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Ensemble Dark Horse / Music

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  • Any cases of popular bassists (as Nobody Loves the Bassist) or drummers (who usually get there for wild behavior).
    • When Queen released their first album, most of the attention they got from the media was focused on Brian May and the fact he made his own guitar (with his father). Freddie Mercury gradually developed both his songwriting and his stage persona to the point that he became the face of the band, at least as far as most of the public was concerned. Bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor were almost always overshadowed, but they still had their moments: John scored three big hits for the band in 1975, 1980 and 1984, and Roger also wrote some big numbers from 1984 onwards. In fact, a lot (though not all) of the band's big hits from 1980 onwards were by either one of them and by 1989 the band was crediting all song-writing to all four of them, effectively becoming an Ensemble Cast. As Mercury himself put it: "We are a very competitive group. We are four good writers and there are no passengers."
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  • Fitting perfectly into this trope are bassist and drummer Geezer Butler and Bill Ward of Black Sabbath. With singer Ozzy Osbourne moving on to a successful solo career and international stardom, and guitarist Tony Iommi remembered as the man who invented Heavy Metal, it's easy to overlook the other two. Nevertheless, Geezer actually wrote all of the lyrics for the Ozzy-fronted Sabbath - the dark themes being arguably what distinguished them from other hard rock bands and spawned the heavy metal genre. Furthermore, critics, fans, and bandmates alike have hailed Bill's prowess on drums ("Sabbath ain't Sabbath without Bill") and to a lesser extent Geezer on bass, and the powerful rhythm section foundation they provided for Tony and Ozzy.
  • When The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson suffered an emotional breakdown in 1965 and decided to quit touring with the group, Bruce Johnston (previously of Beach Boys soundalike group the Rip Chords, among many other groups) was hired to take over his role playing bass on-stage. By the end of the year, Johnston was joining the Beach Boys in the studio and later became an integral part of their late '60s/early '70s recordings, even writing songs like "Disney Girls (1957)" for them.
    • Moreso Dennis Wilson, who went from being the under-appreciated drummer to writing such classics as "Forever", to the point that his solo album Pacific Ocean Blue charted higher and was more critically acclaimed than the Beach Boys album released that same year.
      • Dennis Wilson is even more surprising because he was seen as the jockish surfer who had no time for music, and yet his songs eventually showed him to be an emotional, troubled person just like his brothers.
  • The Beatles produced two possibilities:
    • Ringo Starr was a late replacement into the band and widely considered (however fairly) to be their least talented member. Furthermore, he was the least conventionally handsome of the group and, as the drummer, held the least glamorous position in the band. Despite all this, his goofy charm and approachable good looks earned him the most fan mail of any Beatle.
    • George Harrison was arguably the least popular Beatle during the band's run. He was not a part of the singing/songwriting super-duo of Lennon-McCartney, nor did he have the charm of Ringo and was known for being quiet and moody. However, immediately after the band broke up he was the first of the four to score a #1 hit, and his album All Things Must Pass is to this day the top-selling album by any solo Beatle. His ballad "Something" is also the second most frequently covered Beatles song after "Yesterday," and even John Lennon once remarked, "It's the best damn song on the whole album." Harrison seems to have been well aware of his dark horse status. He had a minor hit with the song "Dark Horse," and his custom record label was called Dark Horse Records.
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  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony is a group example. As they emerged during an era of hip-hop where you had to be either from the west or the east to make it in that particular field. Not only did they not hail from either coast, but hailed from the Midwest (Cleveland to be precise), and managed to have 3 back to back multi-platinum records amidst the hype and controversy of the then bi-coastal feud between the east and west.
  • Despite being the bassist/lyricist of Fall Out Boy, Pete Wentz served as the front man for Fall Out Boy up until their hiatus. Conventionally, either the lead singer/rhythm guitarist, Patrick Stump or the founder of the band, lead guitarist Joe Trohman should've been the front man, but seeing as Patrick didn't fit the standard front man mold and neither Joe or the drummer Andy Hurley had any interest in being the face, the role went to Pete. Considering his long-standing mental health issues and relationship woes around the time of Fall Out Boy's height of popularity, it's questionable if this was the right decision in the long run. One is just as likely to find people citing his dislike of his role as one could find people thinking he revels in it. His massively prominent fandom/fandumb is a common conversation topic among Fall Out Boy fans and music spectators. Wentz's scandalous notoriety is lampshaded in the music video for "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" from Infinity on High and often lampshaded by the band and himself. The transition of his side project Black Cards from a more poppy/dancey band with a female lead singer to an EDM duo with the previous incarnation's drummer looks to be a deliberate attempt to avoid this trope a second time around with another group.
    • Patrick Stump, however, still remains a popular member of Fall Out Boy and while his solo album "Soul Punk" wasn't a financial success, various music spectators and fans of Fall Out Boy (that is, those who didn't automatically dismiss it for not being Fall Out Boy) found it to be a pleasant surprise and an indicator of the long introverted singer coming out of his shell. Patrick also has a habit of unintentionally overshadowing other bands when he does guest vocals for one of their songs.
    • Joe Trohman and the drummer, Andy Hurley get this through their involvement with the hard rock supergroup The Damned Things, by virtue of being the most recognizable band members outside of Scott Ian. The group is both disliked by hard rock/metal fans for having members of Fall Out Boy in it and disliked by Fall Out Boy fans for being harder than/not being Fall Out Boy. Then you have those that just like it.
