Top 10 Most Unusual Music Genres

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True, there’s been a list like this before on TopTenz but, like many of the people in the comments section, I looked at it and went, “this barely scratches the surface.” But rather than just say it (for free), I decided to prove it (for a fee.) With that in mind, here are ten even more unusual musical genres than before.

10. Burger-Highlife

Burger-highlife

You’re probably thinking I picked this genre because it has a funny name. Well … you’re right; that’s exactly why I picked it. The name of this genre is so unusual, that uploading a song from it causes your iPod to explode when trying to categorize it.

The music is recognizable for its up-tempo guitar, jazz horn-led sound, and use of synth. It’s of a distinctly Ghanian origin, yet is universally considered to be a German style of music. This is due to the fact it’s unique to the Ghanian immigrants of Germany. Just let that soak in for a second: Ghanian people in Germany, perform a unique form of Afro-pop, and call it Burger-Highlife.

I’m going to be honest; of all the sentences I ever thought I’d type, that one was definitely near the bottom.

9. Unblack Metal

unblack-metal

Although not true of all black metal bands, the genre itself is often linked to Satanism or things of a generally evil or dark nature, because Satan is a pretty metal dude. Unblack metal is no different, unless you count the fact that the lyrics promote Christian ideals and imagery. Which makes bands that fall within the genre kind of controversial, which is an understatement so massive that other, smaller statements around it become caught in its gravity.

Sound-wise, unblack metal is indistinguishable from black metal; it has the same growling, guttural vocals, heavily distorted guitars, insane tempos, and unconventional song structures normally found in black metal. The only real difference is that, hidden behind the wall of sound, you will find messages about how kick-ass Jesus is.

Which makes the comments sections of every unblack metal artist on YouTube hilarious, sad, and hilariously sad.

8. Chiptune

chiptune-setup

Chiptune, Chipbreak, or Chip Music is a form of electronic music, created using sound-chips from early arcade machines or video game consoles. Which is, well, kind of rad. Songs from the genre generally sound similar to early ’80s video games, although they can sometimes contains lyrics or elements of other genres. Basically it’s just video game music, but it’s video game music you can shake your money maker too, and get drunk to, without people thinking you’re weird for getting drunk and dancing to the stage select screen of Mega Man V. How cool is that?

Although pure chip music is relatively underground, elements of it have made it into the mainstream. For example if you watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or played the subsequent video game, you’ve heard yourself some chip music. Likewise if you’ve ever watched Adventure Time. It’s everywhere; even Ke$ha gets into the act, with distinctly Nintendo-style beeps and boops playing throughout the main verse of Tik Tok. If you really don’t wanna deal with Ke$ha, and prefer to just take our word for it, that’s totally understandable. Perhaps MGMT’s Kids is more your groove.

7. Visual Kei

visual-kei

Visual Kei is quite simply, amazing. If you’re not familiar with it, boy are you in for a treat. Visual Kei is typically characterized by androgynous outfits, giant hair, and kick-ass guitars. If you couldn’t tell already, of course it’s Japanese. Hell, based on that description alone it’s probably safe to say that it’s the most Japanese thing ever written down.

Now, Visual Kei’s actual music hard to pin down, since bands that fall within the genre play music that resembles everything from glam rock to heavy metal; some claim it’s actually just a subculture or fashion, rather than a full-blown music genre. Then again, it’s a little hard to write off several dozen bands that all have men playing guitar solos, while dressing like Renaissance-era prostitutes, as a coincidence.

6. Pirate Metal

swashbuckle-pirate-metal

Some genres need elaborate descriptions of what their music encompasses. others, simply a name. Pirate metal would be the latter as, unsurprisingly, every song pirate metal bands sing is about — get ready for the shocking Shyamalan twist — pirates. This makes illegally downloading their songs both wrong and deliciously ironic.

The genre is similar to traditional metal, with elements of old sea shanties thrown in for good measure, because sea shanties are awesome. As an added bonus, the band rarely performs without full pirate regalia, and the audience is fully encouraged to join in. Just think about it; you could go get drunk dressed as a pirate, with hundreds of other pirates while a band, dressed as pirates, sings songs about pirates. If that doesn’t sound like a great way to spend your evening, you don’t belong on the Internet.

5. Shoegazing

shoegaze

Shoegazing is described as a subgenre of alternative rock, where the singer stands in a completely non-confrontational, passive state, while singing. In other words, the exact opposite of what a good front man for any other band would do.

The genre was so named because the singers appeared to be staring at their shoes instead of, you know, engaging with their audience. In their defense, this was in part because many within the genre used effects pedals extensively. The heavy use of pedals led to the singer’s own voice becoming part of the melody of the song, blending with it instead of standing apart from it.

Of course, music is a subjective thing, and different people have different ideas of what constitutes good music, but does anyone else think it’s a little weird that people actively tried to classify themselves as part of a genre where you have to constantly look down, like you’re scared of someone throwing a boot at you?

4. Wizard Rock

wizard-rock

Now, I thought pirate metal was pushing it, in terms of weird things rock bands could sing about. Then, I heard about wizard rock. As with pirate metal, simply reading the name tells you all you need to know: these bands sing songs from the perspectives of characters that wave magic wands and can turn people into stone if they so desire.

