For every act in popular music that seems to make the same record over and over, there’s someone who undergoes a dramatic overhaul of their sound and/or public image at least once, if not several times, in their career. Some artists are simply trying to keep up with the times, while others are chasing a more enigmatic muse. Bowie and Madonna are the masters of serial reinvention, while other acts often undergo just one big gradual change from where they start to where they end up. And sometimes, it’s hard to say what gamechangers will lead to greater career longevity, like Radiohead’s Kid A, or steer the artist into a ditch, like Hammer’s The Funky Headhunter.
In 2013, musical genres and radio formats and audience seem to be in a state of massive flux, as artists from pop and rock and hip-hop and R&B and country and dance and indie stretch out beyond previously drawn boundaries, dig in their heels, or simply flirt with new territory. A lot of young stars are still finding themselves, and some established acts are getting restless. In a few years, we’ll be able to say with greater confidence which reinventions were brilliant and which were moronic, but for now, all we can say is that these are The 10 Biggest Musical Transformations Of 2013, and after them, nothing was the same.