10 Amazing Rock Bands That Went Pop

Selling Out For the Right Reasons.

Dan Reynolds Imagine Dragons
Sven-Sebastian Sajak / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

For any struggling musician, it feels almost impossible trying to nail down your trademark sound. In a world that's dominated by a million different people aching for the same type of attention from their fans, what the hell makes your little attempt any different from the rest? As much as it might seem tough starting out, sometimes it works just as well to go in the pop direction.

While most of these musicians started out as rock, they have done everything they can to distance themselves from the genre label since their debut. Make no mistake, some of these people are still turning in some rock riffs here and there, but those are more for a taste of variety rather than the straightforward licks they may have been making back in the day. So that means these artists should get hung at the stake for selling out, right? Well...no not exactly.

Though there is some cheese to be sure in this list, a lot of these artists found their own style in pop and managed to make the transition a lot more seamlessly than you might expect. You have to take the good with the bad though, and a lot of these artists dove head first into the pool of pop without even checking to see if there was any water in it. While rock may have been a good starting point, the era of crunchy guitars is now firmly in the rearview.

10. Peter Gabriel

Whenever someone decides to make the move into pop, it never makes for the smoothest of transitions. Hell, if anything, most of the artists who sell out do it so drastically that you get tonal whiplash just by listening to the songs back to back. There are a few common ground elements though, and Peter Gabriel used them exquisitely with the release of So.

Throughout the length of its runtime, this entire record feels like pop on prog's terms, having just as much weight in the arrangements as it does with the hooks that it's trying out. Regardless of what kind of genre this falls into, you can always count on Gabriel coming through with a catchy melody to tie everything together. There are even some callbacks to world music, which is certainly a switchup from the normal bubblegum you'd find on the radio, including an African jam during the tail end of the song In Your Eyes.

Despite some of the more outlandish moments, the record also has stuff like Sledgehammer that seems to be the strange brainchild of something like the Talking Heads being filtered some weird futuristic form of Memphis soul music. Gabriel may have just been a music weirdo, but his approach to pop has made him fit into the legendary mold in a way that not even Phil Collins could have pulled off.

 
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