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Genre Shift / Music

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  • Many rockers have found success by shifting to country after losing touch with the rock audience. Examples: Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, Steven Tyler, Billy Joe Royal, Dickey Lee, and to some extent, Elvis Presley.
  • Cerys Matthews' first solo album after leaving Catatonia was a country album, Cockahoop!.
  • There's also the aptly titled "Country Song" by Seether (though still much closer to rock overall).
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  • Metallica, in The '90s, gradually shifted from thrash metal to a bluesy hard rock and heavy metal style. 2003's St. Anger was a bizarre hodgepodge of thrash metal, punk/hardcore, nu-metal and hard rock with no guitar solos to be found, while 2008's Death Magnetic was, for the most part, a return to the band's classic thrash metal sound.
  • k.d. lang shifted genres from country to pop ballads beginning with Ingenue. While she has done quite well as a balladeer, it's hard to say, given her vegetarianism and sexual orientation, whether she jumped out of country or was pushed.
  • Apoptygma Berzerk was an EBM band that many considered on par with VNV Nation and Covenant, and in fact was one of the two bands (along with VNV) to initially be considered in the sub-genre of "Futurepop." Now they make indy-sounding electro-rock, similar to the Killers or Shiny Toy Guns.
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  • They Might Be Giants. Shifted from catchy lyrical pop to kid-friendly tunes and finally to the punky "I'm Impressed" in The Else.
  • Jesse Mc Cartney started out singing chaste love songs aimed at tweens, then kept the style for the second album, but with slightly more sexual lyrics to match his aging audience. Then REALLY did this trope for his latest stuff. Switching to a more techno/hip hop style with much more sexual lyrics. One single is 3 minutes of him telling any female listeners to shake their ass.
  • The Cult started out as a heavily-produced, effect-laden musical experience that inspired modern Goth rock for their first two albums. On their third album, Electric, however, they had finished recording the entire thing when they realized that they didn't really like the way it sounded, so they found a new producer with whom they re-recorded the entire album as a straight-up hard rocker that sounded quite a bit like AC/DC and other heavy rock bands of the time. The resulting schism in their fanbase makes them seem like they became a new band.
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  • Miyavi has gone through several genre shifts, starting with a kind of Marilyn Manson-esque kind of rock, moving to acoustic pop and rock, then into a fusion of hip-hop and punk, and now has his own blend of rock the showcases his percussive guitar technique.
  • Kacey Musgraves’s 2018 album “Golden Hour” is much more of a trippy 70s soft rock/pop album in the vein of Fleetwood Mac or The Bee Gees than straight up country like her first two albums. The country elements are still there but she calls it “Galactic Country” herself.
  • Basic Element was a Eurodance group in The '90s, then shifted to Italo-Electroclash during The 2000s.
  • Happens occasionally in Hip-Hop. If a rapper is also a decent singer, there's a very high chance (that increases as they get older) that they'll abandon rapping completely in favor of singing. This isn't necessarily a bad move—the quality is still high and they're likely to appeal to a wider audience—but fans of their older material might feel left out in the cold. See: Queen Latifah, Kid Rock, Lauryn Hill, Cee Lo Green, Andre3000, The Black Eyed Peas, etc. Kanye West did this temporarily during 808s & Heartbreak, and he still occasionally sings today.
  • OFWGKTA is still mostly known for their rap music but one of their artists, Frank Ocean, did release an R&B album that contrasted the hardcore hip-hop of the other rappers.
  • Mod punk Paul Weller, after he broke up The Jam and turned to Motown soul with the Style Council. To a lot of The Jam fans, it was more like Genre Adultery at first.
  • Taylor Swift:
    • The singer switched from country to contemporary pop/rock. The change was evident as early as "Love Story", the first single off her second album, and culminated with 1989 (released in 2014) being her first entirely pop album, with none of its material at all being released to country.
    • "I Knew You Were Trouble" abruptly shifts from her at-the-time-of-release patent brand of country-pop in the verses to a dubstep chorus, twice within the song.
  • With her third album, Love Ain't Here No More, Angelina (Camarillo) mostly abandoned freestyle in favor of contemporary R&B dance-pop (complete with Auto-Tune on some songs).
  • Charlie Simpson went from being a member of the clean-cut British boy band Busted to the lead singer of the post-hardcore band Fightstar to a folk rock solo artist.
