Change is a constant theme in the progression of society. Changes in lifestyle, ideologies and technology all create room for society to progress and better itself. The same theory can be applied to music. For the music scene to progress, changes to how music sounds have to occur. Music only truly began expanding and progressing in the 1920s during the “Jazz Age”. Before then, music was orchestral-based; I’m not a music historian so I may be wrong about this, but in my opinion you did not find the diversity of musical sounds as you find these days. Fans always seem to moan about their favourite band changing their sound but do they not realise that a changing sound is a good thing? It allows for an increasing diversity in the music scene and paves the way for an evolution in the sound of music. Allow me to demonstrate.
Music started to become a lot more diverse in the 1920s when jazz exploded into popularity with the likes of Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman and Duke Ellington and their jazz bands. It remained popular until 1935 where it was replaced by swing music, which used the early 1930s jazz sound but incorporated elements of blues and had a lot faster tempo then regular jazz music. The 1940s saw the diversification of the blues, which evolved into three prominent genres: R&B (Rhythm and Blues), country music and gospel music. The creation of these genres, especially country and R&B, allowed for the creation one of the most popular genres of the ‘60s and ‘70s: rock ‘n roll.
Early rock ‘n roll fused R&B and country music. The first person to make it popular was (and we all know this one) Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Future rock bands drew from this influence and in the 1960s the rock genre was born with bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and The Who. These bands all experimented with their music and were constantly changing and altering how they sounded. They laid down the groundwork for the success that many of them experienced in the ’70s, especially The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Who.
The rest of the ’70s featured juggernauts of bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath coming into success and laying down the foundations of heavy metal, as well as the beginning of punk with The Clash, Sex Pistols and The Ramones. The ’80s saw heavy metal truly taking a turn for the heavy with Anthrax, Megadeath, Metallica and Slayer. Punk rock became a diverse genre with hardcore bands like Black Flag, Misfits and Minor Threat. Other sub-genres like skate punk and Oi! came into existence. The ’90s saw the creation of Grunge and most famously, Nirvana, although it was a short-lived era as it died out with Kurt Cobain’s death. The end of the ’90s showed bands like Green Day, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars, Blink 182, Slipknot, Finch, Thrice and various other artists forming. All the bands represented a progression in their respective genre, whether it was punk, nu-metal, heavy metal, post-hardcore, alternative, indie or whatever other sub-genre you can think of.
The point is that all those bands are modern bands whose sounds were influenced by 70 years of musical evolution and they continue to evolve their sound. Allow me to use two examples (both bands’ evolutions tie into each other in my opinion): 30 Seconds To Mars and Linkin Park. Linkin Park started as a nu-metal band when they released their debut album Hybrid Theory. 30 Seconds to Mars released their eponymous debut in 2001 and had a very alternative electronic sound to their music. This was not very present in their second album A Beautiful Lie. Conversely, Linkin Park’s Meteora replicated the sound in Hybrid Theory. They decided after that never to release a record that sounded the same again, and thus began Linkin Park’s journey to become a band that was at the forefront of altering the sound of the rock scene. 2007’s Minutes to Midnight took a more political stance and strayed from the aggressive nature of the first two records, incorporating a more electronic sound. 30 Seconds to Mars’ release of This Is War blew the music scene away with its almost perfect electronic sound, which was, in my opinion, the inspiration for Linkin Park to release A Thousand Suns and then further expand on that in Living Things. Both these bands shaped an entire music scene with this successful change in sound and inspired many more bands to experiment with this sort of sound. I may be wrong in saying that this partially led to Bring Me the Horizon’s Sempiternal (I like to believe that it did).
What was my point in this? To explain how an artist changing their sound, even if you don’t like it, is actually a good thing. Maybe the artist absolutely cocks it up and makes a fool of themselves, but then future artists will learn from previous mistakes and make something absolutely amazing. Give bands a break for changing their sound. They’re making music that they want to make and are experimenting and trying to pave the way for an entirely new genre. With the production tools available these days, it is hard for a band not to want to experiment. It is human nature to try something new.
Forgive them for being human.