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Lighter And Softer / Music

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  • Kidz Bop is a series of cover albums, the concept of which is turning hit songs into children's music, not neglecting songs about death, sex, or drugs. Hilarity Ensues. Rockabye Baby takes it way further - it turns classic rock songs into baby lullabies. While Kidz Bop mainly cover Top 40 hits full of Lyrical Dissonance, Rockabye Baby covers kid-friendly bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and tool. And it's amazing.
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  • Macabre has a side project called Macabre Minstrels, and they released an EP called "Morbid Campfire Songs". While still rather gruesome, they have much softer lyrics compared to their usual method of telling horrid stories.
  • The departure of Roger Waters from Pink Floyd was followed by a classic Lightening and Softening. From mental breakdowns rendered into music and harsh lyrics condemning modern life, Pink Floyd moved to David Gilmour's gentle dreamy soundscapes. Lyrically, the later albums tend to unfocused expressions of good will and an earnest appreciation for life. The remaining angst now seemed more of pose: a mere colour on the palette, not a raw daub of blood. Interestingly, the Waters-lead era (starting with The Dark Side of the Moon) was itself a Darker and Edgier Pink Floyd. Before this point, Floyd albums were known for being spacey and psychedelic rather than particularly dark. Indeed, their original Syd Barrett era was downright whimsical at times.
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  • In terms of singing style, In This Moment's second album The Dream, which placed a lot more emphasis on clean vocals than the Metal Screams of Beautiful Tragedy. This was because lead singer Maria Brink wanted to challenge herself with what she (personally) found a more difficult singing style.
  • This happened to Joy Division after they changed their name to New Order. Not that New Order doesn't have a certain edge to their brand of Alternative Dance — indeed, their Post-Punk roots are still easy to spot even today — but they're definitely far removed from the dreary, warbling proto-Goth Rock that defined Joy Division's sound.
  • Talking Heads went through this once The '80s started to really kick in. While their first two albums were pretty peppy sound-wise, Fear of Music and Remain in Light had a noticeably anxious, paranoid tone, with general themes of societal degradation and the world going to shit overall. 1983's Speaking in Tongues still sounded pretty anxious, but the subject matter of the songs was nowhere near as disturbing and featured heavier emphasis on funk than its predecessors. Little Creatures from 1985 completely dropped the band's Post-Punk sound in favor of pop rock mixed with old-school New Wave Music and Country Music. Then True Stories from just a year later dropped the country flare too, leaving a blatantly mainstream-oriented pop rock album that critics loathed and fans tolerated. 1988's Naked (Talking Heads' final album before splitting up in 1991) seemed to find a compromise, featuring a mix of the band's darker and lighter elements musically and lyrically, and as such was considered a return to form from fans and critics alike.
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  • The Misfits in the 90s, sort of. The low-budget, dirty hardcore punk turned into cleanly-produced punk/metal. Profane lyrics about sex, rape, and chaotic violence stopped, but lyrics about violent horror movies remain.
  • Hardcore Techno fans have a huge chip on their shoulder about its lighter and softer cousins: Happy Hardcore and Hardstyle, which charted pretty heavily in the 90s (happy hardcore) and the early 00s (Hardstyle).
  • The Tubes. The glitter-shock incarnation that did "White Punks on Dope" in the '70s was a far cry from the group that had a hit with "She's a Beauty" in the '80s. Singer Fee Waybill has acknowledged that it was intentional. His reason? "Nothing shocks anybody anymore."
  • This happened to many Hard Rock bands in the '70s and '80s as they gained commercial success. An example is REO Speedwagon. Their first album included tracks called "Five Men Were Killed Today" (strangely enough, a ballad) and "Dead at Last" (about suicide, the end of a relationship, or both). Years later, they would have big hits with the power ballads "Keep On Lovin' You" and "Can't Fight This Feelin'."
  • The Velvet Underground have an interesting trajectory in this regard. Their first album — 1967's The Velvet Underground & Nico — was a fairly eclectic mix of soft stuff, hard stuff, and hard stuff that sounds soft (consider "Sunday Morning", for instance). The next album, White Light/White Heat, took a definite turn for the experimental and dark (the title track is about amphetamines, and it gets more macabre — often hilariously so — from there; John Cale stated that it was "consciously anti-beauty"). However, the third album, 1969's The Velvet Underground, is a lot mellower (if nevertheless experimental) — something the band occasionally attributed to having their equipment stolen before recording — and finally 1970's Loaded (so called because the label wanted an album "loaded with hits"), which is much softer musically (but also just as experimental, proving Tropes Are Not Bad).
