The internet has made it possible for people around the world to bond over music from all times and all places. But it's also made it possible for a few more unusual genres to gain notoriety. Here are 11 that are weird enough to deserve special notice:
1. Medieval folk rock
Medieval folk rock incorporates samples of renaissance and baroque music into traditional rock and uses few or no electronic instruments. The genre developed in Western Europe in the 1970s as a subset of progressive rock.
Medieval folk rock songs to check out:
“Opening Move” by Gryphon
“Celestial Night” by Amazing Blondel
“Abracadabra” by Mägo de Oz
2. Horror country
Country music is often written off as a vehicle for complaining about failed relationships, lukewarm beer and slow tractors, but horror country takes the genre to new levels. It uses country instrumentation, but discusses darker topics — often things like ghosts, demons or corpses. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a horror movie involving ranchers and farming.
Horror country songs to check out:
“The Tardy Hearse” by The Pine Box Boys
“Shady Grove” by Jayke Orvis
“The Doomsday Cult Blues” by Graveyard Train
3. Math rock
Math rock is a specific style of indie rock that uses complex time signatures and unusual meters (hence the word “math” in its name). Math rock first emerged in the 1980s before peaking in the mid-1990s, said allmusic.com. Similar uses of nonstandard time signatures and variable meters are now being adapted to pop music (called “math pop”).
Math rock songs to check out:
“Atlas” by Battles
“Everlong” by Oxes
“Breadcrumb Trail” by Slint
Lowercase is an extreme form of minimalist music that is built around typically unheard ambient sounds. Artists record and remix sounds from crumpled paper, broken lightbulbs and carburetors, among other objects. Artist Steve Roden created the genre in 2001 when he released the album “Forms of Paper.” Lowercase has been compared to John Cage’s “4’33” and videos intended to evoke ASMR.
Lowercase songs to check out:
“Airria” by Steve Roden
“The Bourbaki Conjecture” by Kim Cascone
“Health Loop” by Tetsu Inoue
Vaporwave is a musical genre born from a 2010 internet meme. Esquire writer Scott Beauchamp called it a genre “defined at least in part by an obsession with ’80s and ’90s consumer culture.” Vaporwave music, paradoxically, is marked by both cynicism and nostalgia for capitalist culture. Artists use samples from 1980s and ’90s music or commercials to create lengthy, electronic songs reminiscent of smooth jazz or funk. It may be easiest described as elevator music for the internet generation.
Vaporwave songs to check out:
“Enjoy Yourself” by Saint Pepsi
“Dollar Menu” by Jason Sanders
“Call Me Maybe (Edit)” by Saint Pepsi
6. Vegan straight edge
Much like unblack metal, vegan straight edge (or just straight edge) music emphasizes animal rights and abstinence from drug use and extramarital sex. Music styles differ. Straight edge music was originally founded as an offset of hardcore punk, but Christian rappers may also fall under the straight edge genre.
Vegan straight edge songs to check out:
“Firestorm” by Earth Crisis
“The Way it Is” by Vegan Reich
“Motivation” by Canon
7. Unblack metal
Unblack metal shares the style of black metal, which tends to use fast drumming, shrieking vocals and complex guitar riffs, but it differs in content. Traditional black metal often incorporates Satanist or Pagan themes and expresses skepticism about organized religion. Unblack metal, on the other hand, promotes Christian beliefs and uses religious lyrics.
Unblack metal songs to check out:
“Where Darkness Cannot Reach” by Crimson Moonlight
“A Sovereign Fortress” by Antestor
8. German reggae
Germany has had a surprising history with reggae since the late 1970s. The first German reggae artists were primarily white, middle-class youths who wanted to create a counterculture for themselves. In the mid-1990s, the genre took off after the artist Gentleman began releasing albums. Today, Germany regularly hosts open-air reggae festivals that are well-attended by people throughout Europe.
German reggae songs to check out:
“Send a Prayer” by Gentleman
“Aufstehn” by Seeed
“Perle der Karibik” by D-Flame
9. Pirate metal
If Captain Jack Sparrow started wearing leather jackets and playing the electric guitar, you might end up with something a little like pirate metal. Pirate metal songs tend to be sea shanties sung or shrieked in the style of heavy metal, but accompanied by folk instruments like the concertina.
Pirate metal songs to check out:
“Dead Man’s Medley” by The Dread Crew of Oddwood
“Lions of the Sea” by Running Wild
“Alestorm” by Alestorm
Spytrack music is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. An official spotify genre, spytrack is the type of music that sounds like it should be part of the soundtrack in spy movies. It’s the perfect background music for when you’re Facebook-stalking someone or watching YouTube videos at work.
Spytrack songs to check out:
“The Prowler” by Alan Tew Orchestra
“Policy of Truth” by Depeche Mode
“Sour Times” by Portishead
11. Black MIDI (or impossible music)
Black MIDI music is sometimes called impossible music because it would be impossible for any musician to play by hand. Black MIDIs are made by inputting as many notes as possible to the Music Instrument Digital Interface. Often, that count is in the millions — the most intense black MIDI pieces contain as many as 93 trillion notes, the maximum allowed by most digital synthesizers. However, the size of those creations means they are unable to be saved, played or recorded. Black MIDIs are so named because if written in standard music notation, the compositions would be entirely black.
Black MIDI songs to check out:
“Red Zone” by John L. Sinneslöschen
“Flight of the Bumblebee” by Sir Spork
“Tetris Theme” by Kanade Tachibana