I’m reading Killing Bono right now and thoroughly enjoying it. But it’s reminding me of this thing that really bugs me when people write about music – how to write about the band.
Rolling Stone and most other music publications use the plural, as in “U2 are busy on tour right now,” so I’m assuming that’s the standard, but it annoys me, because it doesn’t feel right to me and therefore, reading it breaks the flow. I can see it if you’re talking about, say, The Shins. The band name is a plural, so it makes sense to me to say, “The Shins are busy on tour right now.” But for a band with a singular name, I’d use “is” instead of “are.” It feels better. I think of a band with a singular name, like U2 or Radiohead or whatever, and for me it’s analogous to a word like “family.” Yeah, a family is made up of individuals, but altogether it’s a unit.
I suppose if it’s important to pick one and go with it, “are” is the better one, because saying “The Shins is busy on tour” sounds even stranger than saying “U2 are busy on tour,” and I also have a feeling somewhere in the back of my brain that this particular usage started with British journalists.
I’m sure some of you grammarians can explain exactly why this is, and I’m certainly not trying to convince any of you that I’m right. It’s just one of those things that bugs me because I’m neurotic, really.
Besides, I’m not really the one who has to worry about it, since Sammi is our family’s budding rock journalist anyway.