Something Completely Different / Music

See also New Sound Album.
  • Pat Boone's 1997 album, In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy was completely composed of covers of heavy metal songs, as opposed to his usual fare of R&B, country, and gospel (though they were still done in his milquetoast Big Band/Lounge-style, of course). The CD cover featured the normally clean-cut Boone in leather and chains, an outfit he would also wear at the 1997 American Music Awards. He looked ridiculous, but it didn't do him any favors with the Moral Guardians that make up his primary demographic, who thought he was being serious.
    • This review proves that, amazingly, even some critics didn't get that it was a joke.
  • "Colors by Between The Buried and Me has this in each song. For example, Ants of The Sky has a Pink Floyd-esque guitar solo, thrashing a-la Metallica and Megadeth, intense speed-metal screaming, shredding sections that would make Joe Satriani and Dream Theater proud, and a hoedown In a single song. The thing is that the styles switch nearly immediately, and doesn't sound bad. This comes up in their post-Colors albums too, such as in "Disease, Injury, Madness" when it turns bizarrely into a swingy blues jam following a horse's whinny, or "Extremophile Elite" where all the metal instruments drop out giving way to a small orchestra backing a xylophone solo.
  • Almost every single Beck album does this. There's country, hip-hop, funk, folk, anti-folk, rock, metal, rap, contemporary, balladry, pop, disco, jazz... What with this being Beck, sometimes half of those are in the same song.
  • Roy Clark: The host of Hee Haw who'd have you cracking up with laughter one minute ("Thank God and Greyhound," "The Hee Haw-Lawrence Welk Counterrevolution Polka") would have you broken down in utter tears the next ("Yesterday When I Was Young").
  • The Commodores: The five-man group from Tuskogee, Alabama — most famous member Lionel Richie — began as virtually an all-funk music group. Their first two albums were exclusively uptempo funk, including the group's first hit single "Machine Gun" (an instrumental) and their follow-up, 1975's "Slippery When Wet." As important as that sound remained in the group's repertoire, their early fans were certainly thrown for a loop when, in early 1976, they heard a song called "Sweet Love" and learned this smooth ballad, with Richie providing the lead vocals, was by that same band that produced all those cool, funky songs. Strange, since now their ballads ("Just to Be Close to You," "Easy," "Three Times a Lady," "Sail On," "Still" and "Oh No" among them) are their best-known hits.
  • Roger Miller, who was known for some of country music's best-known novelty tunes ("Do-Wacka-Do," "Chug-a-Lug," "Dang Me") was also the guy who wrote the best tribute song to hobos, the quintuple Grammy Award-winner "King Of the Road" (about a hobo who relishes his freedom), to honky-tonk standards like "Half a Mind" (for Ernest Tubb), and the guy who wrote the Tony-award winning Broadway musical "Big River" (adapted from Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn").
  • The Escape Club, a synth-dance band fronted by Trevor Steel, was known for such uptempo hits as "Wild, Wild West" (a No. 1 pop hit in 1988) and "Dancing for the Shiek." In 1991, the band released its only other major hit, a When I'm Gone ballad "I'll Be There," said to be influenced by the passing of a close friend's wife; the song was of the "I'm dead, but don't miss me, because I'm always with you in spirit" type.
  • Led Zeppelin set the gold standard for hard rock from the late 1960s onward, becoming famous for such legendary rockers as "Whole Lotta Love," "Black Dog," and most famously "Stairway To Heaven." In 1984, lead singer Robert Plant formed what could be considered Led Zeppelin's soft-rock alter ego: The Honeydrippers, which gave Plant his biggest hit ever as a vocalist: "Sea of Love," which hit No. 3 in early 1985.
  • David Bowie was the English singer known best for his progressive musical styles, visual presentations and on-stage personas with many unique characters (e.g., Ziggy Stardust) played it straight with his Christmas ballad duet with Bing Crosby, "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy." The result is one of the great Christmas songs, sending a message of hope and peace in the greatest of all seasons.
    • For Bing Crosby, his pairing with Bowie was different as he had been primarily associated with vocal pop singers and groups, including Grace Kelly and the Andrews Sisters; no one had ever thought he would ever record with someone associated with progressive and art rock, and who adapted wild on-stage and musical personas associated with Space Oddity. Yet, the result of their duet recording was a phenomenal success and in 1982, well over 50 years after his first national successes in which the musical world had vastly changed, "Peace On Earth/The Little Drummer Boy" became his last significant hit note .
