When you think of Bob Marley, you think reggae. When you think Madonna, you think old slutty pop. When you think of Bob Dylan, you think folk. But are you thinking correctly? Most of the time, not always though.
Each genre and subgenre comes with its pioneers, its leaders, and its innovators. Not all musical trendsetters though are eager to be associated with the trends themselves. Popular musicians are often categorized with respect to whatever current music style sounds remotely similar to what they make. It isn't long before these labels are written in stone, solidifying a band or artist's permanent association with a scene or genre. This begs the question: Who are some of these dissatisfied bands? Why are they lumped into a specific scene or subgenre? Okay, that's two questions, but just let's just take a peek at five artists who don't like the title with which they've been slapped.
5. Alice in Chains: Grunge
Alice in Chains attained commercial success in the heyday of the '90s grunge era. Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, the band was lumped into what would be labeled the Big Four, the four flagship grunge bands out of Seattle. While each of the four groups possessed an individual sound, Alice in Chains seemed to stray particularly far from what music critics called "grunge." This is particularly evident on hits like "Man in the Box." The song's intro guitar riff is prime for headbanging and singer Layne Stayley's morbid, yet introspective lyrics convey a darkness that seems just outside the raw rock realm of bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell's signature dual-vocal delivery was also an integral part of the band's aesthetic.
Over the years, the band has stated in numerous interviews that they did not want to be pigeon-holed as grunge and thought of themselves more as a metal band. Regardless of the band's intentions, they retain a firm place as party of the Seattle grunge scene's Big Four.
According to Rolling Stone, Alice in Chains are currently working on their follow up to 2009's Black Gives Way to Blue. No specific release date has been set.
4. Linkin Park: Nu-Metal
As a new millennium dawned, with it came a bold new sound. The nu-metal movement of the late '90s and early '00s spawned successful acts like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Papa Roach. However, it would be Linkin Park that truly took the movement by storm.
Over the course of their career, the band has repeatedly stated that they have never identified with the nu-metal genre. In contrast to the more aggro, hyper-masculine image portrayed by other nu-metal bands, Linkin Park has always maintained a more vulnerable lyrical perspective. Hits like "Breaking the Habit" and "Numb" convey an emotional persona, rather than an angry one. The band's affinity for electronica also helped set them apart from the solely rap-rock influenced bands.
These days, music critics note the band's nu-metal association more so for historical reference. Linkin Park's last three releases have demonstrated a departure from their original sound, showcasing more alternative and electronic elements.
Linkin Park's latest studio album Living Things was released Tuesday and is in stores now.
3. My Chemical Romance: Emo
Over the last decade or so, countless Blink-182-inspired bands have been lumped under the incorrectly used "emo" umbrella. In this day and age, groups with straightened hair, superfluously high-pitched vocal harmonies, and sappy lyrics are categorized under this term. Fall Out Boy. All Time Low. Paramore. However, there is one band that has made it quite public that they do not associate with the subgenre: My Chemical Romance. In a 2007 interview with The Maine Campus, singer Gerard Way called emo music "a pile of shit." He also said that the term has "never been accurate to describe us." Paradoxically, music critics and fans alike have used the term as a crutch when describing the band's theatrical, goth-inflected blend of pop-punk.
According to an interview in NME, the band is currently recording their follow up to 2010's Danger Days: The true Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
2. Deadmau5: Electronic Dance Music (EDM)
There is perhaps no greater musical irony than when the leader of a sub-genre is also its biggest critic. Such is the case with Canadian producer Deadmau5 and the current wave of electronic dance music. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Deadmau5 (AKA Joel Zimmerman) called DJs like David Guetta and Skrillez mere button pushers who brought no dynamic to the live setting. By the same token, he tempered his argument, saying "And not to say I'm not a button-pusher. I'm just pushing a lot more buttons." Nonetheless, Deadmau5 seems to be fed up with being associated with his EDM peers.
This Mau5 released his latest EP, The Veldt, on Monday. Check out County Grind's review of the album here.
1. Bob Dylan: Folk
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A man who is considered perhaps the quintessential American songwriter, Bob Dylan is regarded as a figurehead of the 1960s singer/songwriter protest folk movement. Dylan's early musical content shows socially conscious lyrics and acoustic sonority, two integral components of this era's brand of folk.
Dylan tested the boundaries of the community at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, in which he famously "went electric" and used a live backing band. After playing electric renditions of songs like "Like a Rolling Stone," Dylan was immediately booed and harassed by the folk purist audience. In his infamous 1965 interview with Time, he repeatedly rejected being called a folk singer. Now, toward the end of his career, Dylan has found humility, understating the impact his music had on his generation, and every one since.