Most singers or bands excel at one style of music and will stick to it. However, some major recording artists have shocked their fans by switching genres entirely. It's a risky move that could yield either huge success or embarrassing failure.
Back in the 1990s, Rucker was the lead singer of the popular rock band Hootie & the Blowfish. When he released his first solo album in 2001, Rucker surprised his fans by recording a more R&B-infused sound. However, that surprise paled in comparison to the shock of his total shift into country music in 2008. His cover of “Wagon Wheel” continues to be a country hit.
Kanye loves to do the unexpected, and that’s exactly what his album “808s and Heartbreaks” was. West had made a name for himself as an aggressive rap artist, but after his mother died of surgical complications in 2007, he took a turn for the somber. Rather than his usual hip hop beats, Kanye embraced synths and Auto-Tune to create an electronic album that shocked fans, but was ultimately a critical success.
When she was just 21, Jewel came out with a somber folk album called “Pieces of You,” which made her a star. Nobody expected the earthy singer to come out with a pop album, but that’s exactly what she did in 2003 when she nabbed major radio play with her single “Intuition.” And Jewel kept jumping genres, later putting out a country album as well as a children’s album.
Brooks made a name for himself as a country singer, but he has always been very open about his love for rock music. So it wasn’t very shocking that after he had become an established artist, Brooks set out to release a rock album. The part that was shocking, however, was the way he went about it. Taking on the persona of Chris Gaines, Brooks made several bewildering appearances as fans refuse to accept him as anything other than a country singer.
Taylor Swift was one of the most famous country singers in the world in 2012, and then she shocked fans by releasing the album “Red,” which featured synth-pop songs and even a foray into dubstep. The transition wasn’t too sudden, though, as Swift had been starting to include more pop songs such as “You Belong With Me” in her more recent albums.
It’s hard to believe the raunchy pop singer that burst on to the scene singing about kissing girls was raised in an extremely conservative Christian home. Before her pop stardom, Perry (then known as Katy Hudson) released several Christian songs.
The grungy and aggressive alternative rocker started out all smiles with her 1991 debut album “Alanis.” Released only in Canada, the dance-pop album earned Alanis small renown as “the Debbie Gibson of Canada.” However, Morissette made a major shift with her album “Jagged Little Pill,” which introduced her now-famous screaming rock sound.
Liz Phair was the queen of alternative rock in the 1990s with her critically acclaimed debut album “Exile in Guyville.” After switching to Capitol Records, however, she released a self-titled pop album that was a far cry from her older work. Fans were upset and called Phair a sell-out, despite the success of her song “Why Can’t I.” Phair has since left the record deal and spoken out against her treatment at Capitol.
The Beastie Boys actually started their career as a hardcore punk band in the 1980s. In 1983, the group performed their first ever hip-hop track, “Cooky Puss,” which was based on a prank call they had made to an ice cream shop. The track was an unexpected success, and inspired the group to refocus their sound towards rap and hip-hop.
People know P!nk today as the tough rocker chick behind smashes like “So What” and “Raise Your Glass,” but back in the early 2000s she was known for her emotional R&B records. Although she is still clearly influenced by the genre, P!nk let R&B fall to the wayside as she began releasing hard-rocking radio tracks like “Get the Party Started.”
Jessica made her name a pop culture fixture when she burst into the pop music scene in the early 2000s. After nearly a decade of radio-friendly pop music, Simpson made the unexpected announcement that she was going to record a country album. Despite the success of single “Come On Over,” Simpson’s foray into country music is widely considered a failure.
Nelly made a name for himself in the early 2000s with ubiquitous rap hits like “Ride Wit Me” and “Hot in Herre.” Although Nelly remains true to his hip-hop sound, he has also began dabbling in country music a bit. In 2004, Nelly’s track “Over and Over” featured Tim McGraw and was well received, and more recently Nelly was featured on a remix to the 2013 country smash hit “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line.
Snoop Dogg probably had the most drastic change of all, as it involved a religious intervention and a name change. In 2012, the rapper announced that he would be changing his name to Snoop Lion after being rechristened by a Rastafarian priest in Jamaica. He also changed the style of music he released, moving from hip-hop to reggae.