  • The first two albums by Mötley Crüe, Too Fast for Love and Shout at the Devil, were dark and gritty Heavy Metal albums with lyrics that dealt with things like drug abuse and Satanism. Starting with their third album, Theatre of Pain, they moved in a more MTV-friendly hard rock direction with anthems like "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" and power ballads like "Home Sweet Home".
  • In an intentional case of this trope, Prince's Lovesexy was released as a light, fluffy response to the zany, mean-spirited Black Album, complete with a pink album cover with a flower on it.
  • Gorillaz followed up their darkest, most depressing work on Demon Days with a flashy Synth-Pop album, Plastic Beach.
  • VNV Nation's 2010 album Of Faith, Power and Glory was very depressing and cynical, but the follow-up, Automatic, is much brighter and more upbeat. The band in general are the trope codifiers of the Futurepop sub-genre, the lighter and softer version of EBM.
  • The Pierces had three dark-sounding, Femme Fatale-like albums out with very little success. Their fourth album, involving gentler songs reminiscent of The Bangles, got them breaking into the mainstream.
  • A lot of Hip-Hop fans say this is what happened to mainstream rap music. The days of the weed smoking gangstas, and proud to be black Afrocentric political rappers with their gritty justified crime tales, and sociopolitical street knowledge were long gone, only to be replaced (circa early '00s) by champagne sipping pimps, and playas, who love to rap about wealth, cheesy love songs, and club anthems. A trend that continued into The New '10s,with the watered down version of Trap Music, and "Mumble Rap".
  • Madonna's Hard Candy has generally been criticized for being closer to the fluff pop of her earlier style than later works such as Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dancefloor.
  • Synth-Pop duo Future Perfect's first album, Dirty Little Secrets, is dark, angsty, and depressing at times. Their second, Escape, headed in the upbeat and energetic direction. Conversely, After the Fall was Darker and Edgier than both of their previous albums.
  • Many thrash metal bands went in this direction around the time of the grunge explosion, partially to keep up with the times and partially because the bandmembers themselves were growing tired of the musical style they were playing. During the last decade, however, this has been subverted by many of these same bands.
    • Testament subverted this trope after their "lighter and softer" The Ritual flopped. Demonic, in particular, borders on being a full-blown death metal album.
  • Oshare kei is this to Visual Kei — it tends to be much lighter and more playful than other visual genres (expect lots of bright colors and pastels), and, while most other VK subgenres tend to play some form of Heavy Metal, oshare kei generally prefers Pop Punk. Just compare, for example, D (kote kei, the most common VK subgenre) with An Cafe (oshare kei).
  • Played straight, then modestly averted with Underoath. Those familiar with their most commercially successful material such as the They're Only Chasing Safety and Define the Great Line albums might be shocked upon listening to their first two releases, Act of Depression and Cries of the Past, both of which are full-blown Death Metal albums. The aptly-titled follow-up The Changing of Times marked a break away from their original Death Metal sound into the more melodic and accessible Post-Hardcore sound they became known for today. However, after Only Chasing Safety, their (relatively) Lightest and Softest albumnote  marked by a change in vocalists from their original unintelligible Death Metal shrieker Dallas Taylor to Hardcore vocalist Spencer Chamberlain and switch to a more radio-friendly "screaming verse, singing chorus, rinse and repeat" Soprano and Gravel style, each release afterward was noticeably darker and heavier than the last. The departure of long-time drummer and clean singer Aaron Gillespie left the band in a position between the dissonant Death Metal of the debut and the commercial melodic Hardcore of Chasing Safety, sporting a Doom Metal-esque sound with emphasis on neither heaviness or melody.
  • The Break Up, while still slightly dark, are definitely lighter than Severina X Sol's previous bands; Diva Destruction, Fockewolf, and Cylab.
  • Def Leppard was once considered one of the major bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, alongside Iron Maiden and Motörhead. These days, most people only know the band for their radio-friendly Hair Metal hits that started with their third album, Pyromania. The band-members openly admit that they adopted a softer, more mainstream sound in an effort to become more popular and successful. It worked, big time.
  • Country Music band Lonestar. They were a bit edgy and more rocking on their first album; the second was smooth, almost Eagles-esque; the third was anchored by the Power Ballad "Amazed" and other songs like it; and all the successive albums contained a mix of "Amazed"-style power ballads (e.g. "Not a Day Goes By", "Let's Be Us Again"); mushy, bland, family-friendly, soccer-mom-targeting fare (such as "I'm Already There", "My Front Porch Looking In", and "Mr. Mom"), and otherwise safe, totally de-fanged, light country-pop. It's hard to believe that this is the same band whose first #1 hit, "No News", had a KKK reference bowdlerized from it.
