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Evolving Music

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This trope refers to songs that have lyrics or music that change significantly depending on who is in the group or if the singer goes solo. They may do their own version of songs they originally performed with the band but keep the same tune and probably the same lyrics.

They may also be a song about a particular event in the writer's life; the lyrics may change if the situation changes.

Groups may also decide to change the lyrics or arrangement of a song even if there hasn't been a change, just to keep it fresh or if they decide to go in a new direction artistically.

If a TV show runs a long time this may happen to the opening theme between series, though generally these only affect the music, and any lyrics will be unchanged.

Theatrical productions may also change some elements depending on the country it is being performed in: for instance, if a lyric refers to someone who is well known in the show's home country but is an unknown in other parts of the world. Equally, if a show has a modern setting and refers to current events, then lyrics and lines may change once those events are no longer in the news.

Compare Evolving Credits and Rearrange the Song.

Note: The TV example does not apply if a show has totally new music for a new season like Bleach; only if it's a new version of the same music.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Angel Beats! applies this trope to its opening theme in episode 4. Theme of SSS also got an epic rock arrangement which is used in tenser situations.
  • Fresh Pretty Cure! and Suite Pretty Cure ♪ both remixed their theme songs after their respective Sixth Rangers' debuts.
    • In addition, the opening theme of Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart is a remix of the original Futari wa Pretty Cure theme.
  • Infinite Stratos whenever one of the five girls entered the harems their seiyuu would join in and sing the ending.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion used different versions of In Other Words better known as Fly Me To The Moon as its ending theme.
  • Sailor Moon switched to a different cover of its opening theme for its third and fourth series (and used a different theme entirely for the fifth).
  • The first half of Steins;Gate uses the first verse of the theme song in its opening sequence, while the second half uses the second verse.
  • The World God Only Knows has the respective capture targets doing the ending song when they're in their own story arc.
  • Yuki Yuna is a Hero the ending theme would often be sung (in two cases, changed entirely) by whomever the episode in question appeared to focus on. In some cases, depending on the character, even the sections of the song used were changed.


  • The Hedgehog Song from Discworld novels. See, only the hedgehog... is immune to certain kind of abuse, but there are too much of other animals to list, so the singer usually just picks any that springs to the mind.
  • The protagonist of Finder's Bane sang "The Toasting Song", where all couplets have in common only the meter and "We toast..." in the first line. Hilarity Ensues when one joking couplet he made up falls closer to the situation at hand than he suspected.
  • In-universe example in Holes — the lyrics to the pig song get changed from the original Latvian when sung in English so that they still rhyme and preserve much of the original meaning.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All My Children did this with three completely different theme songs over its 40-year run.
    • The original theme was a string-heavy orchestral piece used from the soap's 1970 premiere until the last week of 1989. The first arrangement was quite gentle, with flute and guitar. This was replaced with a grander, faster-paced arrangement in 1971. Finally, in 1976, arguably the most well-known version of the tune debuted and was somewhat of a combination of the first two.
    • The second theme premiered for the soap's 20th anniversary in January 1990 and was a completely new saxophone-and-guitar rock tune. It was replaced with a new theme after four years but was brought back in a more intimate arrangement in 2002 with synthesized strings. Two years later, it was rearranged again to feature electric guitar.
    • The third theme, used from 1995 to 2002, saw no less than three arrangements.
  • In the fourth season of Arrested Development, the episodes are all centered around individual characters, and each character gets their own remixed version of the theme used from seasons 1-3. (The Opening Narration also changes accordingly.) These versions are then mixed together in the season finale.
  • Blackadder's four different series changed the main theme to reflect the differing time periods:
    • The Black Adder's theme was a medieval trumpet-based fanfare.
    • Blackadder II's was a Renaissance-inspired flute-and-electric guitar duet.
    • Blackadder the Third's was a Baroque harpsichord and horn piece.
    • Blackadder Goes Forth's theme, befitting of the WWI setting, was a military march.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the first two seasons while using the familiar tune the music was notably more low-key appearing to use fewer instruments, not to mention sounds were used for scenes during the credits. It was then updated by season 3 with more instruments and remained relatively unchanged with much less sounds for credit scenes.
  • The Cosby Show changed theme song every year. It was the same tune, but it was arranged in a different musical style every time.
  • Dallas had a legendary theme song that was originally big and brassy with a four-on-the-floor disco beat. Later arrangements were more country-influenced.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation: After about the fifth season they kept changing the theme song to have a different singer or an instrumental version.
  • The original recording of Doctor Who's theme tune went under subtle changes from 1963 to 1980 before being done from scratch in later years. All Doctors apart from the Fifth have had a new piece of music arranged for them.
