6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get Famous

For many people, musical genres are personality-defining lines that can never be crossed. For instance, cool people listen to thrash metal, but anyone who listens to speed metal has their former dungeon master's head in a freezer. Sometimes it gets complicated, like how emo music is for crying into your diary, while gothic rock is for crying into your cupcake.

However, many genre-defining artists started out playing the exact kind of music their fans are required by social law to loathe. For example ...

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6
Kid Rock Was A Hilarious '90s Rapper

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousRick Diamond/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

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In the popular consciousness, there have already been two versions of Kid Rock. There is the current Kid Rock, who sings country-rock anthems, and there's the more popular rap-rock/nu-metal Kid Rock of the late '90s. He has a personality easily summed up by reminding you he's a man from Michigan who loves the Confederate flag.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousVince Bucci/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"And if black people don't like it, they can continue to have very little interest in my music!"

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The Artist He Was Before That:

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousJive Records
We really should just stop the article here.

In the late '80s and early '90s, Kid Rock was the funkiest, flyest rapper all the way to the extreme. Admittedly, it was an awkward time for everyone, but Kid Rock's head looked like a racist Halloween costume. He looked like a Disney film about two boys swapping bodies after a magic basketball bounced into a magic chess tournament.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousJive Records
In Hell, this album art is downloaded for every song in your iTunes.

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But Kid Rock's early stuff wasn't some trashy chimera of country, rock, and hip-hop. He was trying for the real deal, with songs like "Wax The Booty," a description of an erotic encounter that seems like it was written by a virgin and performed by an aging sea captain selling breakfast cereal.


Using the term "puddy" for female genitals? Definitely a virgin.

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With little to no encouragement, Kid Rock continued to make rap songs like this for seven years. His musical career was already a decade old when he released his breakthrough hit "Bawitdaba," which was accidentally written when he tried to spell "badminton instructor" on a job application. That song and album blew up, and Kid Rock's incredible flat top was never seen again.

If it seems like Kid Rock was adopting culture that wasn't his, it's because he was. He wasn't learning how to rhyme on the tough-rhyming Detroit streets like Eminem. Kid Rock grew up in a beautiful suburb in a nice house. So this guy ..

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousJive Records

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... and this guy ...

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousMark Seliger

... and this guy ...

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousVice

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... all come from the same upper-middle-class childhood spent in one of Michigan's loveliest homes. His childhood job of selling apples from his father's orchard sounds like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. So he's gone from rich suburbanite to street rapper to hillbilly rapper to just regular hillbilly. At this rate, Kid Rock should be performing as a Syrian refugee as early as next year.

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5
Radiohead Were A Cheesy Top 40 Band

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousJim Dyson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

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Radiohead helped define the term "alternative rock" by continually pushing the boundaries of popular music and being forever played by lonely men with acoustic guitars on open mic nights in coffee shops around the globe.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousJim Dyson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Just because they dismissed "Creep" as juvenile and stupid decades ago
doesn't mean the rest of the universe has to.

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They are known for their creative risks and their ability to redefine themselves, even after decades. Albums like OK Computer helped drive mid-'90s music away from traditional pop structure, and Rolling Stone named Radiohead's Kid A the best album of the 2000s. It should tell you something about Radiohead's talent and influence when here, in an article making fun of artists trying to redefine themselves, we are praising their ability to redefine themselves. Frontman Thom Yorke even has the courage to spell the name "Tom" with an H.

The Artists They Were Before That:

Radiohead started with the name On A Friday, which they were forced to change immediately after being signed by EMI, presumably because on a scale of band names from Hoobastank to Sex Pistols, On A Friday rates a firm Toad The Wet Sprocket.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousLondon School Of Ecnomics
"We're On A Friday, because my mum only allows us to use the garage on Fridays
while she's at the gym!"

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It wasn't only their shitty name, though. Their early music was the exact opposite of "alternative." It was generic Britpop that sounded like a sloppy karaoke version of U2.


