By Any Other Name: Santogold Meets Johnny Cougar

Music Features Santogold

Last week, new-wavey Brooklyn singer/producer Santogold announced an abrupt change in the spelling of her name. She’s Santigold now, thanks very much, and though she’s not talking about the change, reports indicate it has something to do with Santo Gold (a 1980s, um, TV entreprenuer), who’s claiming primacy on the name. Regardless, it got us thinking about rock music’s long history of shifting monikers, litigiously-motivated and otherwise. Few involve the tweaking of just a single letter, but many are just as foggily enacted and half-heartedly accepted (tough we’re guessing, in this case, our lady’s gonna be Sannagold either way). Here are a few of our favorites.

Before: Johnny Cougar
And then: John Cougar Mellencamp
After: John Mellencamp
Why?: Aging.
Effect: More goofy than confusing. Might want to consider return to “Johnny Cougar” to shock some much-needed puckishness back into his career, though.

Before: Panic! At the Disco
After: Panic at the Disco
Why?: Enthusiasm is sooo 2005.
Effect: Actually made us take the band a little more seriously.

Before: Matchbox 20
After: Matchbox Twenty
Why?: Gotta rebel against something. Might as well be AP style.
Effect: Might’ve been one if anyone actually talked about them anymore.

Before: Lil’ Bow Wow
After: Bow Wow
Why?: He got big!
Effect: Considerably less adorable.

Before: Puff Daddy
But also: Puffy
Sometimes, too: Sean “Puffy” Combs
And then: P. Diddy
Most recently: Diddy
Why?: You’re gonna ask him why?
Effect: May be better known for his name-changing than his music and/or pants and/or perfume.

Before: Puffy
After: Puffy Ami Yumi
Why?: Cease and desist order from the “real” Puffy (see above).
Effect: No more hedging your bets on whether the night’s headliner is hip-hop or J-Pop.

Before: Green Jellö
After: Green Jellÿ
Why?: Legal pressure from Kraft Foods, owner of the Jell-O trademark.
Effect: Not much. The band has either forgotten about the change, or is totally baiting Kraft with its MySpace.

Before: The Muslims
After: Soft Pack
Why?: Less weirdness with being associated with a major religion still misunderstood by many Americans.
Effect: More weirdness with being associated with whatever peoples’ brains decide a “soft pack” is. (And these folks might not be super-thrilled.)

Before: The B52’s
After: The B52s
Why?: Twenty-plus years of Grammar Police nagging would wear you down, too.
Effect: Oh, there was an apostrophe?

Before: Prince
Then: O(+>/”love symbol”/The Artist Formerly Known As Prince/The Artist
After: Prince
Why?: We’re still not sure, actually. (Update: It appears that “we” were sure, actually; “I,” however, was not. By all accounts, as a few people have pointed out, it seems the name change was a move against Prince’s crappy record label. However, it remains unclear why the rest of us had to suffer, too.)
Effect: Distraction. It took a Super Bowl half-time appearance (co-starring a silhouette of what appeared to be his own “love symbol”) for us to remember how he rocks.

Before: Diamond Darrell
After: Dimebag Darrell
Why?: Thought it was time to grow up a little, class his act up a bit. Oh, wait.
Effect: Up with stoners, down with rich ladies!

Before: Loney, Dear
After: Loney Dear
Why?: He kept forgetting about it, too.
Effect: Mostly eliminated need for those pesky semi-colons when listing all the great Swedish bands of late.

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