  • KC (stage name of Harry Wayne Casey, leader of KC and the Sunshine Band) was one of the kings of disco music in the 1970s, but yet in 1980 proved he was a smooth balladeer with his duet with Teri DeSario, the two pairing on the top 5 duet hit "Yes, I'm Ready" (a remake of the 1965 Barbara Mason hit).
  • Ray Stevens, one of the most popular novelty singers of all time, was not afraid to release some more serious material in between. In fact, two of his biggest hits the sensitive ballad "Everything Is Beautiful" and a cover of Johnny Mathis' "Misty" were completely serious. Other notable serious songs in his catalog include "America, Communicate with Me", a cover of Albert E. Brumley's gospel standard "Turn Your Radio On", and "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex", all of which stand at odds to the goofier songs he is just as known for such as "Ahab, the Arab", "The Streak", or "Gitarzan".
  • Jud Strunk, a member of the comedy troupe that made up the latter days of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, was known for recording comedic tunes on several of his albums. His biggest hit, however, was not comedy, but a gentle, sentimental ballad called "Daisy a Day," a song about a young boy and girl who meet early in their elementary school years, he gives her a daisy each day to show his undying love and devotion ... and repeats the process for the rest of their lives (70-plus years), including after her death. The song, a top 15 pop hit and also a top 40 country hit, had since become a country standard.
  • Herb Alpert, leader of his eponymously named Tijuana Brass band, was the king of Tijuana instrumental brass music, and had many hits that had no vocals on them whatsoever. In 1968, he put down his trumpet, grabbed a microphone and belted out the Burt Bacharach-Hal David standard "This Guy's In Love With You." "This Guy's ... " went No. 1 in 1968 ... and in 1979, Alpert (who by that time returned to instrumental-only music) went to No. 1 with "Rise." In doing something completely different, Alpert had his biggest hit to that time, and would become the only artist to date (as of 2017) to have a No. 1 song as both a singer ("This Guy's ...") and as an instrumentalist ("Rise").
  • Billy Preston had both several instrumental-only hits ("Outta Space," "Space Race") and hits as a singer ("Will It Go 'Round in Circles," "Nothin' From Nothin'"), which is something completely different in itself. But also fitting the trope: Both "... Circles" (1973, soul and funk) and "... Nothin'" (1974, ragtime) were uptempo fare; he returned in 1980 with his only other top 10 hit as a vocalist, this time with a soulful ballad that was as different as his two vocal No. 1 hits from five or more years earlier: "With You I'm Born Again," a duet with Stevie Wonder's ex-wife, Syreeta Wright.
  • Dick Feller, a singer-songwriter of the mid-1970s who was best known for writing Jerry Reed's No. 1 country hit "Lord, Mr. Ford" (a satirical look at the auto industry and how a simple invention grew to be so complicated) began with something completely different from his novelty hits. By the title, one might think that "Biff, the Friendly Purple Bear" might be a comic tale of an anthropomorphic bear's misadventures; however, it is actually a sentimental look back at childhood, through the eyes of an old rocking horse a little boy enjoyed through childhood, and how the title bear (a stuffed teddy bear) joined the fun. Depending on the perspective and the classic country music stations that have Dick Feller in their libraries, "Biff," which was actually his breakthrough hit, or follow-up novelty fare such as "Making the Best of a Bad Situation" and "The Credit Card Song" were the songs that fit the trope. (He also switched back to serious fare, penning "Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone)," which Feller originally recorded but was later Covered Up by John Denver.
  • Dave Dudley, a country music artist of the 1960s and 1970s, successfully switched back and forth from truck driving songs ("Six Days On the Road," "Truck Drivin' Son Of a Gun") to ballads ("Please Let Me Prove My Love For You") and patriotic fare ("What We're Fighting For").
  • Ray Price: An early pioneer of the raw honky-tonk sound and the 4/4 shuffle, he was closely identified as pure country with songs like "Crazy Arms," "I've Got a New Heartache" and "City Lights." Fans, then, were thrown for a loop when he began dabbling with the Nashville Sound, adding strings and pop-sounding backing vocals on songs like "Night Life" and "Make the World Go Away." Crazy thing is, he succeeded ... and by doing Something Completely Different, he earned his biggest pop hit ever, the 1970 hit "For the Good Times." He did go back to honky tonk and pure country, earning still more respect with a string of early 1980s hits, the biggest being his duet top 5 hit with Willie Nelson on "Faded Love."
