Despite cliches in the mainstream music scene, there are musical artists on the front lines of pop culture and media who defy all sorts of expectations. Most artists are in some way different from one another, but there’s always that one band or solo musician who steps outside the box of a genre and becomes an innovator and a pioneer. Here are several popular artists in their respective genres that bring something new to the table.
This pop rebel princess has an indie vibe, but her songs are very catchy, very emotional and of great quality in both content and sound. She displaces herself from mainstream pop artists like Britney Spears and Katy Perry. Not to say these artists are bad, but they’re certainly not risk takers or innovators like Lorde, a 17-year-old New Zealander who’s sweeping the charts. Her debut album Pure Heroine is a wonderful achievement, and it is “pure heroin” indeed.
If Lorde is pop’s rebel princess, then Lady Gaga is its rebel goddess. Her sound is very “pop,” much more so than Lorde, but she’s definitely an innovator. Gaga’s dark, macabre style is refreshing and exciting not to mention her controversial music videos, live performances and her fashion sense. Who can ignore her incredible displays of meat dresses and lobster headpieces? That's the whole point: to garner attention, which is quite genius actually. Gaga is not the first to do this, but she’s definitely advanced it. Her new album ARTPOP combines artsy homage and reverent mockery with thumping beats and catchy ‘90s-esque compositions.
He’s ubiquitous and despised, but it takes a good artistic eye to see past these shortcomings and realize his brilliance. As a hip-hop artist, West started out as a conventional but likable rapper. Since then, however, he’s moved into the experimental realm, that of highly controversial and polarizing albums, specifically My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and more recently, Yeezus. These albums overflow with art and passion and are seemingly created in the dark corners of West’s psyche. Unexpectedly, West has been a cited influence on Lorde, who performed an awesome cover of his song “Hold My Liquor” at one of her concerts. Like it or not, Kim Kardashian’s baby daddy is unique, and he’s dramatically redefining the rap genre.
Now here’s a weird bunch. This group is composed of many members with instrumental versatility and odd haircuts, but it has become a very popular indie rock/alternative band. Arcade Fire has made several appearances on Saturday Night Live and had its hit song “Wake Up” featured in the trailer for the 2009 film Where the Wild Things Are. These eccentrics make for a very unique sound by combining multiple types of instrumentals and vocals. The band is certainly at the forefront of the indie music scene.
While Zedd is dominating the music industry with his catchy beats and producing credits, Deadmau5 remains on the fringes of the electronic/house scene, producing tracks that are at times so beautiful that they deserve to be considered among the all-time greats. Take “Strobe,” for instance, his 10-minute opus that starts off with mellow pianistic odes and escalates into a full-fledged epic of synthesizer. He’s had his moments of fame and success, but he’s not avaricious for such commodities. He’s more of a creative type of DJ, and his music is truly beautiful for rather frowned-upon genres such as house and electronic. Honestly, I never thought I’d be honoring a DJ for his artistry and creativity, but here it is, and it’s well deserved.
It could be considered indie, but this uber cool, all-girl band is a rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse, and its fan base grows by the day. Since its collaboration with rapper Kid Cudi on his album Indicud – released in April – and its recently released debut studio album Days Are Gone, HAIM has been stirring up a lot of buzz. The group’s interesting incorporation of rhythm and blues with indie-style rock makes HAIM a band to look out for.