"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky."
Genre Roulette is what the name suggests: A single work that switches between distinct genres, seemingly at random.
As it's hard enough to write well in one genre, Genre Roulette can be hard to pull off seriously. Comedies and parodies, on the other hand, usually don't raise any eyebrows when they do this, provided they continue to bring the funny.
Musical Genre Roulette is closely related to Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly. The difference is that a Genre Roulette album can have a country song followed by a punk song, while an NPZR album will have a song that's country and punk at the same time.
Anime & Manga
- The Excel Saga anime played this with pretty much every episode being a parody of a certain genre. Everything from War Movies, to Dating Sims, to Sports, to Variety Shows to Post-Apocalyptic is given a once over.
- Excel Saga made a point of this, opening every episode with manga author Koshi Rikdo giving his (reluctant) approval to give the series a Genre Shift. The style and weirdness remained consistent enough despite this, however.
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. As a whole though, you can probably put it into Magical Realism, though every piece has its own defined genre.
- Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai. It starts off with a parody of RPGs, follows up with a sci-fi/Giant Mech parody (including a mind-boggling time paradox involving a miscolored Gurren Lagann), and keeps juggling genres from there...
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.
- Brigadoon Marin and Melan is a sci-fi adventure drama, but it's also a middle-school Slice of Life show, a comedy with occasional parodic elements, and a teen romance. One minute you're in the middle of a serious political discussion at an alien council, and the next minute, the aliens are trying to settle their dispute with a pie fight. Serious Mood Whiplash may result.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann switches between distinct styles from episode to episode. One episode may focus on character drama, whereas the next may be written as a harem comedy, and then episodes that focus almost solely on giant mecha combat.
- Gintama cycles between being a gag manga, completely serious battle manga, and heartwarming slice-of-life(well, as close as it can get in Alternate Universe historical Edo, anyways). According the Word of God each chapter is its own genre.
- Cowboy Bebop seamlessly combines the Space Western, Film Noir and Yakuza genres, among others.
- Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers does this deliberately with each of the miniseries exhibiting the traits of a particular style of comic genre.
- The Return of Bruce Wayne and Multiversity are also set up the same way with each issue being a different genre based on the setting (time in RoBW and the worlds in Multiversity).
- Played with a bit in Ronin.
- Frank and Ernest lands in a lot of different situations.
- Aquaman can be this at times, while most of the iconic DC heroes have their own niche, Aquaman is constantly reinvented. At one point he went from warrior king, to exiled Barbarian Hero, to Messianic Archetype, to Street Level Crimefighter, to mentor to a Heroic Fantasy-inspired Legacy Character in the span of 30 issues.
- God Told Me To. What genre it thinks it is depends on what scene it happens to be.
- Man of the Year does this, shifting between comedy, thriller, drama, and mystery all the time.
- Xtro, which constantly jumps all over the place.
- Brotherhood of the Wolf is a mystery, martial arts film, monster horror film, drawing room drama, spy film and historical epic depending on the scene.
- Save The Green Planet has some regular Mood Whiplash, from slapstick comedy to creepy psychological horror, with the odd martial arts scene thrown in.
- Gravity's Rainbow, Historical Fiction overall skips between Science Fiction, war, romance, pornography, family tragedy, horror and slapstick comedy.
- Pynchon does this a lot. It's even more blatant in Against the Day.
- Naked Lunch: Science Fiction, an undercover look at drug culture, raunchy porn, biting social satire, and some hard boiled noir thrown in for good measure.
- House of Leaves is horror. No, wait, it's a satire on literary criticism. No, wait, it's incomprehensible True Art. No, wait, it's a love story...
- Cloud Atlas, which skips between genres with merry abandon.
- One episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus keeps flipping between genres, as Lampshaded by the captions:
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT HAS NOW BECOME THE CLASSIC SERIAL
THE CLASSIC SERIAL HAS NOW BECOME THE TUESDAY DOCUMENTARY
THE TUESDAY DOCUMENTARY HAS BECOME "CHILDREN'S STORY"
THE CHILDREN'S STORY HAS GONE BACK INTO THE TUESDAY DOCUMENTARY
NO IT HASN'T
NOW IT'S BECOME A PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST
NO, SORRY, "RELIGION TODAY"
- Doctor Who pushes the line between this trope and outright Genre Busting. It did so even more in the era of William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor, before the series had quite settled into its format.
- As showrunner The Grand Moff put it: "Sometimes it's comedy, sometimes thriller, sometimes horror, sometimes children's stories, the silliest stories you've ever seen. Sometimes it's all that in the same episode". In Series Five alone we had a thriller, a dystopian rebellion, historical sci-fi with Churchill, a horror-adventure, a comedy romp with vampires, a Dream Within a Dream mystery, a political intrigue with reptile people, A Very Special Episode about Vincent Van Gogh and depression, a comedy, and a finale.
