5 Pop Stars Who’ve Changed Genres
Here’s a list of pop singers who have recently made big changes to their sound.
The pop star Pink, best known for hits like “Get the Party Started” as well as her acrobatic dancing and long career in the pop music industry, has just released a surprising new album that might catch her fans off guard. She’s formed the new project You+Me, which is a country-folk duo with her friend singer-guitarist Dallas Green, aka City and Colour. The album, Rose Ave., is completely different from anything Pink has put out in the past, but the singer is excited to explore new territory and isn’t worried about how her fans will respond. “I’ve always tried to do different kinds of things within an album; I’ve always been easily labeled as pop-whatever. This really was an opportunity to do something that I wanted to do instead of something I was obligated to do. No one was asking us to do this except each other,” Pink told Billboard recently. “My fans are people that would follow me wherever I go,” she added.
Taylor Swift’s upcoming record 1989 sees the singer pushing away from her country music roots completely and embracing what she’s called her “first pop album.” While many would argue that Swift was never very country in the first place, the mainstream Nashville establishment is where the singer got her start and helped her rise to fame. Her previous album, Red, mixed both pop and country sounds, but now the singer is ditching the Nashville sound completely for the pop world that has so thoroughly embraced her. Her first single from 1989, “Shake It Off,” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the controversial music video (Swift has been accused of distasteful cultural appropriation) has wracked up the views on YouTube. The singer has embraced a new songwriting technique and used more electronic sounds on the record, she told USA TODAY, and it seems people are excited to hear Swift’s tales of her tumultuous love life in the new style.
Colorful pop star Katy Perry famously began her career as a Christian pop singer under her real name (Katy Hudson) and has since fallen pretty far from her formerly austere Christian beliefs by getting tattoos, briefly marrying Russell Brand, and getting her first hit with the song “I Kissed a Girl.” Perry grew up in a very strict Christian household raised by two Pentecostal pastors, but she’s now a neon-haired club favorite and gay icon set to play the Super Bowl Halftime Show next year. The singer has said that her parents support her and attend her concerts even though they don’t necessarily agree with the messages of her music and the transition into secular music has certainly helped Perry sell more records than faith-based music ever would have.
Gwen Stefani got her start in the ’90s alternative-ska band No Doubt and quickly gained a reputation as one of the most bombastic and charismatic frontwomen in rock and roll at the time. With hits like “I’m Just a Girl” and “Don’t Speak,” No Doubt became a hugely popular band and Stefani a weird-girl rock and roll hero with her braces and colored hair. As her career went on, Stefani’s image got less weird and more sexy and refined, with the neon hair ditched in favor of platinum and the strange clothes toned down into tasteful outfits.
After No Doubt’s 2001 album Rock Steady saw the band’s most mainstream and highest charting singles, the group went on hiatus and Stefani used the opportunity to record her first solo effort Love. Angel. Music. Baby. That album saw her working with some of the best in the pop business and completely embracing straightforward pop music. The technique worked in terms of sales and the single “Hollaback Girl” became a huge hit. Her follow-up, The Sweet Escape, was even more dancey and electronic than L.A.M.B., showing Stefani’s decision to be a pop star wasn’t a one-off thing.
Justin Timberlake got his start as the best-looking member of the ’90s boy band NSYNC, but after taking a break to start a surprisingly respectable acting career, Timberlake has transitioned into an R&B-influenced solo artist. His first two solo albums were pretty standard pop music, though more mature than what he made with NSYNC, but 2013’s double album The 20/20 Experience fused hip-hop, R&B, and jazz, and went on to become the top-selling record of the year. The album also got the best reviews of Timberlake’s musical career, with critics calling it a mature and interesting release not often seen in pop music, but still danceable and fun to listen to. Timberlake’s career is an example of how poppier isn’t always necessarily better, even in terms of sales.
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