The trend of fauna-inspired band names is spiraling out of control. Don’t believe me?

Grizzly Bear. Panda Bear. Minus the Bear. Polar Bear. Bear in Heaven. Bear vs. Shark. And those are just some of the band names with the word “bear” in them — what’s the D with the animal kingdom being so overrepresented in music these days? The two aren’t exactly an inherent pair. Why not something else equally random like tree names or the elements of the periodic table?

I have nothing against animals — who does? The problem is that the industry has latched onto an idea that’s gone overkill. A band name can be centered on anything. Why so many about animals?

The fad is relatively recent, having started with misspelled riffs on animals such as The Beatles and The Monkees, but it’s grown increasingly trendy as of late. In fact, the Internet is littered with websites listing the scores of animal-related band names.

Back in the day, musicians went by their given names — it’s hard to imagine Mozart having been called something like “Mousehunter.” So what’s changed since then? It seems that as the volume of musical content rises — especially with the advent of the Internet — artists feel the need to get increasingly creative with their moniker as a means of setting themselves apart from the crowd.

The problem is that everyone has started using that same idea, and now the crowd itself is made up of animal names. It seems that the fauna ship has sailed. Fleet Foxes and Foxes in Fiction? Come on.

Wolfmother and Wolf Parade are bands with sounds that are worlds apart — Wolfmother is a heavy metal group from Sydney and Wolf Parade is an indie group from Quebec. But their names are centered on the same species, and so they run the risk of being wrongfully grouped together, each losing some effectiveness as a result. Personally, I have trouble quickly distinguishing The White Panda from Gold Panda when it comes down to it, especially since they’re both electronic artists. Now that’s just poor planning.

It’s probably too late for most established groups to undergo a name makeover — can you imagine Modest Mouse changing to something else this late in the game? But my advice to you: If you’re thinking of starting a band now, stay far away from the zoo. The fad has only really been around for a decade or so, but it’s already become cliché, and it’s only going to move further in that direction. You’ve gotta look outside of the box (or in this case, the cage …) with the name because listeners’ first impression is often the name and not the music itself.

There’s no telling where this fad came from or why it’s picked up so much steam — such is the frustrating case with trend dissection. But as a music lover, here’s to hoping that band names ranging from Noah and the Whale to Fruit Bats are on their way out. And for now, we’ll all just have to find some way to remember that Deerhunter is different from Deerpeople.

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