Sigur Rós, Slagsmålskubben – here's how to pronounce those tricky names

You'll never drop a hipster faux-pas again with Tony Naylor's pronunciation primer

Back in ye olden days of TV and radio, everyone knew how to pronounce bands' names. We had DJs, presenters and – for problematic monikers – the BBC pronunciation department to offer guidance. Now, when we're more likely to discover music floating around in the blogosphere or on YouTube, there is no such authority. It's a brave new world of confusion out there, where names both difficult – !!!, Revl9n, Ear Pwr – and seemingly innocuous can cause problems. If you know an idiot who still stubbornly calls MIA Mia, this is for them. Here's our modern music pronunciation primer.

The xx

Simple? So the Guide thought until we mentioned them one day and were met with a blank stare. You know … kids, all wear black … went to the same school as Hot Chip. "Ah," says our clearly much better educated friend, "you mean The 20." Uh!? "The 20, as in Roman numerals." Cue, cautious back-tracking. Could she possibly be right? No, laughs the man at XL. SAY The Ex Ex

Sunn O)))

No funny oooh noise required; it's just pronounced "sun". And, no, that O))) is not an emoticon representing a puzzled bloke with a long beard. That is not how these experimental noisemongers roll. In fact, it mimics the echoing logo of famed amp manufacturers, Sunn. SAY Sun

Toro Y Moi

Here, the chillwave dude combines Spanish (for "the bull and") with the French word for "me". As in pretentious, moi? SAY Toh-roh E Mwah


The Kitsuné-approved electro outfit are simply Slags to their British fans ("which we don't mind at all") and SMK to other bewildered non-Swedes. SAY Sl-Ar-gs-mauls-Kloo-ben

Bon Iver

It's Ivor, as in The Engine, right? Wrong. Bon Iver is Justin Vernon's mispelling of the traditional French greeting, bon hiver, with which you wish someone a "good winter". SAY Bon ee-vairh (ridiculous 'Allo 'Allo accent optional)


Yes, smart arse, they were originally called the Management, but no more. And, no, it isn't the same as MSTKRFT. SAY Em-Gee-Em-Tee

Sigur Rós

When a band's official website ( includes a pronunciation guide, complete with MP3 tutorials read by their bassist, then, clearly, something has not so much been lost, as vapourised, in translation. If you are still blithely calling them Sigur (rhymes with Tigger) Rós (as in Ross-On-Wye), well get this … SAY See-Uhrr Rose

Miike Snow

Resist the temptation to hesssiiitate in the middle there. It's just, Mike, but with two Is. Which makes you wonder why they bothered, really. SAY Miiiiiiiiike Snow, sarcastically.

Loco Dice

He's loco! He's crazy! So surely the techno producer's surname must be pronounced "dee-chey", and mean something equally mad in Spanish. No, it's just dice, as in rolling-a-six. How disappointing. SAY Low-ko d-Ice

Lykke Li

Having assumed, for ages, that "Likely" was the most likely pronunciation of Lykke Li, the Guide was staggered to hear, on Radio 1, that it's definitively "Licky Lee". For shame! Corrected by Jo Whiley. Still, could be worse. One online sage had it pegged as "Leaky Lee". SAY Lick-E Lee


Tony Naylor

The GuardianTramp

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