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A Brief Overview of Music’s Most Unconventional Genres

Genres serve an interesting purpose to audiences. They’re a way for us to make sense of the otherwise chaotic nature and direction of art, music and creative expression. They allow us to identify patterns within our own likes and dislikes, and find solace in creative expressions that validate those preferences. Genres come from other genres, multiplying, breeding between sub-genres, ultimately giving birth to something almost unrecognizable, and in some cases, rather questionable. But of course, to each their own. Where there’s a niche, there’s a reason it’s still alive.

And no matter how obscure, the fact is, it exists. And if it exists, it warrants analysis, or as my word limit would allow it, a quick overview… Starting with a genre that’s slowly filtering its way into the mainstream, “Narco corrido”, or the drug ballad, draws largely from Spanish romance, and the more
traditional narrative styles of “corrido” from Mexico. The lyrical content focuses on narcotics, and narcoculture beyond the U.S – Mexico border, unsurprisingly earning these songs bans, and next to no radio time. However, like most genres, it has a strong niche following of its own, that draws largely from South American countries and communities in Mexico.

Nintendocore, on the other hand, is a curious case of rock meets chip music -creating an interesting fusion of the two. Some of the pioneering artists within this genre include Yellow Magic Orchestra, Buckner and Garcia, The Advantage, and Mr. Bungle, whose music used distinctive computer sounds, video game music and even arcade game samples. However, as far as independent music is concerned, Autoclave was the first of the indie-rockers to ever cover a video game theme song,
with their take on the arcade game “Paperboy”.

Horror Country is perhaps one of the more obscure genres on this list. And I say this because it was nearly impossible to find any written material describing the genre, save for a dedicated Reddit page – r/horrorcountry. However, despite the lack of a solid description (which would perhaps be redundant, given the self-explanatory name) you can find several artists dedicated to creating music within this category.

The genre itself seems to follow a simple enough premise of country music with refreshingly eery undertones in its lyrical content. For anyone who’s liked country music, but always had a distaste for its often predictable lyrics, horror country is definitely worth a listen.

Math rock, is one of those conceptually interesting genres that is characterised by the odd and the atypical. Math rock doesn’t care for the general structures of music, using erratic rhythms, unpredictable patterns, while simultaneously incorporating an intricate sense of complexity. Like most genres, math rock has inspired the birth of sub-genres like mathcore (a fusion of punk rock, extreme metal and math rock), and to a certain extent, technical death metal.

Black MIDI’s appeal lies in its incomprehensibility. The whole idea behind the genre is to layer millions or even billions of notes over the other to create an almost blackened score or manuscript. Conceptually, black MIDI is similar to the idea behind the impossible piano – a pursuit characterised by the creation of piano arrangements that are impossible to perform.

And finally, we have Kawaii metal, cute metal or kawaii core, the genre that combines elements from heavy metal, traditional Japanese music, electronic dance, death metal and western pop. The music is generally defined by heavy sounding music, paired with more docile lyrics – a less sinister version of conventional metal. Japanese metallers “Babymetal”, are almost undisputedly the pioneers of this style, and their name is perhaps the most apt description of the genre.

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