Weird Experiments in music has been a mainstay for centuries. Jazz itself is an entire genre based on improvisation and experimenting with time signatures and phrasing. Over the years, as pop music became more and more commercialized, musicians, bands, and record labels began to think of increasingly outlandish concepts for albums, artwork, and fan engagement.
New technological innovations, such as digital recordings, bluetooth enabled retro turntable devices, and Internet streaming itself, have fundamentally altered the music industry. And as art and commercialism merge we see increasingly weird presentations of music.
The Flaming Lips – Zaireeka
In 1997, the experimental rock band The Flaming Lips released their 8th studio album, Zaireeka, which required simultaneously playing four different compact discs on four separate audio systems. The end result was a synchronized juxtaposition of music that created a natural surround sound.
It was a limited release album but the band intended to push the limits of how technology can facilitate musical expression. The Flaming Lips went on to create multiple subsequent albums with deeply experimental pop music, but nothing that required such a complicated arrangement of different devices.
Radiohead – In Rainbows
In 2007, the highly successful and experimental rock band Radiohead released its 7th studio album, In Rainbows, as a digital download that consumers could purchase for any price. They called it “pay-what-you-want” and it shocked the music world. In other words, the band allowed fans to listen to their album for free at a time when many songs were already being illegally streamed and downloaded. The move was considered a savvy business move that created hype around box sets of the album and vinyl records.
Incredibly, the band ended up making more money with In Rainbows than they did with their previous album, Hail To The Thief, which they had distributed and sold in the traditional way.
Beck – The Information
With weird experiments in music, when Beck released his 10th studio album, The Information, he provided fans with an assortment of stickers, iconic graphics, and digital decals and allowed them to design individual covers for the album. Ultimately, one design was chosen for the album’s official release but fans were able to redesign the cover using the pre-fabricated art. Beck’s idea was to invite interactivity with his fans and said he wanted no two albums to look the same.
While it was a gimmick meant to boost retail sales, the idea of customizable cover art struck many fans as brilliant.
Garth Brooks’ alter ego
The country megastar Garth Brooks confused fans and pretty much everybody by creating a fictional persona, a kind of alter ego, named Chris Gaines, through which he released an album in 1999. Brooks originally intended the persona to be an experimental vehicle through which he could explore different genres of music and even planned a movie about the character, though the project never materialized.
Recently, Brooks, who is the number one top-selling solo artist in United States history with 159 million albums sold, has teased the return of Gaines.
Music has positive effects on plants
This one is a bit different than the other entries on this list, but as far as it is weird experiments in music, it’s hard to get much weirder than this.
In 1962, Dr. T. C. Singh, an Indian botanist, conducted experiments to see if music affected the growth of plants. What he found was that exposure to classical, raga, violin, and various other types of music augmented balsam plants significantly, including their height, growth rate, and a whopping 72% rise in biomass.
Singh ultimately concluded that the violin had the greatest effect on plants. Additional studies on plants suggested that they respond to human affection and experience certain kinds of sensory perception.