  • Darius Rucker had huge success in the 1990s with guitar-pop band Hootie & the Blowfish, briefly flirted with R&B in the early '00s, and became a country music artist in 2008.
  • One of King Crimson's defining traits, with their biggest shift occurring in the early 1980s when Robert Fripp abandoned the prog based sounds of the previous lineups in order to dabble with minimalistic New Wave and World Beat music.
  • John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame had an interesting version of this where he released six albums of six different genres... all in six months. He further continued this by switching to electronic music after he left the band, eventually releasing a song shifting at least ten genres within four minutes in 2012; to demonstrate how 60s and 70s recording techniques and rock/pop can be combined with modern electronica and computers.
  • Marc van Linden went from epic trance to minimal tech-house, now he appears to be doing nu-skool Euro-house.
  • Though mostly known as an Alt Rock group, in recent years Lit has experimented with other styles and have currently found success in the country music circuit.
  • Liza da Costa, the first vocalist of the Eurodance band Captain Jack, is now singing only bossa nova songs.
  • Linkin Park. Not only did the band change genres, but changed their logo as well. The shift of genre has gotten to the point where fans describe nu metal Linkin Park as "old" whereas the alternative rock style from Minutes to Midnight and onwards is "new".
    • As their Underground demos reveal, however, Shinoda has always built the songs up from his production, it's just that in the Nu-Metal era they used more guitars whereas now they use more synths.
    • Linkin Park returned to their nü-metal roots with their 2014 album The Hunting Party.
    • Mike Shinoda did this between projects. Fort Minor, his Solo Side Project, is an Eminem-esque hardcore underground Rap Rock that's rooted in Hip-Hop culture. Compare this to his nu-metal rapping as a member of Linkin Park.
    • And then One More Light came out featuring pop music of all things, the fan backlash was harsh.
  • David Bowie built a career on this trope, switching between psychedelic folk-rock, glam rock, Philly soul, and Krautrock within a decade alone. This resulted in a New Sound Album every time he stepped into a recording studio.
  • Bill Callahan started out doing avant-garde lo-fi rock for his first few albums as Smog, switched to baroque pop for an album, then folk for a while, and has settled now on alt-country.
  • Kerli started out doing alt-rock, but now does electro dance-pop; compare Love is Dead (2008) and Army of Love (2010).
  • Exile started out as a pop-rock band, having a big hit with "Kiss You All Over" but absolutely nothing else. A few membership changes later, they successfully reinvented themselves as a country-rock band which scored ten #1 hits.
  • Rozalla (Miller), best known for the Eurodance hit "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" back in 1993, now does easy listening soul jazz.
  • Hey Violet went from hard rock to a more pop/alt rock.
  • The Doobie Brothers, after original frontman Tom Johnston left the band due to severe illness, and replaced by the more soulful Michael McDonald.
  • Behemoth went from Black Metal to Blackened Death Metal, and then Death Metal.
  • It may be hard to believe, given songs like "I Kissed a Girl" and revealing photo shoots, but Katy Perry started out as a contemporary Christian singer.
  • Little Boots' debut album was quasi-80's electropop, but now she's doing retro euro-House Music.
  • The Oak Ridge Boys were originally a gospel group, but shifted to country in the early-mid 70s.
  • Nachtmystium used to be a standard spikes-and-corpsepaint Black Metal band for their first couple albums, then in 2006 they started incorporating elements of Psychedelic Rock with Instinct:Decay. With their two Black Meddle albums (note the misspelling) they've almost entirely abandoned their black metal sound, mixing extreme metal with post-rock, psychedelic rock, and Industrial Metal.
  • One-Hit Wonder OMC (courtesy of the breezy pop song "How Bizarre") was previously the lead singer of a hardcore band.
  • The Beastie Boys started out as a hardcore band, then by the time they were recording albums, had morphed into a Run–D.M.C.-ish rap-rock band, then achieved critical acclaim via sample-based hip-hop.
  • Ex-Hannah Montana teen star Emily Osment began with straightforward teen pop like "I Don't Think About It" and "Hero In Me". She recorded a guitar-driven, "adult alternative"-influenced EP in 2009 called All The Right Wrongs, followed by a synthesizer-heavy, dubstep-electronica-dance-pop full-length album, Fight Or Flight, in 2010. The song "Drift", recorded for the Cyberbully (2011) soundtrack, sounds like Kid A-era Radiohead. Her new music (as of 2012) is as part of the unsigned duo "Ramshackle", and sounds much more acoustic and folksy.
