Picking a title for an album is easy for a pop artist.

I’ve been stewing about titles a lot lately.  In fact, the show that I announced on this blog as Garage Band a few months ago, that opens at George Street Playhouse in the fall,  is undergoing a title change (tell me what you think Garage Band is about, and then go and read what it really is about, and you’ll understand why I’m making the change.)

While I was keeping myself up late at night trying to find the perfect title, I started to think about other art forms that title their work.  Painters title their stuff, and novelists, of course, title their books (which is probably as close as a comparison to titling a show).  And then there are the musicians who title their songs (which usually takes on the big lyrical/musical hook) . . . but they also title their albums.

And how do they pick a title for their albums?

Well, in most cases, they just pick a song from that album that defines the 10-13 song collection, and then they’re done.

Easy, peasy.

But not only easy.  It’s also good marketing.  They’re able to push a tune that they may want to push, getting it just a little deeper into the popular cultural lexicon.  And maybe get people singing it in their heads a little more often.

In the theater, the title usually comes first, and then Authors decide if there should be a title tune.

Sondheim is a big fan of a “title song” (Sunday in the Park, Merrily, Sweeney Todd, Company, Into The Woods, etc.).  R&H wasn’t (Carousel, South Pacific, King and I, Pipe Dream, etc.)

Other examples of some big shows without a title song:  Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, Once, West Side Story, South Pacific, Carousel, Cats, Pippin, Godspell, Billy Elliot, The Producers, The Secret Garden, etc.

Honestly, there is no natural conclusion here.  I’m not suggesting that all shows should choose a song from their show as their title, or that we should always write a title tune to help reinforce the title (but it is worth thinking about).

But since picking a title (and then reinforcing that title) is arguably the most important marketing decision Authors of musicals (and Producers) can make, it’s definitely worth considering.

And it’s what we did with Garage Band, which is now titled Gettin’ The Band Back Together (which happens to be one of the big tunes in the show).

 

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Comments
  • David Levy says:

    Nice post, but Allegro does have a title song.

    “Brisk, lively, merry and bright – Allegro!
    Same tempo, morning and night – Allegro!
    Don’t stop, whatever you do.
    Do something dizzy and new
    Keep up the hullabaloo
    Allegro!”

  • Elisa Christina Clayton says:

    I like the new title!

  • Sue says:

    I like “Garage Band” much better, I have to say.

    When I write my musical, it’s going to be called “Best Musical”.

    ;O)

  • Randi says:

    It’s too bad ‘Once’ didn’t include the Swell Season song ‘Once’. So so beautiful.

    Congrats on the progress, Ken!

  • Steven J. Conners says:

    That’ll be really hard to get on a marquee. Your first thought was the best. A now title. Easy to remember: “Garage Band”. But waadda I know.
    —SJC

  • Rich says:

    I also prefer Garage Band. Here are some other suggestions, if you are not yet locked in:

    Re-Band

    Breaking Band

    Band Again

    Dueling Band Joe’s

    Band Brothers

  • Kay bilka says:

    I really love the original title. But that a…. computer company may object to its use.
    New one is toooo long. But what do I know.

  • Misha says:

    Garage Band sounds better…much more catchy. The other title is too long.

  • Marc Schwartz says:

    Hey Ken,
    Great topic and as musical comedy involved as I am the show’s title as a song is something I’ve thought about. However, just so you’re totally accurate, as one of the few people in the country that can honestly say they’ve worked on a production of “Allegro” (and loved it by the way, but I agree it needs a rewrite) there is the title song near the end of the second act.

    Thanks for suggesting this topic…would be a great test question in a musical theatre class.

    Will be watching for your new show.

  • I was once going to title an album “Bad Girl Trapped In A Good Girl’s Body” til I googled it and found out it was a tagline for a porn site.

    I always tell people to google possible titles in case it brings up something potentially embarrassing, or some kind of conflict.

    I like the new title better than “Garage Band” — it gives you a clue as to what the show is about. “Garage Band” is too vague. The first image that pops into my head is some nerdy teen alone in a room with an out of tune guitar and a laptop. Glad you changed it.

  • Dan Ellison says:

    I liked the title “Garage Band” and I am of an age (50+) where I can relate to the storyline, having been in a rock group in high school (albeit short-lived and only one gig). “Gettin’ the Band Back Together” without more, makes me think it will be about the group, “The Band” (saw them, when they toured with Bob Dylan in 1974!) Is it too late to change the title to “Back to the Garage Band?” Regardless, I always enjoy reading your blog.

  • Marco says:

    I dont know Ken; I kind of like the new name, but at the same time I don’t. I know you are pretty much set, but another option could be “Garage Band Assemble!”. Sort of a play on the “Avengers” comic book saying where the call on all superheroes to come back together.

    I can already see a comic book style promo…heck I can even design one for you if you like!

  • Larry says:

    Ken, I’ve thought about it for two days and I just can’t get past the fact that I like the new name MUCH less than the old name (but I understand why you wanted to change it). I think the new one is just too many words (maybe just ONE too many!).

    A play currently running in Hartford is called “Becoming Dr. Ruth” (great show); they changed the name from “Dr. Ruth All The Way”, a commendable decision. Five words to three words.

    Maybe “The Band – Together Again” would work (hopefully won’t be thought of as a reference to the band called The Band!). Or leave the “band” thing out completely. So, maybe “A Broken Afternoon”; “Back To New Jersey”.

    Maybe “Back To The Band”. If you like the missing letter word, how about “Makin’ The Band”.

    Anyway, feel free to use any of those ideas if you think it makes sens; no charge!

    Larry.

  • Brady Amoon says:

    I also think Cats has a title song- Jellicle Cats!

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