The longer bands stay together, it’s expected that they’ll want to change things a bit, whether it’s changing members or styles for one album. But it’s different when a band decides to completely abandoned the sound that they started out with or the sound that they established. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it’s worse. It’s happened countless times in music, but these are the ten most shocking and noticeable musical changes. I know I’m missing a bunch of other musicians who changed their sound, but these were the only ones I knew of. If you know of any more that I missed, let me know in the comments.
- My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult
I considered not putting TKK on the list because changing their sound is pretty much what they do, but it also seemed wrong to not include them. With these guys, every album is completely different from their last. They started out in the industrial genre and then moved on to whatever the fuck they felt like including rockabilly, sleaze rock, funk, disco, dance, and elements of RnB. But that’s what makes them so unique and so difficult to put in a box, which they clearly don’t want. Because of this they’re one of the most exciting and fearless bands out there.
- Maroon 5
This change is fairly recent and not even a huge difference, but still noticeable for Maroon 5 fans. The band established themselves back in the mid 2000’s with their catchy pop sound mixed with some elements of rock. But their last album Overexposed found them wanting to make dance music. Synth beats and electronic sounds took over most of the album, making you forget that Maroon 5 is a band at all. Personally, I think this change was a bad idea. Anyone who follows the blog knows I hate the album. Even if they wanted to make a dance record, they could’ve at least made a good one.
- Nelly Furtado
When Furtado started out she was a breath of fresh air to the pop scene. She actually seemed talented and promising unlike the pop princesses around at the time. Not only did she have an interesting voice that sounded good, her music had it’s own style with a cool blend of folk, rock, and pop. And who didn’t love that “Turn Out the Lights” song? But when she came back with the help of Timbaland she completely changed her sound. Her music now has more of a hip-hop and RnB feel than before. And while she seemed unique at first, now she just blends in with the other artists out there singing about sex and partying.
AFI may be now known for their Gothic inspired sound and lyrics, but when they were starting out they were a straight up punk band. Everything about them was fast and loud. Just listen to their first few albums and see if you can make out what Havok is saying without looking at a lyric sheet. And though they never really abandoned their punk sound as the years went on, they moved away from it embracing a darker sound that included a lot of Gothic imagery and lyrics that can be considered poetic. What’s even more shocking now is that two of the members are currently making electronic music with the side band Blaqk Audio.
- Michael Bolton
Bolton is known for making ladies swoon in the late 80s and 90s with his smooth vocals and epic mullet. So it was a major shock to find out that he started in a rock band called Blackjack. They were the typical 80s band with big hair, “intense vocals,” and enough mustaches to go around for years. He actually looks a cross between Dee Snider and John Waite from Bad English! I mean, it didn’t sound all that bad, but to think the “Can I touch you there” singer started out in a rock band? He even kept his rock n roll sound for his early solo album. In one video he even grabs a guitar and starts slashing away. But rock music didn’t make him any cooler, just weirder.
Pink is feisty, bad ass doesn’t give a shit about anything, and will beat you up if you look at her wrong. She was pretty much like this on her first album, except her music had a hip-hop/RnB inspired sound. It wasn’t until her second album Missundaztood where she decided she wasn’t going to let the record label turn her into something she wasn’t. She got rid of the funky beats and replaced them with a harder sound inspired by rock music. Though her debut isn’t bad, ever since she shed her former image her albums have gotten better and better, especially because she gets to express herself the way she wants to.
- Depeche Mode
When you think of Depeche Mode one word comes to mind: moody. Some of their most successful albums are steeped in brooding and depressing subjects. But back in the early 80s, a fresh-faced David Gahan and crew were making upbeat, poppy new wave songs like “See You,” a song where Gahan won’t even touch the girl, he just wants to see her because she makes him smile. You can also hear this cheesiness on “Just Can’t Get Enough” another song about how being with this girl makes him feel so good. I don’t know what happened to the band, but somewhere in the mid-80s, they moved in a darker direction, which gave them some of their biggest hits and gave them their legendary status.
- Sugar Ray
If you were around during the 90’s and listened to radio, then you know at least two Sugar Ray songs. No ’90s playlist or party would be complete without one of their annoyingly catchy, upbeat songs. They’re one of those bands where you bought their albums just to hear the singles. They became known for their fusion of ska, rock, and pop, but when they debuted in 1995 they were going for a hard rock sound. It’s hard to believe that these nice guys were actually trying to be bad ass with albums called Lemonade and Brownies. And I thought Limp Bizkit was bad with Chocolate Starfish or whatever the hell it was called. Point is, Sugar Ray weren’t meant to be hard edge, especially with that band name.
They are the godfathers of industrial music and have inspired countless other bands in the genre. If you had to describe their music it would be violent and scary. Their music is intense, brutal, and something your parents don’t want to hear. But anyone who’s only familiar with late 80’s Ministry will be shocked to learn that when they started in the early 80’s they were a new wave band. Their early songs were full of synth music, beats to dance to, and even at times funk. Their first video finds Al Jourgenson in an outfit that looks like it was stolen from Rob Halford’s closet, while he’s on a merry-go-round singing “Same old madness.” To be fair, the songs are still pretty good; just not what you expect from the extreme band.
- Trent Reznor
Reznor is the poster boy for anyone who is lost, hurt, empty, and broken, which is often how he describes himself in his songs. He is also often called a “genius” because he’s done some pretty impressive things with electronic and synth music. Plus, he won an Oscar for The Social Network Soundtrack, but Reznor would never care about those things (that’s sarcasm people). The fact that everyone has such a high regard for him makes it even funnier when you find out he was not in one, but three different synth, new wave bands in the 80’s. In these songs, he actually sounds happy (gasp!). One of the bands he was in even opened for Culture Club. Just let that sink in for a second. Trent Reznor started out in crappy new wave bands, making horrible upbeat cheesy pop songs, and opened for the Culture Club. I guess everyone has to start somewhere.