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Is the usage of “are” correct when referring to a team/group/band?

What is correct to say?

Korn* is a great band

OR

Korn* are a great band.

(* You can replace your favourite band's name here)

Of course everybody there is no doubt about the following sentences:

The Beatles are a great band

Led Zeppelin is a great band

But with certain kinds of names, the situation becomes difficult.

Metallica are a great band

OR

Metallica is a great band

Is there any consensus on this matter?

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4  
It is never correct to say either 'Korn are a great band' or 'Korn is a great band', certainly not in the same breath as The Beatles or Led Zeppelin. ;) –  user3444 Feb 2 '11 at 11:32
    
...and a possible duplicate of Is the usage of “are” correct when referring to a team/group/band?, which is itself a dupe of Is staff plural? –  RegDwigнt Feb 2 '11 at 15:44
    
Damn! Why don't these things show up in the Previous questions while I am typing out my question? –  Arjun J Rao Feb 2 '11 at 16:27
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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt, kiamlaluno, nohat Feb 3 '11 at 0:23

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2 Answers

I think that in British English, The Korn are a great band is correct, while in American English, The Korn is a great band.

Again, I'm not sure, but Korn being made of a number of people, the plural might work.

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As far as I can tell, band names are typically treated as a plural if the name of the band starts with "the" and is a plural noun or based around a plural noun -- or more generally, if it seems to be referring to its members as a collection of entities -- and a singular otherwise. So we would have:

  • The Beatles are a great band.
  • Korn is a great band.
  • The Rolling Stones are a great band.
  • Metallica is a great band.
  • Led Zeppelin is a great band.
  • Nine Inch Nails is a great band. (note that the plural noun does not control here)
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2  
This is correct, but only for American English. British English would use are for all of these. –  nohat Feb 3 '11 at 0:21
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