Changing Track: When Musicians Swap Genre – What Do You Think?

From The Guardian

Hard rocker Andrew WK has released his first EDM single and joins a list of other artists who have decided to go in a different direction

Mixing it up … Kanye West, Joni Mitchell, Taylor Swift and David Bowie. Composite: Getty Images and Rex Features

Getting signed to a record label is like going to college – both force you to declare a major. For musicians, that means dedicating yourself to a single genre. Otherwise, labels feel they can’t market your songs.

Artists grouse about this no end, but few have the power, guts or the right circumstance to do anything about it. Some who do buck the system do so during their struggling days, before they’ve found a substantial market to begin with. Others make the change due to a switch in personnel, allowing them to draw on the different strengths the new talent provides. In the most rousing cases, the artist just goes for it. In any case, there’s risk involved.

The latest example involves long-running rocker Andrew WK. His new single,Party ’Til We Die, snubs his career-long dedication to guitar-based music in favor of dance-driven EDM. Earlier this year, David Bowie took a similar leap with Blackstar, his final album. It represented Bowie’s first full foray into jazz.

Such stars join a long list of those who have placed their brands in jeopardy by trying something new. Here’s a look at 20 musicians who ignored the industry’s common call to “stay on message”.

Bob Dylan

Dylan generated one of the most controversial genre switches in history when he went electric in 1965. For the old folk guard, his move was treasonous. But, in the process, he created a whole new genre: folk rock, first popularized by the Byrds via their jangly cover of Bob’s Mr. Tambourine Man. Dylan would reinvent himself many times more over the years, but never with such consequence as with this first leap of faith.

The Byrds

Learning from their inspirer, the Byrds made several key changes after their folk rock start. In 1966, the band went psychedelic with their trippy 8 Miles High. They pulled another head-turner in 1968 by creating one of the first country-rock amalgams on Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The latter became the template for all alterna-country to come.

Taylor Swift

With her 1989 album, Swift finally ditched Nashville to forge her first true pop album. Of course, Taylor was never exactly Loretta Lynn. In fact, she had been slowly playing down the fiddles and mandolins for years and she already had a teen audience eager for her to conform to pure pop. But only in 2014 did she find a sound that has more to do with 80s synth-pop than anything that fits even the broadest notion of country.

The Bee Gees

You can read the rest at the Guardian

Have you got a favourite artist that has ‘switched’ genres? Do you think it’s shameless chasing the money or do some artists benefit from reinventing themselves? 



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