- Season 6 had a conspiracy thriller, madcap pirate romp, a fantasy laden with horrors, a sinister clone saga, a Deconstruction, an assassination plot, a horrifying episode about dolls, a romantic drama, a "What Do They Fear?" Episode, a buddy comedy and a wedding! .
- Community: that is all. I mean what genre haven't they- wait, we should just ask Abed, I bet he knows.
- Super Sentai, and by association Power Rangers in its yearly theming, in addition to its Toku base genre. This also applies with the Kamen Rider series as well. Episodes can run this line in all these series.
- In Björk's 1995 album, Post, she switches from Industrial Rock, Dance, Jazz, Trip Hop, Chamber Pop, Ambient, and other genres.
- Canadian indie band Islands' debut album Return to the Sea featured a ten minute epic, synthpop, catchy indie-pop and a rap interlude.
- Five Iron Frenzy's album All the Hype that Money Can Buy switches between ska-punk, ska-salsa, ska-hip-hop, ska-synth-rock, and ska-Hair Metal.
- And they do an even better (albeit bizzare) example at the end of the Quantity is Job One EP, with These Are Not My Pants: The Rock Opera, where every one of 8 band members sings a part, each in a different musical style. Latin, Piano ballad, Country, Rock, Jazz, Reggae, Rap, and something only described as "Weird" are all covered.
- The Dingees play Clash-inspired punk, roots reggae, and first-wave ska songs on their first three albums.
- The band WHY? switch between alternative hip-hop, indie rock, folk, R.E.M.-inspired jangle pop and bizarre combinations of these genres. Their 2008 album Alopecia for instance, wobbled in between the band's various genres. Compare the first single, alternative rap song "A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under" to the third single, indie rock song "Fatalist Palmistry". The second single from the album, "The Hollows", is somewhat of a meeting point between the band's two main genres.
- Peergynt Lobogris switches between ambient rock, new age and jazz music.
- The Beatles' White Album switches from Surf Rock, to Acoustic, to Ska, to random banging on a piano, to Bluesy Doo-Wop Hard Rock to Pop to Folk to Country to Hard Rock to Proto-Metal to Blues to Avant-Garde to ballad.
- The Beatles in general did this a lot over the course of their career.
- Played with by Reel Big Fish on Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album with "S.R. (The Many Versions Of)" where they played the entire song or parts thereof several times, picking new genres after each variation and commenting on the crowd's reaction as they included ska-punk, punk rock, blues, disco, death metal, a "sensitive and tender emo song", old school rap and more. The verdict was "play more country, the people love it!"
- Also their song "Party Down" contains ska, disco, death metal, dance, reggae, and country breakdowns, all over a basic garage rock and horns structure.
- X Japan. Heavy metal and hard rock with more than a pinch of punk sensibility becomes symphonic metal becomes beautiful rock ballads AND progressive rock with a metal sound. They're all over the map and bring the same level of skill to all of it.
- Beck almost always, although he somestimes mixes them. Country, hip-hop, jazz, anti-folk, rock, experimental, tropicalia, electronic...
- Frank Zappa played numerous genres throughout his career: rock, progressive rock, jazz, fusion, classical, experimental... the list goes on and on.
- Amanda Palmer made a career out of this. Compare her songs Guitar Hero, A Campaign Of Shock And Awe, Mandy Goes To Med School, Slide, and her cover of Creep. She's also covered songs by/from Black Sabbath, Kurt Weill (in German), Britney Spears, Sonny & Cher, The Sound Of Music, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tchaikovsky and Rihanna.
- Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight switches from cathartic alt-metal to synth-tinged adult contemporary ballads with a Political Rap song in between.
- Scissor Shock. What makes this even more awesome is that all of those genres are Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly.
- S.C.I.E.N.C.E. album era Incubus not only varied genre from song to song, but sometimes from verse to bridge to chorus. Witness 'A Certain Shade of Green', with it's funk verse, metal chorus and disco bridge.
- David Bowie is made of this trope.
- As is Bob Dylan.
- This could be said of many of Radiohead's albums, but Amnesiac fits this trope particularly well. Its tracks include the gloomy jazz of "Life in a Glasshouse," the twitchy electronic "Like Spinning Plates," the relatively straightforward rock of "Knives Out," and the indescribable "Pyramid Song."
