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.
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.
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
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.
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