Kurt Cobain: "It's not going to be about food, is it?" Al: "No, it's going to be about how no one understands your lyrics."
So you've just bought a new novel from your favorite author. You've read every book thus far, and are outright giddy about this new book. You pop onto your couch and open it up, and... hey! This doesn't look like anything before it from this author, or, as you will learn later, after it. You've discovered the outlier; the author has committed Genre Adultery
. Perhaps the sausage machine producer of crime novels has shifted from a light hearted Great Detective
to a hard boiled Dirty Cop
or is even experimenting with a completely different genre. Keep in mind that just because it's different doesn't mean it's bad.
(Of course, some fans would have you think otherwise.
This trope doesn't just exclusively apply to literature, but it's certainly an obvious way to phrase it. Music albums, movie sequels, even TV shows can be a radical departure from the creator's norm. The only thing that matters is that the new style is never returned to again in such a manner which is what distinguished it from He Also Did
, its Supertrope.
For musicians it may lead to a Black Sheep Hit
and may occur when trying for New Sound Albums
but they never return to that sound. See also: Playing Against Type
and Genre Shift
. Compare with Genre Roulette
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Anime & Manga
- Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman was quite a departure from Kaimu Tachibana's usual work.
- Naoki Urasawa is responsible for Monster, 20th Century Boys, and... Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl.
- Yuu Watase went from Fushigi Yuugi and Absolute Boyfriend to Sakura Gari...
- The mangaka who did The Electric Tale of Pikachu typically wrote hentai.
- The author of Angel Densetsu, a very Genre Savvy humorous story is also the author of the bleak and gory fantasy series Claymore. Oddly, the two do have a bit of a connection, as some characters are visual expies of each other.
- Junko, who is known for her Yaoi Genre doujinshi, is now writing Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda, a shoujo Reverse Harem manga somewhat similar to Ouran High School Host Club. Though the main character is a Yaoi Fangirl.
- Akitaro Daichi, who is famous for lighthearted adventures and wacky comedies, saw some news reports about the genocide in Rwanda and created the bleak dystopian anime Now and Then, Here and There.
- Arina Tanemura usually writes stories with strong Magical Girl elements. Shinshi Doumei Cross is a drama about a former deliquent going to a school for the elite. General fan opinion is that it's... not her best.
- Mohiro Kitoh is well-known for his cynical and dark manga, most famously Narutaru and Bokurano. Noririn is a tame, fluffy manga about biking.
- Mel Brooks produced The Elephant Man but had his name removed so that nobody thought it was a comedy. He also produced David Cronenberg's remake The Fly (1986).
- Busby Berkeley, best known for his lavish musical numbers, directed a crime drama remake called They Made Me a Criminal in 1939. Warner Brothers gave him the oddball project in an attempt to keep him occupied so he wouldn't leave the studio; it didn't work.
- Horror director Wes Craven:
- Directed Music of the Heart, a based on a true story drama starring Meryl Streep, about a music teacher in a school in Harlem. This film was actually Craven's pet project, and he only directed Scream 3 so he would be financed and allowed to direct Music of the Heart.
- Directed a segment of Paris Je T'aime.
- Bob Clark directed several notable horror films in the early '70s, including Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Deathdream, and the groundbreaking Black Christmas (1974). Then he abandoned horror, directed the teen sex comedy Porky's, and spent the last 20 years of his career making more family-friendly films such as A Christmas Story and Baby Geniuses.
- Kevin Smith's Red State is a dark and violent story about a murderous, homophobic cult.
- David Lynch's The Straight Story, a Disney-produced, G-rated, uplifting family drama about an old blind man who drives 240 miles in a tractor to see his dying brother. It's not a Mind Screw, nor does it have anything in the way of Body Horror.
- Sergio Leone, who was most famous for directing westerns, made one movie set in the gangster time period of the 1930s: Once Upon a Time in America, which got bad reviews at the time, but was Vindicated by History as perhaps the best gangster epic since The Godfather.
