Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres. If the second chart is a pop chart, such as a "Hot 100" list, the work is not a crossover since the pop charts only track popularity and do not constitute a separate genre.
In some contexts the Term "crossover" can have negative connotations, implying the watering-down of a music's distinctive qualities to accommodate to mass tastes. For example, in the early years of rock and roll, many songs originally recorded by African-American musicians were re-recorded by white artists (such as Pat Boone) in a more toned-down style (often with changed lyrics) that lacked the hard edge of the original versions. These covers were popular with a much broader audience.
In practice crossover frequently results from the appearance of the music in question in a film soundtrack. For instance, Sacred Harp music experienced a spurt of crossover popularity as a result of its appearance in the 2003 film Cold Mountain, and bluegrass music experienced a revival due to the reception of 2000's O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Even atonal music, which tends to be less popular among classical enthusiasts, has a kind of crossover niche, since (as Charles Rosen has noted) it is widely used in film and television scores "to depict an approaching menace."
The largest figure to date for a crossover hit in the US has come from Grammy Award-winning country singer LeAnn Rimes, whose song "How Do I Live" sold over 3 million copies and spent a world record breaking 69 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, more than any other song in history, despite peaking only at number 2. It was also a massive hit in Europe.
Particular works of classical music
sometimes become popular among individuals who mostly listen to popular music
. Some classical works that achieved crossover status in the twentieth century include the Canon in D
by Johann Pachelbel
, the Symphony No. 3
by Henryk Górecki
, and the second movement of Mozart
's Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467
(from its appearance in the 1967 film Elvira Madigan
Within the classical recording industry the term "crossover" is applied particularly to classical artists' recordings of popular repertoire such as Broadway show tunes, or collaborations between classical and popular performers such as Sting and Edin Karamazov's album Songs from the Labyrinth. Deep Purple's Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1969) and Gemini Suite Live (1970) are early examples of this, and Metallica's S&M (1999) is a more recent example.
The term "crossover" (or the more specific "crossover rock") was frequently used in the 1980s to describe a style of aggressive rock music
. Bands who appreciated the fast hardcore punk
stylings of bands like Minor Threat
and Negative Approach
, and equally appreciated the fast heavy metal
stylings of Slayer
, began combining elements of both styles for a new musical style that became generally known as crossover thrash
. The first notable band of this style were the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles
. The two hotbeds of the style were located in New York City and Southern California, home to Suicidal Tendencies
. Other notable bands of the era were the Crumbsuckers
, Cryptic Slaughter
, The Cro-Mags, Method Of Destruction, and Stormtroopers of Death
Dream Theater had a very strange and unexpected crossover with their song "Pull Me Under" in the early 1990s. Their style of progressive metal was never intended for mainstream audiences, and yet the song received extensive MTV rotation and radio play.
Newer Bands Like Toronto's Cancer Bats and Winnipeg's Comeback Kid have elements of Punk, Metal and Rock that are keeping the Crossover genre alive today and bringing attention to many of the past crossover bands
During the late 1960s, Glen Campbell
began aiming his music at the mainstream pop charts, adding strings, horns and other pop music flurishes to such songs as "Witchita Lineman", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", and "Galveston", which allowed his music to chart both in country and pop. While such artists as Lynn Anderson
and Charlie Rich
followed Campbell's example into the early 1970s, it was Dolly Parton
and Kenny Rogers
who, during the mid- to late-'70s came to personofy the concept of country-pop crossover, with both artists maintaining a consisten presence on both the pop and country charts well into the mid-1980s.
Christian crossover artists
The term "crossover artist" may refer to musical performers and groups that are Christian music
artists, who many times originally are marketed through Christian record labels
, radio stations, churches and other Christian media but who start selling in mainstream secular
markets as well. Other times, crossover artists may start out in the mainstream market but have Christian undertones or themes if not overtly Christian. The term "crossing over" is used to describe when an artist who had started predominantly in Christian markets starts receiving mainstream success. Some people may feel that the artist is betraying the church for fame or glory, while others may see this as a great opportunity for the artist spread the message of their Christian beliefs.
The first major artist crossover was by Amy Grant, with her 1985 album Unguarded and 1991 hit song "Baby Baby" from the highest selling Christian album Heart in Motion. The albums and single were distributed by a Christian label but received heavy play on pop radio stations and was a chart-topper on the Billboard charts. Since then, many artists have been labeled as "crossover artist" regardless of whether they originally intended to market to the Christian market, secular market, or both. The most notable recent Christian crossover artists are Kirk Franklin, Switchfoot, Lifehouse, The Afters, Relient K, and many of the artists on Tooth & Nail Records such as MxPx, Underoath, Emery, and Dead Poetic.
Crossover as a mix of genres
Besides describing music of a distinct genre that becomes broadly popular, the term "crossover" has sometimes been used to describe music that deliberately mixes genres, whether or not this music proves to be popular with a mass audience. "Fusion
" is a more common term for this phenomenon. Examples include jazz fusion
, Celtic fusion
. An example of crossover of jazz and classical music is the Danish 7-piece chamber orchestra "Mad Cows Sing", which fuses composed and improvised music.
- Lonergan, David F. Hit Records, 1950-1975. Scarecrow Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8108-5129-6
- Szwed, John F. (2005). Crossovers: Essays On Race, Music, And American Culture. ISBN 0-8122-3882-6.
- Brackett, David (Winter 1994). "The Politics and Practice of 'Crossover' in American Popular Music, 1963-65" The Musical Quarterly 78:4.
- George, Nelson. (1988). The Death of Rhythm & Blues. New York: Pantheon Books.