Eight Of The Worst Names For Popular Musicians

Elvis Costello

Eight Of The Worst Names For Popular Musicians

John Lennon.  Mick Jagger.  Eddie Van Halen.  Dave Matthews.  Harry Styles.  If your parents gave you a name like that you had no choice but to join a rock band (in Harry Styles case a boy band).  The above names are strong and memorable.  They are easy to pronounce but hard to forget.  They are perfect names for popular musicians.

However, not all popular musicians are as lucky as Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Page.  Some were given names that are better suited to owning a comic book store then blowing the roof off of Madison Square Garden.  Below, Musicology-101 looks at eight of the worst names for popular musicians.  Some of these dorky appellations were dropped for sturdier sounding nom de plumes while some were actually kept (we admire their courage and loyalty).

Now, just because a name is on our list doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the artist or their music.  In fact, we here at Musicology-101 are big fans of all of the following artists.  All we’re saying is these eight names sound more like geeks into cosplay than musicians who play at Coachella.

Brantley Gilbert
The “Bottoms Up” singer is the epitome of cool.  All you need to do is check out Brantley Gilbert’s Web site to know he’s virile, rugged, and flawed (just enough to where you think you can fix him).  If anyone can turn “Gilbert” around it’s Brantley but there’s a lot of nerd in that sobriquet.   As names go, “Gilbert” immediately conjures up images of pocket protectors, Magic the Gathering, and Dr. Who.  It’s hard to believe that Brantley Gilbert’s Facebook page has three million likes.   You’d think with a name like “Brantley Gilbert” his only Facebook friends would be his mom and favorite hobby shop.

Maybe Brantley Gilbert can continue rehabilitating his dorky sounding name this summer during his “Let It Ride Tour.”  His trek begins Sept. 19 in Austin, Texas and ends Dec. 6 in Pikeville, Kentucky.  Highlights of his outing include Brantley Gilbert performing in Worchester on Sept. 27, Raleigh on Oct. 30, and Anaheim on Nov. 22.  Gilbert will be joined by Aaron Lewis or Tyler Farr (depending on the date)—now, those singers have cool names.

Chaim Witz
The Demon’s real name is “Chaim Witz.”  Then he changed it to “Eugene Klein,” followed by “Gene Klein,” and finally “Gene Simmons.”  “Chaim Witz” is not an awful name.  One could go through life as “Chaim Witz” and be happy and productive.  One cannot go through life as “Chaim Witz” and sing rock songs while wearing platform shoes, stage makeup, and leather pants.  “Chaim Witz” is the name of a computer programmer or a deli owner.  It can’t be the name of one of the founding members of KISS.

Declan MacManus
“Elvis Costello” is one of the most contrived sounding names in rock history.  That’s okay because E.C. is responsible for such great albums as This Year’s Model, Armed Forces, and Get Happy!!  He adopted the stage name in part to honor his father (who performed under the name “Day Costello”) and part because his real name is Declan MacManus.  That isn’t the worst name but it certainly doesn’t work if you’re one of the greatest songwriters of your generation.  He could have kept Declan MacManus had he been a drunk, Irish novelist or the assembly group leader of Sinn Féin.

Donavon Frankenreiter
If you think Donavon Frankenreiter is an odd name for a rock and roller just think how weird it sounds for a surfer.  Before becoming a successful recording artist, Frankenreiter was a professional surfer.  We doubt they did a lot of hanging ten in the Motherland.  If things weren’t bad enough for herr Frankenreiter, one of his closest friends is the Jack Johnson, a musician with a great name.

Lemmy Kilmister
Now that we’ve placed Lemmy Kilmister on a list of the worst names for popular musicians we’ve decided to enter the witness protection program.  Anyone named “Lemmy Kilmister” must own an embarrassing amount of anime.  They can’t front a hard rock band named Motorhead.  Of course, the real Lemmy Kilmister is the exact opposite of an anime-watching nerd.   He claims to have slept with more than one thousand women (a thousand more than most nerds), he used to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels a day (many nerds can’t even stand the taste of beer), and he collects German military regalia (as compared to Star Trek memorabilia).  Kilmister might be the guy who shoves nerds into lockers, but he has an awful name for a rock star.

Reginald Dwight
“Reginald” is okay.  So is “Dwight.”  But, if you put them together you have the perfect name for a twit.  “Reginald Dwight” is the guy who tells your boss all the bad things you said about him during lunch or points out a stain on your tie when you’re talking to a pretty girl.  It’s easy to understand why Reginald Dwight pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose one last time and changed his name to “Elton John.”   Selling 300 million albums is a good indication that the nomenclature switch worked.