  • Acid Bath could have been said to have done this with their second album, which toned down the abrasive sludge, death metal, grindcore, and post-hardcore elements of When the Kite String Pops while bumping up the stoner, blues, gothic rock, folk, and country influences. Of course, given that it was Acid Bath, Paegan Terrorism Tactics was still incredibly dark and nightmarish, just a lot more prone to Lyrical Dissonance. It was also a perfect example of Tropes Are Not Bad and how to pull this trope off the right way.
  • Breaking Benjamin did this somewhat. Their first two albums, Saturate and We Are Not Alone, were both had heavier Alternative Metal influences, drawing inspiration from Alice in Chains and tool. Their next two albums, Phobia and Dear Agony, had more of an alternative rock/grunge sound and were a little bit softer musically. Lyrically though, they were the same, with the later two albums possibly beng a slight bit darker than the first two.
  • Tricia Brock's departure from Superchic[k] saw her take this route, ditching the rock sound and teen angst inspired lyrics.
  • There's two versions of Andrew Belle's "Sky's Still Blue": The original and the version made for a commercial. The revised version is significantly fluffier, with a lighter tone, an acoustic sound, and changed lyrics, compared to the melancholy original.
    The original: Never see clearly 'till you stop crying/I never found it until I stopped trying/I stumbled upon you/Fell through the ceiling tiles.
    I started out a fire to smoke out my treason/Tore down the building to pick up the pieces/And now on the clear glass wall I can see our fate/But it's a little too late
    Second version: Your heart is a city/Your eyes are a fixture/Your mind tells a story of ten-thousand pictures/We stumble upon it/Fell through the ceiling tiles
    We drew up a landscape/We climbed down a ladder/Carved out a memory/To follow the pattern/And now on a clear glass wall I can see my fate/You know it's never too late
  • In the beginning, Sevendust gradually got lighter with each release. Their Self-Titled Album was very aggressive, raw metal with some songs bordering on Crossover Thrash, a far cry from the more accessible sound of their later albums. Home and Animosity featured more clean vocals and less screaming, but are still relatively heavy. Seasons and Next, however, really toned things down, with half the songs being borderline radio rock that wouldn't sound out of place on a Linkin Park album. Which makes it rather jarring to hear the album that came after Next, Alpha, which is their angriest, loudest, and heaviest album to date.
  • Faith No More really had no way to go but Lighter and Softer after the nightmarish Angel Dust. King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime had its share of disturbing and brutal metal tracks ("Cuckoo for Caca", "Ugly in the Morning"), but the contrasting songs were noticeably way more laid-back, usually alternating between Alternative Rock, lighter takes on Grunge and Novelty Songs in the styles of Jazz and Pop. Album of the Year mostly followed suit, with the occasional Angel Dust-esque metal number ("Collision", "Last Cup of Sorrow", "Paths of Glory") surrounded by more upbeat Punk and Alt Rock tracks as well as experiments with ambient electronic sounds. Though both of these albums came after the departure of original guitarist Jim Martin, they are still noticeably Darker and Edgier than Introduce Yourself and The Real Thing.
  • Sugar Ray embody this trope. After Black Sheep Hit "Fly" brought them an unexpected #1 hit, they dropped much of the heavy rock jams of their first two albums, and on their third album, 14:59, they embraced pop music for real, to the biggest success of their career. Their early stuff and their later stuff are like two different bands.
  • Chicago built a grand reputation for themselves in The '70s as a Spiritual Successor to Blood Sweat And Tears, mixing Progressive Rock with Jazz instrumentation and Funk rhythms, then turned into an Adult Contemporary soft rock act during The '80s after the success of "If You Leave Me Now" near the end of the prior decade. One need only hear their two most well-known songs, "25 or 6 to 4" and "You're the Inspiration", to understand the contrast.
  • Psyborg Corp's The Frozen Shrines of Obsÿdÿana moves away from the harsh aggrotech of The Mechanical Renaissance towards goth-electro and futurepop territory.
  • A lot of indie rock made since the Turn of the Millennium falls into this, perhaps as a reaction against Nu Metal, Post-Grunge and Hip-Hop. Modern indie generally features softer, melodic songs with predominately acoustic and orchestral arrangements derived from Baroque Pop, folk and electronica while avoiding Harsh Vocals.