  • The theme song for Gilligan's Island originally had the line "and the rest" which was later changed to "the Professor and Mary Ann"
  • In Kamen Rider Kiva, Keisuke Nago initially has an Insert Song called "Fight for Justice" that reflects his morally absolute Knight Templar attitude. Later in the series it's remixed into "Don't Lose Yourself" to reflect his kinder post-Character Development attitude.
  • Knots Landing used a different arrangement of its main theme each season, but several times, the instrumentation was completely overhauled. In fact, the one constant, besides the main melody, was the saxophone as the lead instrument. The early seasons, like parent series Dallas, used brass-heavy disco arrangements. In 1983, a jazzier resetting of the theme debuted and was subsequently rearranged each season thereafter. Then, seasons 9 and 10 used slower, more sensual recordings layered with strings and flutes. Seasons 11, 12, and 13 used a more upbeat arrangement that kept some of the sensuality of the previous version. For the final season, a new recording of the theme was made that returned to the basic format used in the mid-1980s.
  • The Law & Order shows all have the same Theme Tune with different tweaks to the arrangement so viewers can tell the main show from SVU, Trial By Jury, or Criminal Intent.
  • On Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Fred Rogers made some changes to the way he sang "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" fairly early on - the rhythm of the first two occurrences of "would you be mine, could you be mine" changed, and he began slowing down the tempo for the "Let's make the most of this beautiful day" part.
    • Also, "It's Such a Good Feeling" was initially in the rotation of songs that Fred would sing in between the opening and closing songs, but became the closing theme for all episodes (save for two operas) beginning in 1972. There were some changes made - the lyric "I think I'll grow 12 inches today" gave way to "I think I'll make a snappy new day", the second verse was omitted, and a shortened version of "The Weekend Song" (which was previously used to close Friday episodes) was added as a coda.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here is a handy flowchart tracking all the permutations of the theme music.
  • The O.C.'s theme song got longer after the first few episodes, as some actors who were originally just guest stars got contracts and had to be added to the credits.
  • Outlander has been notable for how Bear McCreary regularly remixes the theme song for each season. Sometimes, the series can even change the song mid-year a few times.
    • Season 1 is a pure Scottish theme fitting the Highlands.
    • Season 2 has Claire and Jaimie heading to France and the theme mixing to a Parisian sound.
    • The season 3 premiere has a melancholy version to match the fall of the Highland culture. It tosses in a "modern" touch when Claire returns to the 20th century. When Claire and Jaime are in Jamaica, the theme now has metal drums for an "island" beat.
    • Season 4 takes place in Colonial America so the theme now uses a slower beat with banjo and bluegrass.
    • Season 5 has the song sung, not by one female voice, but a choir with no background music until a final sting at the end.
  • Power Rangers Zeo used a remix of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers theme tune with new lyrics. The next several years of series after this don't count as they used entirely new theme tunes. Power Rangers Samurai uses another remix, which adds the line "Rangers Together Samurai Forever", and removes all references to "Mighty Morphin'". The same is done with the next season, Power Rangers Megaforce, except replacing "Samurai" with "Megaforce". Power Rangers Dino Charge diverges further, as it uses an entirely new arrangement for the verses but only a slightly-remixed chorus.
    • Power Rangers Turbo also had a remix of Mighty Morphin's tune titled "New Rangers to the Rescue" during The Movie. The symphonic version played a few times during the season, but without the changed lyrics it's hardly different enough from the original for people to notice without being told.
  • Quantum Leap had its theme music remixed for the fifth and final season.
  • Sesame Street kept its main opening and closing theme songs unchanged for 23 seasons (outside of the pilots which had a longer version sung by Bob McGrath). Then Season 24 (1992) brought about new arrangements in a calypso style. This gave way to a more traditional (but still new) arrangement in season 30 (1998), and there have been several more re-arrangements in various styles since then.
  • This trope was par for the course for many American daytime soap operas in the early 1970s, when organ-based music was gradually phased out in favor of more orchestral pieces. Over the course of a two-year period (1973-1975), many of these shows had their organ-based theme tunes rearranged for a full orchestra. The most prominent examples include Another World, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light.
  • The center of the Granada Sherlock Holmes series was a violin solo. While the basic tune remained the same through four seasons and several movies, the orchestration got more intricate every season.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise had the widely derided theme song "Where My Heart Will Take Me", which was remixed with more of an upbeat rhythm for the third season, apparently in the hopes that this would make people somehow like it.