  • Dolly Parton, who did something completely different many times. The most notable time came in the years following her departure from "The Porter Wagoner Show," when she recorded an album called "New Harvest — First Gathering." This album, issued in 1977, was significant for being Parton's first self-produced album, as well as her first effort aimed specifically at the pop chart. The biggest single from the album was the one that signaled her switch from traditional and sometimes contemporary country to pop ... that song being "Light of a Clear Blue Morning." Although only a No. 11 country hit, it opened the door to even bigger things, as the next single, "Here You Come Again" became a No. 1 country and top 5 pop smash. Movie deals, television and much more followed. She never truly strayed from her country roots, but by doing Something Completely Different, she became an international, multi-media star.
  • Kenny Rogers, who much like Dolly (perhaps her most famous duet partner other than Porter Wagoner), began with his First Edition mates in psychedelic rock, with the hit "Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In." By 1968 and wanting to diversify in case psychedelia wore out, the First Edition did something completely different: folk country, exemplified through "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)," signaling the style that Rogers (both groupwise and solo) would continue with for the rest of his career: country, country-folk and country rock. As a soloist, Rogers often went into adult contemporary, and by doing Something Completely Different he had some of his biggest hits, including "She Believes In Me," "Lady" and "I Don't Need You."
  • Madonna: She's since switched between uptempo dance and ballads, but at the time she released "Crazy For You" in early 1985, it was Something Completely Different as she had yet to release a ballad as a single. So different was the song from the movie Vision Quest that many trade magazines, from Variety to Billboard were quick to write articles hailing Madonna's new single and diversity.
  • The Oak Ridge Boys: In the country field, probably the group that had its roots in 1940s and 1950s Appalachian gospel music are the trope codifiers. Although they did old-time country and folk songs, they were firmly identified as country gospel, even into 1973 when their lineup solidified with new recruit Joe Bonsall, joining still-new deep-bassed Richard Sterban and veterans Duane Allen and William Lee Golden. But in a world where pop country was all the rage and they were true to their roots, the Oaks made a huge gamble ... and after years of performing almost exclusively gospel with some traditional songs thrown in, they released the heartbreak honky tonk standard "Y'All Come Back Saloon." Completely different to fans ... and even their loyal fans admitted they liked it a lot, and it was all success after that. By doing Something Completely Different, the Oaks became, next to the Statler Brothers (and later, Alabama), the premiere country vocal group of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even so, they never forgot their gospel roots and are probably the most beloved of those three bands/groups.
  • Jefferson Airplane, which evolved into Jefferson Starship and later Starship. Each name represented a distinct era and distinctly had them doing something different:
    • Jefferson Airplane had them doing psychedelic rock, their best-knowns being "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" (both 1967)
    • Jefferson Starship saw the band shift focus to soft rock ballads, such as "Miracles" (1975), "With Your Love" (1976) and "Count On Me" (1978); in fact, on one 1976 episode of American Top 40, host Casey Kasem pointed out the band's shift in musical focus. Later, this version of the band did Something Completely Different, shifting to arena rock with songs like "Jane" (1979) and "Find Your Way Back" (1981).
    • Starship was mid-to-late 1980s synth rock, on "We Built This City" (1985) and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (1987) their biggest hits, with a ballad "Sara" (1986) being this era's something different. This was the only version of the band that had No. 1 hits.
  • Neil Young put out three such albums in a row, much to the consternation of his label (Geffen famously tried to sue him for delivering "unrepresentative material"): First there was the heavily synth-filled Trans, then The '50s rockabilly throwback of Everybody's Rockin', and finally the country album Old Ways.
  • The first eleven songs on the Remedy Drive album Magnify are all pretty standard rock (and the occasional bass solo). The last one, "Smile Upon Me", is acapella three-part harmony.
  • By 1993, R.E.M. had 2 massively successful albums with Out of Time (Shiny Happy People, Losing My Religion), and Automatic for the People (Everybody Hurts, Man on the Moon). Both albums, especially the latter, were relatively slow, emotional albums, with string and acoustic instruments everywhere. In 1994, however, they released Monster, with loud, grunge-y, distorted guitar on nearly every single track note .
    • Incidentally, those two prior albums fit the trope as well, as the band's major label contract was triggered by the success of the 1987 album Document (It's the End of the World As We Know It, The One I Love), which consisted almost entirely of songs that were, by the band's standards, real rockers. The interceding album, 1989's Green, seemed to be following that pattern, with just a few acoustic songs between upbeat rock songs like "Stand," "Orange Crush," and "Pop Song '89."