- Neil Young had made his name in the 70s as musician with roots in folk-rock and blues, but when he signed with Geffen Records in 1982, he released Trans (a synthsizer-based album) followed in the same year by Everybody's Rockin' (a rockabilly album). He was ready to release Old Ways (a country album) before Geffen actually filed a lawsuit against him for making music "unrepresentative" of his previous work.
- LIGHTS, a Canadian Synth Pop artist released and acoustic EP with re-workings of some of her previous songs, as well as a brand new song and a light re-imagining of an old punk song.
- Remain in Light by Talking Heads.
- Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.
- Pinkerton by Weezer. Might be a bit premature, as the band hasn't broke up yet.
- The Rolling Stones album Their Satanic Majesties Request. Despite the title it is surprisingly psychedelic. It has since become their most polarising release.
- Elvis Costello's The Juliet Letters. This was a collection of songs based on letters written to Juliet (who's considered to be a help to the lovelorn). The album was done as a collaboration with the Brodsky String Quartet who had much more collaboration into the writing process than was usual on an Elvis Costello album.
- The Queen album Hot Space is full of disco songs, a departure from their usual rock music. After Hot Space they never touched disco again.
- The Melvins have had several album-length left turns, but possibly the most surprising is The Bootlicker: while their sound usually involves sludgy walls of feedback, this album features absolutely no guitar distortion. The actual content doesn't get any lighter and softer, but the arrangements bring to mind Tom Waits and Krautrock more than they do grunge or stoner metal.
- The Butthole Surfers' Weird Revolution, which is much more electronica-influenced than anything they'd previously done. It may have been an attempt to roll with their popular Black Sheep Hit "Pepper", although it was actually preceded by a couple of electronic-based soundtrack contributions, along with the similar but much more experimental After The Astronaut, which got shelved after promo copies got scathing reviews.
- Brian Eno noted that he wanted the first reaction of U2 fans who bought Achtung Baby to think that either their stereos were broken or that they accidentally purchased the wrong album.
- Although it was recorded as a joke, Anal Cunt's Picnic Of Love is a complete inversion of their trademark style: instead of short grindcore songs with Black Comedy lyrics and song titles, it consists of 2-3 minute acoustic ballads sung in falsetto, with titles like "I'd Love To Have Your Daughter's Hand In Marriage".
- KISS had the disco album Dynasty. Part of the reason for the violent backlash against disco was that this happened with so many artists that it began to appear that disco would engulf everything.
- Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats was a country album, which used veteran country session musicians as a backing band. Though they'd had the odd country-influenced song before and since, it was still a pretty unexpected turn, especially because they generally played it straight (well, aside from "Piss Up A Rope" and "Mr. Richard Smoker" anyway).
- "Anniversary" by Voltaire is a straight love song, with no references to death, goths, evil, or Sci-Fi shows. His later country album may also count. The musical style is different, but the subjects of the songs are his usual fare.
- Joy Electric is Synth Pop, as the name implies. He dropped the "synth" half on the album Unelectric and recorded acoustic arrangements of prior songs. And he dropped the "pop" half for The Tick Tock Companion, which featured completely improvised, ambient synth jamming.
- Pete Shelley, frontman of the punk group The Buzzcocks, was regarded by fans as having invoked this trope in 1981 with the synthpop album Homosapien.
- Most Pat Benatar albums are album-oriented rock and roll... except True Love, which is jump blues.
- Alice In Chains' Sap and Jar Of Flies EPs. The albums surrounding them can best be described as grunge metal, but these eps are acoustic alternative rock.
- Country Music singer Alan Jackson did a very blues-pop oriented album, Like Red on a Rose, in 2006. It was also the only album on which he did not work with producer Keith Stegall, instead choosing bluegrass pioneer Alison Krauss. Also, despite having written maybe 75% of his own songs, his only contribution as a writer on Like Red on a Rose was "A Woman's Love", a re-recording of a track from his 1999 album High Mileage.