They presumably wrote "How To Disappear Completely" after being reminded that they made this.

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Instead of a calculated effort to evolve, On A Friday was locked in a desperate struggle to sound exactly like everyone else. And the transition from "dumb high school band that thinks it's clever" to "genius new artist" wasn't an immediate one, either -- the band's first album as Radiohead was titled Pablo Honey, which is the name of a goddamn Jerky Boys bit.

4
The Songwriter Behind Taylor Swift And Katy Perry Started In A Ridiculous Hair Metal Band

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousPaul A. Hebert/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

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You may not remember how you know Max Martin's name, but he's the man behind dozens of the most overplayed pop songs from the past 25 years. He was responsible for Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl," Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time," and Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." In fact, that last one was his 20th No. 1 single, meaning -- except for Paul McCartney and John Lennon -- Martin has more No. 1 singles than anyone who has ever lived.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousMichael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images
On top of his three Billy Ray Cyrus lookalike contest trophies.

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The Artist He Was Before That:

Before Martin was a hitmaking superproducer, he was a high school dropout named Martin White, which, confusingly, also wasn't his real name. Karl "Max (Martin White) Martin" Sandberg started a group in the late '80s called It's Alive. It's Alive combined glam metal with grunge in a way that provoked one of two reactions from everyone who ever heard them: "This sucks," or, "Who?"

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousBMG
"We want the most adorable album cover of all time."

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Somehow, It's Alive managed to record two whole albums, and their sophomore effort, 1993's Earthquake Visions, sold only 30,000 copies. More people picked up Bret Michaels' herpes than It's Alive albums that year. It was apparent the group wasn't destined for international superstardom, but it did link Martin with producer Denniz Pop (also not that guy's real name).

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousCheiron Music Group
Their moms must be wondering why they even bothered
to fill out the birth certificate at all.

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Pop heroically saw through all the feathered-hair bullshit of It's Alive enough to notice that Martin had an incredible ear for catchy melodies, so he put Martin in the studio without the rest of his dipshit bandmates. Martin was trained in pelvic thrusts and nothing else, so he spent his first two years in the studio just "trying to learn what the hell was going on." He definitely got the hang of it, though. From every one of Taylor Swift's No. 1 hits to writing every hit single on the Backstreet Boys' Millennium, Martin knew how to create songs tailor-made to get stuck in millions and millions of heads. So, now you know who to thank for "Blank Space."

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3
The Go-Go's Were A Hardcore Punk Band

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousI.R.S. Records

The Go-Go's are the most successful all-female group ever, a fact stated definitively on the band's own website. Their dancey songs about having the beat and going on vacation saturated pop culture in the 1980s, and they're still used today to detect the number of bachelorette parties inside karaoke bars. If evil scientists found a way to turn liquid cheerleaders into music, it would sound exactly like The Go-Go's. Now that we mention it, it would sound suspiciously exactly like that.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousI.R.S. Records
What are you hiding?

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The Artists They Were Before That:

If you clicked the song link above or just have a perfect memory, you may have noticed "We Got The Beat" opens with weirdly pounding drums and staccato guitar sounds. It's kind of punk rock for a song about clapping and loving to clap, right? That's because The Go-Go's actually started as a grimy, fuck-you-in-your-face punk rock band.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousLouis Jacinto
The only beat they cared about was beating on any promoters that stiffed them.

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The group started in the L.A. punk scene of the late '70s alongside other seminal punk acts like The Motels and The Germs.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousAnn Summa
"What makes you think you can just come into The Bronx Upside Downsies turf, Warriors?"

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In fact, The Go-Go's lead singer, Belinda Carlisle, actually started out as the drummer for The Germs. She called herself Dottie Danger while with the group, but ditched The Germs after catching mono, because Belinda apparently doesn't appreciate willful strokes of cosmic irony.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousNew World Pictures
"I feel really sick. The Germs isn't just a cute name, is it?"

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That's Belinda wearing the bloody swastika, making the exact face she would make if she saw her future self walk into the club.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousI.R.S. Records
"Ahoy, fellow Nazis! Fuck the establishment, right?"

