Ëvërÿthïng's mörë mëtäl wïth ümläüts. Maybe it's becäuse they can make änything look vaguely Germänic, and everything söunds scarier in German. Or maybe it's jüst because they look cöol, especially whën they're printed in a Göthic typeface. Either way, the diaeresis has becöme the text equivalent of giving ä Devil-hörned salute. Despite the title, however, the Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut is sometimes used in music genres besides metäl.
Othèr űnnæcessåry diácrîtiçal mârks, FaцxCyяillic, and gratuitøus slashed ø's alsø shów up occâsioñally in mûsic, althøugh theý're Иot as pøpular or icônic of metäl as the ümläüt. Excessive use of this trope becomes £33†.
Üsed very frequently in parödies, where band names can even have Um̈lauẗs over con̈son̈an̈ẗs; in fact it's well on its way to Discredited Tropedom if it's not there already.
It must be nöted that this tröpe is about the gratuitoüs usage of umlauts, not "any usage of umlauts". Some artists actually have an ümlaut in their band or personal names. Einstürzende Neubauten and Björk are therefore not examples of this trope.
Incidentally, the only letters in German that include umlauts are ä, ö and ü. They are pronounced, respectively, as: the e in bed (like a combination of a & e); i in sir (o + e); and a sound best described as a French u, made by forming the letter o with your lips, and voicing "eeeee" (u + e). The bands should therefore be pronounced "Mo-tuhrr-head" and "Blue Uhy-ster cult". (If you have a non-rhotic accent, the first two sounds are changed to "air" and "ur".) Ironically, the idea that a heavy rock band could make itself look hard and tough by adding umlauts is one that provokes amusement among many native German speakers, who apparently associate the letter "ö" with "cute", "sweet", "cuddly"...
In common Metal parlance, however, gratuitous umlauts are not pronounced, but this hasn't stopped fans of Queensrÿche asking about the Ÿ.
Not to be confused with other uses of diaereses (also called trema), in which diacritic marks identical to umlauts can appear in some English words. A diaeresis was traditionally used in vowel pairings where the second vowel is pronounced in a separate syllable, hence they are found in archaic spellings of words such as coöperate, preëmptive or Zodiäc. This usage is largely obsolete, though it is still part of the house style of The New Yorker magazine and MIT Technology Review, but survives in words like naïve which are borrowed from languages which do use diaereses to varying degrees. In modern English, umlaut is used in one special case, over "e" at the end of the word, where it denotes a pronounced "e" instead of silent "e", such as the Brontë siblings.
Gratuitous umlauts usually cause unnecessary embarrassment amongst the native speakers of those languages, whose ortography does use umlauts. An umlaut usually denotes the vowel is pronounced as frontal. Ä denotes a frontal a, like "cat", while A without umlauts is the back vowel, like "car". Likewise, Ö denotes a frontal o phoneme [usually denoted in English as ir or ur ], not unlike "sir", while O without umlaut is back vowel O, like "dog". Languages which use umlaut vowel shift are German, Swedish, Finnish, Skolt Sami, Karelian, Estonian, Hungarian, Luxembourgish, North Frisian, Saterlandic, Emiliano-Romagnolo, Rotuman, Slovak, Turkish, Tatar, and Turkmen. Often Ä and Ö are treated as completely separate letters from A and O, appearing at the end of the alphabet beyond Z.
Subtrope of Myspeld Rökband. See also Xtreme Kool Letterz and Punctuation Shaker.
open/close all folders
In a non-musical example, the DC Comics universe used to have a city called Blüdhaven, which was to Gotham City as New Jersey is to New York and was so dark and corrupt it grew an ümlaut. It mainly appeared in Nightwing and Batgirl, but was eventually destroyed during the Infinite Crisis crossover event.
The city appeared in the DCAU as well, in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Grudge Match".
Another non-musical example in Gold Digger. When Gina defeats The merged Armageddon, the explosion is a massive BÜM.
Unicode represents it as "Spın̈al Tap", since not only does the n have an ümlaut, but the i has no dot over it. While the dotless i does exist in Unicode (for example, in Turkish), the n with an umlaut doesn't, which makes it a bit trickier to type (you have to use a "combining diaeresis" character). (For the record, the character n̈ does in fact exist in some Mesoamerican languages, where it represents the same sound as English -ng.)
In the novel Zodiac by Neal Stephenson, a local metal band is mentioned, and off-handedly dismissed by a metal fan as a "two-umlaut band".
