Disco itself is far from the only music-associated fad or genre that has had problems with popularity.



  • Hair Metal, the genre with the honor of being to the The Nineties what the Trope Namer was to The Eighties -- i.e. the subject of mockery for an entire generation. After big success in the '80s, hair metal went into rapid decline at the start of the '90s, when Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind set the world on fire and turned grunge into the next big thing by providing a heavier alternative. '80s nostalgia has caused its popularity to increase, at least in the mainstream, it has never climbed back to its former heights, and is still treated as a subject of mockery by metalheads (as seen in Brutal Legend).
    • Grunge itself took a rather sharp decline in popularity during the mid-90s once Alternative Rock came around (though Kurt Cobain's sudden suicide didn't help either) and nowadays, pretty much nobody records Grunge anymore except for Pearl Jam, and their sound has changed significantly since their heyday.
      • On the other hand, alternative music was (and still is) heavily influenced by grunge. One could even argue that it was grunge's spiritual successor. So grunge definitely had a much more peaceful decline than disco and hair metal did.
  • Many, many, many novelty songs and one hit wonders. Even though people expect them to be fads and fade out, there's still an amazing jump between "cute, fun fluff" and "anyone who sings this gets a punch in the nose." Good examples include "Achy Breaky Heart" and the Macarena.
  • Arguably the alternative hip-hop and jazz-rap crossover craze from the early '90s. From 1992-'94, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, Arrested Development, Us3, and Digable Planets won critical acclaim, had hit singles, and collected awards. They were hailed as the new face of hip-hop. But their popularity has waned and their style has few critical supporters today. In fact at the time some was criticized for not doing anything special besides sample jazz records. Some created records that are still highly praised though, like the aforementioned artists. Other hip-hop artists from that same era — namely gangsta rap, political rap, and hardcore hip hop artists, such as Nas, Dr. Dre, the Wu Tang Clan, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Bone Thugs N Harmony, and Snoop Dogg — stood the test of time far better. On the other hand those genres created some great records, but it's also the reason many people hate rap.
    • New jack swing also suffered a similar backlash around this time, with some critics calling the scene watered down cookie cutter R&B/Hip Hop and slowly driving them out. It wasn't just "Gangsta rappers" that drove them out either, but pure lyrical type hip-hop artists and fans of said artists as well.
    • There is a second wave of alternative rap which includes rappers like P.O.S., Aesop Rock and El-P, but it's mostly targeted at fans of alternative and indie rock, who are mostly enthusiastic supporters of them. Rap radio stations, on the other hand, still avoid the genre entirely.
    • Interestingly enough there was a time when Alt/Rap was played along side Hardcore Hip Hop, Political Rap, and Gangsta Rap. Which is one of the reasons why the golden age is so fondly remembered.
    • Opinions vary, but, at least in the mainstream's eyes, pretty much any hip-hop that isn't Lil Wayne, Drake or Eminem is now considered "alt-rap" by default.
  • Nu-metal. The concept of referring to certain superficially similar, but otherwise very different forms of music (Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, rap metal, Heavy Metal), as "nu metal" is itself Deader Than Disco, but so are many of the bands that got lumped together under that label. Some bands only managed to stay relevant by abandoning their old rap-metal style in favor of one that wasn't being endlessly mocked (Linkin Park's U2-esque arena rock style, Papa Roach's mainstream hard rock sound), and most of the rest have been pretty much forgotten outside of their diehard fanbases and pro wrestling events.
  • Heavy Metal itself got this treatment with the emergence of Alternative and Grunge, and many metal icons became pariahs overnight. This was a relatively short-lived period (~8 years) thanks to the widespread influence metal had made on such artists. Part of the contempt toward Nu-metal was due to showing metal roots while distancing themselves from Heavy Metal, at a time when old-school Heavy Metal bands were making triumphant comebacks.
  • The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, thanks to the overt politics of the nomination process, has pretty much become a joke to anyone in the industry and many outside of it. But it keeps chugging along...
  • A lot of the Britpop bands of 1993-97 have gone from hugely popular and making the cover of NME to widely derided. The movement itself has come in for a lot of revisionism but bands like Shed Seven are nowadays little more than the butt of jokes.
  • Intelligent drum'n'bass, an offshot of sample-based dance music that was extremely trendy in the UK during the mid-1990s. Following the success of Goldie's Timeless and LTK Bukem's Logical Progression in 1995 and 1996, intelligent drum'n'bass was latched onto by the British music press as the hot new sound of inner-city black Britain. At a time when the NME and Melody Maker almost exclusively covered skinny white teenage guitar bands, it was the acceptable face of urban music; it was "intelligent". The musical formula - slow build-up, double bass, skittery drums - quickly became a ubiquitous feature of television commercials, and it seemed that every CD single released in 1996 time had a drum'n'bass mix near the end of the tracklisting. It peaked in 1997, with Roni Size's Reprazent winning the Mercury Music Award for New Forms; on a more comical level David Bowie built much of his 1997 LP Earthling around drum'n'bass, at which point the novelty had worn off. Goldie's second album was slammed for self-indulgence - the first track was over sixty minutes long - and the genre as a whole was quickly displaced in the affections of music critics by trip-hop, which deserves a separate entry of its own.
  • Most digital synthesisers and drum machines of the 1980s and early 1990s were extremely hard to program, and so producers simply used the preset sounds over and over again. As a consequence, several machines from the era wore out their welcome and have completely fallen from fashion. Examples include the warm electric piano and slap bass sounds of the Yamaha DX 7; the Phil Collins-esque sound of the Simmonds SDS and Linn drum machines; the chimes of the Roland D-50; and the house piano and bassy organ of the Korg M1. Several of the aforementioned produced a sound that crossed the Uncanny Valley, a broken imitation of reality that was good enough for the time but has dated badly. Ironically, the more obviously electronic sound of previous analogue synthesisers and drum machines (themselves Deader Than Disco after digital synths became widespread) - such as the Roland Juno, and the TR-808 - came back into fashion during the 1990s and has never really gone away.
  • The Boy Band craze. From approximately 1998 to 2001, boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC dominated the pop music scene, with multi-platinum albums and incessant airplay and TV spots. At one point, the Backstreet Boys even had Burger King kids' meal toys!! