5 Bands That Totally Reinvented Their Sound (And Totally Suck Because Of It)

In the course of becoming a successful band, sometimes a band has to change their creative direction.  And sometimes, in the course of becoming a successful band, things go horribly, horribly wrong.

Maroon Five

Before they were the falsetto-loving, oxygen-lacking, lots-of-songs-with-the-word-’love’-in-their-title-using pop behemoths,  they were Kara’s Flowers (minus James Valentine, who later joined the band and, one would suspect, added the final mangina that caused the band’s wussy-twin-powers to activate, and create Maroon Five).

While Kara’s Flowers wasn’t anything too special (pitchfork gave them a very flattering 3.5 out of 10… About two years before they started getting most of their reviews wrong), one only has to look at the difference between the cover art for Kara’s Flowers one CD, and the subsequent cover art for Maroon Five.

Kara’s Flowers

Maroon 5


So, Jeff, How Did Things Get So Bad?

According to Wikipedia, Adam Levine went to New York, and changed the sound of the band.  In a statement reeking of douchebaggery and tooldom, Levine is quoted as saying “I spent a lot of time in New York where I was exposed to an urban and hip-hop culture in a way that had never happened to me in L.A.  It turned me on to an entire new genre of music which has had a profound impact on my songwriting”

Because “Harder to Breath” is so urban and hip, right?  Right?  What, am I sounding sarcastic or something?

Sorry New York, but it looks like Maroon Five is all your fault.  I’ll expect your apology and written resignation within the week.

Liz Phair

This transformation is shocking, simply because Phair went from edgy, Indie counter culture icon to…well, wannabe-slut pretty quickly.

Let’s take a look at Liz Phair in 1993.

And  in 2003

And in 2008.

So it goes from

“Hey, I’m sort of hot in that edgy way.  You sort of want to do me, ‘cause you know I’m a little crazy.  And I have a song that’s called ‘fuck and run’ which is pretty sweet.”


“I’m naked, you want to do me?  I mean, I guess you will, ‘cause its easy, right?  Like, I have no standards.   But yeah.  I wrote a song called ‘Good Love Never Dies’.  Sigh.”



So, Jeff, How Did Things Get So Bad?

Interesting question, rhetorical audience, I know it’s clichéd, but it’s because people started noticing her.

Also, and this is where it gets kind of cool (in a depressing sort of way), it is because of…THE MATRIX.

Okay, imperfect metaphor time.  In the film, The Matrix, Neo (Liz Phair) was a really good hacker (Musical Artist).  But it gets the attention of the agents (um…agents) of the MATRIX (Capital Records/Big Music/The MAN).  So, Morpheus (um…Good Music?) offers her the Blue Pill (stay in THE MATRIX) and the Red Pill (Make good music).

Neo took the Blue Pill.

In all seriousness, the Matrix is involved.  Michael Penn, a songwriter, initially produced Phair’s second album, which was going to be released by Capital Records.  Capital Records did not like the result, so they offered Phair more money to work on the album if she let them run it through the production team that is called “The Matrix”.  They worked on singles, and were responsible for adding “gloss” for pop songs by such champions of the music industry as Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, and Hilary Duff.

So yes, the fucking Matrix ruined Liz Phair.  Goddamn Blue Pill…

The Smashing Pumpkins

Growing up in the Chicago area, you had no chance to score with hot hipster chicks if you didn’t listen to The Smashing Pumpkins, and hadn’t seen them play at least ONCE at the Metro.  Even the approachable-yet-really-attractive girls who didn’t seem Indie at all would scoff if you didn’t own Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t get any action in High School.

But all kidding aside *pauses a moment to recollect myself* The Smashing Pumpkins were actually kind of a big deal.  But that’s primarily because they were visionary and awesome and other adjectives I’m too lazy to use my thesaurus for.

Then the stress (and drugs) and studios (and drugs) and in-fighting (and drugs) caught up to them, and they broke up.

But have no fear!  They recently reunited (sort of) and even released a CD!  They’re back, and making new music!

So, Jeff, How Did Things Get So Bad?

They recently reunited and released a CD.  For starters, its not the whole band, its only two of the original four members.  And yes, lead singer and head songwriter Billy Corgan was one of those people, so, like, it would be the same right?

Except for the fact that, since the break up, Corgan has gone a batshit insane.  He bickered with his former band mates,  randomly started blaming them for the band’s break up, and, well, started looking like this.

“Now you see my talent….now you don’t!”

Apart from that, he decided to take his dark, haunting rock sound and… sell out.  Effectively, the “new and improved” Smashing Pumpkins decided to kick their fan base in the respective genitalia and sell separate versions of their records only at huge retail stores (ie, Best Buy, Target, etc).  Oh, that’s no big deal, right?  Just different covers or something?  WRONG- you get  a different bonus track from each of the large chains you buy it from.

As for the sound?  Well, here’s a little hint about drug abuse, band conflict, and music.  The more fucked up your band is, the better their songs are.

Alanis Morissette

Speaking of fucked up artists being better, Alanis Morissette is Canadian, and she was boning Ryan Reynolds for a while.  She also was a pissed off singer songwriter, who wrote a song about how she had sex with Uncle Joey from Full House in a movie theater.  So that’s pretty cool right?  She also played God in a Kevin Smith movie.  I mean, she doesn’t know the definition of “ironic”, but that‘s pretty badass, right.

So, Jeff, How Did Things Get So Bad?

Morissette’s charm came from her unique brand of insanity.  She had legitimate mental conditions, which, yeah, kind of sucked for her, but it made her songs interesting.

Instead, Morissette tried to get better.  What a bitch.  She went to India for six weeks, talked with gurus, and started to deal with her problems- she’s even parlaying her experiences into a memoir dealing with women’s issues.

Which leads to boring songs, and low record sales.  She even changed the word “asshole” to “nightmare” in a song off her 2004 release So Called Chaos because radio stations refused to play it.  So, in other words?



Stop being so lame.

Andrew W.K.

Andrew W.K. started learning classical piano when he was four.  He studied jazz keyboard in high school.  His first public recording was made when he was 13.  He worked with numerous prominent members of the Experimental Noise Rock scene, most notable for making music that makes most people cover their ears and ask why someone would record the sounds of chainsaws cutting into live sheep.

Oh, and he also liked to bleed from the nose

So, Jeff, How Did Things Get So Bad?

Andrew W.K. decided to take his experimental, theoretical musical knowledge and just apply it to distractingly political songs.  All throughout his popular work, you can’t get around him espousing his stringent ideals.

Andrew W.K.’s stance on economics


Andrew W.K.’s stance on bipartisanism


Andrew W.K.’s stance on animal rights


And, of course

Andrew W.K.’s stance on gay marriage


You know, it used to be about the music.  It’s just such a shame to see all these heady issues being dragged into things.

About Jeff GoodSmith

I write on occasion. Sometimes it ends up here.
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14 Responses to 5 Bands That Totally Reinvented Their Sound (And Totally Suck Because Of It)

  1. Sheila says:

    how old you are? this is so stupid

  2. joe says:

    keep it up with posts like this, and you’ll have plenty more haters, seriously.

  3. umakemewannapuke says:

    liz phair will prove you wrong…i hope

  4. sasho says:

    go fuck yourself you stupid asshole
    all the musicans here are well respected and loved by their fans
    i am a pumpkinhead myself and will reply to your comments about
    their multiple release album
    i guess you are reading to much pitchfork shit buddy
    if you would put your head out of your ass you would know that
    bands like bloc party and Queens of the stone age did the same thing and
    many other bands
    why you ask??? CDs are not selling as well so the RECORD COMPANY (and not the band you dummy) decided to give supermarkets exclusive deals to get the CDs in the store
    you understand boy?

  5. Tricia says:

    Liz Phair is not sexy, sluttatious but not sexy. Oh and her songs make me reeeeeel and hurrrl. So good job buddy boy. Haters =successs

  6. GreasedUpDeafGuy says:

    The internets are serious business.

    I am an expert in your field.

    I like my opinion more than I like yours.

    I win the argument.

    I am also a black belt in several obscure martial arts.

  7. No real issues with this. The first four artists you described really did go south, really fucking fast.

    – Maroon 5 is a more talented, cohesive group than they were before, but you could easily make the argument that they have no ‘real’ soul and are just doing it for the pussy. Plus, Adam Levine is kind of an egomaniac.

    – Liz Phair is but a shell of what she once was. Where Exile in Guyville set the bar standard for progressive indie musicianship (by women and men), that piece of shit that she dropped in 2006 dried up every last drop of credibility that she once worked so hard to accrue.

    – Today, the Smashing Pumpkins is a name and nothing more. Fuck Corgan. Without Iha there will never be another groundbreaking record release under that name. The spirit died with Adore.

    – Although I think the humor of ‘coming back from crazy’ did really improve the image of Alanis Morisette that got her famous, it’s hard to suggest that anything since Jagged Little Pill didn’t feel like a jagged little pill being screwed into our collective ear holes.

    – My only significant disagreement comes via your inclusion of Andrew WK. His little known latest, a Japanese-only release entitled Close Calls With Brick Walls, is a return to form lyrically. Musically, it transcends the simple but charging epic nature of his first two records and approaches the kind of theatrical range that only Meatloaf before him could muster.

    Not a bad article, Jeff. Keep these coming.

  8. tofu916 says:

    dude! GREAT post!
    I miss the old liz phair…even “supernova” liz. but youre so right about the matrix tho. i think it comes with aging artists who are used to having a dedicated fan base. their audience gets older as they do, so i would attribute it to trying to reach a younger audience. damnit liz…damnit.

  9. joshuacaleb says:

    alls I knows is: radiohead should make their merch table pay-as-you-wish too.

  10. I base my personal identity on the music I like.
    So stop criticizing stuff.
    Also, I would like to have sex with Alanis Morrisette now, whereas I didn’t in the Jagged Little Pill days.
    So, she’s got that going for her.

  11. random says:

    Funny stuff, very enjoyable. I dont see what everyone is gettin so mad at….if I liked those bands, i’d still be able to read critism without getting pissed-off. soooo…..to all u haters: grow up.

    on that note, congratulations on all ur haters haha

  12. Did Maroon Five ever not suck? News to me…

    Ozzy going sappy back in the day has got to be the ultimate case of an artist “re-inventing” their sound and totally sucking because of it. Fortunately, Ozzy came to his senses eventually.

  13. Steve says:

    I found this post cuz I googled “the matrix sucks.” I happened to see that fat little kid lip syncing on youtube to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” I never really paid much mind to the shitfest on the radio since I was in junior high in the early 90s, but I suddenly asked myself, “why do so many of the big names in pop right now sound sooo much the same??” I mean, each era usully has its own sound, but these guys really do sound a lot alike. And that would be fine if they weren’t all so wretched. It’s that fat, driving synth’d bass line and arpeggio combo underneath those really sweet computerized vocals. Awesome. You all know what I’m talking about. It’s like those plastic “chrome” hubcaps you see at an autoparts store: so shiny and pretty…something only a 5 year old should like; all sheen and no substance. Anyway, so I did a little research on Ms Perry, and found out that she did, in fact, sell her soul to the fucking Matrix. And, as it turns out, the songwriting powerhouse has had their hand in a lot of the hokey top 40 stuff since the new milllenium. I’d say they’re a huge reason for top 40 going even fuuurther south than it has before. I wonder if this will be OUR disco. Only disco only lasted for a handful of years before everyone asked themselves, “what the fuck are we listening to??” We’re going a decade+ so far …Ughhh. 😦
    Anyway, back to this post. I agree with most everything that I’ve read–except that, aside from early Smashing Pumpking (up through Adore) and Radiohead, I think everyone is awful, have always been awful, and might even get worse before they eventually fade into nothingness. I’m not just talking about their image and whatnot. I’m just saying that their music is not interesting. …and don’t even get me started on the recent rap, hip-hop, r&b trend.
    For the “haters” on this thread: I know that people are easily offended when their art gets bashed–whether it’s art they make or art they embrace. When I do talk music with people who have kitchy tastes, it amazes me how they can be so articulate and convincing when defending their favorite shitty band and/or song. I usually keep my opinions to myself at that point to avoid a confrontation, but I don’t know you folks so it’s my one chance to rant. 🙂 Oh, and these are usually the same people who enjoy their nice dinners at Applebees, watch their fave reruns of Friends, or a good book by Tom Clancy (the men) or Nicholas Sparks (the women). …but whatya gonna do??

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