Celebrity

Musicians Whose Stage Names Are Totally Different From Their Real Names

The stories behind how they chose their pseudonyms are so interesting.

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H.E.R.

Shocking, we know, but the “Slide” singer’s real name is not actually H.E.R.; it’s Gabriella Wilson. The acronym stands for Having Everything Revealed.

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The Weeknd

During a Q&A session on Reddit, the “Blinding Lights” crooner revealed that he hated his real name, Abel Tesfaye, at the start of his career, so he went with The Weeknd instead.

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Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga, real name Stefani Germanotta, has her friends to thank for her moniker. “My friends on the Lower East Side called me Gaga after I decided I like the name Lady Gaga, after the Queen song [‘Radio Ga Ga’],” she told Vogue.com. “I thought it accurately depicted both sides of me.”

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Cardi B

The rapper’s real name is Belcalis Almánzar, and in a 2017 interview with Jimmy Fallon, she revealed that her pseudonym was actually inspired by the liquor brand Bacardi.

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Maluma

Although the Latin artist’s real name is Juan Luis Londoño Arias, his stage name is actually a tribute to his family. To form it, he put together the first syllable from the first names of his mom, dad, and sister.

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Lil Nas X

There’s a reason the “Old Town Road” rapper’s new song “Montero” carries that title: The 21-year-old’s real name is Montero Lamar Hill.

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SZA

SZA’s real name is Solána Imani Rowe, and like her middle name (which means faith), her stage name has a religious meaning.

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Elton John

Elton John’s a household name by now, but it’s not the “Tiny Dancer” singer’s real name at all. The legendary musician’s name is actually Reginald Kenneth Dwight.

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Lizzo

Originally, Lizzo went by “Lissa,” a shortened version of her real name, Melissa Viviane Jefferson. However, she later found inspiration in Jay-Z’s song “Izzo” and changed her stage name accordingly.

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Halsey

The “Without Me” singer’s birth name is Ashley Frangipane, but she decided to get creative with her pseudonym. Not only is Halsey an anagram of her real name, but it was inspired by Brooklyn’s Halsey Street station.

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Jay-Z

By now, everyone knows the name Jay-Z, which was inspired by the rapper’s mentor, Jaz-O. However, his real name is Shawn Carter.

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Rihanna

The “Love on the Brain” singer was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, but she ultimately decided to go by her middle name only.

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Lorde

Lorde’s birth name couldn’t be more different from her stage name. The “Royals” singer was born Ella Yelich-O'Connor, which is a far cry from what we know her as today.

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King Princess

King Princess’ real name is Mikaela Straus, but in an interview with MTV News, she revealed that her pseudonym “encompasses the complexity of [her] gender.”

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Nicki Minaj

The rapper’s name is actually a spin on her birth name, which is Onika Tanya Maraj.

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Katy Perry

The “Daisies” singer decided to go by a pseudonym because her real name, Katy Hudson, was too similar to actress Kate Hudson.

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Ludacris

The rapper explained the meaning behind his moniker in a Reddit AMA. “My first name is ‘Chris’ and if you look in the dictionary under the term ‘ludicrous’ then it means ‘crazy, wild, ridiculous,’” he explained. His real name is Christopher Brian Bridges.

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Miley Cyrus

Although the “Prisoner” singer kept her last name, her birth name is actually Destiny Hope Cyrus. She rose to fame as Miley (a shortened form of “Smiley,” her family’s nickname for her) and made it her legal name at 15 years old.

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Charli XCX

Charli XCX, real name Charlotte Emma Aitchison, chose her pseudonym based on a screen name she used as a teenager.

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Calvin Harris

According to Digital Spy, the producer chose his stage name because it “sounded a bit more racially ambiguous” than his real name, which is Adam Richard Wiles.

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Snoop Dogg

The rapper’s stage name was actually given to him by his mother because she thought he looked like Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon. His real name, however, is Calvin Cordozar Broadus.

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Common

While it’s hard to imagine Common with any other name, he was actually born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.

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Pink

Pink, whose real name is Alecia Beth Moore, opened up about the meaning behind her pseudonym on Good Morning America. The singer said that there were “lots and lots and lots” of reasons she chose it, some of which were “inappropriate.”

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Drake

Although die-hard fans know that the rapper’s real name is Aubrey Graham, many people remain unaware that his stage name is actually his middle name.

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Lana Del Rey

The Born to Die artist’s stage name was half inspired by a movie star and half inspired by an automobile. However, her real name is Elizabeth Woolridge Grant.

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Macklemore

The rapper’s real name is Ben Haggerty, but his stage name has a really awesome connection to his childhood. Apparently, Macklemore was the name of the superhero he made up as a kid.

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Shania Twain

In 1993, the country star (real name Eilleen Regina Edwards) decided on “Shania” as her stage name, which means “on my way” in Ojibwe.

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Bruno Mars

Peter Gene Hernandez is the “That’s What I Like” crooner’s real name, but his stage name was actually inspired by a nickname that was given to him by his father.

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Pitbull

Not surprisingly, Pitbull wasn’t actually named after a dog breed. Mr. 305’s real name is Armando Christian Pérez.

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