Have you ever noticed how many prominent people and organisations in the UK’s university sector have names that sound exactly like they should be taking the stage at Glastonbury?
No? Well, University of Nottingham registrar Paul Greatrix has, and he used his Registrarism blog to hypothesise about what the big hitters of the higher education world might sound like if they were, indeed, popular beat combos.
“The Russell Group”, he observes, could be a “swaggering, over-confident ageing southern sextet” with “strong musical pedigree” and “extraordinary chart success over many, many years”, while “Million+” suggests a band of “chippy northern upstarts and indie darlings, rarely troubling the charts”.
There are political acts, including “Cable and Willetts” – an “improbably successful DJ and producer duo who, despite rarely appearing live together have enjoyed some modest critical if not popular success”, and “RAB Charge”, who are “cockney hardcore thrash metal merchants – their stock keeps rising”.
“Wu Tang UCLan” are a “legendary Preston-based hip hop collective”, while “MOOCs”, an “ultra hip techno duo”, have “yet to benefit from all the free downloads they’ve given away”. Meanwhile, Dr Greatrix insists that “The Registrars” are an “impossibly cool, utterly essential indie quartet” who are “hugely under-rated” – perhaps not a surprising claim, in the circumstances.
Times Higher Education was not immune to the blog’s bandification treatment, with Phil Baty, our editor at large and rankings editor, given the alter ego “Ranking Phil B”: a “legendary toaster and founding member of North East reggae collective, League Tables” who has “continued to enjoy solo success and many international tour dates”. (At the time of writing, “Ranking Phil B” is gigging in China.)
To keep the game going, Dr Greatrix turned to Twitter and asked people to suggest their own #HigherEdBands.
Paul Inman (@pinman), Oxford Brookes University’s pro vice-chancellor and dean of the faculty of technology, design and environment, suggested “The PVCs”, an “utterly uncool but seminal punk band” and Tom Hay, head of postgraduate recruitment at Cardiff University (@acepins), went for “R.E.F.” – a “4 piece College rock band whose global impact diminished following the loss of their drummer”.
Douglas Blackstock (@ResourcesDirect) wanted to hear “Regulating all over the world”, the biggest hit by “Status QAA”, while Hugh Jones (@HughBSJ) handed a promotion to 1970s American rockers Dr Hook, declaring them “Professor Hook”.
Dr Greatrix took his inspiration from a post on Hopi Sen’s A Blog From the Backroom, which listed the “Top Ten political cliches that would be great band names”.
Among them were “The Third Way”, an “achingly cool nouvelle vague” group, “whose thirteen minute ‘A new dawn has broken’ is a caustic hymn to the morning after the night before”, and “Beer and Sandwiches”, who will “never be cool, but forty years of touring and seven Gold albums tells you there’ll always be a good audience for Pub rock with half an eye on Britain’s music hall tradition”.
Send links to topical, insightful and quirky online comment by and about academics to email@example.com