In The Lord of the Rings and other works by Tolkien, the Elvish language Quenya has diaeresis that are superfluous, but not random (that is, they're predictable and they can be left out without change of pronounciation or meaning). They're mostly there to remind English speakers to pronounce final E's (as in únótimë) and split combinations of vowels that don't form a diphthong (as in Eärendil). On the other hand, his use of acute and circumflex accents is significant and marks a difference in pronounciation.
The setting of the InheritanceTrilogyCycle is called Alagaësia, pronounced: Ala-gay-sea-ah. The ümlaut over the e is completely superfluous and does not affect the pronunciation of the name in any way.
Actually, in the Ancient Language (language of the elves), which is the constructed language Christopher Paolini basically ripped off of old Norse, the diaeresis represents the elongation of the sound (e.g. ä = ay). For example, he explains in one of his appendices about the shift from the elven Äenora (ayenora) to the more human Anora (ahnora). Christopher Paolini made a comment about how Alagaësia is supposed to be pronounced Al-ah-gay-ee-zee-uh, but when us English speakers pronounce it, we mostly drop the ë because it sounds relatively the same without it, plus it's awkward to say.
It gets even stranger: In German, it does change the pronunciation - from Al-la-gä-si-anote German pronunciation to Al-la-ga-e-si-anote yes, still German pronunciation. The problem? The first one is the intended one.
Rodrick's band Löded Diper from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (though Greg says he probably doesn't know how to spell "Loaded Diaper" anyway).
In Year Zero, one of the characters — who is made out of a substance that is literally the heaviest metal in the universe — is named Özzÿ.
Incidentally, band names with Heavy Metal Umlauts on them tend to look very silly to Finnish-speakers, because they actually know how to pronounce umlauted letters. The same is true for speakers of most other languages that use umlauts (German, Swedish etc).
Yes. Umlauts are seen as weaker versions of their parent vowel in German.
Norwegian and Danish do not actually use umlauts, but everyone knows (due to exposure to Swedish and to a lesser degree the other languages that use them) that ö is equivalent to ø, ä to æ and so on.
In case anyone is curious the Swedish word for Popcorn is, well, "popcorn". Since the word is imported directly from English however it does not follow phonetic standards. A Swedish rendering of how the word is actually pronounced would be "påppkårn".
In an episode of Reaper, a wannabe rocker/Dreadful Musician whose great idea of a stage name is just "Ryan" almost does a literal Deal with the Devil and becomes the even-more-ludicrous-sounding "Ryän".
In Kamen Rider Gaim, the Transformation Trinket is the Sengoku Driver. Fitting in with Gaim's samurai theme, "sengoku" means "warring states" but is this instance is spelled in such a way that "states" can also be read as "awesome." Fansubbers Aesir woolseyized this as the Wärring Driver with an umlaut over the A.
There was a funny real-life incident when Motörhead was playing in Germany, and the fans chanted the bands name as it's pronounced in German. Like the Motley Crue example, this could just be an urban legend, though, since it wouldn't be pronounced all that differently than it is in English.
And within Motörhead, their guitarist Würzel
Title of their 2010 album and the following tour: The Wörld is Yours. Germans can't mispronounce this, by the way.
There is a German cover band called AD/AC Motörwelt (which, you guessed it, covers AC/DC and Motörhead). The name is strictly for puns sake - ADAC Motorwelt is the journal of the ADAC, the largest German car interest club.
German punk rock band Die Ärzte (The Doctors), whose name in normal German is written with an 'Ä' already, tend to use an A with three dots. (Also, they decided on the name because there wasn't a band with Ä as the first letter back then.)
Maximo Park probably counts as gratuitous since the ümlaut apparently doesn't change the pronunciation in any way.
Used/parodied by the Canadian indie pop/rock group Moxy Früvous.
Though it's not normally part of the band name, the cover of Kid 606's Shout at the Dönernote the umlaut in "döner" is correct in Turkish has an umlaut over the zero in the band logo, since the artwork parodies Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil.
Kypck (Kursk) plays with this as the spelling looks just weird but is actually correct Cyrillic. Although their website uses Mock Cyrillic.
Hüsker Dü took their name from a Danish phrase and added gratuitous umlauts. They used the name because they didn't want to be pigeonholed as just another Hardcore Punk band.
Not completely gratuitous, as the name of the band indeed would be pronounced as if it contained the umlauts. The umlaut changes the 'u' phoneme from back "oo" to front "ew" sound.
