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  • The castrati were mainstays in 18th-century opera in areas where women were prohibited from singing, until Mozart, who himself had several roles for them, came along. They very rapidly fell into disuse in the 19th century as composers wrote more male roles with high voices for women and tenors. Since most of them came from poor families in Italy, where the process of making one a castrato became illegal in 1861, the "elephant songbirds," as described during the premiere of Adelaide di Borgogna, an opera by Gioachino Rossini that had a more common travesti role, became "dodos" when the last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi, died in 1922. note  Today, music written for castrato singers is usually performed by women or by counter-tenors.

Subgenres & Trends
  • The "Class of '89" ushered in a new generation of Country Music, when acts such as Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, and Clint Black brought a new sound that blended traditional sounds with a slicker, more commercial approach that freshened up the genre without fully abandoning country values and sounds. While the "Class of '89" acts are not themselves examples of ending up Condemned By History, they did create two examples of this trope by association.
    • Many of the "Class of '89" acts were younger men in cowboy hats and pressed suits, which caused many new artists in The '90s to adopt a similar image. While some were reasonably well-received in their day, most were derided as copycats of the A-listers, and "hat act" came to be a derogatory term. The craze died off in the late '90s as country shifted back to a greater pop influence. The only former "hat acts" who survived unscathed were Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, both of whom grew into more distinctive and substantial artists who kept their careers alive well into The New '10s. Rhett Akins also escaped the "hat act" era by reinventing himself as a popular songwriter in the 2010s, in addition to fostering the career of his far more successful son, Thomas Rhett.
    • The entire city of Branson, Missouri, owes its existence to this trope when the aforementioned newer artists began taking over at the turn of The '90s. Almost figuratively overnight, singers like Charley Pride and Barbara Mandrell went from having No. 1 hits to not even making the charts. Branson was the only place they could get anyone to pay to see their shows. So they all just moved there and opened up theaters. Even 1960s rock artists like Paul Revere and the Raiders took to Branson when the hits dried up and, in many cases, the original members left the fold. As The Simpsons put it...
      Nelson: What is this place?
      Bart: Branson, Missouri. My dad says it's like Vegas if it were run by Ned Flanders.
  • The sub-genre known as "bro-country" has come to be this. In late 2012, duo Florida Georgia Line had a smash crossover with their debut single "Cruise" featuring Nelly, which would codify the subgenre with a mix of hip-hop beats, hair-metal guitar work, and Auto-Tune, combined with lyrics about hot women, trucks, beer, and partying. Many other artists — including not only established acts like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, and Jake Owen, but also up-and-comers like Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett, and "Cruise" co-writer Chase Rice — followed suit. While most of the songs were hugely successful, bro-country was quickly subject to derision for being Strictly Formula, as lampshaded in a viral video mashup which played six bro-country songs on top of each other to show that they all sounded pretty much the same.

    One of the first real blows from within country music itself came in late 2014 when female duo Maddie & Tae had a dark-horse #1 hit with "Girl in a Country Song", a Deconstructive Parody sung by women that hated being objectified by bro-country. A few months later in 2015, radio consultant Keith Hill came under fire for saying that radio stations should play fewer female artists than male artists. This led to a massive outcry about sexism and misogyny in country music (although the change was not immediate; not long after this, for the first time in country music history, no women were in the Top 20 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart). Also not helping matters was the changing politics of country music and its fans — the genre was rapidly gaining popularity with pockets of America that weren't seen as a traditional audience for country music, and they were more likely to push back against bro-country and the themes that had once made it so popular. By the end of The New '10s, most of the mainstream artists who codified bro-country had almost entirely distanced themselves from its tropes, many other male artists have displayed varying degrees of traditionalism and/or more romantic themes that resonate better with female listeners, and multiple new women have risen to prominence. In short, "bro-country" is very much dead, and an Old Shame for the country music genre as a whole.


  • Toby Keith was a country superstar for many years. His 1993 debut single "Should've Been a Cowboy" was a chart-topping smash, his first three albums all went platinum, and thirteen of his first fifteen singles made the Top 10 on the country charts. He hit a bump in the road with some label disputes that caused him to leave Mercury Records for DreamWorks Records at the end of the decade, but his second DreamWorks single "How Do You Like Me Now?!" became a Sleeper Hit, topping the country charts for five weeks and becoming his first top-40 pop hit. Keith created five albums for DreamWorks between 1999 and 2005, with all five producing multi-platinum sales. The increase in hits was not without controversy. Some fans derided Keith for his macho posturing, and his post-9/11 release "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)" was seen as too over-the-top in its Patriotic Fervor (a sentiment echoed in a publicized feud with Natalie Maines). Despite the pushback, Keith remained a major draw and seamlessly moved to his own Show Dog label after DreamWorks Records closed in 2005. It was at this point that he bolstered his fortunes with the restaurant chain Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, his own line of mezcal, and the aforementioned record label.

    His momentum began to slow in the Show Dog era, however, due to a slew of weak novelty songs, and a decision to always release one album per year — meaning he often had to pull singles that were doing well on radio just to rush out the lead single to the next album. He seemed to bounce back in 2011 with "Red Solo Cup", which became a viral crossover due to its unusual style and quirky, cameo-filled music video, but any momentum brought by that single was killed by his 2015 album 35 MPH Town being his first not to have a top-20 hit at all, and its follow-up never materializing due to its intended lead single coming nowhere close to the country top 40. His restaurant chain also sank due to a myriad of construction and leasing issues, while Show Dog Records (by then renamed Show Dog-Universal) had shed nearly its entire roster of artists due to poor promotion, poor single choices, and constant delays or outright cancellations in album releases. While Keith released more albums and singles after 35 MPH Town, all of them similarly failed to gain any traction on the country charts. Keith is now seen as a punchline for the use of cartoonishly-overblown jingoism, over-reliance on Testosterone Poisoning, and excessive use of booze in country music.