Robert Zimmerman
“Robert Zimmerman” isn’t too bad but it’s no “Bob Dylan.”  Think about it.  Statements like “Dylan has gone electric” and “I’m seeing Dylan tonight at the Fillmore” just roll off the tongue.  Meanwhile, “Robert Zimmerman” an insurance salesman.  “Hello, I’m Robert Zimmerman.  Can I talk to you about your policy?”  It’s a god thing Zimmerman altered his designation.  “Bob Dylan” sounds like one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.  “Robert Zimmerman” sounds like the Twin Ports insurance salesman of the year.

Rufus Wainwright
In 2009, Rufus Wainwright wrote an opera.   You can get by writing operas with a name like “Rufus,” but making pop albums is a little bit harder.  Still, Wainwright has managed to make more than half dozen of them.  “Rufus Wainwright” is the name of the wealthy trust fund baby in every movie that has a wealthy trust fund baby.  High affluent names run in the family, Rufus’ father is folk singer Loudon Wainwright III.  You can’t help but say both names like your Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island.

Five Moody Blues Songs You Must Have In Your Music Library

Five Moody Blues Songs You Must Have In Your Music Library

Moody Blues

On Aug. 1, The Moody Blues will launch their “2014 Timeless Flight Summer Tour.”  The trek keeps them on the road through Sept. 5.

Fans of the band are already showing their excitement on The Moody Blues’ Facebook page and other similar sites.  As sad as it sounds, this may be the last time they tour.  The three remaining Moody Blues members are a combined 208 years old.

For those who have never heard of The Moody Blues, or their music, please excuse us for saying so, but what is wrong with you?  They are one of the great bands to come out of the 1960s.  Furthermore, The Moody Blues of today are not a nostalgic act.  They don’t whisk hippies back to a woebegone era; they take fans of all ages on a musical journey.

Now, to really appreciate The Moody Blues you need to listen to their music on vinyl, via large speakers, while sitting on beanbags, under a black light, with maybe some “other stuff” there too.  That’s a huge commitment to make for a band you’ve never heard before.

Instead, Musicology-101 has compiled a list of five Moody Blues songs you must have in your music collection.  These five songs are a great introduction to their catalog as well as proof that they’re not your traditional old fogey band.  After all, you’d probably love these songs if you thought they were originally crafted by Wilco or The National or Phoenix or Passion Pit or…

“Tuesday Afternoon”
What good ever happens on a Tuesday afternoon?  It might be the dullest part of the week, but it’s definitely not a boring Moody Blues song.  The album version, from the Days of Future Passed, clocks in at 8:21.  The single version, released in January of 1968, is only 2:16.  Get the longer album version.  It’s a baroque pop masterpiece.

Moody Blues’ lead singer, Justin Hayward, wrote this song on his guitar while sitting in a field on a sunny afternoon.  He claims the tune just came to him.  The orchestra part of “Tuesday Afternoon” is performed by the London Festival Orchestra and arranged by Peter Knight.

“Nights In White Satin”
“Nights In White Satin” is probably the Moody Blues’ most famous song.  Like “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Nights In White Satin” comes in multiple varieties.  There are two singles versions and another one from the album.  Once again, download the track that appears on the album (Days of Future Passed).  It’s 7:38 but contains all the great orchestra parts and the poem (“Late Lament”).

The song was written by Hayward when he was 19 after a girlfriend gave him a gift of satin sheets.  Graeme Edge composed the poem and it’s spoken by keyboardist Mike Pinder.  Graeme is still a part of The Moody Blues and their concert tours, Pinder is not.

The string parts during the main body of the song are not from an orchestra but from Pinder’s keyboards.  The string sound he produces is known as the “Moody Blues sound.”  The symphonic part in the second half of the song was performed by The London Festival Orchestra.

“The Story In Your Eyes”
The Moody Blues released “The Story In Your Eyes” in 1971.  It’s found on the studio album Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.  This is an upbeat tune with a pronounced guitar riff.  Still, the song employs that famous Moody Blues sound.  In fact, it’s the last Moody Blues single to use a Mellotron.

Of all the songs on this list, “The Story In Your Eyes” sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.  In fact, Fountains of Wayne covered the song in 2010.  It was written by Justin Hayward.

