Imagine your favorite band is about to put out a brand-new album. The first two or so singles from the album are okay, but they sound a bit different from what you’re used to from them. Nevertheless, you’re super excited about their new release. It’s been several years since the release of their last album, and this one is very highly anticipated by you and other fans of the band alike.
When the album comes out, you listen to it and you notice that the band’s sound has completely changed – when you listen to some of the tracks, you don’t even recognize the band anymore. How could this be? Why would a band change their sound so drastically just for a new album?
A lot of people don’t understand why artists tend to change their sound over time. I’m here today to help you sort of better understand the possible reasoning behind an artist changing their sound.
1. There’s a bigger market in a different sort of sound.
Unfortunately, money is a big key in the music industry. There is an aspect of greed involved, usually coming from an artists’ record label in an attempt to make more money off of an artist. Sometimes this works out, sometimes this doesn’t – people aren’t always accustomed to the change of artists they’ve been behind for a long time.
2. Artists finally “finding their sound".
One artist that is notable in this category is Demi Lovato. With her latest album especially, she commented very frequently that she had finally found the sound that she wanted her music to have, and the message she wanted to carry with her music.
A lot of the times when first coming onto a scene, an artist may not necessarily be happy with their sound just yet. There is an art to developing and homing in on one particular, unique sound that an artist needs in order to stand out from the crowd. This may take a few albums to really find; as previously mentioned, in Lovato’s case, it took her six albums to finally find what she thinks is her sound.
3. Artists just like skipping around with different sounds and experimenting.
A great example of this is the self-proclaimed “genre-neutral” band, Paramore. With each album the band has released, we see them constantly changing their sound, never necessarily staying exactly the same. For some bands it’s really not about the sound, it’s about the content of the music and the meaning behind it.
4. Artists change over time in accordance with growing up.
There are two particular artists that come to mind when I think of this category – Fall Out Boy and Taylor Swift. Two completely different artists but similar musical tracks.
Fall Out Boy started out as the punk band that many know from earlier successes such as their sophomore album, From Under the Cork Tree. Since this album’s release, which was back in 2005, Fall Out Boy drastically changed their sound, which is especially present in their latest album, Mania. They’ve grown into more electronic sounds, with edgier vocal riffs and more vocal effects than something we would’ve heard from any of their earlier material. The band has been around for an extremely long time, so naturally, they wanted to evolve with the changing of the times. While their change may be unpleasant to some, luckily there are many newer bands on the scene where Fall Out Boy grew.
Taylor Swift started out as a sweet country girl with simple songs about boys that broke her heart. Over time, her sound has obviously changed. For her first few albums, Taylor stayed in mostly the same areas of her genre, keeping with her country roots and having fun with it. Then came the debut of 2012’s Red, and it was a complete 180 from there. While the album was still listed under the ‘country’ genre, it was clear that there were almost dubstep-like moments in her new music that really didn’t fit into the country vibe anymore. With the release of her album 1989, her genre officially changed to pop, where her music truly fit. Even with the release of her newest album, Reputation, she ventures deeper into pop, which I think is really just her growing out of her sweet country roots and becoming who she wants to be.
So, there you have it folks. Some reasons as to why artists change their sound over time. Maybe one of your favorite artists fall under these categories, maybe they don’t, but regardless – a change in a band’s sound is almost inevitable. Times change and so does the demand for certain types of music, so to accommodate, artists change. No one likes seeing artists change but hey, that’s the business and it’s a part of life.