  • Sugarland went from being one of the hottest acts in country music to falling completely off the radar. Founding members Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush, and Kristen Hall saw their debut album, 2004's Twice the Speed of Life, produce three Top 10 hits and double-platinum sales, and Nettles sang duet vocals on Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home", a surprise hit on country radio in summer 2006. Not even losing Hall after the first album seemed to slow them down, as their second album, 2006's Enjoy the Ride, sold even better and accounted for their first #1 hits along with two Grammys for their Signature Song "Stay". 2008's Love on the Inside fared similarly well, giving Sugarland three more #1 hits and becoming their first album to reach #1 on Top Country Albums. Sugarland was also sweeping the duo categories at various country music awards shows, and seemed poised to replace Brooks & Dunn as the genre's biggest duo.

    Then came their fourth album, The Incredible Machine, in 2010. While lead single "Stuck Like Glue" was their highest-selling single, the album itself was met with mixed reception for its increasing acoustic-pop and arena-rock influences, Lighter and Softer lyrics, and jarring steampunk influence. The final nail in the coffin, however, wasn't anything related to the band's music, but bad weather. Just before their performance at the Indiana State Fair in August 2011, a stage collapsed in high winds, killing seven people and injuring 58 more. Sugarland was held as The Scapegoat for the accident and found themselves at the head of several lawsuits, ultimately resulting in the duo paying a large chunk of settlements. After cutting a song for the Act of Valor soundtrack, they went on hiatus (which they were planning to do anyway since Jennifer was pregnant at the time). Both Jennifer and Kristian recorded solo albums, and while Nettles' first solo outing was a Hitless Hit Album, neither member found any radio success. Their 2018 reunion album Bigger, despite fairly positive critical reception, sold a dismal 50,000 copies and saw both of its singles flop on the charts. In addition, nearly every bit of media coverage about the reunion felt it necessary to place prominence on the Indiana State Fair incident. Sugarland's legacy seems to be that of an act that started out strongly, only to grow too experimental and too reliant on style over substance — or worse, as the band who saw their careers "blown away" by an unfortunate accident that they had nothing to do with.


  • Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" was a huge country hit in 2003, reaching the top of the Billboard country charts in only five weeks (tying an at-the-time record for fastest ascent to the top) and staying there for seven weeks, in addition to peaking at #22 on the Hot 100. The song was intended to bridge the gap between 9/11 and the Iraq War, with politically charged lines like "Have you forgotten how it felt that day / To see your homeland under fire and her people blown away?" and "You say we shouldn't worry 'bout Bin Laden". While the historically conservative country fanbase took very well to the song for its patriotic themes, many people who weren't country fans derided it as an aimless tune full of straw-man arguments. Between its narm factor and the lyrics that could only have come from one very specific time period — it's hard to "worry 'bout Bin Laden" anymore now that he's dead, and the US pulled out of Iraq at the start of The New '10s — this song isn't played at all anymore, not even around patriotic holidays like Memorial Day or Independence Day.


  • New Jack Swing suffered from a ton of backlash by the mid-'90s, with some critics calling the scene watered-down, cookie-cutter R&B/hip-hop and slowly driving them out. However, you could make the argument that oversaturation might have been the real culprit, as all the new jack swing songs started to sound the same. New jack swing was arguably at its climax in 1991 until Jodeci came out and created a new R&B sound, which was later dubbed Hip Hop Soul (by the time that Mary J. Blige's debut album was released). Although Max Martin's pop smashes from the late '90s and early 2000s were heavily influenced by new jack swing, the moniker itself is only associated with the former members of New Edition and soundalikes from the late '80s and early '90s. The genre attained some modest nostalgia in later years, such as Bruno Mars and Cardi B's "Finesse" remix, but while it's no longer the butt of jokes it once was, it still gets generally overshadowed by gangsta rap and R&B influenced by it.
  • Auto-Tune — specifically, the vocal distortion that was popularized by T-Pain in the late '00s — has fallen victim to this. When T-Pain used autotune to make his singing voice sound more "robotic", it launched a trend of countless rappers and singers doing the same thing, such as Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Akon, Flo Rida, Kesha, and 3OH!3. Songs featuring the technique were inescapable from 2007-10 and filled up parties everywhere. However, it was also subject to frequent mockery, and eventually, the backlash became too much to bear. Most artists who used it began to move away from the technique, and those who continued using it found diminished sales and show attendances. T-Pain, the one who popularized it, would hit this status himself. It's now viewed as a punchline for late '00s hip-hop and one of the most regrettable trends as of late. In contrast to other trends that had fallen out of the public, autotune is still in use primarily from trap artists like Future, Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, and Bad Bunny, who all use the program in the majority of their songs and all of them having long term success throughout the 2010s because of it.
  • Crunk music is firmly dead in the water today. Created by the Three 6 Mafia in the '90s, and then popularized by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz in 2003 with their huge hit "Get Low", it was absolutely massive in the mid-2000s. It was this genre that put Southern Rap on the map, making the city of Atlanta the capital of Hip-Hop (an effect that's still being felt today). Crunk-filled clubs and house parties all across the nation, basically being to rap in the '00s as to what Post-Grunge was to rock music in that same decade. And not unlike post-grunge, crunk quickly gained a large number of detractors both in the hip-hop community and out, with its misogynistic objectifying of women, glorification of drugs, and screaming lyrics about immature subject matter (primarily about being drunk/stoned, and having sex with prostitutes/strippers In Da Club, or both) that took Cluster F-Bomb and N-Word Privileges to the extreme (which, being a subgenre of Hip-Hop, is really saying something). Today, virtually all crunk artists are completely forgotten, with the possible exception of Three 6 Mafia and Lil Jon (with the former due to Juicy J and their cult following in the hip hop community and the latter mainly because of his viral hit "Turn Down for What", in collaboration with DJ Snake). The basic idea of crunk ("danceable hip-hop music") lives on in the form of Trap Music, but the genre itself is unlikely to come back anytime soon, as it's among the most hated genres of hip-hop and modern music in general.
  • An offshoot of crunk, Crunkcore, is also firmly dead, maybe even more than its parent genre itself. It developed in the late 2000s as a fusion between crunk and the vocal styles of screamo; many crunkcore bands, however, did not scream and often just combined the crunk atmosphere with scene fashion and pop melodies. Bands like Millionaires, brokeNCYDE, 3OH!3, Family Force 5 (notably combining crunkcore with modern Christian themes), Breathe Carolina, I Set My Friends on Fire, and Blood on the Dance Floor helped popularize the genre. They also gained a massive backlash for not only carrying the same misogynistic Intercourse with You themes as regular crunk, but for their even more annoying vocal and image style, and the many sexual assault allegations against Dahvie Vanity of Blood on the Dance Floor helped give it a reputation for being a genre that had a problem with predatory pedophiles and child rapists. Crunkcore died with scene in the early 2010s, and while many of these bands continue to exist, they changed their sound to abandon crunkcore completely.
  • Another offshoot of crunk, snap, is also stone dead. Spawned in Atlanta sometime in the mid-'00s, its origins aren't entirely clear, though most will point to J-Kwon, Dem Franchize Boyz, and D4L as the creators of the genre. What is known is that it quickly became monstrously popular. A Lighter and Softer variant of crunk that downplayed the aggression in favor of a more danceable sound, snap ruled the charts from 2005 to around 2008 thanks to hits like D4L's "Laffy Taffy", Dem Franchize Boyz' "Lean wit It, Rock wit It", David Banner's "Play", and the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait (The Whisper Song)", which were downright ubiquitous and sold absolutely incredible amounts via online and ringtone sales.

