Potential Pop Music Career Suicide

Inspired by the “formula” thread. What pop/rock musicians made surprising career decisions, and how did it work out for them?

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull is the only example I could think of for someone who radically switched styles and didn’t seem to lose his audience. Songs From the Wood was I think, his first foray into British folk-rock after a long time playing hard rock and blues.

Please post your examples.

In 1975, Lou Reed recorded Metal Machine Music, supposedly to to finish off his contractual obligations. It was just plain awful electronic music and his career tanked.

The Village People tried to get away from Disco, but failed miserably.

OTOH, Bob Dylan has successfully redefined himself every few years.

As I recall when The Police first came out they were considered New Wave/Punk Rock. Their music became more mainstream. [Or you might say that mainstream music became more like The Police ]

Certainly Sting’s successful solo career is a far different formula than early Police.

George Michael tried to move away from teen pop to R&B, with some success.

Peter Gabriel left Genesis to create very different music.

Alanis Morrisette is probably one of the biggest transormations - she started out as a Debby Gibson-esque teeny bopper as “Alanis”, and then about four years after that phase appeared out of nowhere with ‘Jagged Little Pill’.

Billy Joel has had some critical success with his attempt to move into classical music. Paul McCartney, on the other hand, tried it and failed miserably.

Ringo Starr made a successful country album called “Beaucoups of Blues”.

Waylon Jennings started out as a Rock N’ Roller, playing with Buddy Holly among others. Then he went to Nashville and became a country ‘Outlaw’.

Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines - Perhaps the ultimate suicide.

What about MC Hammer’s gangsta rap phase? All I know about it is what I saw on “Behind the Music”. Apparently it failed to re-ignite his career. Oh, and I didn’t “get it” when David Byrne of Talking Heads fame recorded an album of Brazilian music, but then I’m nowhere near as hip as he is.

Gary Moore has had a varied carrer. Not sure if he’s that popular though, but his fans seem to stay. He started out in a rock band, moved onto a Jazz Fusion band, then onto a hard rock band, then started duing blues records, then onto some strange phase that I don’t know where to put it, like a mix of ALL the past stuff thrown together, and now back to the blues.

Golden Earring has changed a lot too. They started out sounding like the Beatles, then changed over to progessive rock, sounds something like Yes, then onto the pop rock sounds of the early eighties, then onto just normal rock and the last album was pretty hard.

What about Everlast? House of Pain was pretty big, and now he’s had two solo albums. There was a lot of rap on the first album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, but there were some guitar-based songs as well. The second album, Eat at Whitey’s was more in the alt-rock vein. I don’t think he’s had the success as a solo artist he had with House of Pain, at least not yet, but I love his solo albums.

I had heard a long time ago that Ministry did cheesy bubblegum pop before they decided to become the gothic death band I know them as. Anyone else hear this?

Pat Metheny. Song X, Zero Tolerance for Silence, The Sign of 4. Some of the most abrasive rackets ever committed to disc, by someone usually associated with the softer, pop-oriented area of jazz. The Sign of 4 was (mostly) recorded live & apparently had legions of guitarheads fleeing for the exits at the Knitting Factory. I think that, except for Song X, the albums are crap, but you’ve got to hand it to Pat about having the guts to piss off his fans bigtime.

In the same vein as MC Hammer, how about Vanilla Ice? He tried to come back with a rap/metal album fairly recently. Although it could be argued it was more like attempted career resurrection than career suicide.

Somebody must’ve liked it. He just did a live show of it in Germany, IIRC.

Neil Young is always getting accused of this. Think Trans or Everbody’s Rockin’. But he always bounces back.

Actaully I’ve heard some of this and it’s almost all metal. He even plays at the local metal club that I goto. I’ve been thinking on going just to see what it’s like. I wouldn’t pay more than 10 bucks though. I’ve also heard his new “Ice Ice Baby” and it’s very heavy. Good God why do I know all this? :confused:

Paul Simon: from Cecelia to Late in the Evening to Graceland

Mark Sandman --started out in Treat Her Right doing kinda country/swamp rock stuff with a bass, minimal drumset and harmonica, transitioned into Morphine doing dirty blues/jazz with a bass, minimal drumset and saxophone… :smiley:

The great David Byrne. :wink:

Then there’s Linda Ronstadt…

Not exactly. Their first album, With Sympathy, was more of an 80’s disco/rave sound. Definitely a contrast to the industrial music they’re now known for, but to call it “cheesy bubblegum pop” is a bit of a stretch. :smiley:

Let’s not forget Pat Boone’s Heavy Metal album of a few years back. I mean, really, what was he thinking? His longtime fans aren’t going to buy it because it’s that Satanic Heavy Metal, and Metal fans aren’t going to buy it because it’s Pat Boone, for crying out loud.

There were a handful of ska bands like Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris that got a small amount of radio play that had a good sound. A lot more horn and melody than even “mainstream” ska bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

But for some reason (the public’s quick boredom of guitar licks on up beats, perhaps) they went almost completely punk-ish with their next albums. The brass all but disappeared and the music became riff-heavy. SF even changed their look from goofy ska band (witness the bowling shirts and cutesy bear hat) to angsteriffic alt rock band. (black shirts and heavy dye jobs). By killing the only thing that separated them from the pack, they got lost in a sea of generic rock bands.