  • Keane's first 2 albums were straight piano rock, very similar to Coldplay or Ben Folds. Their third album, Perfect Symmetry, had a very 80's inspired sound featuring heavy synths, prominent basslines, a wide array of instruments, and, for the first time since well before the release of Hopes and Fears, guitars. Their next album, Strangeland, was straight-up piano rock in a similar style to Hopes and Fears.
  • "Golden Brown", a sincere, harpsichord-led baroque pop single by punk band The Stranglers. It is their most acclaimed, popular and best selling song.
    • This goes for their entire career from that moment on, as they shifted to moody baroque pop, and later to AOR.
  • "Revolution 9" by The Beatles isn't like anything else out there.
    • Minor example: A Day in the Life is a soft, sad-esque song about a guy who reads in the newspaper the story of an unlucky man, the war, a car crash, a suicide, etc. By the middle of the song, it starts an upbeat ballad about going late for work.
  • Hardcore Punk band The Bronx, after releasing three self-titled albums, released an album of mariachi music under the name "Mariachi El Bronx" in 2009, followed by another in 2011. Both albums are critically acclaimed.
  • Outkast did this twice in a row. 2003's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was a double album with each disc being a solo effort from one half of the duo: Big Boi's Speakerboxxx a conventional hip-hop album and Andre 3000's The Love Below being more experimental. In 2006 they released Idlewild, the soundtrack to their 20's-era musical, meaning most songs were more of a jazz style, plus there were only a couple songs that Big Boi and Andre performed together. To recap, Outkast has not released a standard album since 2000's Stankonia.
  • While Tori Amos' sound evolves with every album, 1999's Strange Little Girls is a Cover Album of songs originally performed by men, exploring what it means to be a man from a woman's perspective.
  • Bob Dylan's been known to do this from time to time and has had many different genres but Empire Burlesque stands out being a uncharacteristic (though not for The '80s) heavily produced synth pop affair (with one song even leaning slightly towards disco) and then he does it again in the same album by having it end jarringly with the quiet "Dark Eyes" a simply structured track that features only Dylan, a guitar and a harmonica without any studio embellishment whatsoever.
  • JOJO did this in "The High Road" in this song Coming For You which is pop rock instead of loungy R&B of the album.
  • Da Yoopers' 1992 album Yoopy Do Wah, the last full album to feature original guitarist Joe Potila, was also the only album after their first not to include comedy skits between the songs. It also included "When One Love Dies", their first serious song since the Early Installment Weirdness of their debut.
  • Alan Jackson did this twice in 2006: first with a gospel album called Precious Memories, then a few months later with Like Red on a Rose, a smooth, ballad-heavy AC album that was a radical departure from his neotraditionalist country sound. The latter was also the only album of his career which Keith Stegall did not produce (bluegrass singer Alison Krauss produced).
  • The Beastie Boys' Aglio E Olio (a Hardcore Punk EP) and The Mix-Up (an album of instrumental soul-jazz). Neither style was entirely new to the bandnote , but they were still pretty unusual outings for a rap group.
  • George Strait's 2009 album Twang is a double example: it had his first songwriting credits since his 1981 debut album, and it included a mariachi cover. 2011's Here for a Good Time includes more co-writer's credits, one being the very atypically dreary and downbeat "Drinkin' Man". The latter was his lowest peaking single to that point.
  • Kenny Chesney released Be as You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair) in 2005. It was a laid-back, acoustic album based around the song "Old Blue Chair" from his album When the Sun Goes Down two years prior. Be as You Are intentionally did not produce any singles. Despite being a side project, it went to #1 on both Top Country Albums and the Billboard 200, and was certified platinum. In a zig-zag of this trope, he also began including several laid-back, acoustic numbers on subquent albums as well.
  • Japanese pop star Ayumi Hamasaki does this on most of her recent albums. 2005's "(miss)understood" started off with an upbeat gospel anthem only to jump to electropop 4 minutes later - and then to rock...and then dramatic over-the-top ballads. She somehow manages to put songs inspired by symphonic metal, classic rock, musical showstoppers, pop ballads and electropop in very, very close proximity on 2012's "Party Queen"
  • Florence + the Machine's "Kiss with a Fist" is more rock than all the other songs on the album Lungs, due to being based off an earlier indie rock song called "Happy Fist".
  • In the documentary Long Way to the Top: Stories of Australian Rock & Roll, Angus Young of AC/DC recalls that, for some reason, the band decided to play the theme from Zorba the Greek at one show.