    Its downfall came almost as swiftly as its rise for three reasons. The first was the rise of smartphones, which allowed people to store a library of hundreds of full songs on their phones, killing off the ringtone market. The derisive term "ringtone rap" was largely referring to snap, and as the genre derived most of its popularity from cheap digital singles and ringtones, this view was not inaccurate. The second was backlash from both hip-hop fans and the mainstream as a whole, who saw snap as stupid, lazy, and Money, Dear Boy personified, with Ghostface Killah famously taking shots at it on "The Champ" on Fishscale and mocking the "snap dance" on tour. The third and final killing blow was likely the backlash against Soulja Boy. By the end of 2008, snap was having its last gasp by way of V.I.C.'s "Get Silly"; following this, the genre spent 2009 rapidly dying and was essentially gone completely by 2010. Nowadays, snap is viewed as the absolute nadir of 2000s pop music and one of the worst things to ever happen to hip-hop, and there has been absolutely nothing even resembling a revival of the genre. The artists themselves are invariably remembered as one hit wonders if they even are remembered, as it's more likely that people will just recognize the songs without knowing who recorded them.
  • Swag Rap, an offshoot of alternative hip-hop that originated from both Cloud Rap and the hyphy movement in the Bay Area, is also dead in the water. The exact sound of Swag Rap varies, so it's really more of a scene than a sound. Noticeable characteristics include a DIY ethic and unconventional promotional tactics (often online, but not always), many Swag groups also use (fittingly) the term "swag", short for swagger and a synonym for "cool". The genre originated from acts like Soulja Boy due to his penchant for saying swag in his songs, but it was OFWGKTA, Lil B, and A$AP Mob who popularized it, which resulted in the genre blowing up overnight on the internet.

    Its downfall came around the 2010s for many reasons. One, the genre is frequently mistaken for Cloud Rap, which resulted in many rappers like Danny Brown distancing themselves from the swag rap movement. Two, the term "swag" has been frequently ridiculed by mainstream listeners and the general public alike by 2012 due to its overusage online, which resulted in the term falling off the wayside by 2014. And three, its detractors have frequently accused the genre of having simplistic and highly stereotypical lyrics that heavily relied on materialism, glorification of drugs (such as weed, codeine lean, and prescription pills like Xanax), misogynistic overtones, and especially its heavy usage of the term "swag" and other internet lingo, despite certain acts like Odd Future and Lil B playing these cliches for laughs and as a critique of modern-day radio-friendly hip-hop. Any chances of the genre coming back is all but dead due to all of these acts either disbanding, changing their sound completely, and growing out of these topics over more nuanced subject matter, combined with many offshoots of Cloud Rap such as SoundCloud Rap, Emo Rap, and most infamously, Mumble Rap catching the attention of many newer acts, losing what very little chance the genre have on a revival.


