John Moe's ABSOLUTE NON-NEGOTIABLE RULES THAT EVERY BAND WILL HAVE TO FOLLOW or TOWARD A UNIFIED SYSTEM OF BAND NOMENCLATURE

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John Moe's naming rules applied
According to John Moe's rules for band naming, The White Stripes have a great name while the name Umphrey's McGee is 'flat-out awful.' (Getty Images/Kevin Winter; ATO Records; MPR Graphic)

I don't like the Utah Jazz of the NBA. It's for the same reason I don't like the Orlando Magic: lack of definite article, lack of plural noun. When a player joins the Pistons, he can say, "I'm a Piston" but when he joins the Jazz, then what? "I'm a Jazz … player?" Makes him sound like Chick Corea. I've long held that all sports teams should have the word "The" followed by a plural noun and those that don't should change it. Frankly, I don't know where this leaves the Minnesota Lynx.

And maybe the same rule should be applied to bands. Maybe, just maybe, the United Nations and Ticketmaster and Spotify should get together and mandate all bands should follow that same convention.

Here are the rules I support instituting through international law:


  • Bands must include the word "The" at the beginning of their name. Bands who eschew the "The" will have it installed. The Talking Heads. The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

  • Bands must use a plural noun to complete the name.

  • Adjectives are permitted if they precede the noun. Close call, The Joy Formidable, but you must now be The Formidable Joys.

  • Past-tense verbs are not allowed. Sorry, Trampled By Turtles. But good news, that verb can be used as an adjective and you can now become The Trampled Turtles.

  • Just about anything can be a plural noun with very minimal effort. Say hello to new bands from The Whos and The Led Zeppelins to The U2s and The Junior Dinosaurs to The Weezers and The Radioheads.

  • Proper names followed by the "&" symbol and a plural noun are okay. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. It's a list, really, and therefore okay. Tom Petty is not a Heartbreaker, he is joined by The Heartbreakers to play at the same time.


And reasons? Yeah, I have reasons.

Reason #1 - Historical Precedent
The most popular and, arguably, the best band in history is The Beatles. One Beatle, many Beatles, collectively The Beatles. Their chief rival in endless barroom debates? The Rolling Stones. Mick is a Rolling Stone, Keith is a Rolling Stone, Bill Wyman is a former Rolling Stone who, Keith's autobiography teaches us, no one ever really liked. Were these bands so great because they followed my preferred naming format? Who can say? I can. Yes.

Reason #2 - Equality
If everyone has the same form of a name, everyone gets the same shot at success. It's like school uniforms! Except instead of the problem of rich kids wearing designer clothes and thus gaining power over poor kids, it's the more imaginative bands having an edge on the less imaginative. Which isn't fair! There are some great band names and terrible band names out there. The White Stripes is an excellent name. Umphrey's McGee is a flat-out awful one. But if they were The Umphrey McGees, it would still be a wretched name but they could have more of a chance.

Reason #3 - Fan comfort
Paul was the Cute Beatle, George was the Quiet Beatle, Ringo was the Fourth Beatle, Pete Best was the Fired Beatle, and so on. Point is, you could talk about them individually. The band Car Seat Headrest was just in our studio for a performance. Which Car Seat Headrest is the Cute Car Seat Headrest? Who is the Quiet Garbage? Come on, man. It just feels ridiculous.

Reason #4 - Mom and Dad
Everyone knows that when you've been a parent for a certain amount of time, you will start calling bands by this naming system anyway. Imagine your parent asking about a Journey concert. They call the band "The Journeys", right? Of course they do. So, after all they've done for you over the years, all the anguish you put them through, it's only polite to adopt the nomenclature that comes to them so easily.

Reason #5 - Library Sciences
Generally, when it comes to listing bands, the "The", if present, is ignored. But not always! Every once in a while, someone insists on creating a whole lot of bands that start with T by including "The." Under my new rules, that won't be an issue.

Incidentally, the band known as The The will now be known as The Thes.

Now all I have to do is figure out if The Tragically Hip will be known as The Tragically Hip People or The Tragic Hips.

John Moe is heard every Wednesday on Oake & Riley in the Morning, commenting on the latest Internet trends. He also co-hosts the podcast Conversation Parade (with Open Mike Eagle) on the Infinite Guest network, and is an author of a number of books, including The Deleted Emails of Hilary Clinton: A Parody and Dear Luke, We Need To Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences.

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