  • Survivor did this throughout the first twenty seasons with its theme "Ancient Voices." Each season's version had different vocals and elements that usually corresponded to the country where the season took place (a gong in Survivor China, a didgeridoo in Survivor Australia, etc.). Season twenty-one, Survivor Nicaragua, averted this by returning to the first season's version.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun used a 50's rock & roll-inspired theme composed by Ben Vaughn for much of its run. Occasionally, the theme would be remixed for specific episodes - for example, sleigh bells added for Christmas episodes. The big change came in season 5 when a swing version performed by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was used, only for the original version to return for the sixth and final season.
  • After Czechoslovakia split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1992, the theme song to Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego changed an instance of "Czechoslovakia" to "Czech and Slovakia". Later, this section of the song was re-lyriced completely.
  • Some more Game Show examples:
    • Family Feud had its original Richard Dawson-era theme remixed for the Ray Combs version in 1988, adding synthesized drums and toning down the country elements. It was given a more substantial, jazzy remix for Dawson's return from 1994-95. The Louie Anderson version in 1999 got a theme that was mostly new but contained a short sample of the original melody - this theme got remixed when Richard Karn took over in 2002 (removing the elements of the classic theme), and again when John O'Hurley took over in 2006. The Combs-era theme returned briefly during part of Karn's first season, and then permanently starting with Celebrity Family Feud in summer 2008 (though some early episodes from the 2008-09 season used yet another remix of the Anderson theme).
    • The familiar melody from Jeopardy! dates all the way back to the show's beginnings in 1964, when it was only used as the Final Jeopardy! thinking music. It was adapted as the main theme for the show's revival in 1984, with a synthesizer arrangement, while the original 1964 version continued to be used as thinking music. Bongos were added to the main theme in 1991. Then in 1997, the theme received a more fully orchestrated remake, while the think music was also reworked for the first time in more of an easy-listening style (and was given a slight remix shortly after its introduction). The main theme got a similar but faster re-arrangement in 2000, then both the main theme and think music were redone again in 2008 (and once again the think music was slightly remixed about a month in).
    • The 1990-91 version Match Game used a Latin jazz-flavored remix of the 1973-82 version's theme.
    • The Price Is Right has used the same theme song melody in all of its U.S. incarnations since 1972. The same recording was used on the daytime version all the way through Bob Barker's retirement in 2007, though a new jazzy version was used on the 1994 syndicated edition and some international versions. When Drew Carey took over the daytime version, a new recording was made that sounded fairly close to the original, but was more "percussive" and contained more synthesized instruments. The "come on down" music (which had previously gone through multiple iterations), Showcase Showdown win cue, and losing horns were also reworked - and more recently, some of the older prize music cues have also seen remixes.
    • The 1990-91 revival of To Tell the Truth used an orchestral instrumental version of the vocal theme from the 1969-78 version.
    • For its final season in 1974-75, the syndicated What's My Line? got a faster and funkier version of the theme used from 1968-74.
    • Wheel of Fortune used several variations of the theme "Changing Keys" (composed by creator Merv Griffin) between 1983 and 2000. The theme got a mild remix in 1984, was jazzed up in 1989, and got a slower jazz mix with more guitar in 1992. Then in 1994, the theme was more substantially reworked with a big-band arrangement - still based on the same melody, but with a different rhythm. The 1997 version was based on the 1994 one but was faster and more jazzy.
      • In 2000, a new theme was introduced, "Happy Wheels" by Steve Kaplan. This also has had several versions, one of which borrowed a short portion of the 1994-2000 arrangement of "Changing Keys".

  • Rodney Atkins rewrote a song called "Chasin' Girls" between the album and single release to make the lyrics more accurately reflect his relationship with his wife and children.
  • The Bangles have several examples:
    • "Walk Like An Egyptian" has a different evolution. Debbi Peterson's drumming was replaced by a drum machine on the hit single, and in a particularly egregious case of Executive Meddling, she was even left out of the vocals. Now, when the group performs the song live, Debbi's drumming still gives way to the drum machine, but she sings and plays acoustic guitar.
    • When Vicki Peterson wrote "Single By Choice," it was a pretty personal song for her. After getting married to John Cowsill in 2003, she jokes about doing a "Married By Choice" version.
    • Vicki's songs seem especially prone to this trope. She wrote "Lay Yourself Down" (which appears on Sweetheart of the Sun) for her fiancé Bobby in 1990, as he was struggling to find his place in the music business. The song and its lyrics like those below became even more personal and poignant when Bobby began a battle with leukemia (to which he eventually succumbed in 1991):
      Even if the battle is won
      The war is not over
      It’s only begun
      If there’s one still standing
      One still standing his ground
      Don’t you lay yourself down
  • The Beatles have done this. The songs of Let It Be... Naked are mostly evolutions of songs from the original Let It Be.