  • In the early '90s, MC Hammer was one of the biggest rap stars in the world, with his 1990 album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em selling ten million records — the first rap album to ever accomplish that feat — and his song "U Can't Touch This" becoming a sensation. A big part of Hammer's success was that he was considered a family-friendly alternative to the Gangsta Rap of the day since he made it a point to keep his music fairly clean. However, as discussed by The Rap Critic, there soon came three factors that derailed Hammer's success. First, the gangsta rap boom caused MC Hammer to switch his sound in order to stay relevant, taking on a more hardcore persona that was more in line with the gangsta rappers of the day. This not only ruined the clean-and-wholesome image that Hammer had cultivated, but hip-hop fans didn't buy this street-wise hustler act for an instant. Second, Hammer was massively overexposed. Rivals like LL Cool J were dissing Hammer for what they saw as over-the-top commercialization, which included his Saturday Morning Cartoon Hammerman. Finally, he single-handedly redefined the phrase "Conspicuous Consumption" for Generation X. He bought massive mansions, multiple cars, thoroughbred racehorses, and even gold chains for his dogs, and kept an entourage that ballooned to nearly two hundred people. He had to file for bankruptcy in 1996 as a result of this overspending, and he remains a symbol of living beyond one's means. By 1997, MC Hammer had all but vanished from mainstream attention, known only as a washed-up punchline with "U Can't Touch This" as a One-Hit Wonder despite having had several other hit singles, some of which charted higher. Todd in the Shadows posits in his review of The Funky Headhunter that Hammer probably could have made a comeback if he had just laid low until the late '90s when similarly family-friendly rapper Will Smith began to gain popularity in the wake of Gangsta Rap.
  • Soulja Boy came out of nowhere in 2007 with "Crank That (Soulja Boy)", a viral dance tune that became the first rap song to become a hit through the power of the internet. The dance spread across pop culture like wildfire, topping the Hot 100 for seven weeks. A year later, he released "Kiss Me Thru the Phone", which sold over five million in the U.S. alone. However, his popularity would collapse rapidly by 2010 for a few reasons. His primary audience was kids and teens, who eventually matured and grew out of him. He infamously dissed the well-regarded Lupe Fiasco in a 2010 interview, prompting Lupe to release a diss track in response. Nowadays, despite his five Top 40 hits, he's remembered as a One-Hit Wonder for "Crank That", which is only brought up as a symbol of how bad rap music got in the '00s. An attempt at releasing a "SouljaGame" line of video game consoles in 2018 backfired badly when they turned out to be rebranded poor-quality emulator devices loaded with pirated games and sold at a markup, leading to a legal threat from Nintendo that forced him to quickly pull the machines from sale.
  • Of all the acts that fell off at the turn of the '10s, few fell harder than T-Pain. Despite getting panned by critics for largely abandoning rapping in favor of Auto-Tune-assisted singing, his debut album produced two Top 10 hits and became a staple of clubs and parties around the world. He continued to build on that success with his 2007 album Epiphany, which produced his first #1 hit and became his first chart-topping album. However, backlash against T-Pain's overexposure, use of Auto-Tune, and less-than-positive lyrics built up over time, and after 2008 each successive album release produced fewer sales and hit singles. As he was the Genre Popularizer of his particular brand of auto-tuned music, he had a hard time escaping from the niche he carved for himself once it fell from popularity. The 2010s saw him mellow out and start to use his popularity and good will to make cameos in series like We Bare Bears and Epic Rap Battles of History, so while T-Pain is still recording and performing today, it seems that he's contempt that he's unlikely ever recapture the glory of his early career.
  • Vanilla Ice burst onto the hip-hop scene in 1990 with his debut single "Ice Ice Baby", which topped the Hot 100, and his debut album To the Extreme spent seventeen weeks on top of the Billboard 200, going on to sell over seven million copies in the United States. Unfortunately, Ice was being accused of plagiarism, which he awkwardly denied. The bassline for "Ice Ice Baby" was stolen from Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure", while another single named "Funky Music" did not properly credit Wild Cherry's lead singer Rob Parissi as a songwriter. His motion picture debut, Cool as Ice, didn't make the Top 10 on its debut weekend, got terrible reviews and earned Ice a Razzie for Worst New Star. His second album, 1994's Mind Blowin' was a gigantic commercial flop. When he released his third album, the Rap Rock effort Hard to Swallow in 1998, the executives at Republic Records seriously compared it John Travolta's Career Resurrection in Pulp Fiction. It was also a huge dud. He soon fell into drug addiction and at one point was nearly Driven to Suicide, forcing him to (understandably) put his recording career on hold. While he's made a full recovery and has made a small fortune flipping houses on The DIY Network, most people in America see Vanilla Ice as the punchline about white rappers.
  • After the death of Tupac Shakur in 1996, Ja Rule tried to capitalize on Tupac's image and persona. Starting in 1999 with his single "Holla Holla", Ja Rule released several chart-topping songs through the 2000s, which got him four Grammy Nominations along with six top-ten albums. But his hardcore gangsta image had a lot of holes in it since he sang in most of his songs and released several romantic duets (described by The Rap Critic as "thugs need love too" songs). Of course, what really sealed Ja Rule's fate was starting a feud with Eminem, by insulting his daughter Hailie in the song "Loose Change". Eminem, well-known in rap circles for being fiercely protective of his daughter, was so pissed off at the line that he teamed up with D12 and Obie Trice to write a response track called "Hailie's Revenge", where they tore into Ja Rule for ripping off Tupac and not being a real gangster. Ultimately, Ja Rule joined the dustbin of flash-in-the-pan 2000s rappers, and the most that's been heard of him since then is his involvement in the Fyre Festival fiasco.
  • Master P and his grassroots independent label No Limit Records were hit with this hard. After the swift implosion of the West Coast Gangsta Rap movement following the murder of Tupac and Biggie, P and his scrappy No Limit Soldiers were quick to pick up the torch. By the time his 3x-Platinum album Ghetto D came out in 1997, No Limit was embraced as one of the last mainstream bastions of authentic Hardcore Hip Hop by those who hated the "shiny suit" hip hop coming out of Bad Boy's studio at the time. More notably, P's rise to prominence solidified New Orleans as the new capital of gangsta rap, paving the way for the "Dirty South" to dominate the industry in the 2000s.

    After only a couple of years, though, backlash caught up to P at full force. Not only did he suffer from some unfortunate legal issues that would eventually bankrupt his label, but his entire style started to come off as stagnant, a Flanderization of what the late Tupac had been doing. Compounding matters, not only were there plenty of fresh new faces emerging from the East Coast such as Jay-Z and DMX, but fellow New Orleans label Cash Money Records sprung to prominence on the heels of Juvenile's 400 Degreez and its breakout single "Ha", seizing the attention of P's old fanbase. Things finally came to a head in 1999, when P's album that year Only God Can Judge Me only got a Gold certification and horrible reviews, while Cash Money solidified its staying power with the explosive success of "Back That Azz Up" and the debut of Lil Wayne. Throughout the 2000s, the No Limit family had very little to offer aside from P's son Lil' Romeo becoming a family-friendly child star. To this day, P is largely written off as a regretful detour in the history of gangsta rap rather than an influential legend. Meanwhile, Cash Money forged a hip hop dynasty that is still going strong today, and "Back That Azz Up" evokes far more '90s nostalgia these days than "Make 'Em Say Uhh!" ever does. 400 Degreez even made the 2020 version of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which Ghetto D missed.

