The Napoleon Solos

The Napoleon Solos appeared in Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel Juliet, Naked; their only album, which sounds as if it would be quite good, was The Napoleon Solos Sing Their Songs and Play Their Guitars. Napoleon Solo was the charming spy played by Robert Vaughn in the 1960s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This clip will give you the general idea.



Nine Black Alps

Manchester alt-rockers, formed in 2003 and named after a line in Sylvia Plath’s poem The Couriers: Frost on a leaf, the immaculate/Cauldron, talking and crackling/All to itself on the top of each/of nine black Alps. Their most successful record was Shot Down, a No 25 single in the UK in 2004.


Nitzer Ebb

“We started off life as La Comédie De La Mort [from the book by Théophile Gautier], but soon had enough of that French Romanticism bollocks, and made up the name Nitzer Ebb by cutting up words and letters and pulling them randomly from a hat, à la Bowie, to try to get something deliberately Germanic without actually using German words.”
(Douglas McCarthy, quoted in a very interesting interview with FACT magazine, 3 June 2009)


Folk duo from Leamington Spa, England, who reached No 1 in the UK charts in 2005 with the poignant JCB Song. A fan writes: “Nizlopi was the name of a girl of Hungarian extraction that Luke the singer was in love with when he was about 13.”

No Vacancy

In Richard Linklater’s fine 2003 musical comedy School of Rock, Dewey Finn (Jack Black) gets kicked out of his own band for playing 20-minute guitar solos and stage-diving on to non-existent fans. No Vacancy go on to win the Battle of the Bands but the audience are unimpressed: they want to hear Dewey and his new band of 10-year-olds, The School of Rock.

The No-Talents

French punks who gave their first album, in 1996, the disarmingly modest (and not entirely accurate) title 100% No Talent. They toured the US in 1998 but broke up the following year. Here, in all its one-minute-eleven-second glory, is We Have No Talent. One of the great punk band names, as is …


From Burnley, Lancashire, their anthem I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher, originally released in 1979, reached No 35 in the UK charts when reissued after the former prime minister’s death in 2013. Singer Mike Hargreaves received 850 votes as Green Party candidate for Burnley in the 2015 general election.

Numb Nuts

Joey’s sister’s boyfriend’s band in Friends (season 8, “The One with Monica’s Boots”).