    • "Across the Universe" has two different arrangements from the classic era — one from Let It Be, and the one currently on Past Masters.
    • The Beatles Anthology are three double albums full of unreleased footage of Beatles songs that show how these songs have evolved during recording sessions into their final iconic forms. Particularly interesting are the three versions of Strawberry Fields Forever, which are neatly put behind each other in chronological order on side two of the second disc.
    • "Revolution" and "Revolution #1" are another fast evolution of the same song.
    • Paul McCartney has also done this as a solo artist, both to his own works and to Beatles songs. He loves remixes...
      • Paul's Unplugged: the Official Bootleg is mostly these.
      • Dramatic example: "Coming Up" from McCartney II (with "The Plastic Macs") vs. the live vs. of "Coming Up" on Wingspan, vs. modern live vs. (which include long drum solos).
      • Some of the songs on the Give My Regards to Broad Street soundtrack fall under this. For instance, "Ballroom Dancing" has an entire extra verse from its original "Tug of War" vs.
  • The Butthole Surfers' "Some Dispute Over T-Shirt Sales" is essentially Ministry's "Jesus Built My Hotrod" (which their vocalist Gibby Haynes provided lead vocals for) with a different guitar riff: It uses the same melody and Singing Simlish lyrics.
  • Eric Clapton did this with "Layla." First he performed it with Derek & the Dominos. Then, when he did a solo unplugged performance for MTV, he did a much slower and soulful rendition of it.
  • Counting Crows have changed some of the lyrics to their song "Mr Jones" — the song was written before they had their first hit, and has lyrics about wanting to be big stars; the new lyrics are about looking back after having been big stars and realizing that it's not all it's cracked up to be. They also perform the song in a quieter and less rocking tone.
  • Dennis Culp wrote a song about rhubarb pie for Five Iron Frenzy, but the band ended up using that music for some completely different lyrics that Reese Roper wrote, "Ugly Day". "Rhubarb Pie" was released later on their B-sides album.
  • Every song ever performed by Bob Dylan.
  • E from Eels seems to relish dramatically different live arrangements for older songs - for instance, the Daisies Of The Galaxy version of "I Like Birds" is laid-back and based around acoustic guitar, but at some point they started doing a much faster, noisier electric version live, and have kept playing it that way every since. During the Eels With Strings tours even songs that were originally fast paced rock or upbeat pop were played slower and more stripped down (and of course, with a string quartet).
  • Bryan Ferry included a reworked version of Roxy Music 's song Casanova on the Let's Stick Together album. When Roxy Music started played the song live, they used the solo arrangement. The rearrangement turns it from quite a heavy glam rock song into a sort of lounge ballad.
  • Leslie Fish typically sings Banned from Argo with the penultimate verse referencing klingons, but the original recording and published lyrics refer to them instead as pirates.
  • Five Man Electrical Band has two versions of I'm A Stranger Here and Signs, though all that's really different is one line taken out in the former and the intro shortened in the latter.
  • Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right" has a proper guitar solo in live performances instead of the short, repetitive riff of the studio version.
  • Several songs from Genesis:
    • "Watcher of the Skies" would only be performed without lyrics after Peter Gabriel's departurenote  It would later be dropped from the setlist entirely as it only sounded good on one piece of equipment (the Mark II Mellotron it was recorded on).
    • "Firth of Fifth" would have its piano intro dropped on account of it being impossible to play on contemporary digital pianos. It would later have its lyrics dropped on account of them being crap (according to the band anyway).
    • Phil Collins recorded an alternate version of "Behind the Lines" on his first album, then played that version on his first solo tour.
    • Several songs from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway were reworked versions of songs from their salad days that were written on the road, played live, and then dropped after a few shows.
    • For the band's final two tours, most songs would be transposed into lower keys to accomodate Ray Wilson's voice and later the changes to Collins' voice.
    • Many older songs, (particularly those from The Lamb, many of which didn't hold up as standalones) would be incorporated into medleys. In particular, most of their shows from 1977 on featured a medley of "In The Cage"/"Cinema Show"/other stuff (brought back for the reunion tour), and their 1992/93 tour featured an "Old Medley" of "Dance On A Volcano"/"The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"/"Firth of Fifth"/"I Know What I Like" (dropped to just the last two on the 2007 tour).
    • During the "The Last Domino?" tour, the band played a slowed down, Bossa Nova-esque version of the Title Track to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
  • Kylie Minogue is very fond of this. Many of her live shows after her 1998 Intimate And Live Tour. She has changed her song 'I Should Be So Lucky' to both a ballad and an electronica song. She also turned her song 'I Believe In You' into a ballad and 'The Locomotion' into a jazz song.
