Friday, May 13, 2011

Swearing bands

'Oh no, no regrets at all. It took her about ten years, but my mom even says it now.'
– Paul Leary, guitarist for the Butthole Surfers, on the naming of the band

There have always been bands with rude names. Usually they are pretty unknown (Crazy Penis, Happy Jizz Girls), death metal (Anal Bleeding, Fuck Off, GoatPenis) or punk (The Clit Cops, Harry Pussy, Motherfucker 666); often a combination of the three (Anal Cunt). I guess the intention of these bands was to be offensive as possible. Some bands almost made the mainstream with rude names which weren't really that offensive (Barenaked Ladies, Butthole Surfers, The Pooh Sticks, Shit Robot). Other bands even tried to hide their rude origins: 10cc is said to be an above-average amount of sperm ejaculated by men; The Fugs name comes from the pronunciation of the F word in Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead; Throbbing Gristle is apparently northern slang for a hard-on.

But now there's a bunch of bands with the F word in their names who have almost made it mainstream, with three of them being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize a few years ago: Holy Fuck, Fucked Up and Fuck Buttons.

I'm quite a bit fan of Fuck Buttons, an electronic band from Bristol, who chose their name to sound 'playful and abrasive'. The same might be said for Fuckin' Shit Biscuits, 'the world's first Punk Jam Band'. There are in fact many bands with Fuck in their name. Is it a sign that the word has become desensitised or are the young still trying to offend their parents? Probably the former, thanks in part, perhaps, to hip hop, the internet and TV (though mainstream American TV is still pretty conservative: 24 is full of 'Damn it!'). Fuck may have lost its power to shock, but it'll probably be a while before Anal Cunt becomes mainstream.

But I wonder if having a more PC name would have made rude bands more successful to a mainstream audience. Even searching for them on Ebay presents problems*: type in Fuck Buttons and you're asked if you meant 'fcuk buttons' (43 items).

*Other band names which didn't preempt or consider people trying to search for them on the internet: The Band, Spoon, Low, Can, Mazes, Garbage, Hole, Oasis, Pixies, Queen, R.E.M, Ride, Live, !!!, The The, The Music, The Books, Magazine, Loop, Main...

1 comment :

Mary Whitehouse said...

Disgusting! Would you want your child listening to bands with these filthy names? Or indeed mentioning them in the playground? I think not. I for one refuse to buy a CD by any band with as little imagination as to use a curse word in their name.