Music is more compartmentalized now than ever before. Not only are we well beyond the days of merely designating music as “good” or “bad,” several subgenres have cropped up in recent years to further hyper-categorize certain sounds.
While some of these sub-categories like indie folk or trip-hop seem to have staying power, others should head toward the dustbin of history with some luck.
This list examines four genres firmly planted in the latter category. These specific music styles naturally have their fans, but they seem so deliberately esoteric, the fans may be better off trying to squeeze them into a more reputable genre that’s a little less embarrassing for the artists.
Rap is a genre that has basically reached its limit of creative potential. There are artists like Tech N9ne, who is essentially the Steve Vai of lyricism, that have reached the peaks of what you can do with rhyme schemes.
Beat producers are starting to poach from other genres in their quest for originality in what ultimately is nearly always a two-chord chord progression in common time. Others, in order to stand out, have begun to “niche down” in order to carve out their own space in the genre.
Enter ‘Chap Hop,’ where gentlemen rhymers battle it out in old British accents. The leading two rappers, Mr. B and Professor Elemental, have extensive discographies at this point, all in character.
I’m not even sure if they’re really British, but they do run around in vests with tobacco pipes performing in costumes akin to college professors and safari expedition lovers.
Example: Mr. B – Straight Out of Surrey
As if that’s not enough, the lyrical content matter includes talk about trousers, suspenders, drinking tea, playing cricket, and anything else you may associate with late 19th century Victorian era.
Also known as the slower cousin of Extratone, the endgame behind Splittercore is to take the concept of what you think music’s ultimate speed is, and then go much faster. Designed for the headbanging and moshing crowd, it’s a style that seemingly desires to see what it would feel like if a mosh pit suddenly went into warp speed hyperdrive. And yes, they’ve gone plaid.
Let’s look at an example of how this works. The Metallica song “Whiplash,” off their “Kill ‘em ‘All” album, clocks in at about 160 beats per minute. If you’ve ever tried to thrash in time to its pulsating beat, you know just how much of a workout it can be.
A typical splittercore song, on the other hand, will crank the beats per minute up to between 600 BPM and a whopping 1000 BPM. At that point, it’s not so much moshing as it is convulsing as if you’re being electrocuted. You may not feel right after trying to get through a couple of songs.
What’s worse, is that music that fast tends to lack any sort of tone or melody – “Whiplash” may be fast, but it does give Kirk Hammett time to lay down a killer riff. You don’t have that luxury in splittercore. You also don’t have room to convey any emotion other than anger.
Example: Diabarha – Inside of the Mind
I started this at 2 minutes and 45 seconds so you can get right into listening to what sounds like a machine gun passed through an overdrive pedal with a backing violin melody so it has some relation to supposedly being music. Get ready to be annoyed.
We’re back to rap again. This time, the crew has “niche’d down” to the horror movie genre in audio format. I’ll admit, as a lover of horror movies, when I discovered this subgenre I listened to it extensively throughout my teenage years.
For some odd reason, people freak out about it while simultaneously loving horror movies and tolerating black heavy metal and gangster rap. It’s no more descriptive about the dark sides of human society than other genres, but it catches all of the heat.
Horrorcore is a fairly juvenile and doesn’t add much to the creative storehouse of human history, but it does entertain a subset of people who simply can’t get enough of the scary and dark. Many don’t realize how popular this piece of high strangeness is.
There have been multiple groups signed to Def Jam, one that included members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Even the Insane Clown Posse rose to heights that included signing on with Disney’s Island Records and featuring with rock and roll legends on their albums.
Even Will Smith & DJ Jazzy Jeff made a song in the genre (not to mention Michael Jackson’s greatest selling album of all time).
Example: Insane Clown Posse – Hokus Pokus
Sadly, this genre isn’t going to die out. It’s only gotten bigger. ICP runs an annual multi-day convention and concert festival, a wrestling league, and more. More and more artists are splitting off and creating their own labels and raising up new talent. The artists also tend to have great senses of humor. Expect this one to do the opposite of fall out of favor.