Genres & Industry Trends
  • Charity Motivation Songs. The first few multi-artist singles were done in response to the famine in Ethiopia in The '80s, and they were seen as revolutionary in bringing many artists together to promote a worthy cause. Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" and USA For Africa's "We Are the World", both aimed at supporting those affected by the famine, are credited for kicking off the trend, and other multi-artist singles after that also made international charts. As time went on, Values Dissonance kicked in; multi-artist charity songs are now largely viewed as Glurge and (as this AV Club article notes) mostly concerned about promoting the artists themselves instead of the cause behind the song. While the UK has continued to pump out multi-artist charity singles (many of which went to #1 in that country), the last American one of note was the 2010 "We Are The World" remake benefiting those affected by the Haitian earthquake. Even so, despite peaking at #2 on the charts, the song was considered inferior to the original version, despite the vocals of Michael Jackson from the original as a tribute to him. Nowadays, even original charity singles have been derided as egotistical glurgefests made by bands and artists looking for a quick bit of good publicity rather than people trying to promote a worthy cause. In Britain, however, this trope is averted; many huge singles are still for charity, although many of them are comedic covers of pop classics, especially the ones from Comic Relief in particular. Notably, Ariana Grande's 2014 song "One Last Time" was not much of a hit in the UK until it was rereleased to raise relief for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, after which it peaked at #2 (up from its original #24).
  • Traditional pop, spearheaded by crooners like Perry Como, Patti Page, and Doris Day, virtually monopolized the charts during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Once lauded for placing focus on the vocalist in an era where people were likelier to listen to music in a cozy suburban home than the dance halls of the swing era, today, the entire movement is either ignored or forgotten altogether. With the swift rise of rebellious teen culture in the mid-'50s, traditional pop became immediately emblematic of the chaste, sanitized culture enforced by the Moral Guardians of the day and had extremely little influence on the music that followed.

    Only a few big names, such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, survived with their legacies intact, while the likes of Perry Como and Eddie Fisher devolved from hit-making factories into pop-cultural punchlines. Far and large, Sinatra's most iconic songs today are the ones he released in the 1960s, like "Strangers in the Night" and "My Way" (as well as 1980's "Theme from New York, New York"), while almost all of his hits from before the rock and roll era have been lost to history unless they were re-recorded with production techniques more attractive to younger generations. Tony Bennett is a lot more iconic for his 1962 hit "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" than his early '50s #1's like "Because of You", "Rags to Riches", or "Cold, Cold Heart". Even Johnnie Ray, once a teen idol who helped bridge the gap between black and white audiences in popular music, saw his career swiftly derailed as soon as Elvis Presley hit it big. Nowadays, discussions on the history of popular music almost never go further back than 1955 with the breakthrough of rock and roll, while traditional pop is generally not considered worth anybody's time. '50s nostalgia entertainment is much likelier to feature music from the first half of the 1960s than anything from the early 1950s. None of this is to say that the crooning style itself is completely dead, but very few actual pop songs from the decade after World War II are still fondly remembered today.

    The one big exception is for Christmas music, as the holiday is laced with enough nostalgia and traditionalism that the Glurge aspects of traditional pop seem charming in that context. Even modern celebrities will try to swing in front of a big band while covering "Baby It's Cold Outside" and "Frosty The Snowman" on festive TV specials; even here, though, the season's pop sound cuts the treacle with glittery sleigh-bell-led Wall Of Sound-influenced pop-soul fare (in America) and early '70s Glam Rock party stompers and '80s New Wave oddments (in the UK).

    Johnnie Ray also developed a semi-ironic fandom/reappraisal in The '80s in the UK, as trends towards sadder music and celebration of teen misfits left some younger artists fascinated by the idea of a forgotten teen idol who had once been famous for crying on stage. Dexys Midnight Runners gave a Shout-Out to him in their major hit "Come On Eileen" to evoke an atmosphere of post-war romance (Poor old Johnnie Ray/ Sounded sad upon the radio/ moved a million hearts in mono/ our mothers cried, sang along, who'd blame them), Billy Idol included him in his music video for "Don't Need a Gun", and Morrissey modelled his image on Ray, including wearing a similar hearing aid note  and using him as reference for his stage moves. This little Eighties echo gave Johnnie Ray a reputation as being something of a forgotten treasure, and is arguably the biggest influence any of the discarded traditional pop idols had on the youth culture of the future.