  • EBM pioneers Front Line Assembly pulled this at least twice, first with the Industrial Metal album Millenium, then the IDM/D&B album Flavour of the Weak, and to a lesser extent the dubstep-influenced AirMech soundtrack.
  • Kiss' 1981 album, "(Music From) The Elder", a concept album that featured an orchestra and choir. Universally regarded as the worst album of their career.
  • Yes' 1984 comeback album, "90125", which focused more on shorter radio-friendly singles instead of the long, expansive, complex epics the band was known for in the 1970's.
  • Michelle Branch is a pop rock artist, but the final song on her debut album The Spirit Room, "Drop in the Ocean", uses the Bolero Effect beautifully, starting from ambient, to slow-tempo pop rock, and then to drum & bass.
    • This can also be applied to her pairing with Jessica Harp to form The Wreckers, a country music duo.
  • Marc Ribot rose to fame as an avant-garde jazz guitarist, helped shaping the cabaret rock of Tom Waits, and after a string of particularly abstract albums he made a mellow tribute album to cuban jazz.
  • Country Music artist Cledus T. Judd, whose repertoire is mostly parody songs and original comedy songs, has occasionally recorded serious songs: "Leave You Laughing" on Cledus Envy, "Funny Man" on Bipolar and Proud, and "104 Amanda Street" on Parodyziac!!
    • "Wife Naggin'" on 2000's Just Another Day in Parodies is the only time he ever parodied a song that wasn't a single (specifically, "Sin Wagon" from the Dixie Chicks' Fly).
    • His Christmas album, 2002's Cledus Navidad, has only two parody songs, neither of which is contemporary to the album's release ("Ring of Fire" and "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"). It also has three cover songs and only five original songs, of which one ("Merry Christmas from the Whole Fam Damily") is a re-issue.
  • Information Society's 1997 album Don't Be Afraid is darkwave rather than their usual techno-pop/alternative dance.
  • Florida Georgia Line is known for being the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier of "bro country" rap-influenced Country Music about partying in The New '10s with their breakthrough smash "Cruise". But they've invoked this trope twice now with the release of more serious ballads: "Stay" (a breakup song and a Cover of Black Stone Cherry) and "Dirt" (a reflective praise of small-town, salt-of-the-earth types). The latter, the lead single to their second album, was widely lauded by critics as their best single by far. The same is true to a lesser extent on their second album's final single, "Confession".
    • As of third album Dig Your Roots, the ballads seem to be their primary direction, as the first two singles ("H.O.L.Y." and "May We All") are more serious ballads as well.
  • The fourth album by mind.in.a.box, R.E.T.R.O. departs from the band's signature cohesive narrative of Sequel Songs, having no story and minimal lyrics, and is also a New Sound Album, being a Retraux throwback to the MIDI music of the Commodore 64 era of computing.
  • The video for country music artist Sam Hunt's massive hit "Take Your Time" is something that fans of the song may completely not expect: Instead of a lighthearted song about a male barroom patron just wanting to have a conversation with a fellow female customer that he might be interested in, the video's storyline is a dark Domestic Abuse story.
  • Garth Brooks The Life of Chris Gaines. A pop-style concept album from a country singer, intended to be a preview to a movie that never came to pass. As an SCD within an SCD, the final track, "My Love Tells Me So", is from the group Chris Gaines was in before he broke out. He was not the lead singer in that group (though he did have a spoken-word riff during the bridge of that song.)
  • Post-Punk revival group The Futureheads went completely acapella for Rant, with material ranging from rearrangements of their own songs to traditional folk songs to a Black Eyed Peas cover. The concept makes sense because complex, layered harmony vocals were always a part of their sound, and because one of their best-known songs is a Cover Version ("Hounds Of Love", originally by Kate Bush).
  • In an album with 7 other crushing metal tracks with intense negative emotions, "Crossing Over" by Cult of Luna emphasizes atmospheric keyboards and even ends with a major key melody reminiscent of Sigur Ros.
  • Country Rap artist Colt Ford's 2016 single "4 Lane Gone" is a departure for him, as not only is he actually singing instead of rapping (which he has done on a few other songs, but usually only on the chorus), but it's also a completely neotraditionalist country ballad with no rapping at all.
  • Most of the output of Swedish band Sabaton are Power Metal ballads about military history, mainly World War II, but their third album Metalizer has no war songs at all. Metalizer was actually supposed to be the band's professional debut but their label at the time sent it into Development Hell for five years, by which point the band had jumped ship to another label and started their current warfare theme.

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