11 bands who sound nothing like the hit singles that made them famous
We’ve all been there. You hear a song on the radio and you’re loving it, then you go and buy the album, only to find out that the one song you enjoyed sounds nothing like the rest of the album – duped by that one single. Thankfully, it’s a bit easier these days with the advent of iTunes and Youtube and the ability to try it before you buy it, but back in the day, it was a major headache.
We’ve decided to look back on a few of those artists that did just that, whether it was hooking us in with a rocking tune followed by a bland album, or soothing us with a sweet ballad before searing our faces off with the rest of their tracks.
So without further ado, here’s our list of 11 bands who released that one massive hit – and a whole catalogue of music that sounds nothing like it.
Many listeners of triple j would’ve been introduced to Björk by way of her song ‘Human Behaviour’ from her aptly-titled Debut record back in 1993, but it was in 1995 that most folks heard ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, which would become her biggest hit in Australia.
A jazzy, big band-styled track, ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ saw her burst onto the airwaves and surprise listeners with her completely unique style. The only thing is, if you were to listen to anything else Björk’s catalogue, you’d be hearing a relatively downtempo, trip-hop style that permeates through the majority of her music. Despite this, Björk is still quite popular in Australia, but hasn’t seen chart success like she saw in 1995 again.
Having started out as an indie-rock collective in 1985, it wasn’t until 1992 that Radiohead made an impact on the music scene. Influenced by the ‘loud/quiet’ grunge sound that was big at the time, ‘Creep’ was the song that, even by their own admission, kickstarted Radiohead’s career. With depressive, self-deprecating lyrics that people could relate to, and a huge sing-along chorus, it’s understandable that people were hooked.
However, as time went on, Radiohead changed their sound drastically. Even by their next album, The Bends, they’d started adopting a more experimental sound in order to distance themselves from the popular grunge sound. One of the ’90s biggest albums, OK Computer, continued this trend, and by the time the 21st century rolled around, Radiohead were almost completely electronic, experimenting with every sound they could.
These days they’re just as loved as they’ve always been, but they’re not making radio-friendly singles like ‘Creep’ either.
While Green Day have had plenty of popular tunes in Australia, it was the success of ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ that saw them eschew the punk sound they’d started with, and threw them into the mainstream spotlight. Thanks in part to the appearance of this song on the Seinfeld finale, Green Day’s profile began to rise exponentially, capturing the attention of audiences who’d otherwise not have been exposed to the group.
With 4 albums of increasingly pop-punk under their belt by this point, Green Day’s fourth record, Nimrod, showed a variety of differing styles. ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ was a bitter, yet heartfelt acoustic ballad about the ending of a relationship. While the group soon returned to the punk sound they started off with, it was this track that put them onto the path of mainstream popularity that Green Day now find themselves on.
Blind Melon’s ‘No Rain’ was huge hit in Australia when it was released in 1993, reaching #8 in the charts, and #4 in the first Hottest 100. Backed by a memorable music video (remember Bee Girl?), the song was presented as an upbeat, rollicking, jovial number, despite the rather depressing nature of the lyrics.
Considering ‘No Rain’ was a pretty straightforward rock song, the rest of Blind Melon’s oeuvre was surprisingly more experimental, focused more on the ‘jam-band’ subculture popularised by The Grateful Dead and Phish. Many fans were shocked at the lack of radio-friendly rock when they brought the album, and critics quickly dismissed the group’s follow-up record.
Sadly, singer Shannon Hoon died of an overdose two years later, which lead to the group’s dissolution. A comeback album in 2008 with a new singer was met with little excitement, but Australia still managed to finally get the group here for some long overdue shows back in 2015.
Back in the ’80s, the Butthole Surfers were known for three things; their experimental music, intense live shows, and their appetite for hallucinogenics. This dangerous mixture of music and narcotics helped the group to reach an almost mythical status, with a trip to a Butthole Surfers show becoming somewhat of a rite of passage for many music alt-rock fans in the United States at the time.
By the time the early ’90s rolled around, the group had mellowed out somewhat, moving towards more traditional rock songs with less psychedelia. 1996’s Electriclarryland saw the group’s biggest single ‘Pepper’ dominate alternative charts everywhere.
With ‘Pepper’ featuring just one chord, backwards guitars, cryptic lyrics, and a spoken word chorus, fans soon found themselves surprised at the lack of radio-friendly hits on the rest of the record. Sadly, the group’s next (and currently, last) album, Weird Revolution was a dud, and the group’s glory days, and mainstream success, were through.
