Mtv rotation with Michael Jackson and Madonna's early work, as well as stuff like Lionel Ritchie and Van Halen.  Back when Mtv played music and wasn't entirely driven by selling crap to 13 y/o suburban girls, you see.

Brian Setzer was the main guy in the band, and he pulled off an amazing coup by having success with this fluke revival novelty sound, and then repeating it with a slightly different fluke revival novelty sound nearly twenty years later.

The name is a good one, and it's hard to not be utterly stupid as an animal named band.  They resisted the temptation to work cat metaphors into their album titles, and for that they receive a bonus point, and a bowl of thick, rich cream.

 

The Strokes

Genre: Rock
Name Score: 5
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 5
Currently (briefly, I'm sure) popular band with a jangly-guitared garage punk sort of sound poured into pop style songs. Indistinguishable from The Vines, to most people, and it's likely their stars will rise and fall together.  Instantly-catchy music tends to burn out in a hurry.

They have a better name than their twin-band. Yes, both have, "The Meaningless Plural Noun" for a name, but "strokes" has a semi-dirty masturbatory connotation, while "vines" doesn't mean anything at all. Therefore they score slightly higher.

 

Stone Temple Pilots

Genre: Rock
Name Score: 7
Bonus Points: +1, +1
Total Score: 9
One of the first grunge imitators, STP managed to climb up almost into the realm of the bands they were imitating, mostly due to their sound changing a lot after their first Pearl Jam lite album. They get a bonus point for having a total junkie for a lead singer.

The name means nothing, yet is catchy.  They get a bonus point for originally being named "Shirley Temple's Pussy", and upon having to change that, sticking with the same three letters.  Also it's a motor oil.  The fact that their initial sound and therefore their claim to fame was entirely derived from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and that their first album now sounds terrible dated and is unlistenable should cost them a point, but we'll be merciful since they've improved since then.  It's damn hard to make it big; and if you have to utterly sell out to get your foot in the door, it's understandable.

 

System of a Down

Genre: Metal
Name Score: 5
Bonus Points: 0
Total Score: 5
Lumped in with the rest of the Nό Metal bands, but mostly by people who don't know much about their sound. SoaD is much lauded by critics and have a lot more to say and a much more interesting sound than soundalike bands such as Godsmack, Soil, Disturbed, and Drowning Pool.  Of course if you don't listen to this type of music, you're going to view any such debate with about the level of interest metal fans would a contest to see if 'Nsync vs. 98Ί could lip synch better.

SoaD provides additional commentary bait with their progressive/socialist lyrics, and they were briefly-infamous after 9/11/2001 when they posted an accurate, but slightly anti-American message on their official site.  In political commentary, as with stand up comedy and blaming a fart on the dog, timing is everything.  Theirs was poor in this case, at least in terms of the mainstream giving their comments any real thought, rather than just reflexively howling about them being terrorist lovers.

The name is said to be a rough abbreviation of "The system is going down the drain" or words to that effect. System being a synonym for "Machine", something that people of their political mindset are likely to Rage Against.  It's not a bad name once you know about the band, but the first time you hear it it leaves you pretty cold and it lacks any real clever or evocative aspects. 


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