Most bands would tell you, if asked, that they hate being pigeonholed.
They’re artists, after all, and the last thing they want to do is stay in their lane, commit to one style. Commercially speaking, though, sticking resolutely to one genre is probably a good idea. It’s much easier to generate a fan base and to keep folks coming back for more if they know what they’re going to get.
For some bands, though, that wanderlust is too great. They might start off as a harcore act, or a rap group, or a zydeco band, but a few albums down the mine, those feet get a little itchy, and they start to experiment.
Switching genres can be a tricky proposition, and wandering into a format that doesn’t suit you can be embarrassing - witness Dee Dee Ramone make the brief journey from punk bassist to world’s worst rapper - but if you’ve got the musical chops, the genuine passion, and the songs to back it up, it can be the best decision your band ever makes.
It keeps things fresh, opens up all manner of creative avenues, and potentially brings in a new audience.
10. The Cure
These days Robert Smith’s gang of goths are better known for their bittersweet pop than their years dedicated to doom and gloom. The best known Cure tracks are in the main their soaring, sugary upbeat numbers, “Just Like Heaven”, “Friday I’m In Love” and the like. But in their lengthy career, they’ve played a little bit of everything.
They started off playing spiky new wave and post punk, and in their first two singles, “Killing An Arab” and “Boys Don’t Cry”, they ably illustrated the light and shade they had to offer. By the second album they were descending into darkness, with the shuffling, full goth “A Forest” a highlight.
Things got gloomier up until The Head On The Door, whose second single “Close To Me” embraced prettier sounds and alternate instrumentation - a plinky synth, a jazzy trumpet. Soon after, they were experimenting with every album - Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me alone sees the band whip between genres from track to track.
Maybe their most outre offering is spooky jazz number “The Lovecats”. While it’s not a song for long-time Cure obsessives, it demonstrates how much more there is to the group than moping and bouffants.