One of the most impressive things a musician can do is to spread their art over various styles. No one wants to hear the same song over and over again. Some of the biggest acts keep their fans on their toes when they change their music style. Sometimes, they don’t work, but the best musicians can change their genre and be even more successful than they were.
1. Gwen Stefani
You kids of the 90s who were rocking out to Gwen’s band, No Doubt, would be surprised to see where her career went. By the 2000s, she ditched her studded belts, Converse shoes, and ska-punk roots and decided to make pop music. With hits like “Holla Back Girl” and “What Are You Waiting For,” she cemented herself as a musical icon and one of the more versatile stars in the industry.
2. Kid Rock
Kid Rock came into the musical spotlight with a vengeance. Other bands mixed heavy rock music with hip-hop lyrics, but Kid Rock did it just a little better. As he evolved, so did his music, and the Detroit rocker is now producing country music. His transition was a success. In 2009, he was nominated for Rock Album of the Year while winning a CMT Award for Video of the Year in the same calendar year. That’s one impressive transition for Kid Rock.
You might know Skrillex as a Grammy Award-winning EDM DJ, but he was the lead singer of the post-hardcore band From First to Last before he got the party started on the turntables. In 2009, he changed his moniker to Skrillex and went solo, switching from a punk rock sound to electronic music. This was a great decision for Skrillex, and he won his first Grammy in 2011.
4. Darius Rucker
Fans of the pop-rock band Hootie and the Blowfish were surprised that the lead singer wasn’t named Hootie. They were even more surprised that Darius Rucker, the lead singer, had an excellent voice for country music. The talented frontman won a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance in 2013, to add to his 1995 Grammy for his first band, Hootie and the Blowfish—quite the transition.
5. Katy Perry
Before Katy Perry lit up the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show, she was a Christian music singer named Katy Hudson. A few years later, she shed her good girl persona and released her hit single, “I Kissed a Girl.” I think it is fair to say she made a good decision. She has since become one of the highest-selling pop artists of all time, selling over 140 million records worldwide.
6. Miley Cyrus
If you were a kid or young teen in the 2000s, you remember Miley Cyrus as the kid star from Hannah Montana. Her persona changed once she grew out of her Disney Channel phase. She crossed the line from country roots to pop music to dabbling in rock and roll. The jury is out on which genre will nab her first Grammy.
7. Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys are hip-hop legends. They have released numerous albums that are considered some of the best. Before they were featured on Yo! MTV Raps they were starting mosh pits as a punk rock band. Eventually, they switched to hip-hop, acting on a suggestion from emerging producer Rick Rubin, and the rest is history.
Beck has always been genre-fluid where his music is concerned. He experiments with different influences on almost all of his albums. When he started in the 90s, he was known as an alternative rocker with albums like Odelay and Mellow Gold. He later mixed in elements of funk, jazz, and ska influences. When Sea Change came out in 2002, he was more of a folk singer. That lasted only a short time, as his following albums were a throwback to the ’60s with psychedelic guitar riffs and a mix of hip-hop and disco.
9. Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. In the ’60s, he made a name for himself with his unique voice and deep lyrics depicting life in an ever-changing world. Fans were shocked when the singer traded his acoustic guitar for an electric Stratocaster and switched his style from folk to a blues-rock one. Dylan continues to influence artists as he continues his hall-of-fame career.
10. Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg has transcended music into being a public personality. A pillar in the 90s as a West Coast rapper, he went on to star in movies and TV shows and make guest appearances on numerous other artists’ albums. In 2013, Snoop announced his name would be Snoop Lion, and he released a reggae album called Reincarnated. He eventually returned to his original name, but the short transition proved Snoop can do no wrong.
Erik Schrody jumps around from one music genre to another. He was a member of the hip-hop group House of Pain, which successfully released three albums in the 90s. After the group broke up, Erik, also known by his alias Everlast, picked up a guitar and went out solo. His hit album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, was an instant hit and a drastic change from his former hip-hop sound.
Radiohead’s first hit single, “Creep,” was an alternative rock hit that made them a household name. Later albums, like OK Computer and Kid A, combined elements of electronica, synth-pop, and erie guitar riffs. It’s hard to find a box for Radiohead since their style is almost one of a kind. Their fanatic fanbase eats up everything they put out, a feat many musicians don’t achieve.
13. Fleetwood Mac
The Hall of Fame rock group Fleetwood Mac had a very different sound when they hit the charts in 1967. Originally a blues band, they switched their style when they heard Lindsey Buckingham’s amazing guitar solos. They adopted a more rock style, and in 1998, they walked into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
14. Lady Gaga
Like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga tries to expand her style of music as much as possible. She started as a pop star diva and rose to fame almost overnight. Since then, she’s experimented with jazz, electronica, and country rock. She’s willing to take risks and continues to wow her fans on stage and in the movies.
15. Taylor Swift
Taylor was a country music star when she was 14 years old. Anyone with a set of ears could tell she was destined for stardom. Over 20 years and countless album releases later, she’s succeeded in pop, pop-rock, folk, and many other styles. It’s not hard to argue that she might be the biggest star of our generation.
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