1. Bad English
Traditionally, rock bands whose names begin with the word "bad" tend to exude a general toughness if not genuine menace (Badfinger notwithstanding). After all, Bad Company, Bad Brains and Bad Religion certainly qualify as possessing bravado and fierceness through the power of their music. In the case of this would-be arena rock supergroup, the former members of the Babys and Journey couldn't even come up with a name that would scare a grammar school kid, not that their previous band names made anyone shake either. But this name is a puzzling, confusing choice that seems to have been plucked from a hat. It's even worse that the band's uninspired music helped sound the death knell for the hair metal and pop metal craze of the '80s.
2. The Firm
We might as well get the so-called supergroups out of the way right now, and this one really makes you wonder if a band name can doom careers with as much efficiency as the spectre of "creative differences." Putting former Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers together with Led Zeppelin's legendary guitarist, Jimmy Page, must have seemed like a promising idea at the time. The styles of those two classic rock bands seemed to mesh and complement one another well enough to suggest success for the combo, but I think the dreadful, nondescript name is the culprit here. Music fans don't tend to find great excitement in accountants or brokers, and I can find no other connotation in the name other than such staid professions.
The notion that heavy metal was inherently evil or satanic certainly reached its peak during the '80s, with the aid of bands like this German group that actually flew the flag quite proudly for genuine metal in a decade not necessarily known for it. And while it probably seemed like a good idea at the time to play up the gothic and dark elements of that genre of music, this name always struck me as disastrously silly. It probably doesn't help that my dad, to this day, pronounces the word "Halloween" just like this band's moniker, without ever seeming aware of the wordplay. It always made me laugh that without his knowledge he was referencing a German metal band every year, but this name brings a new dimension to the concept of overkill.
4. The Hooters
Although this pop-friendly roots rock band from Philadelphia formed five years before the Hooters restaurant franchise was born in 1983, the group did not hit the charts and become widely known until 1985. Therefore, the band always had to fight an uphill battle to claim some of the limelight, as its earnest, well-crafted rock simply could not compete with the fleshy wonders for which the restaurant chain is still quite famous. That's not the only reason the Hooters didn't maintain popularity through the decade, but the puzzling band name (which actually refers to an accordion-like musical instrument that defined the group's sound) was unable to deliver on the suggestive nature of its nearly unavoidable associations.
There's lots to shake one's head about regarding this synth pop band without targeting its tremendously goofy, nonsense name. Lead singer Limahl was a fairly ridiculous frontman even then, and the group's relatively disposable musical output didn't gain many permanent admirers despite impressive record sales. The band's most famous hit, "Too Shy," was not without some modest charms, but it was hard to see through to them with all the over-the-top visual theatrics of the Kajagoogoo image. Unfortunately, the name did nothing to derail the developing backlash against this kind of music, instead confirming the negative impression already fully formed.
Baby talk did not stop with disposable pop, making an unlikely appearance in the name of one of late hardcore's most engaging young bands. You heard me - the Goo Goo Dolls, the unabashedly adult pop balladeers from Buffalo who have made a fortune over the last decade and a half playing the most accessible type of pop/rock imaginable, began as a reckless, punky hard rock outfit with infectious energy. The name, we've all learned since the group transformed into superstars, was really just a lark that stuck. That's no surprise and is reasonably forgivable; the same can't be said for the group's relegation of bassist Robby Takac to background man even though his amateurish vocals are what made the band's music interesting way back when.
7. Cutting Crew
I've gone on record a few times on this site and elsewhere defending this British pop band against charges of general lameness and musical flatness. After all, the band's two major '80s hits, "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" and "I've Been in Love Before," are pretty listenable when compared to their typical competition of the era. Still, this name suggests a barber shop quartet more than anything else I can come up with. It's not engaging in the least, nor does it seem to have any literal or figurative meaning whatsoever. There may be an inside joke or tale that explains the origin of this name, but as with humor in general, it just doesn't work if you have to work really hard to explain it.
8. Glass Tiger
Against my better judgment, I've actually always been a pretty big fan of this Canadian band's two pleasant soft rock hits, "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone" and "Someday." But this name sounds like something a group of adolescents would come up with when toying with the idea of forming a garage rock band. You know, the slightly cerebral contrast of the two words sounds rather fascinating on paper but really ends up reminding male listeners that this is the type of music you don't want to get caught listening to with your car window down. When I was a teenager, I thought for a while that Evil Throng would be a great name for a band. Luckily, I never got around to forming and naming an actual band.