Rap duo Dälek (pr. "die-uh-lek") use the umlaut to combine the word "dialect" (as pronounced in exaggerated rap dialect) with the popular Doctor Who villains. A neat little three-layer-cake of a pun.
As in his lyric "Deadverse spoken with broken dälek"
(Which means it's actually a diaresis, and not strictly a heavy-metal umlaut)
Incidentially, it's also Serbian for "far away".
Averted by Icelandic artist Björk. The umlaut on o is NOT gratuitous. It is her real first name, meaning "birch" in English.
One band deliberately misspelled "cornet" as "corønet", parodying both the Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut and a very common misspelling of "cornet" (which spellcheckers won't pick up, because it's also a real word).
NǽnøĉÿbbŒrğ VbëřřĦōlökäävsŦ. How is this pronounced? The expected answer is "Nanocyborg Uberholocaust". The real answer is that you just wince and look away.
The Canadian Celtic/Appalachian/Acadian/folk band Scrüj MacDuhk (now either disbanded or simply known as The Duhks, depending on your point-of-view) is a decidedly non-metal example of this.
Pop singer Jason Derülo is also a non-metal version of this. His real name is Jason Desrouleaux.
A neat subversion: derülo is exactly how a German or Scandinavian would pronounce desrouleaux.
R&B singer and actress Mýa is an example of this not applied just to performers, because Mýa is her birth name.
Rapper Jay-Z had a version of this (Jaÿ-Z) on his very first album, Reasonable Doubt.
Subverted with the Cirque du Soleil song "Pokinoï". This is a legitimate use of the symbol, but it's a diaeresis for French: it shows that it's pronounced with an "oy" rather than a "wa".
Röyksopp is a Norwegian electronica duo. The reason for the alternative orthography is not clear, but one might wonder if it has something to do with how "røyksopp" simply is the Norwegian word for "puffball" (ø in Norwegian is equivalent in sound value to German and Swedish ö).
Daniel Amos (an alternative rock band you could only mistake for metal if you've never heard any metal before) released an album named Calhöun. On the album cover, they abbreviated their name as "Dä".
Green Jellÿ. They were Green Jellö until the trademark infringement suit. The band states that the "ÿ" in their name is pronounced like an "o," so their name is still pronounced "Green Jell-O."
Visual Kei band Girugämesh proves that even Japanese bands can rock the purely aesthetic umlaut.
Gwar parodied this with the song titles on their album Hell-O: Almost every song on the album has at least one gratuitous umlaut or other diacritical mark in it - "I'm in Löve (With a Deåd Dog)" for instance.
Lady Gaga's song "Yoü and I."
Kind of meta example in DÖF (Deutsch-Österreichisches Feingefühl) which is not metal, but the name is a shout-out/take-that to DAF (Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft) who can be termed metal.
Though this should fall under the same rule as Einstürzende Neubauten - the o-umlaut is part of the regular spelling for Österreich (Austria), and therefore anything but gratuitious.
"Head Öf The Pack" by Skull Fist.
Nanowar Of Steel does this with the titles of the songs "Intrue" and "Outrue" ("ue" being a way to represent the German "ü"). It's also a pun on how they play only "true metal" (of steel!).
Dylan Moran talks about "A really exclusive place called Umlaut. You probably haven't heard of it. Well, it's not actually called Umlaut, it's just two dots over a U which isn't there."
Umläut: Game of Metal the name tells everything really. A review here.
Don't Starve has Wigfrid, An actress pösing as a valkyrie. Every single "O" that she says will be an "Ö". Sö her speech söunds sömething like this.
One of the characters in Guitar Hero is named Lars Ümlaüt.
Rock Band 2 has an achievement called "Needs More Umlauts!", which is awarded the first time you create a band logo.
This is possibly a double reference to Blue Oyster Cult, who started this trope and gained more popularity through SNL's "Needs More Cowbell" sketch, which the Rock Band games make a LOT of references to.
Ecstatica, or Ečstati̊ca, features a heavy metal caron as well as a an I with a ring (which doesn't exist in Unicode and has to be composed using a combining character). Cover art here.
The Heavy Metal game Brütal Legend, starring Jack Black as a roädie who gets sucked into a fantasy world fueled by The Power of Rock, features a Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut in its title. In Xbox Magazine, the creator confessed that the umlaut is there solely because, as a game about heavy metal, it just had to be. (Oddly enough, "brütal" pronounced in German would sound like the correct French pronunciation of "brutal.")
