[What's in a Name?] -- 80s artists showed great creativity in their music. Some of these artists, however, displayed an excess of creativity in branding their work. And by "excess of creativity," I mean they showed, perhaps, poor judgement in choosing a name. So this week's flashback honors a few of these appellation-challenged acts. Whether confusing, silly, or just plain stupid-sounding, these bands ruled the charts -- or at least left an impression -- for a short time. What acts have I singled out for their interesting monikers? Read and hear more after the break.
Flashback #1: "Something's wrong, you're not naive, you must be strong | Ooh, baby, try."
Our first flashback artist this week was originally founded in 1979 as Art Nouveau, but they could not get a record deal with that moniker. After adding Christopher Hamill as their lead singer in 1981, they changed their name to Kajagoogoo. According to the "Official Kajagoogoo History Page," the name was coined by phonetically writing out a baby's first sounds. I do not know if it was this new name or the new singer that tilted the odds, but Kajagoogoo scored a record deal one year later. Their debut album, White Feathers (1983), yielded a single that rocketed to the top 25 around the world, including #1 in the UK and #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song also ranks as #9 on VH1's list of 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s. In my opinion, this single's insipid lyrics give the band's name name some stiff competition in the stupid category, but I cannot deny its power as an ear worm. And, after you check out the video, or maybe even read its name, this song will likely be stuck in your brain all weekend (oh, you're welcome, by the way). Here is "Too Shy" in all its hair sprayed glory
Flashback #2: "We are, we are | We are but your children | Finding our way around indecision."
Our next flashback tune comes from a band named after Frederik Pohl's 1960 short story, "The Day the Icicle Works Closed." Originally called The Icicle Works, their name was shorted to Icicle Works after the success of the first single off their eponymous debut album. That success was partly due to their 1983 single, "Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)." This song was also released as "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" so that the title more closely matched the repeated chorus. Now, Icicle Works is not the worst name to ever grace a band, but it apparently confused folks. I recall an interview during which band members shared a story of arriving for a gig only to see a sign proudly proclaiming "The Bicycle Jerks" as the featured artists.
Flashback #3: "Something in the moonlight catches my eye | The shadow of a lover goes dancing by."
Our final flashback of the day comes from a band named after a leader of the Vulcan people -- that's right, this UK act took the name of an alien character from the Star Trek franchise. T'Pau (pronounced "teh-POW") formed in 1986 and had a hit single just one year later. Their first single was initially a flop in the UK, but it reached #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart after it became featured in a Pepe Jeans commercial. After conquering the US, it became a hit in the UK as well. Their debut album, Bridge of Spies (1987), was simply called T'Pau in the US. Too bad they had a name that could only be pronounced by folks who were most likely not fans of their music. Otherwise, they might have been more popular
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives (where this week's Flashback was originally posted on January 27, 2012) or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!