Aural Appellations: A Map of Musical Acts Named After Countries

Throughout the history of popular music, there have been musical acts named after places, or who have incorporated toponyms in their names. Cities, rivers, buildings, continents, bridges, mythological locations – you name it, there’s band a named after it, so it seems. A list of them would be endless. This topic did get me thinking, however: just how many countries and territories have a band named after them?

Now, of course, there have been countless thousands of musical acts over the span of popular music. As it would be impossible to definitively answer this question, I used the artist databases of AllMusic and Last.fm (being the most comprehensive databases of musical artists on the Internet) as my authority on this matter, with some secondary searching to supplement it just in case. The band name had to be verified by multiple websites so as to avoid errors such as misnamed mp3 or search engine flukes. With regards to sovereign states and dependent territories, there is no true authority as it depends upon one’s definition of sovereign and dependent. For ease’s sake, I used the two lists available at Wikipedia (‘List of sovereign states’ and ‘Dependent territory’), which are probably as accurate as one can be in the delicate realm of international politics. For countries with double-barrelled names such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, the use of just one name was acceptable.

For the map, I classified each country/territory into one of three categories: lands that have had their names taken directly as act names (red); lands with names only incorporated in part into a act name (blue); and lands whose names have not been used by an act as yet (grey). Lands in red may also fall into the blue category, of course, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just colour them red (click to enlarge):

countries-band-names

Countries with acts named directly after them (not including generic compilation albums): Albania, Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia (but not Herzegovina), Brazil, Burma (but not Myanmar), Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, both Cote D’Ivoire and Ivory Coast, Cuba, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea (but not North or South), Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Nevis (but not Saint Kitts), Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, Vatican City, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.

Countries whose names could not be found in an act’s name: Andorra, Bahrain, Cameroon, Central African Republic, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Zambia.

Here is a list of countries that have only had their names taken in part for a musical act’s name (i.e. all those countries in blue on the map), and their most famous appellative exponent (given that some or most aren’t actually at all famous). This map is absolutely, not at all, authoritative, but does represent the efforts of a day ‘well-spent’ on the Internet:

Afghanistan: The Afghan Whigs

Algeria: Ensemble of West Algeria

Angola: DJ Angola

Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua Bay

Armenia: The Mad Armenians

Australia: Australian Jazz Quartet

Austria: Austrian Death Machine

Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra

Belize: Belize Affair

Benin: Jiji du Benin

Bhutan: Bhutan Philharmonic

Bolivia: Bolivia Manta

Botswana: The Botswanas

Brunei: Sultan of Brunei

Bulgaria: The Bulgarian

Burkina Faso: Burkina

Cape Verde: Cabo Verde Show

Chile: Voces Unidas por Chile

Croatia: Ivan Hrvatska

Cyprus: Sunburn in Cyprus

Czech Republic: Czech

Dominican Republic: Dominicanada

Ecuador: The Ecuador Three

Eritrea: Carta d’Eritrea

Estonia: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Greece: Greece 2000

Guatemala: Vitali from Guatemala

Haiti: Haiti Twoubadou

Hungary: Hungry Kids of Hungary

Ireland: Scary Éire

Kazakhstan: West Kazakhstan Philharmonic Orchestra

Latvia: Gas of Latvia

Lesotho: Tau Ea Lesotho

Liberia: Liberian Children’s Choir

Lithuania: The Lithuanian Empire

Malawi: Malawi Rocks

Moldova: Planeta Moldova

Namibia: From Namibia With Love

New Zealand: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Niger: Lapis Niger

Pakistan: Les Amis au Pakistan

Palau: DJ Palau

Paraguay: Paraguay Zoo

Phillippines: DJ Jester the Filipino Fist

Portugal: Portugal.The Man

Samoa: Angry Samoans

Sao Tome and Principe: Sao Tome Orchestra

Senegal: Ensemble National du Sénégal

Serbia: Xavier Serbia

Slovenia: Slovene Octet

South Africa: Hugh Masekela & the Union of South Africa

Taiwan: Tex Taiwan

Tajikistan: Samo Tajikistan

Tanzania: Master Musicians of Tanzania

Togo: Togo Project

United Kingdom: U.K. Subs

Vanuatu: Vanuatu Tuvali

Venezuela: Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela

Yemen: Rosa Yemen

As for non-integral dependent territories, there really aren’t that many anymore; most have been granted independence, integrated directly into the parent state (French Guyana, Hong Kong, or Hawaii, for example), or are so tiny or small that they wouldn’t even register on the map (some are literally rocks barely rising above the sea). For prudence’s sake, I’m limiting myself to listing territories here visible on this map. Bermuda, Greenland, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Palestine and Puerto Rico all pass the band-name test; the Falkland Islands and Western Sahara do not. In any event, geographically-inclined artists still have a surprisingly large amount of untapped country names to choose from.

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