Katy Perry Used To Be A Gospel Singer? 10 Artists Who Completely Changed Their Look And Sound

April 15, 2014  |  
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Whether they were changing their sound to get put on, or they were changing their sound to do the music they actually wanted to (and not what the record company wanted), change is inevitable from artists in the music industry. However, the 10 different musicians on this list made some major, if not drastic, changes to their sound and their image. For the most part, it all worked out in their favor–even if it left fans confused as hell.


When Can’t Take Me Home dropped in 2000, P!nk was a hybrid of pop and R&B–more of the latter. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that most of the songs on her first album were written by or with the help of black folks: Babyface, Kandi Burruss, Tricky Stewart, etc. But by the time her second album, Missundaztood, came out a year later, P!nk was more on the pop and rock side, and she never looked back.

Lionel Richie

While a member of The Commodores, Lionel Richie was the saxophonist and singer. To hear him on songs like “Zoom” and “Three Times A Lady” and then to hear him talking about “Dancing On The Ceiling” and “All Night Long,” and THEN to hear him do country from time to time these days blows my mind. It’s quite amazing how much Richie’s sound has changed. But I guess you could call it being versatile…?

Trey Songz

I’m not mad at Trey. While I know a few people who appreciated his sound on I Gotta Make It, and his rugged look, it wasn’t getting most people’s attention. It wasn’t until he cut his hair, started letting people know that he invented sex and just stuck to singing about intercourse, as opposed to struggle, that female fans really took notice.

Whitney Houston

While Whitney Houston is one of the most loved artists to ever pick up a microphone now, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, some people, including disc jockeys (according to Ebony magazine) thought her sound and look was “too white.” She was even booed at the Soul Train Awards after her name was called for an award. This bothered her:

“And don’t say I don’t have soul or what you consider to be ‘blackness.’ I know what my color is. I was raised in a black community with black people, so that has never been a thing with me. Yet I’ve gotten flak about being a pop success, but that doesn’t mean that I’m white. … Pop music has never been all-white.”

But that pop sound took a backseat as time went on, with Houston’s sound focusing more on R&B and ballads than “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”-like jams. By the time her fourth album came out, she was not only doing R&B, but a little reggae here, a little hip-hop there and more.


If someone would have told me in 2005 that the pretty girl from Barbados talking about “Pon de Replay” would be the raunchy pop princess people imitate style-wise and play nonstop on Spotify, I would have laughed. But it worked. Ri Ri hooked up with the right writers and producers, changed up her look (and continues to), and completely stopped giving a you know what. Success!


When Jewel first stepped on the scene in 1995, she was going more for the pop rock/folk sound, asking us who would save our souls and keeping her look and sound very toned down. But for some reason, when 2001 rolled around, she dropped the album 0304 and went completely pop. Remember “Intuition”? Her look, from the album cover to the video for “Intuition,” was completely different, and she even had to explain herself in the liner notes for fans, saying, “This album may seem different to you.” Uh, hell yeah.

Katy Perry

In 2001, Katy Perry was Katy Hudson, and she released her debut album, a Christian music album, under that exact name. Perry grew up only listening to gospel music because both of her parents are Pentecostal pastors. The album didn’t do well, and trying her hand at getting another record deal at the age of 17, Perry left home for Los Angeles and before we knew it, she was singing “I Kissed A Girl,” dressing raunchy, and going by her stage name, Katy Perry (she didn’t want to be confused for actress Kate Hudson).

Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado started off as an artist who mixed pop with folk and was often mentioned with the likes of Alicia Keys and India Arie, as all three artists blew up around the same time. But by 2006, she was Loose, singing the hit song “Promiscuous Girl” and labeling herself a “Maneater.” That album had some hot tracks too, but the change in sound was quite surprising–if not startling.

Maroon 5

Like Nelly Furtado, Maroon 5 stepped on the scene with an indie sound that many people could appreciate. Songs About Jane is still heavy in people’s rotations for classics like “Sunday Morning,” “Harder To Breathe,” “She Will Be Loved” and more. And lead singer, Adam Levine, was known more for his unique voice than for his abs. But fast forward to the last few years, and they’re doing more pop than anything, dominating radio with super pop and dance songs like “Moves Like Jagger” and “One More Night.” As for Levine, outside of being a judge on The Voice, he was recently picked as People’s Sexiest Man Alive.  I did forsee all this…

Kanye West

But of course. I never expected Kanye West to sound exactly like he did on College Dropout as his career evolved. I actually preferred Late Registration to his debut, and find My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to be his best work. But the recent Kanye work, and the Kanye we see today, is quite different and goes way over my head. He talks different (vocally and subject-wise) for goodness sake! Much respect to Kanye for making some of the biggest hip-hop music for himself and others, but I wouldn’t mind having that old thing back.

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  • Jay

    Most of these people didn’t change for the better, especially Maroon 5. Their newer music sucks eggs.

  • Lola

    Not for nothing, but Lionel Ritchie wrote “Lady”, a COUNTRY song for Kenny Rogers. So really, he didn’t change. He’s a musician and songwriters and both usually get into different genres. Implying he is a “sellout” because he sang country (FYI, so did Ray Charles) is show you know nothing of his career.

  • Portra777

    If I was an alien, I would study us too before landing on this crazy rock!

  • Amy O’Deaghaidh

    …and how did Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex) not make the list?

  • Nasser MJ

    It all comes down to self respect (!)

  • One better

    Has anyone seen how much Pantera changed in the late 80’s to the early 90’s? Their change was much more drastic than any of these 10.