- Elton John was known for this at the height of his popularity; Goodbye Yellow Brick Road alone switches from melodic piano ballads (the title track) to minimalistic glam-rock ("Bennie And The Jets") to Stonesy rockers ("Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting") to Beatle-esque numbers ("Harmony") to soft rock ("Candle In The Wind") to reggae ("Jamaica Jerk-Off") to boogie blues-rock ("Dirty Little Girl") to progressive rock ("Funeral For A Friend") to proto-disco-soul ("Grey Seal") to pseudo-doo-wop ("Your Sister Can't Twist [But She Can Rock 'N Roll]") to country ("Roy Rogers"; "Social Disease") to '20's jazz ("Sweet Painted Lady") to cinematic pieces like "The Ballad Of Danny Bailey" and the aptly-named "I've Seen That Movie Too".
- Suicide Machines go back and forth from ska punk and ska-core (Destruction by Definition, Battle Hymns) to pop punk (Suicide Machines, Steal This Record) and back to a mix of hardcore and ska punk for their last two albums (A Match and some Gasoline, War Profiteering is Killing Us All), sometimes switching back and forth from ska to hardcore every other song.
- Gorillaz, and just with three albums. In their first Self-Titled Album, they managed to mix rock, alternative, dub, punk (even though is just one song, and appropriately titled 'Punk'), and hip-hop, and the last song (M1 A1) features sounds and clips from the Day of the Dead film. Demon Days, the following album, followed a similar pattern, but with a darker and somber sound, along some dance/synth (DARE), some acoustic dark tunes (El Mañana), and even a choral (Demon Days), along with another horror film sample, from the film Dawn of the Dead (Intro). The third album, Plastic Beach, can only be described as "crazy", what with mixing in one song the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music with hip hop, and all the album has all over sounds of soul, electro, rock, pop, and even seagulls and sea sounds and a breakfast commercial. Of course, Damon Albarn it's clearly doing a good job, so it's not risky business.
- Yoko Kanno,
queengoddess of anime soundtracks, can write anything. Compare the classic orchestral soundtrack for Vision of Escaflowne to the power-ballad-laden Wolf's Rain to the techno epics of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex to the jazzy music in Darker than Black. Her work on Cowboy Bebop (paragon of the Cult Soundtrack that is) covers all of these by itself. And then she starts combining them...
- Hey, let's fling a little Disney Channel fuel to the fire, shall we?!
- Dir en grey. 'Nuff said.
- In contrast with Mr. Bungle's straight out Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly, Mike Patton's other 90's band Faith No More were a bit more into genre roulette, especially starting with Angeldust. For instance, King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime had a few of their heaviest songs, but also threw in country ("Take This Bottle"), seventies style funk/soul ("Evidence", "Star AD"), breezy Latin-flavored pop ("Caralho Voador"), and even a gospel ballad ("Just A Man").
- Cursor Miner's styles are all over the map, jumping between breakbeat, techno, electro, synthpop, IDM, trip-hop, and even industrial.
- The only genre that will definitely be on a "Weird Al" Yankovic album is polka, and it'll probably be a medley; the others can be just about anything. Given that he's a prolific parody artist, this shouldn't be too surprising, but his band can play any genre well.
- The Clash, especially the album Sandinista!, tend to switch between genres all the time. Sandinista! contains the first ever rap song released by a rock band, as well as songs influenced by dub, reggae, and funk, a song with a children's choir, and a song with elements of twee pop. To consider them just a punk band is hardly fair.
- Blind Guardian is ostensibly a Heavy Metal band, but their repertoire runs the gamut from Folk Songs to Heavy Mithril to Pop.
- Also Ayreon, in the same vein.
- Enter Shikari in general, but most notably on their second album Common Dreads.
- Japanese Black Metal band Sigh does this a lot, frequently within the same song. It's particularly blatant on Imaginary Sonicscape, where there are oddities like disco and dub reggae breaks thrown into the middle of almost every song. Not to mention the obligatory classical snippet overlaid with what appears to be several hundred samples of giggling babies that closes the album. Of course, Sigh frequently invoke Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly as well. It's difficult to define exactly where their use of one trope ends and the other begins.
- Queen went from hard glam rock to pop to funk to '30's swing to power ballads to skiffle-folk to Progressive Rock over the course of an album. Or over the course of one album side.
- Queen's first few albums were fairly straightforward, fusing elements of Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal. But their fourth album, A Night At The Opera has virtually no two songs in the same genre (and some of the genres are quite atypical for pop bands - British Music Hall style, anyone? - and most of their subsequent albums up to their 1984 album The Works (nine songs, nine genres) continued this pattern. The only real exception in this era was their score to Flash Gordon.
- Queen's most famous hit, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a Genre Roulette all by itself. There are five very distinct portions, including at one point going from a slow ballad ("Mama...just killed a man") to an up-tempo operetta ("I see a little silhouetto of a man") to a powerful hard rock piece ("So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye!")
- Kyle Dennis: Harsh Noise, industrial, rock, tape music, experimental, drone, even mixtapes.