  • Diamond Rio abandoned country music in the mid-2000s for Christian music.
  • Up until about 2010, DJ Scot Project was one of the top figureheads in the trance scene, now he produces LMFAO/PSY style pop-EDM.
  • Upon her Career Resurrection Robyn went from American-geared R&B boy/girl band pop to '80s retro Synth-Pop.
  • Birdeatsbaby has gone from Dark Cabaret to Orchestral Rock. Maybe.
  • Porcupine Tree went from Psychedelic Rock/Progressive Rock to Progressive Metal starting with 2002's In Absentia.
  • Job for a Cowboy started as a Deathcore band on their first extended play, to the point that they were one of three bands responsible for popularizing the genre, as well as the "pig squeal" vocal style. Come 2007's Genesis, and they shifted into a modern Death Metal sound, much to the surprise of some listeners. Later on, Demonocracy took them in a more technical direction, while 2014's Sun Eater was their biggest shift since Genesis, being a progressive death metal album with significant doom metal influences.
  • Country singer Kenny Chesney started out as a fairly typical mainstream country artist in a cowboy hat, pressed shirt, and jeans, but after a detour in to country-pop, his material since about No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems around 2002 has reflected his interest in boating and island living, causing him to incorporate Caribbean influences into his music and lyrics about laid-back beach life. Some people have even speculated that he is attempting to become this generation's Jimmy Buffett.
  • Child prodigy Hunter Hayes started out as a Cajun musician before shifting to mainstream country-pop in the late 2000s. His debut single "Storm Warning" is somewhere in between the two extremes.
  • Trentemoller went from micro-minimal trance to ambient rock, and now appears to be headed towards chilled dubstep.
  • This YouTube video. In roughly a minute, they shift through 13 genres, changing tempos appropriately while they're at it, all while playing the same Justin Timberlake song.
  • The Cherry Poppin Daddies started in 1989 as a punk/funk band who played the occasional swing jazz cover, then transitioned into a ska punk band by the mid-1990s. The band brought back the swing elements in the late 1990s and has since settled as a combination swing and ska band, though has released albums dabbling in varying genres including soul, pop and world music.
  • The Aquabats! began as an eight-or-nine-member ska band, recording two ska albums before wanting to break away from genre typecasting by recording 1999's The Aquabats! vs. the Floating Eye of Death!, an album featuring no ska and mostly New Wave-influenced rock and punk. The band has since continued with this style, and now exist as a five-member group after the departure of their horn section in the early 2000s.
  • Avenged Sevenfold's Self-Titled Album does this thrice, with "A Little Piece Of Heaven" suddenly being composed mostly of brass and showtune instruments and is composed in a style more similar to Danny Elfman than any of their previous songs, then immediately. Another one includes "Dear God", which has more in common with a country blues song than a metal one. Then there's also "Gunslinger" — which can best be described as a blend of country, blues, and rock. They also do this a few times on the "Nightmare" album: particularly with the strictly piano-based ballad "Fiction" (which was the last song Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan wrote, and the one song on the album to feature his vocals) and the heavily blues-based "Tonight the World Dies" (with slide guitar to boot). Then, on "Hail to the King", the album ends with the blues ballad "Acid Rain".
    • Throughout the band's career, Avenged Sevenfold has gradually shifted from being a pure Metalcore band to doing straightforward hard rock bordering on heavy metal to a style that lead singer M Shadows described as being "more blues rock-influenced and more like classic rock and classic metal in the vein of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin". Then The Stage takes all that and throws some progressive, thrash and black metal influences into the mix.
  • Speaking of Led Zeppelin, they certainly changed styles quite a bit throughout the band's career. Their first two albums were primarily Blues Rock. Then their third album consisted largely of folk-based music, with one blues ballad on it. Then their legendary untitled album pretty much consists of gritty hard rock - and their Signature Song "Stairway to Heaven", which builds up from a ballad to hard rock. Then there's "Houses of the Holy", which is more polished than anything they recorded to date. They experienced with various styles - such as the reggae-tinged "D'yer Mak'er", the country-sounding "Hot Dog", the Latin-inspired "Fool in the Rain", and the carousel music sounding "Carouselambra".
  • Metal band Slipknot were Nu Metal in their early years (especially with their first two albums), but shifted to Alternative Metal for their third album, and then Groove Metal for their fourth. Their fifth album was something of a return to their earlier style but with the newer elements kept largely intact.