Hugely successful in the year 2000, Filter were a big-name group for period of time thanks in part to the success of their single ‘Take A Picture’. Showing up in countless movies, numerous compilations, and frequently appearing on 2000-era radio stations, ‘Take A Picture’ was the song to bring Filter’s name to the mainstream consciousness.
If one was to look at Filter’s second-most successful song though, 1995’s ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot’, which was inspired by the infamous, televised suicide of US treasurer Budd Dwyer, a stark contrast would be made. See, Filter are one of the leading industrial metal bands, a group whose sound is filled with harsh and heavy sounds, and frequently features the powerful vocals of frontman Richard Patrick.
‘Take A Picture’ was the group’s foray into the genre of ‘dream pop’, a genre which sounds just like what you’d expect; dreamy, popular, relatively middle-of-the-road sounding music that is far removed from their industrial metal roots.
In 1999, Len’s ‘Steal My Sunshine’ was everywhere. Thanks in part to the appearance of the track on the soundtrack to the movie Go, ‘Steal My Sunshine’ was a perfect slice of pop music; breezy, fun, and immensely positive. The song’s success was so great that it shot to #3 on the Aussie charts as the new millennium rolled around.
Fans of the band were however, somewhat disappointed when they went out and bought the song’s accompanying album, You Can’t Stop The Bum Rush. Featuring guest appearances from hip-hop heavyweights such as Biz Markie and Kurtis Blow, the album was more alternative hip-hop than fun loving pop, disappointing numerous fans of the group’s hit single.
Starting in 1988, Mr. Big were a relatively well-respected hard rock band. From the same genre that spawned Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses, Mr. Big stood out from the rest due in part to their well trained musicianship, and in 1992, that translated to chart success with the soft-rock ballad ‘To Be With You’, which stayed on top of the Aussie charts for three weeks.
The only thing is, Mr. Big are a hard rock band. In fact, guitarist Paul Gilbert is not only one of the most famous guitarists of all time; he is incredibly well respected as an influential musician within the heavy metal genre. The heartfelt ‘To Be With You’ surprised fans, and newfound fans were surprised at the lack of ballads on their available records.
From their formation in the late ’80s to their initial breakup in 2003, Blur were one of the most influential and popular indie rock groups of the ’90s. Famous for their rivalry with Oasis, which resulted in Blur winning the now legendary ‘Battle Of Britpop’, their quirky, upbeat rock style earned them fans the world over.
In 1997, Blur’s eponymous fifth album saw them release ‘Song 2’ as the lead single. A deliberate style parody of grunge, it was a fast, raw track, completely unlike nothing the group had ever released previously. While previous fans probably understood that it was a parody of grunge music, fans that were introduced to the band via ‘Song 2’ were somewhat shocked when they discovered that Blur were behind tracks like ‘The Universal‘.
Machine Gun Fellatio
A while back, we wrote about Machine Gun Fellatio’s status as one of the best cult bands of all time, and it’s easy to see why. A force to be reckoned with, MGF pushed the boundaries and ensured they were like no band you’d ever heard before.
2002 saw them hit the big time with their hit ‘Rollercoaster’ from their genre-bending Paging Mr Strike album. Lighthearted and fun, it was a far cry from their experimental ‘Isaac Or Fuzz’, the soulful ‘Unsent Letter’, or their outrage-inducing ‘Mutha Fukka On A Motorcycle’. Those expecting either an album full of endearing, kooky pop, or wholesome, fun-loving live shows were bitterly disappointed when they saw and heard the lewd Machine Gun Fellatio doing what they do best.
Disturbed have been around since the mid ’90s and have been releasing music for the last 16 years. In fact, until a few years back, most folks that were aware of Disturbed would’ve cited ‘Down With The Sickness’, ‘Stricken’, or their cover of Genesis’ ‘Land Of Confusion’ amongst their biggest hits. The group has been one of the biggest players in heavy metal for almost two decades, despite a lack of support from commercial radio.
However, back in 2015, Disturbed delivered a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Sound Of Silence’. The 1964 folk song saw a reworking by a famously heavy group, and it was a huge success for Disturbed. In fact, it’s become the group’s biggest success, leading to worldwide fame, a #4 spot on the Aussie charts, and even a now-infamous appearance on The X Factor in 2016.
These days, the once hard-rocking metal group are now heard on Triple M and Channel 7, a far cry from their ‘Down With The Sickness’ days.
The article was originally published on Tone Deaf