Male solo artists

  • During The '50s, Pat Boone was one of the biggest pop performers in America. He explicitly served as The Moral Substitute to the edgy Rock & Roll artists of the day by singing Bowdlerised covers of their songs, with a number of them (such as his versions of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame") actually making it higher on the charts than the originals. Nowadays, though, the original songs serve as the First and Foremost versions, while his covers have faded into obscurity. When he is remembered, it's usually as a symbol of the buttoned-up cultural conservatism of '50s pop culture; the fact that he's since found steady work as a right-wing Christian commentator hasn't done much to challenge that image. He has a cult following among metalheads for his album In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, which featured covers of classic metal songs in his big-band style. (Ronnie James Dio even sang backing vocals on Boone's cover of "Holy Diver"!) Even then, though, it's chiefly an ironic fandom, akin to that of Chuck Norris.
  • The animated character Crazy Frog, the former mascot of German music and cellphone company Jamsternote , was everywhere in Europe early in The Noughties. The character was a male frog-like creature with a high-pitched voice who sang various songs and sometimes making weird sounds and gibberish. He was so popular that he gained his own set of video games and a few arcade cabinets. However, by the mid 2000s, the character started gaining a lot of dislike from the public and resulted in Jamster having to retire the character in early 2007 and ended up getting replaced with Schnuffel, the company's current mascot who has gained more positive reaction with the public. The character even made a cameo in The Amazing World of Gumball where it gets chased by a group of dodo birds.
    Gumball: Run him over.
    Mr. Small: No need. He's gone the way of the Dodo.
  • Liberace, the flamboyant piano player, was one of the most popular and highest-paid music performers of The '50s. He was especially popular among teenage girls, who swooned over him the way their big sisters used to swoon over the young Frank Sinatra. His popularity extended well into The '60s, as a pleasant alternative to rock 'n' roll. Most popular non-rock and non-Motown music performers of the '50s and '60s are forgotten today, but Liberace is still remembered for being a ridiculously camp figure, as well as a joke on the era's cluelessness of his obvious closet homosexuality ("I wish my brother George was here" was referenced on Looney Tunes). If a character refers to Liberace (Superman II, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series), they're Ambiguously Gay. What's more, his legacy in modern times suffers on account of the fact that he was, during his life, very adamant about denying that he was gay, giving him detractors in today's LGBT community. Being openly gay back then was tantamount to career suicide, but even after his death in 1987, his estate and personal physician went through great efforts to cover up the fact that he died from AIDS-related complications. His fall from grace appeared complete when his Las Vegas museum closed due to waning popularity in 2010 (with plans to reopen it in 2014 failing to materialize).
  • Few artists of The New '10s fell as hard and as fast as Robin Thicke. He broke through in 2013, riding a wave of No Such Thing as Bad Publicity thanks to his kinda-sleazy song "Blurred Lines", and a performance with Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMAs. This worked because of a carefully-constructed image of a Rule-Abiding Rebel - he played the part of a lecherous womanizer but got a pass because he was Happily Married to his wife, actress Paula Patton. However, the controversy surrounding "Blurred Lines" caught up to it, with a popular Tumblr post featuring rape survivors holding up cards with their rapists' quotes on them that echoed the song's lyrics. Moreover, stories began to emerge that Thicke's sleazy creep persona wasn't all an act — after a photo showed Thicke groping a female fan, Patton filed for divorce. Thicke's follow-up album Paula was a desperate and depressing attempt to win her back, only digging him further down, as Paula bombed with only 24,000 copies sold in the US in its first week. Things only got worse for Thicke after he lost a lawsuit filed by the Marvin Gaye Estate, which proved that Thicke and collaborator Pharrell Williams copied "Blurred Lines" from Gaye's "Got to Give It Up"; the two were forced to pay Gaye's descendants $7.5 million. What truly solidified Thicke's fall from grace was in 2015, where rap superstar Flo Rida had Thicke sing in "I Don't Like It, I Love It". The song spent weeks floating at the bottom of the charts and fell short of the Top 40. Comparing that to Rida's other two singles from the My House EP, which had no problems reaching the Top 10, and it's easy to see why "I Don't Like It" failed to be a hit. Now, Thicke is seen as a quintessential One-Hit Wonder to most of the general public. Of course, "never say never" is the mantra of the entertainment industry, but for him to recover from falling so far so fast with all the controversy surrounding him would take nothing short of a miracle.

Female solo artists

  • In 2003, Ashlee Simpson piggybacked off of her older sister Jessica to enjoy a meteoric rise with a Pop Punk sound akin to Avril Lavigne. Her first album, 2004's Autobiography, went triple platinum. Then came her disastrous performance on Saturday Night Live in October 2004, where she was caught lip-syncing when her band started playing the wrong song, followed by an embarrassing "hoe-down" when she realized what was happening. Matters were only made worse by an equally disastrous half-time performance at the 2005 Orange Bowl, in which she was singing live — badly. Together, the two concert debacles created the impression that Ashlee couldn't actually sing without studio help. Her following album, 2005's I Am Me, sold far less than Autobiography and didn't even reach the platinum mark. She only released one more album after that, the commercial bomb Bittersweet World in 2008. She's had a bit more success as an actress, playing Violet Foster on the short-lived Melrose Place Sequel Series and Roxie Hart in Broadway and West End productions of Chicago. But when she's brought up today outside the tabloids and reality TV, it's usually in the same breath as Milli Vanilli as the punchline of jokes about lip-syncing.
  • During the presidency of George H. W. Bush, Paula Abdul was so successful that she rivaled Madonna and Janet Jackson in sales and airplay. Within a matter of years though, she was perceived as shallow and second-rate. Her reputation was tarnished when it was revealed that she had used weight-thinning cameras in the music video for "The Promise of a New Day", and after her 1995 album Head over Heels bombed, her career was all but completely destroyed. Today, she's seen as a relic of '80s kitsch, if not just the nice judge from American Idol, rather than a pop-cultural icon like her previous contemporaries. She never put out a follow-up album to Head over Heels and has only released two songs since 1996, both of which were fueled by American Idol rather than late '80s/early '90s nostalgia.


  • Starland Vocal Band's sexually suggestive "Afternoon Delight" was a huge hit when it was released in 1976, topping the Hot 100 and making #12 on the Year-End List. It even received three Grammy nominations, winning one, and likely contributed to the group's Best New Artist win (unfortunately for them, they never had another hit). However, people eventually turned against the song to the point where if it's brought up today, it's most likely to make fun of it for being a cheesy Intercourse with You song that doesn't sound sexy at all. Todd in the Shadows summed it up like this:
    Only very rarely do you have a popular song that in retrospect pretty much everyone agrees was absolutely terrible.
  • When it was released in 2000, "The Christmas Shoes" by the Christian Rock band NewSong became a massive crossover hit with secular listeners, topping the Adult Contemporary chart in the US, reaching #42 on the Billboard Hot 100, and hitting #31 on the Country Music charts. Another version of the song by Girl Group 3 of Hearts also made the country music charts a year later, and a novelization was adapted into a Made-for-TV Movie. These days, it frequently shows up on lists of the worst Christmas songs of all time, mainly for its glurge-y lyrics that paint a very twisted portrait of the True Meaning of Christmas (which Patton Oswalt devoted a stand-up routine to tearing apart and making fun of). Because of the song's reputation, the song gets rarely played nowadays on radio stations during the holidays, not even on Christian or Country radio.