Yahtzee in his review of the game consistently tries to pronounce it "Brew-tal Legend". In the credits he states that since he's studied German he's not letting the umlaut go unpronounced.
Done so very well. If you want to sample some "ü", listen to him. If you couldn't guess from the article, English speakers tend to have problems with it.
Inverted with Einhänder. The title is correct German, but the narrator incorrectly pronounces the A as a non-umlaut (back) vowel.
The first mark in The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is the banker... named Barön Ömötö. However, the one voice clip that plays (an advertisement) pronounces all the ö's long, making his name sound like oe-MOE-toe.
In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Baddest of the Bands, Strong Bad forms a band with the King of Town and Homsar in his effort to win the Battle Royale of the Bands (reluctantly, since they were the only people not already in the contest). They end up calling themselves D-Ö-I.
Also, when looking at the banner for Bubs' and Coach Z's band, Two-O-Duo, Strong Bad mentions that the name would "be much cooler with a few umlauts".
In the Escape Velocity data files, every EV-specific resource type includes a gratuitous umlaut (e.g. "shïp" for spacecraft, "düde" for named characters, etc), to avoid collisions with the built-in system resources.
The lack of this trope in Atlus' localized versions of the first two Super Robot Wars Original Generation games led to some serious Fan Wank over the presumed "correct" spellings of certain characters' names which continues to this very day. The biggest one being over Sänger Zonvolt, who due to the way Japanese phonetics works, has his name pronounced as "Ze-n-ga-ru" in games that feature voice acting, thus resulting in a number of fans who insist that his name is "Zengar" or some variant thereof.
In PVP, most of the main cast are members of the fictional band "Djörk"... "Nerd rock forever", as one of them put it. Originally, they wanted to call it "Umlaüt" but it turned out to have been already taken by a real band.
It seems to be a trend. There are also the yogurt chains Freshëns and Yogen Früz.
The reason it looks Danish to English eyes is the similarity with "Copenhagen". A real Artistic License - Linguistics, because the Danish name of Copenhagen is actually København.
Häagen-Dazs' competitor from the 80's, Frusen Glädjé, is a subversion since it's an actual Swedish phrase meaning "frozen joy" or "frozen delight", except that the proper spelling has no accent over the last "e" (and the accent seems to have been to get Americans to pronounce the "e" instead of saying "froosen gladge").
"Möben"- or rather, Moben, a well-known British kitchen maker- responded to complaints of passing itself off as German by pointing out that the "umlauts" are not part of the name itself, merely an "artistic device" that formed a part of their logo and "that any resemblance with an umlaut is coincidental".
There's also the Swedish homewares chain (and, naturally, IKEA clone) Clas Ohlsson, whose British advertising goes in for these. "Usefulshöpp" (approximately "usefulshurp"), anyone?
And for those wondering, the Swedish word for "shop" (not "shöpp") is actually "butik" (i.e. boutique).
Ävërtëd in the Pörtügüësë längüägë, the umlauts were banned in the last orthographic reform.
Fäil mövë, as "cinqüenta" (seencuentah) and "cinquenta" ("seenkentah") dö nöt rësült in the säme prönünciätiön. The ümlaüts märked whën the Q and the G wöuld make differënt sounds, thüs were far away from uselessdom. The Ç, on the other hand...
Not to speak of til, denoting a nasal sound, such as ã and õ. No wonder "Magellan" is preferred in English over "Magalhães".
In Oulunkylä, a suburb of Helsinki, it is sometimes possible to see a car that looks very much like a police car. Only instead of Poliisi (police) it says Rosvå. Not quite purely decorative, however, as å is pronounced the same as o, only longer, so it almost sounds like rosvo, the Finnish word for thief.
Subverted by Finnish heavy metal band Teräsbetoni. The name means simply "reinforced concrete" in Finnish and the umlaut is not gratuitous.
Subversion: Jäääär is a legitimate word in Estonian (it means "ice-edge") even though it looks totally ridiculous to foreigners.
As is pää-äänenkannattaja (main supporter [newspaper]) in Finnish. Ice edge would be jäänääri or jäänreuna in Finnish. Umlauts are not gratuitous.
Backfired by American heavy metal band Trojan, who used umlaut over 'o' on their concert T-shirts. That failed spectacularly in Sweden, as tröjan means simply "the shirt" in Swedish...