Despite having a bevy of wizards to choose from, bands in this genre typically sing about Harry Potter, because songs about Gollum would just be weird. Seriously, Gandalf has been a part of pop-culture for decades, and can’t even one stinkin’ song? Meanwhile, a whippersnapper like Potter, who wasn’t even that good a wizard, get a whole genre devoted to his adventures? Gandalf, it’s time to step up your game; are you really going to take this from a kid with glasses? If this isn’t on an episode of Deadliest Warrior next year I’m going to be annoyed.

3. Bubblegum Dance

Scooch-bubblegum-dance

Bubblegum Dance is a genre so impossibly sweet and sugary, that listening to it actually gives your ancestors cavities. Think Nyan Cat, on crack. Basically, it’s music that you cannot dance to without looking like you’re either an 8-year-old girl, or high on an experimental kind of ecstasy.

Typically characterized by incredibly silly lyrics, the genre is not supposed to be taken seriously, which is a refreshing change from bands that sing about everyone hating them or punching demons in the throat, I guess. The genre is essentially what would happen if nursery rhymes were written in a time when people had the ability to drop the bass.

2. Jawaiian

jawaiian-band

Jawaiian is Hawaiian reggae, plain and simple. At this point, I’m fully in the belief that creating a new musical genre is as simple as randomly sticking together two things and seeing what happens. In that sense, music is just like chemistry, only instead of horrible chemical burns, you get smooth Hawaiian-infused reggae. Which is probably better. Mainly because sticking on some Jawaiian music is so smooth, it’s the closest you can legally come to giving a girl rohypnol.

1. William Shatner Covers

Shatner-Eff-You

I don’t care if Wikipedia doesn’t consider this a true genre of music, because what William Shatner does to songs is so bad it needs to be given its own genre, simply to stop other things from being tainted by it. I guess, if pushed, I could considered it spoken word music but, then again, some forms of rap are technically just spoken word, and rap is pretty good. At least you need fly rhyming skills to rap.

Hearing Captain Kirk lazily read out the lyrics to Common People, while an actual band is forced to play music behind him, is just depressing. Mainly because you know that it’s just a house band who are being paid nowhere near the amount Shatner is. Although to be fair to Shatner, he’s still better than *INSERT BAND YOU THINK SUCKS THE FAT ONE HERE*

Now THAT’S how you engage an audience.

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12 Comments

  1. I was into all of this stuff before it was cool. Guess I’ll have to listen to live one-shot improv garage RPG cutups again until something new comes along…

  2. Gandalf has been in songs before. One of my favourites is by 70’s progressive rock band Camel, the tracks is called “Nimrodel.” If you like bands like Blind Guardian (might as well just call them Hobbit metal), and classic rock like Blue Oyster Cult, you’d probably like it.

  3. Unblack isn’t really any more “unusual” than any other form of Christian metal. It’s heavy music with Christian lyrics that has a limited, but dedicated fanbase due to its message.

    You want weird? Try Nikki Minaj.

  4. I absolutely LOVE shoegazing and Dreampop.

    My Bloody Valentine
    Ride
    Slowdive
    Swervedriver
    Chapter House
    The Catherine Wheel
    Lilys
    Th’ Faith Healers
    Medicine
    Loveliescrushing
    M83
    Boris
    Julee Cruise
    Pale Saints
    Starflyer 59
    The Horrors
    The Jesus and Mary Chain
    Deftones

    Anything on Creation Records

    and TONS more

    Yeah, I love the genre. New and old…

    • Cheers to that and that article was so untrue for the most part, that person has never seen a shoegaze or noise band live.

      • I agree. Ridiculous misinformation here. Ok, this lists are just for fun, but

        quote: “The genre was so named because the singers appeared to be staring at their shoes instead of, you know, engaging with their audience.”
        is just SO plain wrong.

        And btw, Shoegazing is definitely misplaced here. It should be in a list “Top 10 Most Creative Music Genres”. Not in this list of obscurities. 😉

        • I saw My Bloody Valentine on their reunion tour back in 2010. It was glorious and the loudest show I’ve ever been too. It’s something worth experiencing if you can get the chance. It was like being strapped to a jet engine shooting to the moon while being washed with various colors. And no, I wasn’t on drugs. I was high off the music.

  5. It’s a shame that chap-hop didn’t make the list. Just look up “Professor Elemental Fighting Trousers”. It’s probably the best chap-hop song in the history of ever. The others are rather disappointing in comparison, but it’s still a fascinating genre.

  6. Screw you and the horse you rode in on. William Shatner’s “Has Been” album is one of the greatest albums of the 2000s.

    That “underpaid house band” you describe? That’s BEN FOLDS. He wrote, arranged, and produced the music on this album, with Shatner’s input so that the melodies and ambiance matched the mood of the spoken word. This wasn’t just shat out for fun, it’s an incredible album.

    Each track tells a story from Shatner’s life: one is about his wife’s suicide, another is about reconnecting with his estranged daughter, and a few are about his struggle with fame and celebrity. The genre is spoken word/alternative rock.

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