Editorial: Think Global & Listen Local Blog By Rob K.

Title: “Is pop music too complex? Music’s deviation from its natural progression (Part 2)”

Today, I am back with the second part of my expose on increasing complexity of pop music. In the second installment, I will talk a subject I posed at the end of last post – the difference between “minor” and “major” musical crossovers.
For this segment, I am going to use a basic definition of crossover – “a musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes or genres.” (thank you Wikipedia). I also am going to use a Wikipedia definition for genre – “a conventional category that identifies pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions,” with a focus on techniques, instrumentation and orgins.
I contend that there are two types of musical crossovers: – minor crossovers and major crossovers:
Minor Crossovers – by far are the most common in the record industry, this occurs when an artist/band enters a genre that shares similar traditional techniques, instrumentation and roots with their primary genre. These are probably the ones that come to your mind when you think of a crossover song or album. Here are few examples:

  • Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee album – a blend of his 1980s R&B/Soul with contemporary country acts, which has been increasingly drawing from the pop and R&B sounds of the 1970s and ’80s;
  • Aaron Lewis’ (former front-man for Staind) Town Line EP – a mixture of country and rock that relies heavily on similar instrumentation (guitars, drums and bass) and techniques shared between his primary genre (rock) and the crossover genre (contry);

Some R&B and Hip-Hop (two genres that share similar instrumentation and roots) crossovers include:

  • I’m Real by Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule
  • Dilemma by Nelly and Kelly Rowland
  • Baby Boy by Beyoncé Knowles and Sean Paul
  • Yeah! by Usher, Lil Jon and Ludacris

All of these songs/albums took elements of two similar genres and blended them together without drastically deviating from one genre’s techniques, instrumentation or roots.
Major Crossovers – however, are more like creative destructions. It is a crossover were the artist/band deviates greatly from the traditional techniques, instrumentation and roots of their genre. A few examples include:

  • Walk This Way by Aerosmith & Run DMC;
  • Over and Over by Nelly & Tim McGraw; and,
  • Children of the Korn by Korn & Ice Cube.

These examples highlight artists leaving their genre for a genre of music that does not include similar primary instruments (Run DMC – guitars), technique (Tim McGraw – having a rapped lyrics) and roots (Ice Cube and Korn – the historical paths of Hip Hop and Metal have never been known to intertwine).
Before the mid-2000s, major crossovers were very uncommon and typically lacked commercial success. However, since the mid-2000s we have seen many more artist incorporating these types of crossovers into their music. Lady Gaga, Limp Bizkit and LMFAO.  In part three, I will propose the first possible reason for the increased prevalence of major musical crossovers – Megabands!
I hope everyone enjoyed this installment and as always please post a comment or email me (robk@imoveilive.com) to give me your point of view. I am sorry for the delay on this installment; we will definitely have part three out ASAP!

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