  • Gob used to be bright, catchy Punk Rock, then they got inspired by running buddies Sum 41 and focused more on accessible Pop Punk, and nowadays have dropped that in favor of Alternative Rock with some more experimental stuff.
  • A general example, if an alternative act has a mainstream friendly Black Sheep Hit, there's a good chance that their next album will have songs that's much more in the style of that hit. Some good examples of this are Staind (Nu Metal to Post-Grunge after "It's Been Awhile"), Goo Goo Dolls (Pop Punk to acoustic rock after "Name"), and Taylor Swift (country to pop after "I Knew You Were Trouble" and "We Are Never Ever Back Together").
  • The first two albums of American Idol finalist and Country Music singer Kellie Pickler were mainstream country-pop, sounding somewhat like a watered-down version of Taylor Swift (who co-wrote and sang backing vocals on her biggest hit, "Best Days of Your Life"). With her third and fourth albums, she shifted to a bolder, sassier, more traditional sound, first exemplified by the stripped-down, funky "Tough".
  • "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen features multiple genre shifts in the same song. It begins as a slow piano ballad, morphs into an operatic choral section, which then gives way to about 30 seconds of hard rock, before finally returning to the piano ballad it started as. Fittingly, the last line of the song is "any way the wind blows..."
  • Alanis Morissette: "Too Hot" was teenybopper pop; "You Oughta Know" was Riot Grrrl rock; and the shifts are not over yet.
  • Neil Young was a notorious genre-hopper in the 1980s. As a Geffen Records artist, he released Trans (1982, synth-rock), Everybody's Rockin' (1983, rockabilly), Old Ways (1985, country), Landing on Water (1986, rock), and Life (1987, rock). Apparently, his intent behind the frequent genre-switching was to troll Geffen, whom he was never happy with.
  • Colleen Fitzpatrick, lead singer of mid-'90s alternative rockers Eve's Plum, switched to a pure pop sound when she went solo under the stage name Vitamin C.
  • Silverchair were rock stars at 16, thanks to a heavy grunge sound that made one think Seattle, and not their home country of Australia. From 1995's debut album Frogstomp to 2002's Diorama, they gradually transitioned from pure grunge to post-grunge/alternative, but pulled a complete 180 in 2007, when they released their final album Young Modern, which completely eschewed their original influences in favor of a more indie/art rock sound.
  • E-Type, from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s, were one of the top Europop acts. Then in 2011, they released "Back 2 Life", an Auto-Tuned electro house tune in the style of Daft Punk.
  • The Beatles started out as a skiffle band, The Quarrymen, before switching to Rock 'n' Roll. The change started after Paul McCartney joined the band.
  • The Horrors first broke out in 2007 as a gothy garage punk band. When they released their second album two years later, they had radically changed their sound, to Shoegazing with elements of Psychedelic Rock and Krautrock. As their career went on, the goth elements started to return to their sound, but with more synthesizers and less guitars. Compare 2007's "Gloves" to 2009's "Sea Within a Sea" to 2014's "I See You".
  • Supertramp started out as mainly a progressive rock band. As time went by, they introduced more and more pop elements in their output, culminating in the very poppy Breakfast in America. But they weren't done shifting... after co-leader Roger Hodgson left in 1983, Rick Davies carried on, returning to a more progressive sound (though still with noticeable pop influence). Later, Davies experimented with a heavy synthesizer sound, with "I'm Beggin' You" (1987) hitting #1 on the US dance charts.
  • Sting decided to return to the stage after a long hiatus a few years ago... only not as a pop-reggae singer, but as a lutenist and interpreter of John Dowland (who was court composer to Elizabeth I).
  • Brian Eno left Roxy Music in order to experiment with soundscaping and experimental composition, a project which eventually led to the creation of the genre known as "ambient music", though Eno's definition is narrower than most modern musicians' Explanation .
  • Ritchie Blackmore struck out on his own after leaving Deep Purple for the second time, and ended up starting a pop-renaissance-fantasy-folk... thing called Blackmore's Night with his then-girlfriend Candace Night.
  • Skye Sweetnam is best known for her pop and pop-punk songs "Tangled Up In Me", "Just The Way I Am", "Sharada", and "Number One" from when she was a teenager. Skye now goes by the stage name "Sever" and is the lead singer in the Alternative Metal band Sumo Cyco.


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