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Music Genre Dissonance

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"And last but not least is Debbie from American Dad!, where her and her friends dance to Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", which was honestly quite surprising, but refreshing, because they actually used an actual beloved song within the goth scene instead of playing a generic metal song, which you usually see happen, as some people wrongly believe that metal music is goth music."

Music Genre dissonance happens when a work features a song with an informed style that does not fit with the actual genre it belongs. Most of the time it fit into two categories:

  • The music heard falls into Informed Ability, the work claims it to belong to a certain style but the actual song belongs to another.
  • A character claims to like a certain music genre, belongs explicitly or implicitly to a music subculture but the music he or she listen to differs to said genre.

Do not confuse with Scary Musician, Harmless Music. Both tropes can overlap but the main difference is that this trope happens when said genre does not fit with the stated standards and the later is when a musician looks more hardcore than the music they play without necessarily saying that their style is different.

Note that this trope is part Truth in Television, since music genres are generally named by the press, and thus, the definitions of the style are very subjective. A band early associated with a genre may not seem like that by later standards.

(Note: No real life examples unless if intentional, such as a band releasing a song with a genre mentioned within the lyrics or the title that does not sound as the style mentioned)

Compare to Artistic License – Music and In the Style of


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    Fan Works 

    Films — Live Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • On NewsRadio, Matthew goes through a punk phase, but the bands he thinks are punk are '80s hair bands like Whitesnake and Poison. Dave, who was an actual punk fan in his youth, found this repulsive.
  • A season three episode of Disney Channel's Wizards of Waverly Place ("Eat To The Beat") had Alex connive to get a heavy metal band named UGGH (Expy of real-life shock-rockers GWAR) to play mood music at her school's cafeteria during lunch. Another teenaged wizard surreptitiously casts a spell to make them play smooth jazz, leading Alex to conclude, "You guys look hard but rock soft. Like cafeteria Mexican food."
  • S4E21 of Bones, "Mayhem on a Cross", concerned a murder within the Black Metal scene. However, none of the music heard in the episode was actual black metal. For example, one of the real-life bands who guest-starred in the episode, Droid, plays Groove Metal.
  • One of the vox pops that intermittently interrupts Raw FM has a guy claiming that Soundgarden is Thrash Metal.

    Video Games 
  • Brütal Legend: Done in-universe with Kabbage Boy. They call themselves a heavy metal band, but they actually play a mixture of pop, Metalcore (which, despite the name, is often treated as closer to Hardcore Punk than "real metal"), and Nu Metal (another genre whose metal-ness is highly contentious), much to the disgust of the old-school metal-loving Eddie.
  • In a game full of Hip Hop and EDM songs, Jet Set Radio has some exceptions in its OST, having the songs "Dragula" (the remixed version also seen in The Matrix), "Just Got Wicked" and "Slow", all of them being alternative hard rock songs bordering to metal.
  • Cytus II has the two bands that the character Cherry has fronted: Cherry PuNK and Crystal PuNK. Despite the names, very few of the songs associated with them sound anything like Punk Rock, having a few Pop Punk songs at most. Cherry PuNK is closer to Alternative/Indie Rock, and Crystal PuNK is similar, although with a few Heavy Metal songs thrown into the mix.

    Web Animation 
  • The band Taranchula in Homestar Runner is supposed to be a death metal band, but their song "Moving Very Slowly" sounds closer to doom metal or sludge metal.

    Web Original 
  • The YTPMV "Big Beat Mario" received a lot of clout when it was released for being an elaborate, entirely original Big Beat song comprised entirely of samples from Hotel Mario. Naturally it spawned a lot of video responses using other sources with "Big Beat (Source Name)" in the title. However, the vast majority of the responses only took the "elaborate, original composition made entirely of source samples" part to heart, and most of them were not of the big beat genre despite having "Big Beat" in the title.

