Band names you've been mispronouncing this whole time

Back when radio airplay was basically how everyone found out about new bands, it was hard to mispronounce a band's name. The DJs introduced all the songs, after all, so you knew what was up. In today's streaming free-for-all, however, music fans read a ton of band names without ever hearing them out loud. It's not like Spotify has a "pronounce this band" feature (but they totally should). This means there are quite a few musical names out there you've probably been saying incorrectly this whole time. It's okay: we won't tell anybody. The list below will set you straight. It's going to be okay.


It's not "hame," like the late '80s teen idol Corey Haim, or "hime," like you're starting to say "Heimlich!" but then you choke to death. It's "hy-uhm," which is also the last name of the three sisters in the band, responsible for the '70s-soft-rock-meets-'90s R&B hit "The Wire" in 2013. Still having trouble? It's the last two syllables of l'chaim, the Hebrew toast "to life."


The "Somebody That I Used to Know" singer says it's "go-tee-ay," like Jean Paul Gaultier, not "got-ya" or "goat-yeah." So why go with Gotye? The Belgian-Australian performer's real name is Wouter Andre De Backer, "Wouter" is the Belgian counterpart for "Walter," and "Gaultier" is the French counterpart for Walter. Cheekily misspell "Gaultier," and you get "Gotye." Confused? It's like if Enrique Iglesias misspelled the English counterpart of his first name, Henry, and went by "Hynri."

Still confused? It's OK, so are we.

Bon Iver

It's "bone ee-vair," not "bawn eye-ver." Justin Vernon removed the "h" from bon hiver, which is French for "good winter," because "hiver" reminded him of "liver." Vernon was having liver pain, a side effect of his mononucleosis, when he came up with the name. It's your classic "misspell-a-foreign-phrase-and-name-your-band-after-it-because-it-reminds-you-of-your-ailments" story.


California dance-punk band !!! took their name not from getting found out in Metal Gear Solid, but from the subtitles in The Gods Must Be Crazy, which represented the African "clicking" language with exclamation points. The band says making three clicking noises with your tongue is the "original" way to pronounce it, but "chick chick chick" is acceptable, as well. The name on its own yields zero Google search results, by the way, which is hilarious. Or rather, hilarious!!!

Die Antwoord

There's nothing mysterious about the name of South African rap-rave weirdos Die Antwoord: it's just Afrikaans for "the answer". It's pronounced "dee ant-werd," not "die ant-VERD," like you're doing a bad Albert Einstein impression.

The members of Die Antwoord, by the way, describe themselves as "fre$, futuristik, flame-throw-flow-freeking zef rap-rave krew," which has to be the micro-est of microgenres.


Sure, Canadian electronic duo MSTRKRFT have a name that looks more like a doomed startup than a band but, just like Tumblr, Flickr, and the rest of the vowel-challenged bunch, their name is pronounced like a normal word. It's just "master craft" sans all vowels. (Pro tip: anger their fans by insisting it's "Mr. Kraft.")

While going vowel-less is a band name trend with remarkable staying power, MSTRKRFT says search engine optimization, actually, was "a motivating factor" in ditching the letters. Ah yes, the Holy Trinity: sex, drugs, and SEO.

Pere Ubu

Yes, Cleveland "avant-garage" icons Pere Ubu took their name from Père Ubu, the main character of Ubu Roi, a play by French playwright Alfred Jarry. But this doesn't mean you need to pronounce it like you're Inspector Clouseau. It's just "pear oo-boo," as frontman David Thomas demonstrates above.

Thomas says he chose "Pere Ubu" it because it fulfilled his weirdly specific criteria for a good band name, which is as follows: "(1) It shouldn't mean anything but it should seem to mean something; (2) it needs to look good and sound good; and (3) it should have three syllables." With that in mind, we submit the following: Tesla Bo, Faux Sartre, and Mega Bach. How'd we do, David?

Sunn O)))

Enrobed Seattle drone metal duo "Sunn O)))" took their name from the now-defunct Sunn brand of amplifiers, which featured a logo that looked like "O)))" (take a look). But the band is simply called "Sun," not "Sun Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."

The band says fondness for the amplifiers is "mainly" why they chose the name, but there were a "few" other reasons they won't disclose. Maybe they're just in the pocket of Big Parentheses?

Toro Y Moi

Chillwave artist and producer Chaz Bundwick took a multilingual approach when choosing his stage name, Toro Y Moi. It starts Spanish, with "Toro" (bull) and "Y" (and), but ends French, with "Moi" (me). So it's pronounced "toro ee mwah," not "toro WHY moo-ee," like you're commiserating with cattle.

As for why he chose the name, Bundwick says it literally just came to him as a teen. "It's something that I made up when I was 15 in the car. It was pretty much nonsensical." Kids say the darndest things.

Sigur Rós

Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós took their name from the lead singer's sister, Sigurrós, which is a fairly common Icelandic name. The trick to pronouncing it correctly is not to hit the final "S" too hard. Think of it this way: "Seger Ross," which sounds like a band that plays Bob Seger-style songs about Ross from Friends, is totally wrong. It's more like "ciggar rose," which sounds like a gross, rose-flavored clove you smoke when you're trying to quit the real thing. (The band has a handy audio pronunciation guide on its website, if you're looking to settle arguments.)

