The modern day has brought about countless changes to the realms of music, and one of the biggest frontiers has to do with the simple classification of genres. Slowly but surely, the binds that draw firm lines about what each genre constitutes have unraveled, allowing for a plethora of creativity in terms of pushing boundaries. It’s near-impossible to label a song as just “rap,” “rock” or “jazz” anymore due to this constant hybridization of sound. Even music’s more broad umbrella terms – like “indie” and “alternative”- have to be broken down into pieces to fully encompass the different ways songs under these categories can be interpreted.
A lot of this can be attributed to an artist or band’s desire to evolve. Doing the same thing time after time isn’t a formula to remain afloat in the music industry, making these creators more likely to take a risk and dive into the deep end. This deep end is a daring exploration of other styles and attempts at diversifying their catalog. Experimentation has become a mainstay, and it has become common for artists who want to remain on top to move out of their comfort zone in order to be versatile.
I’ve witnessed this firsthand with one of my favorite artists, Lil Uzi Vert, and my favorite band, Bring Me The Horizon. Lil Uzi Vert, capitalizing on the Soundcloud trap wave, has recently taken a nosedive into anything and everything from pop-punk rap and Jersey club, all the way to metalcore and hard rock. This ambition to throw multiple genres together, even on a singular album, led him to secure a feature with the band I just mentioned, Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH).
BMTH has had their own advancement as well, originally starting as a group derived from a gritty, harsh metal sound; they have done a complete 180. Their last few projects have been brimmed with bits of electronic rock, alternative, and nu-metal. To further that limit, some tracks have even adopted a pop feel, much to the shock of diehard day-one fans of the group.
For some people, these endless modifications make them feel as if they’re losing a connection with their favorite artists. Or, that these artists are losing the persona that made them who they are in exchange for something they aren’t. However, I’d argue that this is just the innovation of music. To expect music to stay stagnant and uniform is unrealistic, as development is what created some of our favorite genres today.
If it wasn’t for musical artists who challenged themselves to create something new, some genres would not exist in the way we understand them today. Instead of viewing genre-blending as a detriment to our favorite artists’ smooth sailing, we should view it as an opportunity to expose ourselves to other kinds of music. The reality is that the arc of musical evolution is advanced by genre-blending, and diminishing its positives by mulling over negatives will only slow down the much needed progress necessary for music to grow.