  • While scene largely supplanted emo, it too has been Condemned by History. The roots of scene started to emerge on MySpace and Facebook roughly around 2005, and slowly grew when emo was on its last legs. Unlike emo, there was no actual scene genre, but certain metalcore, crunkcore, and deathcore artists were commonly associated with the culture, and the Warped Tour was the general epicenter of the movement. Scene rapidly ascended to the forefront of alternative youth culture, and by 2010, it had fully taken emo's place. By 2013, it was beginning to die out; the steady decline of the Warped Tour was dragging scene down with it, while the near-constant stream of sexual misconduct allegations against numerous scene musicians helped hasten its demise. By 2015, scene was dead, and its fall completely wiped out electronicore and the last vestiges of crunkcore. The modern metalcore acts that were tied to scene found themselves either breaking up or substantially retooling their sounds to stay afloat. Nowadays, scene is generally regarded as the distillation of all of the most ridiculous and trashy aspects of youth culture in the late 2000s and early 2010s, full of annoying music, predatory scumbags, and ceaseless petty drama. While most of the acts that successfully escaped the scene label are still doing well, the ones who didn't survive are viewed as the dregs of the Warped Tour, and scene fashion is viewed as the domain of lowlifes.
    • Scene has had something of an ironic revival at the end of the 2010s due to the egirl/eboy subculture imitating a romanticised, manga-inflected version of the fashion, and elements from the music being revived in the work of artists like 100 gecs. A scene-loving teenager too young to remember MySpace even coded a revival of the site in the hope of bringing back the creativity and freedom of the scene culture.
  • Post-Grunge is to the Turn of the Millennium what disco was to The '70s — the punchline of a decade. It originated in the mid-late '90s when bands played music that took the most popular elements of grunge music while scrubbing down the more experimental elements and doing away with the dour lyrics, which were undergoing a backlash at the time due in part to Kurt Cobain's suicide. Post-grunge quickly became the most popular mainstream rock genre in the late '90s and only continued to get bigger in the 2000s, providing an ample amount of crossover hits and the forerunners of the genre became some of the biggest bands in the world.

    By the late 2000s, though, fatigue would set in for a variety of reasons. Firstly, post-grunge built up a reputation for being formulaic, as its mainstream friendliness made it easily saturate the airwaves. Secondly, numerous acts faced a backlash for the childishly hedonistic and misogynistic themes of their lyrical subject matter. And because post-grunge had become nearly inseparable from rock music as a whole for over a decade, many rock fans felt that once the genre succumbed to its own fatigue, it did lasting damage to rock music's overall reputation. Today, post-grunge is held up as a cautionary tale in what happens when you take a genre as unique as grunge and turn it into a mass-produced commercial product. Besides a small handful of acts that either incorporated elements of other genres into their sound or Genre Shifted entirely, the post-grunge scene is now a graveyard full of bands that can't chart to save their lives or have broken up entirely. Whenever anyone uses the term "butt rock" in a derisive fashion, they're most likely referring to post-grunge.
  • Shock Rock, rock music whose main allure was how shocking and offensive it was to Moral Guardians (such as Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and GWAR), has largely died out. The main reason is due to cultural desensitization to such musical flamboyance — mainstream pop singers like Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Adam Lambert, Miley Cyrus (post-Hannah Montana), and others have made shock value such a major part of their routines that it's become, well, routine to expect musicians to push the envelope. Secondly, the internet has made far more extreme bands and genres (Gangsta Rap, Death Metal, horrorcore, etc.) accessible to young people wishing to rebel against their parents. Furthermore, the Moral Guardians that once railed against shock rock, and gave it much of its allure in the process, are nowadays seen as ineffectual jokes. The last true shock rock band to make it big was Marilyn Manson in the '90s,note  and since then, this once-controversial style of rock music has turned into joke fodder.


  • Creed was the biggest band in the world around the turn of the 21st century, reaching their peak with their Diamond-selling sophomore album Human Clay in 1999. However, between frontman Scott Stapp's on- and off-stage antics and their Signature Songs "With Arms Wide Open" and "Higher" being played on a seemingly infinite loop on the radio, a backlash formed from which the band would never recover. The tipping point came when the band performed in Chicago at the Allstate Arena in 2002. Stapp was so drunk that he could barely stand up, and the band got booed off after only three songs. Creed soon broke up, and the backing band formed Alter Bridge with a different singer. (While never as successful as Creed, Alter Bridge is much more respected.) Stapp's personal life, meanwhile, spiraled out of control, to the point that he was broke and living alone in a hotel for a period of time. Today, Creed remains one of the biggest pariahs of the music world, being voted as the worst band of the '90s by the readers of Rolling Stone in 2013. Today, it is a social taboo to admit to having been a Creed fan, the general consensus being that they were a poor man's ripoff of Pearl Jam with an obnoxious frontman, both on and off the stage.
  • Hinder was one of the many bands that fell to this status due to the death of Post-Grunge. After they signed a deal with Universal Records in 2005 and released their single "Lips of an Angel", the band's rise was meteoric from there. The other two singles off of the album ("How Long" and "Better than Me") soon followed suit and managed to essentially take over the airwaves. This was all enough to propel the parent album to triple-platinum sales. Take It to the Limit, their 2008 follow-up, debuted even higher at #4, and while its main singles "Use Me" and "Without You" weren't quite as huge as "Lips of an Angel", they still filled up rock radio. The first sign of serious trouble was when both singles from 2010's All American Nightmare barely charted. Not only did this not correct itself by 2012, but Welcome to the Freakshow, their fourth major-label album, debuted at #65. Sales were so bad that their major label Republic Records unceremoniously dropped them. The final nail in the coffin was when frontman and founder Austin Winkler left the band in the middle of a tour due to his drug issues. Now signed to The End Records, they released When the Smoke Clears with a friend of the band on vocals to negative reviews; it managed to peak in the 70s on the Billboard 200 before vanishing the next week. Hinder's 2017 album, The Reign, failed to chart, with "Remember Me" peaking at a lamentable #39 on rock radio. While still around, Hinder has gone from being a well-drawing act to playing in small clubs with other has-beens, and their music is viewed as emblematic of everything that was wrong with modern rock in the mid-'00s and early '10s: trashy, misogynistic, childishly hedonistic, and generally moronic.
  • Limp Bizkit took off in 1997 after they were discovered by Korn's Jonathan Davis. Their blend of metal and hip-hop combined with angsty lyrics and use of turntables was a winning combination for teens and young adults across the world, bringing Nu Metal to the forefront of mainstream culture. Their 1999 sophomore album Significant Other shot up to #1 and went 7x platinum in the US alone, and their fame skyrocketed even further when their following album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was released in 2000, whereupon it debuted at #1 and went 6x platinum in the US.