- Gackt is a rock artist, but what genre of music is going to be on his albums and singles is random at best. Some songs such as Cube, Oasis, Uncertain Memory and Secret Garden don't even resemble any discernible genre. Songs like these are simply referred to by fans as "Gackt rock".
- Christian Rock performer Carman did this constantly during his career. Pop, rock, rap, something vaguely like folk, adult contemporary, a pastiche of '50s rock and roll, and his famous rhyming sermons put to music. He often recorded with guest performers, and even then he might defy the genre they are typically known for; for example, "Our Turn Now" features then-metal band Petra but is the kind of rap-rock that DC Talk would eventually be known for.
- Drake does a mild version of this in his albums. He usually has typical Boastful Rap songs, but occasionally does pop/R&B ballad-type songs, such as "I Get Lonely Too" and "Find Your Love". In fact, one of the things he is praised (or criticized) for is his ability to switch from boastful raps to self-examining ballads.
- Conor Oberst (face of Bright Eyes) exhibits this tendency with his Side Projects.
- Ulver IS this trope - They began as a mix of atmospheric black metal and folk metal and then went dark folk and then a harsher, more lo-fi black metal. On their 4th album they became practically industrial metal and on their 5th they became a mix of trip hop, ambient and breakcore. They now have gone towards a general experimental rock style.
- DJ Shadow's early works were heavily trip-hop influenced while his last album encompasses indie rock and 'hyphy' influences.
- Guniw Tools jump from jazz-rock to folk to punk to electronic music on several of their albums
- The Veronicas went from single acoustic rock pop (Heavily Broken) to RNB-Eletronic-Faux-Rap (Cold) in three albums.
- Two albums in and have done pop, pop-rock, pop eletronic, dance pop, classical pop, 80's inspired pop and RNB.
- Britney Spears and her album Circus is a mix tape as such and an example of this.
- Amorphis has run the gamut from straightforward Death Metal, to a more melancholy Death/Doom style, to Alternative Rock, to Gothic Metal, to vaguely Opeth-ish Progressive Death Metal, and even acoustic ballads.
- Skinny Puppy's hanDover runs the gamut from straight industrial(Vyrisus) to industrial metal(Village) to EBM(Icktums) to IDM(Ovirt) to breakcore(NoiseX).
- Amy Grant has also had Genre Roulette resulting is MOR/Adult Contemporary Christian Pop (her early career), Southern and Bluegrass Gospel style recordings (her hymns albums), mainstream country-folk style songs (Tennessee Christmas among others), folk-rock (her Lead Me On and Behind The Eyes albums), mainstream AC/top 40 pop (much of Unguarded, Heart In Motion, House of Love and Simple Things albums, the duet with Peter Cetera called The Next Time I Fall being the most notable), Christian Rock songs (the In Concert albums and certain songs from her early career) and others.
- Sound Horizon is, in theory, a Symphonic Metal band. In theory. The fact that The Other Wiki has them listed under nine genres should tell you something about how they work.
- Vanessa Amorosi: "Somewhere In The Real World" was a jazz (Something Emotional), rock (Kiss Your Mama!), pop (Perfect), swing (My House) and contemporary (Who Am I?) album...to say the least.
- The Foo Fighters were usually alternative rock with a Surprisingly Gentle Song every now and then. Then with In Your Honor, a Distinct Double Album with an acoustic disc, it became more common.
Dave Grohl: "I eventually want it to get to the point where when people ask me what kind of band I'm in, I say: 'I just play music'. It's not one specific genre of music, it's not one specific style. I'm just a musician. I can play all these different instruments, I can write a bossa nova, I can write a thrash tune."
- Vanilla Ice's music has elements of Nu-metal, Jazz, Country, Hip-Hop, Gangsta Rap, Funk, Alternative Rock, etc.
- Crotchduster embodies this to the max. They switch between Power Metal, Death Metal, Grindcore, Synth-Pop, Comedy, Electronic, self made audio samples, Classic Rock, Blues, Jazz, A Cappella, etc. etc. You name it, they've used it at some point. And they only have ONE. FUCKING. ALBUM.
- Dinosaur Comics parodies this. After T-Rex comes up with the ultimate disaster movie, he realizes how he can make a nigh-infinite number of sequels: By by showing the same series of events from different perspectives, he can shoehorn his story into any genre imaginable.
- The Dreamer jumps from historical fiction to YA lit in a matter of pages.
- Sluggy Freelance tends to change its genre with every Story Arc. Compare the fantasy epic shown in these strips from 2004, to this Sitcom-style Broke Episode from 2005, to this crime thriller from 2006, to this Fantastic Comedy from 2007. The only consistent trait is that most strips have some sort of joke in them, but even that's not always the case.
- Rusty and Co. The Belt of Genre Changing does this.
- Pibgorn: In Drusilla's dream sequences.