Music's Five Dumbest Pseudonyms
Photo by Marc Brubaker
Have you ever wanted to change your name? I'm going to guess that almost all of us have at some point wanted to go by some cooler moniker, unless your given name was something like "Max Power," a name that sounds good in your ear. I'm going to also guess that whatever pseudonym you came up with as a kid ultimately ended up sounding pretty dumb later on in life.
That's what makes these five famous pseudonyms musicians have gone by all the more baffling. Why on earth would a grown adult call themselves something so dumb? To be fair, most didn't stick with them, but they'll never really live them down in my eyes.
For the purposes of convenience, I mostly decided to ignore black metal here. That list would go on for days.
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5. Dwid Hellion As front man for Integrity and the only consistent member of the band over the last 25 years, Dwid Hellion, real name Jack McLimans, has made a powerful name for himself in the hardcore scene. I guess I can't fault him too much for that. Punk, like black metal, is known for bad nicknames. Still, let's break this one down.
His chosen last name is "Hellion," which is about as intimidating as making your last name "Demon" or "Satan." It's closer to a bad Freddy Krueger Halloween mask than it is to Linda Blair. Second, what the fuck is a "Dwid?" Urban Dictionary says it's "someone who totally blew it." That means his pseudonym is literally implying he's kind of a pathetic demon, which is not at all what I would want out of my badass punk-rock name. But hey, I guess that's why I'm not the one calling myself a dwid.
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4. Michelle Shocked The Dallas-born singer-songwriter, who famously had a breakdown earlier this year, was born Karen Michelle Johnston but decided to change her name to Michelle Shocked as a reference to "shell shock," the name then applied to PTSD in World War I veterans. She took it on during her punk-rock phase while she was protesting against corporations.
That's all well and good, but seriously, come on, that pun is unforgivable. It's so bad, it makes me cringe every time I hear it. Even worse, "shell shocked" became a go-to for writers discussing her bizarre behavior this year, making it some sort of Inception-style double pun. Kill me now, please.
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3. Tity Boi Never heard of Tity Boi? Come on, you've heard of Tity Boi. Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry. You probably only know him as 2 Chainz, international rap superstar. Back in the day when he was just a Georgia local in the group Playaz Circle, though, 2 Chainz was Tity Boi, the most poorly named MC of all time.
To his credit, he's been forthcoming about his history of being known by such a dreadful pseudonym. The reason for it is even better, though: it's a nickname his mom gave him because he was such a voracious breast-feeder. The kicker is that his dad still calls him "Tity Man" in everyday conversation. That must have been ridiculously awkward when he brought girls home as a teenager.
As an aside, do you know why they call him 2 Chainz? Cause he's got two chains on.
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2. Chris Gaines Garth Brooks could work a million more years and write a million more songs, and not one thing he can ever do will ever make me view him seriously, thanks to this ridiculous farce of a career move. It's not that "Chris Gaines" is an especially stupid name. It's more that Brooks adopted that stupid wig and soul-patch combo for his supremely idiotic alt-rock turn.
It was so ludicrous it made country's more recent forays into rap look respectable. It was so bad, I'll never be able to meet a person named "Chris Gaines" without chortling a little bit to myself, and I'm sure they'll know why because they'll forever have to live in association with the moment that Garth Brooks simultaneously lost all credibility in the world of pop music, country music, and rock music alike.
Pity the real-life Chris Gaineses of the world for sharing a name with this abominable dreck.
1. Count Grishnackh I tried to avoid black metal here, but truly no musician has such an egregiously dumb nickname than one Varg Vikernes of Burzum fame. According to the Lord of the Rings Wiki, the proper spelling is Grishnákh, meaning Varg misspelled his own stupid nickname, which derives from an "Orc captain from Barad-dûr in the service of Sauron."
Far be it from me to criticize Varg's Tolkein fandom, but it's an incredibly hilarious and incongruous nickname for a convicted murderer and admitted neo-Nazi. I mean, it's hard enough to take the guy seriously in his silly black-metal spikes and leather but it's even worse when he's running around calling himself "Count Grishnackh."
No wonder he dropped the nickname after he decided to become a real-life murderer. Can you imagine the judge reading out the sentence for Count Grishnackh?
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