  • Marilyn Manson occasionally will do this with certain songs. "The Last Day on Earth" and "Coma White" have a habit of becoming acoustic ballads, and songs with female backing vocals (like "mOBSCENE") have the females replaced with Twiggy when done live. "The Dope Show" also has one instance of "cops and queers" replaced with "pigs and fags" when sung and the lyrics "The drugs, they say, are made in California", when done live, becomes "The drugs, they say, are made right here in [city name]".
  • Mogwai's signature song, Mogwai Fear Satan, has changed drastically between its spot on their current live set.
  • Morning Musume's "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari" has several versions due to the song's verses being about the people in the group but the groups has a tradition of regularly adding and shedding members meaning the lyrics have to keep evolving.
    • "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari" was also given a Cover Version by Hello! Project Elder Club but that also had two versions as the two tours had different members in attendance. In 2011 Dream Morning Musume formed and their first song is yet another version of JKM.
  • Muse have revamped "Cave" from their 1999 debut album, Showbiz, giving it a new piano arrangement when playing it live on their Resistance Tour.
  • Nine Inch Nails often add additional parts to songs live:
    • "March of the Pigs" returns to the verse riff a third time after the song would have ended on the album.
    • The end of "Terrible Lie" features additional guitar and drum parts along with completely different lyrics.
    • "Sin" includes elements from the remixed versions of the song. When touring for The Fragile, there was also a theremin solo at the beginning.
    • When touring with David Bowie, "Hurt" was performed as a duet between Trent Reznor and Bowie and used a drastically different arrangement.
    • Starting with the tour for With Teeth, the band played a reworked version of "Closer." Instead of re-creating the album version live, the song was much shorter, featured guitars playing some of the synth parts, added a short bass solo, and threw in the drum break and keyboard riff from "The Only Time."
  • Dutch national treasures The Nits have made evolving music into something of a trademark, with some songs undergoing radical rearrangement for every tour. Sometimes songs are rearranged because of line-up changes, but mostly it's done just because they can.
  • Oingo Boingo also did this a lot: many of their songs were written when they were still a circus band instead of a rock band, and some of them were brought back later with rock arrangements. (Lead singer Danny Elfman also re-used one of the band's old circus songs as the theme song for the Dilbert cartoon.)
  • Orbital have done this a lot, but their track "Haclyon" has been a particularly striking example - the 1994 "+On + On" version familiar to most listeners is itself a development of the 1993 original, but soon after its release, they started incorporating a sample from Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" into their live performances. Some time after that, they also threw in bits of "You Give Love A Bad Name" by Bon Jovi. Since then, the track has mutated even more, its original darkness morphing into a euphoric unofficial remix of "Heaven Is A Place On Earth". It's still a highlight of their live shows, but liable to come as rather a shock to anyone who just knows the studio version.
  • Once MySpace fell out of favor, Brad Paisley changed the line "Go check out MySpace in "Online" to "Go check my Facebook page".
  • Amanda Palmer also changed all of her Dresden Dolls song arrangements and some of her lyrics after going solo.
    • She changed her arrangements anyways; since she didn't know how to read sheet music, she completely played by the ear. Naturally, it was amazing.
  • The Pet Shop Boys have two examples of this:
    • The first example is their Signature Song "West End Girls". Originally recorded in 1984 with Bobby Orlando as producer, the song was re-recorded the following year with Stephen Hague producing for the band's debut album Please. The new version is noticeably more ethereal in its composition, featuring a completely redone instrumentation with heavier emphasis on synthesized strings and bass and a vastly toned-down percussion part. The new recording is reflective of both their move to a bigger record label and the start of their many collaborations with Hague.
    • The second instance is live performances of "Being Boring" since the Turn of the Millennium: the lyric eulogizing friends that died of AIDS changes from "All the people I was kissing/Some are here, and some are missing in the 1990s" to the less dated "All the people I was kissing/Some are here, and some were missing by the 1990s".
  • Radiohead do this a lot, both intentionally and accidentally, and in a variety of ways.
    • The most obvious example is that, following their dramatic shift into more experimental, electronic styles following Kid A, they found a lot of their songs either very difficult or even impossible to perform live, which resulted in radically different interpretations being performed on tour. Their live album, I Might Be Wrong, was released to give fans who missed out on the live shows an (official) opportunity to hear these new arrangements.
    • The opposite is also true, as they often demo new songs live as they're being written. The most extreme example probably being "Reckoner". Originally debuted during their 2001 tour as an aggressive (and decidedly sloppy) Grunge number, it wouldn't see an official release until 2007's In Rainbows, where it was a completely different song. During the writing process they decided they preferred an unheard bridge and scrapped all the original music and lyrics and started over. The 2001 version would later be released by Thom Yorke's solo project as "Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses", though still in a radically altered style.