Lykke Li

Yes, the Swedish indie-pop singer's name looks like "Likely," which would be a pretty awesome name for a Swedish indie-pop singer. However, it's actually "Licky Lee," which sounds like what the kids call the creepy guy who lives down the block and won't stop wetting his lips.

By the way, if you think "Lykke Li" is a tricky stage name for Americans to master, she could have gone with her given name: Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson. We'd love to hear Ryan Seacrest mangle that.

Sufjan Stevens

There's an easy way to remember this one, whether you love or hate him: it's all about the YAWN. Just imagine an insufferable, pedantic fan: "Soof-YAWN, because I'm so tired of correcting these poseurs." Alternatively, imagine a hacky Sufjan hater: "Soof-YAWN, because his music is so boring, amirite?"

There's no good way, unfortunately, to remember that his 2010 album The Age of Adz is actually pronounced "Age of Odds." You're on your own with that insanity.


Considering Canadian electronic music producer/DJ deadmau5's whole thing is to dress up like a giant mouse, you'd think there'd be no confusion over his name, but here we are. No, it's not "dead mau 5" or just "dead mau." The "5" is meant to stand in for an "S," for whatever reason, so it's simply "dead mouse."

He named himself, incidentally, after a dead mouse he found inside his computer. TM1, deadmau5.


This one's a classic: no, it doesn't rhyme with made or paid. It's "shah-DAY," as in "I have to correct people everyDAY." The group's lead singer is also famously known as Sade, but her full name is Helen Folasade Adu, hence Sade.


Scottish synthpop band Chvrches say they chose to use a Roman "V" so "Google wouldn't confuse the group with actual churches," which was pretty brilliant. Search results for "churches" anywhere on the planet buries the band's page, but searching for "chvrches" gets you nothing but band-related results. But the band says it backfired a little bit, because people frequently ask how it's pronounced. It's simple, really: just start to say "church" and then go "vvvvvvvvvvvvvvv" when you get to the "V." (Just kidding! For the love of all that is holy, the band is just pronounced "Churches," because a U is now a V in Chvrchland.)


The Canadian fuzz-pop band responsible for 2014's infectious "Marry Me Archie" weren't aiming for improved search engine optimization when they went with the unique "Alvvays" instead of just "Always" (but it definitely helped): there was already a "dream pop" band on Sony Records called Always, so they had to switch it up. As for the pronunciation, think of the back-to-back "Vs" as a "W": it's simply "Always." In other words, if you were trying to be clever with the pronunciation, you were guaranteed to be wrong.

Cibo Matto

Japanese duo Cibo Matto's early songs were often crazy songs about food, so it makes sense that their name is Italian for "crazy food." It's pronounced "chee-bo motto." Another translation is "food madness," which sounds like our kind of crazy.


Before the wild success of The Postal Service, Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello collaborated for Tamborello's Dntel project on the song "This is the Dream of Evan and Chan." The name looks like "dental," "D.N. Tell," or "dun tell," but it's simply pronounced "Din-TELL." Do tell.

Yngwie Malmsteen

Swedish neoclassical metal God Yngwie Malmsteen's name isn't pronounced "ing-wee," "yahweh," "yeezy," or "ying-wy": it's "ING-VAY mahlm-steen," like "No one plays as eff-ING fast as ING-VAY, bro."

Xiu Xiu

Jamie Stewart of indie art rock band Xiu Xiu confirms in the video above that the band's name is pronounced "shoe-shoe," inspired by the 1998 Chinese film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl. However, he says he's heard plenty of goofups, like "zoo-zoo," "ju-ju," and even, hilariously and bafflingly, "schwee-schwee."


Atlanta-based rapper and singer Makonnen Sheran — stage name iLoveMakonnen — went platinum in 2014 with "Tuesday," despite recording under a name that reads like a LiveJournal handle. It's not "mack-on-in" or "muh-kon-nen," by the way. It's "muh-conan," like Conan O'Brien (but not like Co-NAN the Barbarian).


Rihanna herself makes it crystal clear in the video above: it's "Re-ANNA," not "Re-AWN-a." Then again, this is the woman who thinks "umbrella" is pronounced "umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh," so take her lessons with a grain of salt.


Yes, it looks like MACKEL-more, but the man himself says it's "mack-luh-more." He came up with the name during a graphic design class in high school, where he created a super hero character called "Professor Macklemore" for an assignment. Because high school, he soon started calling himself that, as well. He says he later dropped the "Professor" part because he realized it was "wack." Using that logic, that haircut will probably be the next part to go, right?

Digable Planets

Sorry, '90s hip-hop fans: "Digable," as in Digable Planets, has nothing to do with digits or anything digital. It's "Dig-able" Planets, not "Digi-ble" Planets. Think "able to be dug," ya dig?


Indie rock band and '90s feminist icons Sleater-Kinney took their name from Sleater-Kinney Road in Washington state, and it's pronounced "slayter-kinny," not "sleeter-kinny" or "sleeter-kinnay."

Here's a trick for remembering it: Slater from '90s relic Saved by The Bell loved Jessie Spano, Bayside's number-one feminist. See? So don't be preppie and say "sleeter."