Some artists find their sound quite quickly, while for others it takes them years to find the sound, and genre, that they are most comfortable in. While it's rare to hear artists that will completely change genre after releasing an album or two, it's not unheard of, and sometimes, it works out in the best way possible for both the artist and fans.
We've also come to realise that with the advent of streaming and the access to music from every decade and genre ever, artists are more and more eschewing genres altogether. Albums now are multi-faceted in sound than ever before, with artists treading new sonic territory they've never tried before.
We've put together our favourite artists that have changed their sound on the fly, and why they did it. Sometimes, you gotta try something new to find what works best for you musically - even if it's taking a leap into the unknown.
Bring Me The Horizon
Bring Me The Horizon are known for being one of the biggest metal bands in the world, so it took a lot of people by surprise when they released their 2019 album amo, which sounded a LOT poppier than their previous releases. While the band have slowly been softening their sound for years (even 2015's That's The Spirit and 2012's Sempiternal took steps away from metal, the release of this album saw the band change their style dramatically - and it really suited them, even if it took fans a little while to adjust to the new BMTH sound.
Speaking on BBC Radio 1's Future Sounds With Annie Mac, lead singer Oli Sykes says he wanted the band to be a way to get people into heavier music. “I like the fact that we have a catalog where you get a lot of people that get into maybe, That’s The Spirit or Sempiternal, or some of the new songs and then they go back; it’s almost like a little breadcrumb trail where people will maybe start off with Medicine, before they know it they like Mantra, It’s A Wonderful Life and then they go back and they start to really get into the vibe of the band and it’s not just about how poppy it is or how accessible it is."
The band has since stepped out even further into pop music, dropping an EP called Music to listen to~dance to~blaze to~pray to~feed to~sleep to~talk to~grind to~trip to~breathe to~help to~hurt to~scroll to~roll to~love to~hate to~learn Too~plot to~play to~be to~feel to~breed to~sweat to~dream to~hide to~live to~die to~GO TO at the end of 2019, including a collaboration with popstar Halsey titled ¿. It'll be interesting to see where BMTH goes next - because they sound like they're just getting started.
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, started out as a rapper. It's not his only talent, given he's an actor, writer and stand-up comic, but it still came as a surprise when he went from the rap stylings of Because The Internet, and all the albums that came before, to the soul sounds of 2017's Awaken, My Love! that got everyone's attention, and (re)introduced him to the world, as well as established him as a genuine festival headliner.
Speaking to Big Boy TV, Donald says the idea of genres in music is dead, which is no surprise given that he's never been afraid of experimentation. "I think genre is dead. I really do believe in just — people just want quality. People just want excellence. There really is no genre anymore, so you just have to make something new." Donald proved again on his most recent album 3.15.20 that he can still rap with the best in the game when he needs to - but it's not the only genre of music he's interested in making.
Before she made pop music, Katy Perry was a Christian singer and went by her birth name. She recorded her first album back in 2001, a gospel record called Katy Hudson. It was a critical success but a commercial failure - so she went back to the drawing board.
In 2008, Katy Perry released her first big single, I Kissed A Girl, and from there, her career took off. She's gone from playing an acoustic guitar on Vans Warped Tour to being one of the biggest musicians in the world - but even back then, her talent was undeniable. It's a little bit hard to believe Katy Hudson and Katy Perry are the same person, but hey, everyone has to start from somewhere.
Arguably the biggest left turn on this list, Skrillex went from being part of emo band From First To Last to a dubstep legend. He recorded an EP and two albums with the band before leaving to focus on his DJ/production career. The band continued without him until 2010, before announcing their hiatus. They released their fifth album in 2015, without Skrillex, and people weren't sure whether Skrillex would ever reunite with the band.
It turned out that Skrillex wasn't done with From First To Last, either. Back in 2017, the band released Make War, the first song with Skrillex (going by Sonny Moore, his birth name) on vocals since he left the group. He's played some live shows with the band as well - so he's definitely not given his emo roots up entirely.
Lana Del Rey
Before she was Lana Del Rey, she was Lizzy Grant. Lana Del Rey went by her birth name at the end of the 2000s, and her only album under that name flopped. She went away, and came back as the sultry Lana Del Rey, and from there, her musical career took off.
It all came to a head with her 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell, which was almost universally considered as one of the best albums of the year, and indeed the decade. Lana Del Rey has become more and more public.
However, switching names wasn't a big, dramatic statement by Lana Del Rey - in an interview with the Los Angeles Times she says, "I just liked the sound of “Lana Del Rey.” And I also knew the music sounded as big as that name. It had a ring to it." Sometimes, it's just that simple.
Criticised at the time, Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump's solo album has become somewhat of a cult hit. 2011's Soul Punk was a diversion away from the music Fall Out Boy had been making before their hiatus, but since reforming in 2013, it's not hard to make the connection between the music Patrick made on his own, and the direction the band has taken in the last few years.
It was a record that wasn't as influential for its sound, but rather, the ability to let Patrick express himself in a way that got him ready for more Fall Out Boy music. The band was clearly spent after spending so long writing and touring without a break, and since releasing Soul Punk, the whole band has taken a healthier approach to their music - allowing them to return better than ever.
Kid Cudi has always been one to experiment, so it's cheating a little bit to have him on this list. It was his fifth album, Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven that saw him eschew hip-hop for alternative rock - and not just any alternative rock album, a 90-minute, winding epic (depending on who you speak to).
Kid Cudi has never wanted to make music simply based on what his fans wanted to hear, but rather what he was feeling at the time - but even his most die-hard fans would be hard-pressed to defend Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven. Kid Cudi has received both a 0 and a 10 from music critic Anthony Fantano - and at the end of his not-yet-finished music career, he'll have had more sound changes than almost anyone else in the game.