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Mötley Crüe's Hollywood Walk of Fame star, which shows the two metal umlauts used in the band's name

A metal umlaut is a diacritic that is sometimes used gratuitously or decoratively over letters in the names of hard rock or heavy metal bands—for example those of Blue Öyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Motörhead, The Accüsed and Mötley Crüe.

Contents

UsageEdit

Among English speakers, the use of umlaut marks and other diacritics with a blackletter typeface is a form of foreign branding intended to give a band's logo a Teutonic quality—connoting stereotypes of boldness and brutality presumably associated with Germanic and Nordic cultures. Its use has also been attributed to a desire for a "gothic horror" feel.[1] The metal umlaut is not generally intended to affect the pronunciation of the band's name, unlike the umlaut in German (where the letters u and ü represent distinct vowels).

HistoryEdit

The first gratuitous use of the umlaut in the name of a hard rock or metal band appears to have been by Blue Öyster Cult, in 1970. Blue Öyster Cult's website states it was added by guitarist and keyboardist Allen Lanier,[2] but rock critic Richard Meltzer claims to have suggested it to their producer and manager Sandy Pearlman just after Pearlman came up with the name: "I said, 'How about an umlaut over the O?' Metal had a Wagnerian aspect anyway."[3]

ReactionsEdit

Speakers of languages which use an umlaut to designate a pronunciation change may understand the intended effect, but perceive the result differently. When Mötley Crüe visited Germany, singer Vince Neil said the band couldn't figure out why "the crowds were chanting, Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh!"[4]

These decorative umlauts have been parodied in film and fiction; in an interview about the mockumentary film This Is Spın̈al Tap, fictional rocker David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) says, "It's like a pair of eyes. You're looking at the umlaut, and it's looking at you."[5] The heavy metal parody band Gwar parodied the use of metal umlauts in a lyric insert included with its first record, stylizing the song names with gratuitous diacritics.[6] In 1997, the satirical newspaper The Onion published an article titled "Ünited Stätes Toughens Image With Umlauts."[7]

Band or album name examplesEdit

English-speaking countriesEdit

Other countriesEdit

  • Аквариум - Russian rock band, whose name is stylized as "Åквариум" on their logo, and they use "Å" as their symbol.
  • Crashdïet – Swedish glam metal band.
  • Die Ärzte – German punk band, have used three dots over the "Ä" since their 2003 album Geräusch. The normal two-dot umlaut, Die Ärzte, is simply correct German for The Doctors.
  • Flëur – Ukrainian ethereal wave band – not actually an umlaut but rather a Cyrillic ё, which is pronounced the same as eu in the French word fleur (flower).
  • Girugämesh – Japanese rock band often stylise their name with an umlaut over the a.
  • Infernal – Danish electronic band, was stylized as Infërnal on their album Waiting for Daylight.
  • Insidiöus Törment – Liechtenstein-based old school heavy metal band who use gratuitous umlauts, but pronounce them nonetheless.
  • KobaïanFrench progressive rock band Magma sing in this constructed language, which has many diereses in its written form.
  • Közi – Japanese rock musician.
  • Mägo de Oz – Spanish folk metal band.
  • Moottörin Jyrinä – Finnish heavy metal band, the umlaut in Moottörin is gratuitous, but the one in Jyrinä is not.
  • Motör Militia – Bahraini thrash metal band.
  • Mütiilation – French black metal band.
  • Püdelsi – Polish rock band.

Video games and booksEdit

Other products with decorative umlautsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Garofalo, Rebee (1997). Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the USA. Allyn & Bacon. p. 292. ISBN 0-205-13703-2. Some groups, for example Blue Öyster Cult and Motörhead, added gratuitous umlauts to their names to conjure up a more generic gothic horror, a practice that continued into the 1980s with Mötley Crüe and others.
  2. ^ "BÖC Retrospectively: Stalk Forrest Group 1969–1970". blueoystercult.com. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  3. ^ Lisa Gidley (2000). "Hell Holes: Spin̈al Tap's main man explains the importance of the umlaut". CMJ. Retrieved September 12, 2006.
  4. ^ Eric Spitznagel (November 27, 2009). "Motley Crue's Vince Neil is Finally Bored With Boobs". Vanity Fair.
  5. ^ CMJ New Music Monthly Oct 2000 https://books.google.com/books?id=zioEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA11&dq=%22looking%20at%20the%20umlaut%22&pg=PA11
  6. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Gwar-Hell-O/release/1973195
  7. ^ https://www.theonion.com/united-states-toughens-image-with-umlauts-1819564308

External linksEdit