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15 Bands Named After Songs by Other Bands

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Musicians often get inspiration from their own record collections. Beyond musical style, on-stage persona, and look, some bands directly take their names from songs or lyrics from another band. 

1. Death Cab For Cutie

Lead singer and songwriter Ben Gibbard named his Washington-based indie rock band after Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's song "Death Cab for Cutie" from their 1967 record Gorilla. The song was also featured in the Beatles movie Magical Mystery Tour and was written as a parody of the Elvis Presley song "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear."

2. Ladytron

The British electronic quartet Ladytron took their name from a song from Roxy Music's 1972 debut self-titled record. Brian Eno, an ex-Roxy Music member, is actually a fan of the band Ladytron and thinks they're the very best in English pop music today.

3. Pretty Girls Make Graves

Before officially coming together as a band, co-founders Andrea Zollo and Derek Fudesco were listening to The Smiths' first album and thought the song title "Pretty Girls Make Graves" would make a good band name.

4. Radiohead

When they first formed in 1985, Radiohead was known as On a Friday, which was the day the British rock band would get together for practice. When On a Friday signed to EMI Music in 1991, they changed their name to Radiohead after the Talking Heads' 1986 song "Radio Head," as a tribute to the New York City-based rock band. 

5. Spoon

Co-founder Britt Daniel and Jim Eno named their band Spoon as a tribute to '70s German avant-garde band CAN, whose song "Spoon" was the theme for the 1985 German film Das Messer (Jagged Edge).

6. At the Drive-In

Guitarist and co-founder Jim Ward liked the lyrics "Cause baby we'll be / At the drive-in" from Poison's 1986 song "Talk Dirty to Me" so much he decided to use the second half as the name for his post-punk band. Lead singer Cedric Bixler tossed around the name "At the Movies" from the Bad Brains song of the same name, but Ward's suggestion won out with the rest of the band.

7. Boyz II Men

Before New Edition's Michael Bivins discovered them backstage at a concert in 1989, the group Boyz II Men was once known as Unique Attraction. The group changed their name to Boyz II Men after the 1988 New Edition song "Boys to Men." Bivins later produced Boyz II Men's first album, a year after he started the New Edition spinoff group Bel Biv DeVoe.

8. Panic! at The Disco

Forming in 2004, the emo band Panic! at the Disco based their name on The Smiths' song "Panic," which features the lyrics "burn down the disco." For their 2008 release Pretty Odd, they ditched the exclamation point at the end of Panic. A year later, the band re-introduced the exclamation point to their name.  

9. Scary Kids Scaring Kids

The post-hardcore band Scary Kids Scaring Kids took their name from the song "Scary Kids Scaring Kids" from the highly-influential emo band Cap'n Jazz. The song can be found on the anthology album Analphabetapolothology.

10. Communist Daughter

The Saint Paul-based indie rock band Communist Daughter got their name from the Neutral Milk Hotel song "Communist Daughter."

11. The Kooks

Taking their inspiration from David Bowie, Britpop band The Kooks decided to name their band after the iconic rock star's song "Kooks" as a tribute. David Bowie wrote the song for his then-newborn son Duncan Jones, and it appeared on his 1971 album Hunky Dory.

12. Bad Brains

While they started off as a jazz fusion band called Mind Point, Bad Brains was one of the early punk bands in America. The Washington D.C.-based group got their name from the Ramones' song "Bad Brain" from Road to Ruin.

13. Lady Gaga

Producer Rob Fusari used to sing the Queen song "Radio Ga Ga" when recording artist Stefani Germanotta would enter the room. He once sent her a text with the song title attached, but his phone's autocorrect function changed the word "Radio" to "Lady." Hence, Stefani Germanotta would be forever known as Lady Gaga.

14. The Killers

Co-founders Brandon Flowers and Dave Keuning named their band The Killers after the fictional band featured in the music video for New Order's "Crystal." In fact, the music video for The Killers' debut single "Somebody Told Me" borrowed a few visual elements from the "Crystal" music video—including performing in front of a Jumbotron screen.

15. The Rolling Stones

When Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first came together to form a band in the early '60s, they were known as the Blue Boys. However, when asked about the band's name during an interview with the newspaper Jazz News, guitarist Brian Jones called the band The Rolling Stones after the song "Rollin' Stone" from a Muddy Waters record that was laying on the floor.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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History
Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
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English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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