“Ride My See-Saw”
“Ride My See-Saw” was the first U.K. rock single to be made on an 8-track tape multi-track recording machine.  The song, from the album In Search for the Lost Chord, was written by John Lodge.  It was released in 1968.

Often, you’ll hear this song coupled with the track “Departure,” a short spoken-word/soundscape. “Departure” begins the album and leads right into “Ride My See-Saw.”  A hardy laugh overlaps the end of one and the beginning of the next.

“Ride My See-Saw,” with its thick vocal track, sounds a little dated, but it’s so unique and innovated we had to include it.  They don’t write songs like this anymore.  The Moody Blues often end their live shows with “Ride My See-Saw.”

“Lovely To See You”
“Lovely To See You” is the only song on our list that was not released as a single.  Don’t worry, you can still download it from iTunes.  The track is from the 1969 album On The Threshold of a Dream and is widely considered the LP’s most popular song.  It too was written by Justin Hayward.

“Lovely To See You” is a fast-paced, feel-good tune that will get stuck in your head (in a good way).  It’s also one of the group’s most straight-forward songs.  By that we mean it doesn’t need a 50-peice orchestra.  The band uses this song to kick off most Moody Blues concerts.  You need it to kick off your Moody Blues music collection.

Brief History Of Popular Music And Food

Zac Brown Band

Brief History Of Popular Music And Food

Before most Zac Brown Band concerts you can meet the band and enjoy some fantastic food.  The events are called “Eat and Greets” and they are opened to members of the ZBB fan club, affectionately known as the “Zamily.”

Regardless if Zac Brown Band is in Boston or Eugene, Oregon, you won’t find any rubber chicken at an “Eat and Greet.”  Chuck Yarborough from The Plain Dealer attended an “Eat and Greet” prior to Zac Brown Band’s concert at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  He raved about the grub. Yarborough said they had the best coleslaw he had ever tasted, and when it came to dessert (chard flavored with pistachio, balsamic vinegar, chickpeas) he didn’t know whether to eat it or rub it over his body.

An “Eat and Greet” is not the only time Zac Brown Band involves itself with food.  Since 2011, the band has hosted the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.  The fourth edition of the three-day event kicks off Oct. 11.  The festival is both a feast for the ears and the taste buds.  Attendees get to enjoy great music (ZBB headlines each night) as well as delicious chow.

Popular music and food have a long history together.  If you think about it, music and food satiate two of our three biggest appetites (if you know what I mean).  Below, Musicology-101 takes a brief look at some of the most significant examples of when food and music crossed paths.

“Shake, Rattle and Roll”
“Shake, Rattle and Roll” was recorded by Big Joe Turner and Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954.  Turner’s version is a classic blues number while Haley’s rendition is one of the earliest and most successful rock and roll songs.  The lyrics to “Shake, Rattle and Roll” are as dirty and misogynistic as anything you’ll find in today’s musical clime.  That includes the line “I’m like the one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store/Well I can look at you tell you ain’t no child no more.”  Interestingly, Haley was blind in one eye.

“MacArthur Park”
“MacArthur Park” is a very successful song.  Richard Harris had a number two hit with it in 1968.  Then, a decade later, Donna Summer took the ditty all the way to number one.  Yet, Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” is widely considered one of the worst songs ever recorded.  It’s pretentious as a cucumber finger sandwich and contains some of the worst lyrics ever put down on paper.  That includes the famous line “Someone left the cake out in the rain.”  During the recording of the song, Harris sang “MacArthur’s Park” instead of “MacArthur Park.”  Webb, who produced the recording, tried to correct the bombastic actor but eventually gave up after Harris failed to correct his pronunciation.

“Savoy Truffle”
“Savory Truffle” appears on The Beatles’ White Album (1968).  It was written by George Harrison about Eric Clapton’s legendary sweet tooth.  A lot of the lyrics came from a box of Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates: “Creme tangerine and montelimat/A ginger sling with a pineapple heart.”  Apparently all of the desserts Harrison mentions re real except for cherry cream and coconut fudge.

“The Lemon Song”
Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” (1969) evolved out of the band performing Howlin’ Wolf’s “The Killing Floor” in concert.  Today, “The Lemon Song” gives Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf’s his real name) a songwriting credit.  In “The Lemon Song” you’ll find a line that can be traced all the way back to the 1930s.  This line is just as dirty as the one previously cited from “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”  That line is: “Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg/The way you squeeze my lemon, I’m gonna fall right out of bed.”