    • Having been together as a band for quite a while now, they've also developed various ways of keeping the songs interesting for themselves. During live performances of "Everything In It's Right Place", Thom Yorke has started adding in lines from other artists' songs (often the chorus from "If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next" by Manic Street Preachers). As Jonny plays a radio for several songs (notably "Climbing Up The Walls" and "The National Anthem") each performance will, naturally, be entirely different, and he usually tunes into a chat show in the country's native language. He's also been known to add in pre-recorded phrases to be manipulated live on his sampler during certain songs, often "Happy Birthday X", to mark said band member's birthday.
  • Simple Minds' song "Ghostdancing" is obviously the final evolution of an earlier song "I Travel". It can be traced back to during live performances of "I Travel" in 1985 when they first used the "Ghostdancing" riff as part of the former. They also start with the same lyrics: "Cities, buildings, falling down."
  • The Statler Brothers' "Don't Wait On Me" included the line "When the lights go on at Wrigley Field". When Wrigley got lights in 1988, the group changed the now-outdated line to "When they put a dome on Wrigley Field".
  • Streetlight Manifesto:
    • “Dear Sergio” started as a Catch 22 song, before getting an acoustic version with a new verse, courtesy of Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. Streetlight restored the original’s amped-up guitars but kept the new verse and sped up the tempo a bit.
    • “Here’s To Life” and "They Provide the Paint for the Picture-Perfect Masterpiece That You Will Paint on the Insides of Your Eyelids" started as Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution songs before being turned into electrified Streetlight Manifesto songs.
    • Streetlight Lullabies is an acoustic sampling of songs from the band's first three albums, and The Hand that Thieves is an acoustic cover album for The Hands that Theive; both are performed by the lead singer of the band as a solo act.
  • They Might Be Giants originally performed "Another First Kiss" live as a heavy rocker, and released it on their live album Severe Tire Damage. They decided to retool it as a ballad, with a completely different tune for the chorus, and rerecorded it as such on Mink Car a few years later.
  • Thin Lizzy wrote "Suicide" during the Shades Of A Blue Orphanage period and performed it live and on radio sessions. They never recorded it for an album because they felt it lacked something. Several albums later, the band had two guitarists, and came up with a new version of the song that features a galloping section and dual guitar riffs. They also amped up the hard rock elements of the song. This version appeared on the album Fighting and was very influential on the NWOBHM genre.
  • The Tiger Lillies do this a lot. Their lyrics, arrangements and stage antics are constantly changing, and it's interesting to see how much their songs evolve and grow over time.
  • A prototype version of tool's song "Sober" was performed by Maynard James Keenan with his previous band Children of the Anachronistic Dynasty as early as 1987 ("Sober" itself was first recorded by tool in 1991).
  • Weezer:
    • It happened over a relatively short period of time, but their song "Burndt Jamb" went from having Singing Simlish lyrics in one publicly released demo, to a full set of lyrics in another demo, to a completely new set of lyrics by the time it was officially released on Maladroit. There's also "Private Message", which had its lyrics substantially rewritten and became "Hand To Hold" by Brian Bell's side project The Relationship, and "Thought I Knew", which conversely went from being a slow minor key Relationship song to a faster, major key Weezer song.
    • They haven't rerecorded their song "El Scorcho", but there's a line in it that says "I told you to go to the Green Day concert" that they often change during most live performances, usually to refer to the band they're co-headlining with on tour. Sometimes, they'll even sing "I told you to go to the Weezer concert" when they're not coheadlining.
  • Hank Williams Jr. rewrote his Signature Song "A Country Boy Can Survive" twice: first in late 1999 with a Y2K theme (featuring George Jones and Chad Brock, the latter of whom used it as the lead single to his second album), and then again after 9/11 with a patriotic theme as "America Will Survive".
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra has recorded several live and studio versions of the songs from their first album, with "Behind the Mask" being played with its original lyrics and the ones Michael Jackson wrote for the song when he chose to cover it.
  • Neil Young has a couple of examples.
    • "After the Gold Rush" contains the lyrics "Look at Mother Nature on the run/In the 1970s". He would amend this line over the decades during live performances ("1980s", "1990s"), and eventually stick on "21st century" after the Turn of the Millennium. The french horn solo is also usually replaced by a harmonica.
    • In the 80's, he re-recorded his earlier Buffalo Springfield song, "Mr. Soul," as part of his synth/vocoder-based album Trans. This was motivated by his desire not to stagnate as an artist and his interest in recreating the experience of communicating with his cerebral palsy-afflicted son.
