I’m sure this has been written about countless times, the argument of a band “selling out” versus the progression or evolution of their musical styles. It is my experience that this issue can be controversial with certain crowds. Some people feel very firmly that when a band’s sound changes, it’s because they have sold out—given in to corporate pressures. This argument was floating around WPGU’s music staff in a recent conversation regarding the new album by Big D and the Kids’ Table. When the first track selected started to play, one of us recognized Big D’s voice and the rest of us were shocked, possibly dumbfounded, at the change.
Now, I am trying to remember the first time I considered this dilemma personally. Was it in high-school? What band was it? Which song had I heard that started the whole dialogue within the obsessive music-nerd in me? My knee-jerk reaction to these questions are: yes, probably Metallica, and something from Load., I think. I remember that album making some waves with fans, and I personally struggled with it a little; some songs I enjoyed, others not so much.
My position over time has become not why a band ‘sold out’, but rather why do we think a change in someone’s musical style is such a bad thing? Do we listen to the same exact music we did when we first started caring about music? Are we the same exact person we were 10 or more years ago? No, everyone changes, grows up. We change our tastes, diversify our skill sets. And god forbid, maybe become adults and end up with different priorities. Regular, non-celebrity people change so why shouldn’t artists and their music to allowed to? I remember the bands I was in throughout high-school and college, and I thought we were good while I was in them (and yes I look back and realize now… we were terrible).
Granted we don’t always like the end result when our favorite music changes, but music is art and like any other form of art… sometimes you have fans and sometimes you have critics. I am convinced that artists don’t write their music for their fans (even if they claim they are), they write it for themselves and who they are at time. So don’t worry Big D, because if I wrote any music myself I would be proud too, even if it sucked.