    Western Animation 
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Love Handel are referred to as a Glam Metal band but their signature song "You Snuck Your Way Right Into My Heart" is a pop ballad. Averted by the rest of the songs we hear from them in the show. With songs like "The Ballad of Klimpaloon" and "Robot Riot" being a lot closer to the songs you'd expect a Hard Rocking glam band to make. So it even has a little basis in reality, as a lot of real life glam metal or hard rock bands have a Black Sheep Hit that's softer than their usual material.
    • Zanzibar is a New Wave band, but their music is plain pop.
    • Vanessa is punk, but she listens to Hard Rock, and her signature song, "I'm Me", is very hard sounding rock that does not sound at all like Punk Rock.
  • Jem:
    • Jem and the Holograms are considered as a rock band in-universe, but their music is plain pop.
    • The Misfits met a similar mislabel: They look like tough glam punkers, and have been classified as punk rock in some instances, despite of playing New Wavenote 
    • The Stingers are clearly supposed to be a rock or metal band, and Riot looks like a glam rock or hair metal singer, however their music is pop.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, the human version of the Mane Six form a rock band, but their music is Power Pop at best.
  • Tuesday X from The X's looks like a standard punk rocker, but in an episode where she forms a band, the music she plays is a much more badass extreme Hardcore Punk, in an inversion of Scary Musician, Harmless Music note 
  • Almost none of the Schoolhouse Rock! songs are rock; they're mostly jazz.
  • Most of the songs Marceline from Adventure Time sings are softer than her punkish appearance suggests she would.
  • Ember from Danny Phantom has a punk-looking band but her Villain Song, "Remember", is a pop song. Sam even refers to it as such. Even her other song "Girls' Night Out", which is much closer to rock than "Remember", is still very poppy and doesn't sound remotely punk.
  • The Hex Girls from Scooby-Doo are a band of eco-friendly Perky Goths; however, their music style isn't Goth Rock. "Trap of Love" from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is Gothic Metal, Alternative Metal, or Alternative Rock, not goth rock.
  • Tom and Jerry: "Rock'n'Rodent" really should've been called "Jazzin' Jerry"; the music in the cartoon sounded closer to upbeat jazz than what rock & roll sounded like when the cartoon was released in 1967.
  • LoliRock: The eponymous band is referred to as a rock band, but they play pop.

    Real Life 
  • When Rock & Roll appeared in the late '40s, it soon started many different sub-genres until it was started to be called simply as Rock Music. It's very common for some Rock bands to label themselves as Rock & Roll despite playing another style of rock music. Hard Rock band AC/DC and Punk Rock band Ramones are notable examples.
  • In a similar way, Heavy Metal spawned a lot of different styles, but many bands classify themselves as simply Heavy Metal, even when they play Doom Metal or Speed Metal.
  • Punk Rock involves a varied selection of flavors, but is not uncommon to find Hardcore Punk bands or Pop Punk bands that label their music simply as Punk Rock.
  • The term "Death rock" was coined in the 50's to refer to Rock & Roll and Pop Rock songs with lyrics that deal with dark themes such as death and depression. In the late 70's, a band named Christian Death, used that term to classify their music with influences of both Goth Rock and Punk Rock. Now they are known as codifiers of Death rock.
  • The Christmas Carol "Jingle Bell Rock" does not sound like rock at all, not even for the rock 'n roll music at the time.
  • The "Punk Goes Pop" albums rarely feature punk. Most of the covers are different sub-genres of metal and rock, though some are outright pop.
  • "GET UP! Rapper" by SALT5 was Hello! Project's attempt at, well, a rap song. If Tsunku wanted to be accurate, he might've called it "GET UP! Dancehall", because it more closely resembles that than anything related to rap.
  • The 1938 French song "La java bleue" is a waltz, not a java.
  • When the Grammy Awards first set up an award for Heavy Metal, they awarded the prize to Jethro Tull, to widespread derision, as they were seen as a Progressive Rock band. The lead singer of Metallica referred to it when they finally won, sarcastically thanking Jethro Tull for not releasing an album that year, a reference to Paul Simon winning Best Album and sincerely (if playfully) thanking Stevie Wonder for not putting out an album that year.