  • Frank Zappa's entire career was marked by this, something he referred to as "Conceptual Continuity." Pieces of lyrics and melody, and sometimes entire songs, would pop up in different contexts and arrangements on various albums. As an example, he released no less than three versions of "Peaches en Regalia", each sounding quite different.

  • The climactic song of Avenue Q "For Now" used to include the line "George W. Bush is only for now" since he left office it has been changed... to "George Bush was only for now" or "Glenn Beck is only for now" or "Fox News is only for now".
    • The London production used to have the line above, then changed it to "Gordon Brown is only for now." After he left office the line was again changed to reference his successor David Cameron.
    • Various regional performances will have different changes to that line.
    • Depending on what production, Christmas Eve might say "Chinese Restaurant" instead of "Korean Deli" during "It Sucks To Be Me".
    • More recent productions tend to change 'Mix Tape' to say 'Mix CD' or 'CD' as often as possible given the change in syllables or meaning.
  • Beetlejuice: "The Whole Being Dead Thing" may change lyrics depending on where it's performed. The first lines in the Broadway version, for example, are "Hey folks! Begging your pardon! Welcome to the Winter Garden! Now let's skip the tears and start on the whole, you know, 'being dead' thing!" as the show was held at the Winter Garden Theatre. However, when it re-opened at the Marquis Theatre in 2022, the lines were changed to "Hey folks! Ain't it pretty? Look who's back in New York City! Since your life's been super shitty, let's start on the whole, you know, the whole 'being dead' thing!" The song was also performed on The Today Show, at the Tony Awards, and at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, all with much more substantial changes (the second two also being cut down in length).
  • Spamalot:
    • The show changed the lyrics of "A Diva's Lament" - in which the female lead mentions not having won any awards - after the show did quite well at the Tony awards.
    • The name of the Knights Who No Longer Say Ni is changed based on current political and pop cultural events.
  • The lyrics of "96,000" from In the Heights changed from "What about immigration/Politicians be hating/Racism in this nation's gone from latent to blatant" to "Arizona be hating" following the introduction of their controversial Stop and Identify law. Post-2016 productions (as well as the movie adaptation) also changed the line "Donald Trump and I on the green and he's my caddy!" to replace Trump's name with Tiger Woods, as Trump had become better known as a U.S. president rather than a symbol of wealth.
  • "As someday it may happen / I've Got a Little List", High Executioner Ko-Ko's song from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado, is basically a humourous list of "undesirables" that can be updated with more current references for contemporary audiences.
    • "My object all sublime", sung by the Mikado in the same show, is also sometimes altered for the same reason.

    Video Games 
  • In Celeste, each level's music evolves as you progresses through it. Chapter 7, being an All the Worlds Are a Stage level, evolves through the styles of the previous 6.
  • In Civilization VI, the theme of the civilization you are playing as changes and/or gains instruments as you progress through the different eras, becoming more complex in composition.
    • Same applies for the earlier Civilization IV for civs you interact with on the diplomacy screen. In addition to that, the short combat win/loss fanfares change into being more triumphant/dramatic as the eras progress.
  • In EarthBound, the first minute or so of the final boss theme sounds like something from the 8-bit era, then suddenly shifts to actual instruments and sounds much more sinister.
  • Happens over the course of the LEGO Island franchise for the Leitmotif of The Brickster: having a bouncy jaunt in the first game, evolving into a bombastic orchestration in the third game.
  • In Endless Space 2, the music theme of the Vaulters is a recreation of their original theme from Endless Legend, "Time of Change". Compare the Endless Legend version here with the Endless Space II version here.
  • The Gran Turismo series has this opening theme, Castle Over the Moon, which becomes more and more awesome as the series progress.
  • Karmaflow The Rock Opera Video Game features one of these as a puzzle where activating instruments adds them to the background music. Another is during final duets; the game is structured in a way to allow you to pick one of the singers, changing lyrics and melody based on your choice.
  • A franchise-wide version happened with King Dedede's theme in the Kirby games. In its debut in Kirby's Dream Land, as the theme for Mt. Dedede, it only had its intro and first movement. It was used for boss fights against King Dedede in later platformer incarnations of the franchise, but it didn't get its second movement until it was used for the fight against him in Kirby Super Star.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The series remixes a lot of music but they are the most egregious with the Main Theme of the franchise that has been remixed and muscled into every game they've ever made. In fact, the only two games that don't have it are Zelda II for the FDS and NES and, oddly enough, Ocarina of Time.
    • In the Champions' Ballad DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the music of the final dungeon adds more and more instruments as you complete its puzzles.