“Cheeseburger in Paradise”
Jimmy Buffett took a boat trip where he had to subsist on canned food and peanut butter.  With his stomach growling he dreamed of eating a juicy cheeseburger.  When he arrived at his destination, Road Town in the British Virgin Islands, he was amazed to find a restaurant serving American hamburgers.  That story is the inspiration behind “Cheeseburger in Paradise” (1978), one of Buffett’s most popular songs and a staple during his live show.  Historically, there’s been some confusion as to whether or not Buffett croons “in paradise” or “is paradise.”  There’s evidence that he sings both.

“Weird Al” Yankovic
“Weird Al” Yankovic has made a living combining popular music and food in hilarious song parodies.  His most famous is 1984’s “Eat It,” a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”  Other Yankovic songs involving food include “Addicted to Spuds,” “Fat,” “Girls Just Want To Have Lunch,” “I Love Rocky Road,” “Livin’ in the Fridge,” “Spam,” “Taco Grande,” and “Waffle King.”

“Ice Cream”
In the earlier 1990s, Sarah McLachlan sang: “Your love is better than ice cream/better than anything else that I’ve tried.”  Wow, that’s high praise.  She continues: “Your love is better than chocolate/better than anything else that I’ve tried.”  That’s even higher praise.  I’d settle for my love being better than spray cheese or peanut butter M&M’s.  “Ice Cream” was not released as a single but it’s found on S-Mac’s breakthrough opus Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993).  Still, the song is very popular.

Paul McCartney And His Greatest Achievements By Decades

McCartney Paul McCartney And His Greatest Achievements By Decades

The 2014 U.S. leg of Paul McCartney’s “Out There Tour” begins June 14 in Lubbock, Texas, which just so happens to be the hometown of Buddy Holly.  McCartney’s string of dates ends Aug. 7 in Salt Lake City.  His itinerary includes several cities Sir Paul has never performed in before including Lubbock, Louisville, Albany, Fargo, and Lincoln.

Macca has been in the music business for over 50 years and has accomplished just about everything one guy can do with a song.  Below, we look at the biggest McCartney moments from each decade.  Musicology-101 begins with the 1970s and ends with the 2010s.  We skipped the 1960s since we all know what he did during that decade. 

1970s

In the 1970s, McCartney was responsible for seven Platinum albums, four number one albums, and six number one singles.  He formed the successful band Wings, launched one massive tour after another, and released “Mull of Kintyre,” the first single to sell more than two million copies in the U.K.  Out of all that, we picked “Live and Let Die” as the quintessential McCartney moment of the 1970s.  We picked it not so much because the single peaked at number two or because it was nominated for an Academy Award.  We picked “Live and Let Die” because it’s the epitome of a James Bond song.  Leave it to the greatest songwriter of all-time to write the greatest Bond theme ever.

1980s

Music tastes changed in 1980s.  This made it a tough decade for many classic rockers.  They needed a few years to reinvent themselves in the Brave New World of synthesizers, drum machines, and rap, but not Paul McCartney.  He began the decade by releasing the classic album, McCartney II.  Later in the decade, he played Live Aid (McCartney has always been into causes), recorded “Ebony and Ivory” with Stevie Wonder, and launched his first world tour in over a decade.  What’s often lost about McCartney’s musical contributions in the 1980s is his appearance on a little album called Thriller.  McCartney and Michael Jackson recorded “The Girl is Mine” in April of 1982.  It was released as the album’s first single the following October.  Singing on “The Girl is Mine” means McCartney played a part in two of the greatest albums ever made, Thriller and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).

1990s

In the 1990s, McCartney launched forays into classical and electronic music.  This decade was also wrought with tragedy.  In April of 1998, Linda McCartney succumbed to cancer.  After spending a year mourning her passing, Paul returned to the studio to record Run Devil Run.  Released in October of 1999, the 15-track opus only contained three original McCartney compositions.  The rest were covers of obscure songs from the 1950s—back when Paul was a teenager.  The critics loved Run Devil Run and McCartney showed the world that while he had mastered the technical side of his craft, he could still make music with energy and vibrancy.

2000s

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?  Paul McCartney was on the Tarmac at JFK Airport.   His close proximity to the attacks of 9/11 inspired him to organize the “Concert for New York City.”  The event took place on Oct. 20, 2001 and featured performances by David Bowie, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bon Jovi, Elton John, and several others.  McCartney closed out the concert by singing “Freedom,” a song he wrote in response to the attacks.  Yet, it was The Who who stole the night.  Their performance of “Baba O’Riley” brought down the house.  This was also the first decade you could follow Paul McCartney on Facebook.

