Bands: Please Don’t “Grow”

 

The music industry is a fickle one. With the constant progression of technology (as well as bandwidth available at any and every place) physical media is all but dead. It’s expensive to make, expensive to buy, and it takes up tons of real-world space, especially if you’re a collector. It’s hard enough to get someone to buy a whole album these days, when the .99 single is king.

So why change your style?

Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re… I don’t know, Linkin Park. You release an album called Hybrid Theory, and it makes you a lot of money. Many radio singles are produced from this album, and in general, it’s a massive success. Next step? You release an album called Meteora, which is essentially the same album that you’ve already released. People love it; they buy it and support it. There are more singles that get radio play. Ignoring that weird-ass self-indulgent remix album that you’re allowed at this point, what’s your next move? Make part three, right? Nope. You release some God-awful thing called Minutes to Midnight, completely ditching the sound that got you where you are. Surely by this point you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh crap, self… we really need to go back to what we know. We were good at it and people enjoyed it!”. Right? Nope again. Instead, you release A Thousand Suns, which is, unbelievably, even worse than its predecessor. So now, for your next release, you tout a “return to your roots” type of affair, Living Things, which is what people wanted in the first place… and you manage to turn out a mediocre record at best.

At this point, it’s too late. The ship has sailed. While you were lost in the search for “artistic growth”, the one thing that made you you was lost… and so was your audience.

On the other side of things, you’ve got bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise (both punk bands) that’ve been putting out the same record for years now (and in the case of Bad Religion, decades). You know what to expect from these bands, and that isn’t boring. It’s comforting. One of the things that people hate the most is change. One of the things that people get the most enjoyment from is music. If you’re making music that people love, why mess that up? Another good example is The Birthday Massacre. I love them, and I’ve bought every record they’ve put out. They have a very distinct sound… if you’ve heard them before, you can listen to 10 seconds of a song and pretty much know it’s them. They have a new record releasing in October, and I’m confident that I know what it’s going to sound like. Likewise, I’m confident that they’ll be receiving my money for their efforts.

As a consumer and a lover of music, the only thing that makes me feel worse than thinking about the current state of music is when a band that I love puts out a record I don’t recognize. It’s like you’ve bumped into a dear friend from a few years back, but they’ve changed into something completely different and… bad. Suddenly, you don’t want to be friends with them anymore, and honestly, you’re just a tad embarrassed that you were ever their friend to begin with.

I would ask this of all bands: don’t make us ashamed to have been your friends. We love you for who you are. To quote everyone’s yearbook, “Don’t ever change!”

 

3 thoughts on “Bands: Please Don’t “Grow”

  1. Wow, this post is not only insulting to the members of bands that do change their sound as they grow interested in new things, but to your own intelligence. You can only listen to a band that sounds basically the same for ten years? That’s cool, but most people would call that stagnating. And I say this as someone who absolutely loves The Birthday Massacre — I do think they’ve changed, but they’re also clearly happy with their sound. Moreover, if that keeps a band happy, that’s fine – but they’re not creating for YOU SPECIFICALLY. If someone is a professional musician, they’re doing it because they love creating and are interestd in it. Linkin Park never signed an agreement to sound exactly the same on their fourth album as they did on their first. Most bands’ debut and even sophomore albums don’t have the access to the kind of production they’d like, they’re also all younger and haven’t listened to or experienced as much…or are just in a different place.

    Just because YOU don’t like something, or because it isn’t hitting the pop radio charts, doesn’t make it musically mediocre. I don’t care one bit for Linkin Park, but they absolutely have the right to change, and to be honest if a band changes their sound back to something more popular instead of going with their gut, that’s truly selling out. If they are truly happy creating variations on the same album 5 or 10 times and pleasing every early listener, then that’s fine. But seriously, condemning a band because they’ve matured musically or gotten more complex or have a different sound? You are not actually a “fan”, you just want everything you listen to to evoke the same nostalgia for being 20 that it always did: you are the reason bands break up, because they know that people will stop listening if they actually make themselves happy.

  2. Dear sir/madam?,
    Thanks for reading! Unfortunately, due to the fact that you decided to open with an insult that’s hilariously presumptuous on your part (thereby destroying any chance of meaningful dialog), I’m going to have to pass on your comment. You can try again at a later date to convince me your opinion is of significant enough worth to make me reexamine my own beliefs.

    Breaking up bands since 1978,
    rtik13

  3. I can relate to this. The last Portishead album comes to mind. They hadn’t done anything in forever and then finally release something that wasn’t just weird, but totally un-listenable.

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