Black metal isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s mix of loud guitars, breakneck technical drum work, and growling vocals hailing Satan is snarling and evil, yet it’s quite cathartic for a certain segment of metalheads. It also sits at the polar opposite of black metal – at least, from a lyrical perspective.
Unblack metal contains all of the musical elements of black metal, save for one crucial element. Its lyrics are totally rooted in Christianity, meaning that all mentions of Satan and Satanism are jettisoned in favor of Jesus. If the songs were in another genre and arrangement, they’d might earn time at your local contemporary worship service.
The concept of hardcore Christian metal music is not a new one – thrash bands like Vengeance Rising and Deliverance were contemporaries of Metallica and Anthrax. However, the lyrics sung by those old-school bands could be understood, so that its message of love and salvation could be detected.
Listeners don’t have that luxury with unblack metal; the snarling, grunted vocals make the words incoherent, which kind of renders the entire genre pointless.
Example: Tourniquet – Broken Chromosomes
I started that at 35 seconds so you can get right to the action without the dramatic intro. I want to waste as little time on this stuff as possible.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with metal songs about pirates. Historically speaking, a pirate’s life is about as metal as you can get, maybe second only to the viking life. But when pirate stuff is the only thing you sing about, things tend to get weird in order to not get boring.
Songs about pirates doing pirate things sung over typical heavy metal guitars are the basis for pirate metal, but there’s more to the subgenre than singing about walking the plank, burying treasure chests, drinking rum, swashbuckling, and high seas adventure.
The bands that crank out the music are usually found dressed in pirate garb, ready to party like it’s 1699. They also tend to affect a classic “y’arr matey” inflection to their vocals, just in case you weren’t sure what they were trying to represent.
Believe it or not, the genre has been around a lot longer than you think. Its roots trace back to 1987, when a German band called Running Wild decided to write some songs based on history, including some pirate-based material. These songs inadvertently launched a movement that’s still chugging along 30 years later (though it shouldn’t be).
It should be noted that there has been some mutation to the genre. The Running Wild material contained lyrics that depicted a far more accurate description of the treachery of pirate life. These days, however, the lyrics are far more romanticized and fictionalized, which somehow makes the subgenre more ridiculous.
Example: Alestorm – Drink
Pirate Metal is by far the most tolerable and musical of these four genres. But listening to this is like watching a parody movie. If they end up funny or even decent, it’s usually unintentional. And it only makes any sense because something else existed first on which it’s piggybacking.
And you thought prog rock was pretentious? (That was a test. Prog rock is amazing.) Like Black MIDI’s alternative name suggests, ‘impossible music’ is music that a person cannot physically perform on their own.
The only way these tunes can be played is if several keyboardists got together, grew extra hands, and played a hundred different parts of the same song simultaneously.
If you don’t have a few dozen keyboardists in your life, the only thing you can do is to input the notes of the song into a MIDI file and watch the madness on a piano roll. This practice gives rise to the genre’s name, Black MIDI, called such because if you were to notate the songs on paper, there’d be so many notes, the sheet would look nearly all black.
An example of the absurdity is a tune called “Bad Apple,” which claims to possess 8.49 million notes. It’s an outrageous sum made even sillier when you realize the track is a mere four and a half minutes long. It’s so ridiculous, in fact, it’s said a MIDI file can’t handle all the action and responds by freezing at around the three-minute mark. This makes the song pointless – just like the genre itself.
Example: Bad Apple
You can see several times where the streamer’s computer starts glitching trying to keep up with the absurdity of this song. At least it’s musical though. Most of these impossible songs exist to create drawings in the MIDI file instead of trying to sound like a reasonable performance
That’s it. Those are the six genres that need to go the way of the dodo, pronto. There are more, of course, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and draw too much attention. If that backfired I’d never forgive myself.