  • MT

    What about Darius Rucker?

  • blaq

    every singer or artist have used black music to come up.

  • tomas cruiser

    the one guy in maroon 5 turned black. wow that is really changing your look

  • james4usa

    Gays and Black women rule. I guess that makes me an observant. Who pays for their unhealthy care?

  • John Jay

    I can’t believe those lard asses would go to Walmart or anywhere else looking like they do.

  • man

    in the truck off competition, the guy Austin with extreme offroad rips you off. there business rips you off and won’t stand behind there work and warrant out stuff… PLEASE don’t buy your truck gear from EXTREME OFFROAD in Katy on Mason Road…

  • Mason

    Anyone else notice that the guy from Maroon 5 turned black?

  • Terri Berri

    I still love Pink. I USED to love Trey Songs, but he has gotten so arrogant that he might as well date himself. He doesn’t make love to the camera; he makes love to himself in the mirror -_-

  • Shakira Jihann Harris

    Pink, Nelly Furtado and Maroon 5. My favorites! 🙂 And I have a crush on Adam Levine lol

  • Chanda

    Poor Whitney. I’m old enough to remember when black people use to clown on her for being “too white” when she was probably more hood then they were. She was only selling what we where buying. Can’t start out hood. People even expected her to marry a white man instead of Bobby Brown.
    As Paul Mooney would say; white people stole Lionel Richie from us. They even stole James Brown and gave him back lol…

  • Zettai

    Can’t stand Pink’s emo rock screaming/singing since she left her old sound in the late 90s. (And why does she still call herself Pink?)

    Can’t stand “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry because if it wasn’t bad enough that the men on records encourage young women to be promiscuous, Katy tells them the same thing–and gets famous doing it! She kickstarted the horrible trend of young women making out with women just for male attention and free drinks.

    Kid Rock should definitely be on this list. He sold out to country years ago. How can you be a DJ from Detroit and wave a Confederate flag?

    • Chanda

      Pink named herself after a character from Reservoir Dogs and Kid Rock started out doing rap (in the 90s) but changed that image because he didn’t want to be compared to Vanilla Ice. Before Eminem came along, many white people where scared to become rappers because Vanilla Ice messed it up for everybody lol…

      • therealnumber1

        Actually on behind the music pink said she got the name because some dude in high school wanted to see her “area” and when he saw it he said, “oooo it’s pink…”

    • Jon

      As a Michigan resident, I would appreciate it if you didn’t mention Kid Rock was from this state…lol.

    • Kia

      he has a child with a black woman

  • Lovelylibra

    How did Darius Rucker aka hootie from hootie and the blowfish not make this list. He went from pop to country superstar.

  • It’s Me

    Awww Whitney. She was a beauty. :_(

  • Tia

    Where is the ultimate in career changes and new looks, Madonna? IMO she’s the only person that should’ve been #1…

    • Chanda

      Madonna should’ve definitely been #1 on this list. She changes her looks/image with every album (for the past 30 years).

  • Trisha_B

    Pink never wanted to be R&B, that’s what LA Reid wanted to market her as. That’s how it was for a lot of these artist, the label wants them to be like that. Later on, they are allowed creative freedom

    & Rihanna was 16-17 when she came out, she had to be lil miss innocent lol. She’s grown now, she’s gonna sing about grown things

    • louvres

      grown things don’t have to be TRASHY things tho! That’s the problem…our society don’t know the difference between being grown and being trash!

      • Shawndrea Rachelle

        Yes! It was sad seeing all the tweets saying “Miley grew up” tweets after the VMAs

        • louvres

          Miley is a good example for this! PURE TRASH!!

          • Jose-0311-usms

            MILEY IS TRASH.

      • Live_in_LDN

        Adulthood means many different things for different people. So be it.

      • Trisha_B

        So sx is trashy? Many R&B singers sung about sx since the 70s lol. It was trashy then? Or is it b/c they were men & it’s more acceptable, vs a woman who is shamed for talking about it?

        • louvres

          Please not you too looooooooool! it is trashy no matter if men or women! Sade has sung about sex and it wasn’t trashy…you can do thousand things in a classy way! Rick ross is trash , rhi is trash, bee is trash, etc…

          • Trisha_B

            & that’s YOUR opinion. Not mines

            • louvres

              And I stand by IT( I never mention that it was the opinion of someone else but me and I don’t see the necessity of you mentioning it). s€x is a beautiful thing but many of these artists are making it trash! There is a difference between s€x and lust…

              • Shawndrea Rachelle

                Yes! Yes! And Yes! Preach louvres

      • Ken Bennett

        Luckily there is no shortage bloated, judgemental, self-important, sub-human, scabs around to point out what they think others should do.

        • Jay

          Like you?

  • 9Boots

    Not only did they change their sound and look, they sold their souls.

    • Shawndrea Rachelle

      The forgot Miley Cyrus, she’s literally a completely different person now

      • guest

        Yup..a total 180

      • 9Boots

        Your right!

      • 9Boots

        Your right! That is because the machine wants her followers to follow her profane way of living.

  • juicyco

    some of these people just got older

  • tarrilove

    I missed black Pink. But I like white Pink better 🙂

  • Danielle

    S3x unfortunately sells. Idk how we became a society where all this freaky deaky stuff is top on everybody minds. I sure do miss the early versions of ppl like Rihanna. I sure cld jam to her early stuff

    • Phil J.

      sex has always sold, nothing new