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2
Kraftwerk Were A Terrible Jam Band

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousMike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Kraftwerk are the godfathers of electronic music. They were the first popular band to utilize nothing but electronic instruments to create songs full of driving, repetitive bleeps, like a Nintendo game you can dance to. Basically, they're the nerds who made robot sounds into a legitimate musical genre.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousMike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
When not attempting to exterminate all of humanity, Skynet loves to get funky funky fresh.

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The Artists They Were Before That:

Before they switched their sound to C-3PO translating funk for R2-D2, Kraftwerk were a psychedelic jam band. You really, really couldn't dance to it. It was like a pile of sound an art major would make to start a conversation about what music, like, is, man. It was a sonic port-o-john of flutes, guitars, and random sound effects, with all the focus of a frightened cat scrambling over a piano. Even libraries in the early '70s categorized it under "Bullshit, Hippie."

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousRadio Bremen
"Oh yeah? Well, your grandpappy's hippie bullshit didn't have a traffic-cone solo!"

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Founding members Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider were initially interested in creating free-form experimental rock, and that's what they did, clonking and flooping for several years. Kraftwerk's music seemed designed specifically for LSD trips and advanced LSD trips, until 1974, when they released Autobahn and defined the electronica genre of robomusic. Apparently, even robots have to go through an angsty phase before they come into their own.


Even the guys in Phish wanted them to get to the fucking point already.

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1
Ministry Started Out As A Synth-Pop Knockoff Of The Cure

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousGigantic Pictures

Since the mid-'80s, Chicago-based Ministry have been helping angry teens demonstrate their misunderstoodedness, with aggressive heavy metal far too noisy for their parents. Their scrotum-kicking sound includes albums like The Land Of Rape And Honey, which is both an awful pun and a terrible sentiment, and From Beer To Eternity, which is only an awful pun.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousAsh Newell
They clearly didn't have time for anything more.

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Ministry helped elevate its downtrodden fans with powerful lyrics, letting them know that someone out there understood what it was like to have no one understand you. For instance, here is a selection from their song "Filth Pig":

Filth pig, filth pig

He sleeps with both eyes open

Filth pig, filth pig

He sleeps all right because he's a

Filth pig

It's not clear if this was translated into Pig and then back to English, or if this is the first song pieced together from the dying words of stroke victims. The point is, the music of Ministry is better suited for random ax slaughter than slow-dancing.

The Artists They Were Before That:

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Ministry started off the 1980s as a new-wave synth-pop outfit. And we don't mean a little bit '80s, like every other band at the time. They looked like a Broadway musical about the '80s.

6 Bands That Totally Reinvented Themselves To Get FamousWax Trax! Records
"Filth pig's sleeping or something. Psh. Whatever."

In 1983, Ministry released their first album, With Sympathy, and it was like a greatest hits compilation of every song Joy Division decided was too shitty to record. To put it another way, it's exactly the soundtrack you hear in your head when you quote Nietzsche to some clueless sheep -- dark synth-pop about impotent despair. And lead singer Al Jourgensen performed the entire album with a fake British accent. It's the official soundtrack for avoiding gym class because it makes your mascara run. A conformist like you just wouldn't get it, man.

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CSI: Gothika

After the band went more industrial and metal, Jourgensen claimed he was pressured by management into making With Sympathy into the fussy wusspop it was, and he seemed determined to keep it out of print. He even claimed to have destroyed the master copies, yet the album was eventually reissued in 2012. It definitely doesn't have much in common with their modern sound, but Ministry music from any era is always the perfect way to tell a hitchhiker this is the last van ride they'll ever take.

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Did you know The Beatles used to eat chicken on stage and throw burning condoms at the audience? Read all about that in 5 Artistic Geniuses Who Only Became Great After Selling Out. Also check out 5 Rock Stars You Won't Believe Are Secretly Musical Geniuses and learn how Prince can absolutely shred it.

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