  • The song played during the good ending of Live A Live changes instruments without changing the actual tune to reflect the character being shown in the end credits. The song is played on resonator guitars when Sunset is shown, and shifts to a techno beat when Cube is shown, etc.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the background music of many areas changes as you advance in the story. E.g., the Inkwater Marsh theme starts out somber when Ori first lands in Niwen during a stormy night, but brightens up once day breaks, the Kwolok's Hollow BGM gains instruments and becomes more uptempo once Ori learns the Dash skill, and Mouldwood Depths' initially "Psycho" Strings-heavy music changes for the better after The Corruption is driven out.
  • Phantasy Star III's overworld music gains more instrumentation as you recruit more party members.
  • In Persona 5, the overworld theme becomes more quiet and subdued whenever it rains, and after Sojiro permits you to go out at night, it gains lyrics every evening. The theme that plays in Palaces after you send the calling card also gains vocal accompaniment starting with Sae's Palace.
  • In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the theme for Jubilife Village subtly becomes longer and more complex each time your character is promoted within the Galaxy Team. Once you advance sufficiently far, a down-tempo remix of the present-day theme for Jubilife City from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl is added to the end of the loop, symbolizing that the Jubilife Village of the past is slowly growing into the Jubilife City of the present.
  • Progressbar 95: The game's main theme by Gemfire improves with each new OS and song version being used. PB 1 and 2 have an extremely simplistic rendition similar to a PC speaker, PB 3.14 adds more sound channels and instrumentation to simulate an average soundcard like Adlib, with a high quality version unlockable with nicer instrumentation to simulate an advanced sound card like Roland MT-32. Later versions drop the MIDI format and use MP3 instead, with you starting with a somewhat low quality rendition which can be upgraded by clearing special levels to an HQ one or even a remix.
  • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the theme of the titular Nemesis changes drastically throughout the game at three specific points. Compare his first appearance with the Clock Tower battle and the Dead Factory battle. In fact, his theme changes very slightly with each and every set appearance he makes, but the change is so subtle it's hard to notice.
  • In Ristar, the first stage of Planet Sonata has some fun with this. You have to wake up giant sleeping birds who sing to rebuild the background music.
  • A very early game to make use of this is the PlayStation game Slamscape. The music in levels would stay the same but the instruments would change depending on what enemies were near. It served as a handy means of knowing if certain enemies were sneaking up on you and, given the game's difficulty, it was definitely appreciated. Certain powerups would also add additional riffs to the song, like an extra drum line.
  • In Sonic Rush Adventure, the Windmill Village music is remixed each time you craft a new vehicle, becoming faster-paced and gaining more instrument lines.
    • Several games that use the the boost (which coincidentally debuted in the above series) have their music change depending on whether Sonic is boosting or not.
  • In Splatoon, the music that plays in the single-player mode's Hub Level adds more instrumentation as you defeat a boss and unlock a new set of levels.
  • The Comet Observatory and Starship Mario themes from Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, which both gain more instruments as the game progresses.
  • When "Luna Ascension" from Tower of Heaven was reused in Super Smash Land, it was redone to have a more authentic Game Boy sound, as well as the addition of a remix of "Pillars of Creation" after the second loop.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has done this with its Recurring Riff starting from the third game. The title theme for Morrowind, "Nerevar Rising," was given a brassy Romanesque remix for Oblivion's title, "Reign of the Septims," which in turn was revived with a barbarian chorus for Skyrim's "Dragonborn." Apparently the last couple centuries of world history was building up to the return of the Dovahkiin (which is actually confirmed) in Skyrim).
  • In Undertale, the background music that plays on the main menu screen gains more instruments and a richer sound the further you get in the game and the more characters you meet.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks introduced a harder rocking version of the theme in season 6. On NBC, the episodes produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson (MWS) used this version with a montage of clips from The Movie, while syndication prints of these episodes dubbed it over the original opening. The DiC-produced episodes played this theme over a newly animated sequence, though at least one of these episodes used the movie montage.
  • During the first season of Muppet Babies (1984), the closing credits featured a version of the opening theme with just the scatting background vocals. Early in the next season, Muppet Babies was followed by Little Muppet Monsters; the whole hour used a hybrid of the two shows' themes as an opening, and the instrumental of this was used for the combined closing credits. After Monsters met its quick demise, the closing for the Muppets, Babies, and Monsters hour replaced the original Muppet Babies closing theme for the rest of its run.
  • For Season 2, The Simpsons had Danny Elfman do a new arrangement of the opening theme to go with the redone animation. Then in season 3, the animation was left unchanged, but music director Alf Clausen re-arranged both the opening and closing themes. Clausen's season 3 versions have remained in use ever since, even after the opening was re-animated again for the show's transition to HD.
  • In addition to changing the visuals of the theme song, South Park has also switched between several different remixes of its main theme.