2010s

Despite turning 70 in 2012, Paul McCartney has managed to stay relevant and vital in the 2010s (for proof just check out Paul’s Twitter accout).  In 2013, he performed at three memorable events.  In June, he closed Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubliee Concert.  Then in December, he performed with the three surviving members of Nirvana to wrap the “12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief.”  It’s the middle of the three shows, however, that makes our list.  On July 27, McCartney was the final act of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  It was seen by more than 900 million people.  For his time and effort, McCartney was paid £1.  Although, the concert for Sandy Relief was seen by two billion people, we went with his Summer Games performance because… well… the Olympics are the Olympics.

Linkin Park Three Past and Three Present Achievements

Linkin Park In ConcertLinkin Park Three Past and Three Present Achievements

This is a big year for Californian rock band Linkin Park. They’re releasing an album and going on tour.

While 2014 is shaping up to be special, it’s definitely not “make-or-break” for LP. The band is long past that stage of their career. In fact, it’s time to start talking about their legacy as in where they stand in the annuals of rock and roll.

Linkin Park combined rap and metal and did so in a palatable way. Some of their fans may find that remark insulting, but it’s not meant to be disparaging. It’s undeniable; the band can sell records and concert tickets. That ability should be applauded not jeered.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at three of Linkin Park’s past achievements as well as three more on the horizon. After reading our list, you’ll surely agree with us, and their millions of fans, that they are one of the all-time greats.

Past Achievements

Hybrid Theory Gets Certified Diamond
On June 14, 2014 at the Download Festival in Leicestershire, England, Linkin Park will play their seminal album, Hybrid Theory, in its entirety for the first time ever. Hybrid Theory has been certified Diamond (10 million sales in the United States) by the RIAA. Worldwide, it has sold 27 million units. That’s not bad for a first album. In fact, Hybrid Theory is the bestselling debut album of the 21st century.

Collision Course
In 2004, Linkin Park teamed with Jay-Z on the EP Collision Course. Each of the albums six tracks is a mash-up of a Linkin Park song and a Jay-Z song. The album is just over 21 minutes long and took a mere four days to make. Critics hated it—Rolling Stone magazine gave it two out of five stars—but what do they know? Collision Course has sold more than five million copies and peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. If you don’t think that’s an accomplishment then you form a nu metal band, team with a hip hop legend, make an album of mash-ups that sells five million copies, and tell us how easy it is.

Triple Threat
Some artists can sell records, some can win awards, and some can win-over critics. Linkin Park can do all three. In a recording career that started in 2000, they’ve sold more than 60 million albums. That’s impressive when you consider that most of their career has occurred in an era when no one buys records. Linkin Park has been nominated for more than 170 music awards winning 60 of them. On the top shelf of their trophy case are two Grammy Awards. The band has placed high on various “all-time” and “best-of” lists compiled by the likes of Billboard, MTV2, and VH1. The critics may not have liked Collision Course, but overall they love Linkin Park.

Future Achievements

The Hunting Party
MTV favorites Linkin Park will enter the “six album club” on June 14, 2014. That’s the date their newest studio offering, The Hunting Party, is set to drop (yes, it’s the same day they’re set perform at the Download Festival). The band released the album’s first single, “Guilty All the Same” featuring Rakim, on March 6. Founding member Mike Shinoda said the track is a good representation of the album.

Carnivores Tour
On Aug. 8, Linkin Park will launch a 25-concert tour of North America. Joining them on the road will be 30 Seconds to Mars and AFI (who will miss two shows in mid-September). Dubbed the “Carnivores Tour,” it ends Sept. 19 in Concord, California. Highlights of their massive excursion include Linkin Park in Mansfield, Massachusetts on Aug. 16; Linkin Park in Toronto on Aug. 24; and Linkin Park in Los Angeles on Sept. 15.

Mike Shinoda: “‘Carnivores’ is a metaphor that is meant to convey an appetite for something visceral and substantive. I feel that’s exactly the hunger this tour will feed.”

Record Store Day
The Hunting Party won’t be the only album Linkin Park releases this year. To celebrate annual Record Store Day on April 19, they, along with Jay-Z, are re-releasing Collision Course. The EP just so happens to be celebrating its tenth anniversary. The Record Store Day edition will come on transparent blue vinyl. It will also come with a DVD of Jay-Z and Linkin Park in concert. Other artists coming out with special LPs on vinyl’s big day include Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, The Flaming Lips, Green Day, and Soundgarden.