    However, the band's popularity rapidly collapsed in the early-mid '00s. First was when their guitarist Wes Borland left — he was a fan-favorite and considered the most talented band member, so his departure left a huge hole in the lineup. Their 2003 album Results May Vary was delayed multiple times, got terrible reviews when it finally came out, barely made it past platinum, and proved to be a Genre-Killer for nu metal, which was already in decline at the time. The general feeling within nu metal circles was that they had created a monster, and had turned the genre into every single thing it was not supposed to be. After a hiatus, they reunited in 2011, when their album Gold Cobra debuted at a dismal #16 on the Billboard 200. "Endless Slaughter", their latest single off of the oft-delayed album Stampede of the Disco Elephants, was met with near-unanimous derision and was widely decried as an incoherent, nonsensical mess. Once one of the most popular rock bands of the Y2K era, Limp Bizkit is now considered a disgrace to the genre, and even though nu metal did regain some esteem in the eyes of the music industry and the public, they're still considered a complete joke even by casual listeners. Few bands are more hated nowadays than Limp Bizkit. Yet the funny thing is, lead singer Fred Durst doesn't really disagree. Nowadays, the only reason they're even known at all is that a JoJo's Bizarre Adventure villain's Stand was named after them (and even then most mentions of said Stand are specifically to refer to its silly-sounding Writing Around Trademarks rename in the west, Flaccid Pancake), and that's really saying much when that's the only reason people know of them.
  • Puddle of Mudd became one of the biggest rock bands in the world after releasing their 2001 debut studio album Come Clean, which yielded two massive hits and sold five million copies. Unfortunately, their 2003 follow-up, Life on Display, killed their popularity as fast as Come Clean made it. The album got trashed by critics and failed to go platinum. They had a small comeback in 2007 when the Title Track to their third album Famous was embraced with open arms by rock radio stations, but it was the Alfred Hitchcock-inspired "Psycho" that looked to put them back on top. But that's not what would happen when they released Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate. The album tanked massively and got the same tepid reviews as Life on Display. Less than a year afterwards, all the original members of the group except Wes Scantlin were gone, and it looked like their 2011 cover album would be their last release. In later years, Scantlin became a raging alcoholic and even more notorious for his obnoxious behavior on and off-stage, such as accusing a random concertgoer of stealing his house and repeated arrests. The final straw was a gig in England in March 2016, when Scantlin was so drunk that his bandmates just walked offstage. The band released its fifth album Welcome to Galvania in September 2019, which missed the Billboard 200 despite one Top 10 Mainstream Rock single. However, this would be relegated to a mere footnote in the band's history in April 2020 when a video of them covering Nirvana's "About a Girl" was discovered, which quickly went viral and became the subject of several memes due to Scantlin's strained, off-key vocal performance. Today, Puddle of Mudd is one of the most hated bands of the new millennium, with any reference to them today only being done to mock their name, note Wes Scantlin's resemblance to wrestler Edge, criticize his "whiny voice", the aforementioned video, or as another example of "X-rated post-grunge garbage." Even in the "never say never" world that is the music industry, Puddle of Mudd has fallen so hard that it would be nothing short of a miracle for them to regain any respect.


  • Drowning Pool's debut single "Bodies" was a big hit on rock radio, peaking at #6 on Active Rock and #12 on Alternative. The song proved to be hugely memetic, quickly becoming the band's Signature Song and being featured in countless TV shows, movies, video games, sporting and pro wrestling events, and commercials. However, the song very quickly came to be overused in AMVs, Notepad tutorials, and Windows Movie Maker videos, a result of it being featured as part of YouTube's AudioSwap library, which also included other singles from Wind-Up Records artists. Even worse, however, was the controversy surrounding the song, with its chorus of "let the bodies hit the floor" and its connection to a number of high-profile crimes. The song was repeatedly played to torture inmates at Guantanamo Bay, in 2003 a teenager shot and murdered his parents while listening to "Bodies", and most infamously, in 2011 Jared Loughner had uploaded a video set to "Bodies" of him burning the American flag before going on a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. The song was also included in iHeartMedia's (then Clear Channel) list of "lyrically questionable" songs that was given out to their radio stations after 9/11. Originally written as a mosh-pit anthem, "Bodies" very quickly came to be viewed as a Spree Killer anthem instead, and while Drowning Pool themselves condemned the Tucson shooting, their chart success slid down the drain until their 2016 album Hellelujah completely missed the Billboard 200.


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