Nine Misleading Band Names

Barenaked Ladies

An innocent eye (and ear) might see the name Joy Division and imagine upbeat, sunny pop. My late grandmother surely would have. However, this isn't what you'd call a "misleading" name for a rock group that produced tense, dark music for three years before frontman Ian Curtis killed himself, once you learn that Curtis took the name from a Holocaust-themed novel called The House of Dolls, where "Joy Division" was a euphemism for the Jewish women who were used as sex slaves for Nazi officers. It befitted Curtis's fascination with fascism and his penchant for making people uncomfortable. It was not a misleading band name in the least. The following nine, however, are:

  1. 10,000 Maniacs. With a name inspired by the 1960s gore film 2,000 Maniacs, this group should have been producing punk rock or death metal, not Natalie Merchant's politically correct '80s/'90s folk rock.
  2. My Bloody Valentine. Another band with a name inspired by a cheesy horror flick, My Bloody Valentine produced dense, atmospheric guitar music in the '90s, spearheading the "shoegazer" movement in British rock. There was nothing terribly bloody or scary about their hazy sound.
  3. Barenaked Ladies. Imagine two horny teenage boys, clueless about music, seeing the words Tonight, downtown: Barenaked Ladies! and taking the hourlong bus ride down to the club... only to find a bunch of slobby Canadian guys playing slobby Canadian rock & roll. No ladies, barenaked or otherwise, to be found. (Brazilian Girls mislead similarly, though at least they have a sexy, exotic female singer, albeit not a Brazilian one.)
  4. Jethro Tull. Sounds like it would be a bluegrass band from Kentucky? Or more to the point, a man named Jethro Tull playing bluegrass from Kentucky? At least not a bunch of bearded British prog rockers in Renaissance Pleasure Faire regalia, their singer playing a flute whilst standing upon one leg. (The real Jethro Tull was the inventor of a seed drill used in farming.)
  5. Toad the Wet Sprocket. This saccharine '90s band, best remembered for the sappy hit "All I Want", got their name from a Monty Python album. Seeing the name, you might expect a group like They Might Be Giants, only sillier. Instead you get bland power pop.
  6. Death Cab for Cutie. I myself had originally guessed that this was some Japanese noise outfit. Others might assume, going by that standout word "Death", that these guitars would be churning out death metal. Quite wrong on both counts.
  7. Mannheim Steamroller. This name conjures images of a Rammstein-like band: plodding, gloomy metal from Germany. Not at all. Mannheim Steamroller is one square dude from Nebraska named Chip Davis. His new age music – mostly synth-heavy, elfin Christmas instrumentals – is neither "Mannheim" nor "Steamroller".
  8. Daft Punk. When I think "punk", I do not think of two French guys making electronic dance music.
  9. Eagles of Death Metal. This poppy indie rock band obviously named themselves ironically. Part of their hipster shtick, I guess.