As the classic U2 song goes, “all is quiet on New Year’s Day.” Maybe everyone’s sleeping off the wreckage of the night before, but the first day of the year bears a certain fragile symbolism — new beginnings, a moment of delicate (and increasingly delusional) hope that this year might be better than the last. Well, this time around we got one day of peace and by the evening of 1/2, we had #WWIII trending on Twitter. That’s a hell of a turnaround.
The occasion for our latest bit of social media end-times talk was that Trump ordered an airstrike in Baghdad, killing Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander. It’s a shocking move that has people talking about Trump trying to start a war to keep himself in office, or the fact that assassinating Soleimani may lead to something big — hence #WWIII. And accordingly, the name Franz Ferdinand was also trending.
Not our Franz Ferdinand, though many of us initially, confusedly mistook it as such — including our own Tom Breihan, who quipped that for a second he thought it might mean the famous-yet-still-pretty-underrated band might be a nostalgia-leaning rock act at this year’s iteration of Coachella. Nope, it was the other Franz Ferdinand, the historical figure the band took their name from. You know, the guy who got assassinated and then World War I happened.
Fans and music writers weren’t the only ones initially surprised to see the name trending. The band themselves acknowledged it, with some gallows humor:
For the record, we think #WWIII is a bad idea.
— Franz Ferdinand (@Franz_Ferdinand) January 3, 2020
Franz frontman Alex Kapranos also reacted, with a slightly more sobering response:
This is not how I wanted to see the name of my band trending on Twitter #FranzFerdinand
— Αλεξ Καπράνος (@alkapranos) January 3, 2020
Some asshat then responded to him, saying “Strange name to choose then.” To which Kapranos replied: “I naively presumed that history was something best learned from rather than repeated.” Us too, Alex, us too.