- This is what launched Ludwig von Beethoven's fame, for when got deaf, he moved out of his classical style and shifted music towards the romantic period.
- Attention Please by Boris is a dance rock album that sounds nothing like their usual metal/hardcore/noise oriented albums.
- Country legend Buck Owens had already displayed a lot of non-country influences in his music by 1969, but that year he released two singles that were much more rock than country: "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass", which featured fuzztone guitar and harpsichord (!) as lead instruments, and a live cover of "Johnny B. Goode" that would've put most garage bands to shame. However, he was a big enough star that they still managed to become #1 country hits.
- Owens received some backlash from longtime fans for those two records, plus a bluegrass/gospel cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," due to a pledge he signed several years earlier stating he would never record a song he didn't consider a country song. Owens defended his choice of music, noting that he said he would not record in a pop-country vein, not record rockabilly or bluegrass (forms of country music).
- That stated, from about the mid-1970s to early 1980s, in part due to massive grief over the death of his best friend, Don Rich, in a tragic accident in 1974, an apathetic Owens began recording pop country. While the music itself isn't bad, it also did not represent Owens at his best, something he has admitted. It wasn't until the late 1980s, when he began collaborating with Dwight Yoakum, that he began to record in his classic styles and made vintage Buck Owens music.
- The Carpenters — Richard and Karen — were best known for soft rock in the early-to-mid 1970s, but in 1978, released a ditty called "Sweet, Sweet Smile" ... which became a top 10 country hit! (Additionally, their 1981 single, "Touch Me When We're Dancing" was covered by Alabama and became a No. 1 hit for the group in 1986.
- WASP had Kill Fuck Die, their industrial metal album. The song-writing itself wasn't actually that far removed from the band's previous few albums, just a bit angrier, but the production turned it into something totally unlike anything else the band has recorded before or since. Whether or not that's a good thing is highly dependent on who you ask.
- Diary of Dreams is normally dark wave, but The Anatomy of Silence is entirely acoustic neoclassical songs.
- An unusual case: country star Charley Pride recording the disco-flavored Dallas Cowboys theme song in 1979.
- Happy hardcore act Dune released two albums of orchestral ballads; Forever and Forever and Ever.
- Justified with alt-rockers The Eels with Cold Dead Hand. In this instance, they teamed up (as the Clutterbusters) with Jim Carrey (Lonesome Earl) to record a Country Music-style satirical piece on gun politics. For good measure, the band members dressed up as Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon and Mahatma Gandhi - peace advocates who were all shot dead by extremists.
- In The Life Of Chris Gaines, a rock album by Garth Brooks under the fictional identity of Chris Gaines, an Australian rocker. Brooks originally planned to play Gaines in a film, which never materialized, so fans simply thought he'd lost his mind.
- In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy an album of metal and hard rock covers by family-friendly Pat Boone.
- John Lennon, member of the most commercially succesful rock band of all time, started a solo career in 1968. His first three albums were literally everything but commercial. They are all extreme Avant-garde Music: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions and Wedding Album. Needless to say, many people across the world were surprised!
- Rocker Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, a double-album of proto-noise music consisting entirely of guitar feedback. It was a long-standing assumption that the album was a Take That at his record label to get out of his contract. However, Reed later admitted that he'd been completely serious about the album and also on a lot of drugs.
- Frank Zappa's album Cruising With Ruben And The Jets was considered an unusual departure in his oeuvre. The album contains no pointed political Satire, no Bawdy Song material, no sudden musical experimentations, no clashing of different musical genres, but is just an honest, straight faced Homage/Pastiche to the Doowop bands he adored. For his fans this was a huge Audience-Alienating Premise.
- 99% of Santana's songs are Latin-infused rock of some kind with some glimpses of other popular genres....except the song "America" off of Shaman, which is, of all things, Nu Metal, thanks to being performed with and written by P.O.D.
- David Herbert's Tnemrot is a serious manga story, which seems weird, since Living With Insanity is all about craziness and T&A.