      • Again for Joe Trohman with his other side project With Teeth, mainly due to him unexpectedly providing lead vocals. Heck, Andy and Joe's side projects are probably dark horses among the Fall Out Boy fanbase compared to Patrick and Pete's based on The Damned Things' album being available much sooner compared to Soul Punk and Black Cards' original release.
      • Andy Hurley is also respected in crust and powerviolence circles due to his past and present work with the pioneering anti-racist powerviolence group Racetraitor, as well as the metalcore/crust supergroup Sect. His work with Enabler is no longer respected, but that has absolutely nothing to do with him and everything to do with the actions of mainmain Jeff Lohrber.
  • Similarly, Aaron Gillespie, drummer/secondary vocalist of Underoath, is decidedly more popular among the young females of the band's fanbase than frontman Spencer Chamberlain, due to his angelically emotive vocals (in contrast to Chamberlain's agonizing growls) and attractive red hair. He has even spawned his own spinoff one-man band The Almost.
    • The Almost was so successful that he left Underoath to focus on it.
  • Genesis got wildly popular after their bat-winged, flower-mask-wearing singer/frontman/spokesman/Face of the Band Peter Gabriel left and was replaced with, well, the balding, stocky drummer of the band who sang a bit. Then the drummer went solo in 1981...
  • Limp Bizkit attracted a huge Hatedom, chiefly centered around Fred Durst. The only one who arguably escaped was Wes Borland, the guitarist with a penchant for weird face paint. Just as a measure of how he was the best-liked member when he first left Fred posted his personal email address on the band's website. Fans proceeded to email him and congratulate him for leaving the band.
  • The Story of Evil series features the evil princess' very literal horse named Josephine mentioned only once in the whole series. A lot of fans' reaction after watching the series is, "Yeah but what happened to Josephine? We need to know!"
  • It's hard to be an Ensemble Dark Horse when associated with Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up, but the literal version gives a lot of attention to the hyper-talented bartender.
    • Said bartender is "played" by Clive Clarke, an Englishman who rose to prominence via winning a world disco dance championship in the late '70s or early '80s (back when that was a thing).
  • LMFAO's robot dancer seems to have quite a few fans.
  • Both Robbie Williams and Bobby Brown were secondary members of their respective boy bands, Take That and New Edition, before gaining way more success as solo artists.
  • While Steve Albini and Bob Weston had been famous musicians and recording engineers even since before they founded their band Shellac, fans love to see drummer Todd Trainer performing his stage antics.
  • Whilst Sting was undoubtedly the Breakout Performer of The Police, drummer Stewart Copeland became the band's Dark Horse. His unique playing style influenced numerous musicians (Trey Anastasio and Les Claypool have called him a "mutual hero", and Taylor Hawkins has invited him on several Foo Fighters tours to play as a guest drummer), and Rolling Stone readers voted him the fifth-greatest drummer of all time in 2010.
    • Copeland was the leader of the band when they formed, he also played most of the guitar parts on both tracks on their first single Fall Out/Nothing Achieving (Henry Padovani only played the solos), tracks he also wrote entirely himself. Copeland also recorded his own solo material (under the name Klark Kent) entirely by himself.
      • Andy Summers was no slouch either, responsible for much of the band's jazz influence and wackier elements, but he was overshadowed by the other band members.
  • Ace Frehley of KISS earned himself a loyal following, not just for his flashy lead guitar playing, but for his cool, cocky attitude that was a welcome change from the off-putting, egomaniacal Large Ham Gene Simmons and Casanova Wannabe Paul Stanley. The fact that he had the most successful solo career out of all the members further cements this status.
  • Normally the face of the band is the lead singer, but while Simon Le Bon got plenty of attention, the other members of Duran Duran found themselves with their own fan groups (even the unconventionally attractive lead guitarist Andy Taylor). In fact, bassist John Taylor (whom some considered as eclipsing Le Bon in the attractiveness stakes) pointed this out by stating the band were "like a box of Quality Street [chocolates] — there's something for everyone". And speaking of John Taylor, he was perhaps the darkest of all dark horses, considering that he spent his childhood and adolescence being a shy, withdrawn nerd who wore glasses, was into wargaming, and got little attention from the opposite sex. Being the lead guitarist of his first band boosted his confidence a little, but forming Duran Duran and the local attention the band got in the very late 1970s was what drew him out of his shell.
  • Uncle Ernie, of all people, has this in spades. Yes, the mean, creepy drunk guy who actually ends up molesting the titular character (and possibly other youngsters in "Tommy's Holiday Camp") is the most fan-loved character right after Tommy himself. One could argue that he's popular because the movie version is played by the band's drummer, Keith Moon, and whoever's playing him usually hams it up for all it's worth, but still...
    • Fun fact: Uncle Ernie was originally going to have just one song ("Fiddle About") in the Concept Album, but Keith Moon liked it so much that he insisted on having him in another song.
    • Not too far behind Ernie is Tommy's other abusive relative, Cousin Kevin.
    • The Acid Queen and the Local Lad/the Champ (no, he's not the Pinball Wizard...he's not Elton John, either) have their share of fans, too, despite being one scene/song wonders and the latter having little to no effect on the titular character or the plot. Again, this could be partially because their movie counterparts are played by Tina Turner and Elton John, respectfully, both of whom were quite popular at the time.
    • The Doctor seems to have a small fanbase as well. This is probably because in the movie he was played by Jack Nicholson, of all people.
  • Janie Fricke was a prolific Country Music backing vocalist in The '70s. Several prominent appearances on various hits made her voice very recognizable to Country fans, and she finally got signed as an artist in her own right, enjoying several big hits in The '80s.


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