  • Out to Lunch! by Eric Dolphy has a track called "Something Sweet, Something Tender".
  • Chillstep is the lighter and softer cousin of Dubstep, which features less distorted bass, a more spacey sound, little to no wobble riffs, less emphasis to near-absence of drops and a generally "angelic" or "uplifting" feel.
  • The Ocean released three albums filled with heavy, aggressive, dark, and doomy progressive sludge metal. Cue Heliocentric, and there's a lot more melody and clean singing. There's even a ballad!
  • Bring Me the Horizon started out as a deathcore outfit on their first album, they quickly changed to a lighter yet still hard-sounding metalcore band afterwards. This stayed for a long time and they became one of the faces of metalcore. Naturally, it was a surprise when all of this was tossed aside with That's the Spirit. They abandoned metalcore entirely for a much lighter, radio-friendly sound that incorporates nu metal, emo, alternative rock, pop punk, and electronic rock. Listening to "Pray for Plagues", then "Shadow Moses", then "Throne", they sound like three completely different bands.
  • Katatonia was a Trope Codifier for the death/doom metal sound on their first few releases, but they proceeded to drop the Death Metal elements in favor for Alternative Metal, while keeping a heavy Doom Metal influence still. Compare "Without God" to "Dispossession".
  • Alabama went through this as the decade turned from The '80s to The '90s. Their sound had most of the rock edge turned down, and they began doing more contemporary, mainstream country with slicker production while phasing out their Intercourse with You tendencies almost entirely. 1989's Southern Star seems to be the turning point, as it was when they switched producers to Josh Leo.
  • The Human League started out playing electronic music with a cold, clinical sound and lyrics that frequently went into Mind Screw territory. One lineup change later, they released Dare, which moved the band into the slick Synth-Pop sound that would define their career.
  • Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2, which is probably the most lighthearted album he's ever put out. It has the humor of his first two albums, but rarely the dark, twisted nature of them. ("Bad Guy" aside.)
  • In 1993, brothers Ricky Lee and Doug Phelps quit their respective roles of the Southern rock/country band The Kentucky Headhunters to form the duo Brother Phelps. Ricky Lee wanted to sing straight-up country instead of the band's harder-edged Southern rock, so the two albums that Brother Phelps did were noticeably lighter in tone than the previous band. (Doug rejoined in 1995, taking his brother's former role.)
  • Caravan were already light and soft relative to many of their contemporaries in the prog genre, but they too went through this in the late 1970s and 1980s, with much of their output during that period featuring Silly Love Songs with fewer racier numbers to balance them out. Nearly all of those songs also eschewed the odd time signatures that were more common on earlier albums, often leaving the songs more similar to pop rock than prog.
  • The lyrics for Lisasmith's "For All I Am" were re-recorded to be "less aggressive" in describing a dysfunctional relationship before being used as the theme song for the Show Within a Show Moody's Point in The Amanda Show.
  • Dark Wave band The Frozen Autumn's 2017 album The Fellow Traveller has a less gloomy and more dancey vibe, which not all fans agreed with.
  • Compare the "Whisky in the Jar" versions, e.g. that of Thin Lizzy, which is probably more close to the traditional original (if such a thing exists with folk songs), with that of The Dubliners. In the first, he shoots Captain Farrell with hot lead (and still gets caught and rots in prison, we have a lacuna here). In the second, he shoots him with cold water and gets caught immediately, but he still has hope his brother in the army will bail him out. The music style accompanies the change.
  • The Cure followed the dark Pornography with a series of deliberately Lighter and Softer singles (subsequently collected as Japanese Whispers) and the accessible pop album The Head On The Door. They did a similar "reset" a few years later after the brooding Disintegration, following it up with Mixed Up, a consciously commercial collection of dance remixes. 4:19 Dream compared to its predecessor The Cure is another example.
  • After two albums of metalcore with Harsh Vocals, Cave-In shifted to a mix of Alternative Metal and Progressive Rock with melodic vocals for the albums Jupiter and Antenna; this was in part because vocalist Stephen Brodsky didn't want to end up damaging his voice. On subsequent albums, the metalcore elements would return: Brodsky and bassist Caleb Scofield became a Vocal Tag Team, where the latter would handle all the harsh parts.
  • Tyler The Creator’s music has gone through this. Wolf slowly started culling the dark shock rap that he was previously known for in exchange for more introspective lyrics, and by Flower Boy, it was completely gone. His production has shifted from dark and abrasive to more soulful and polished, and his lyrics are considerably less vulgar.


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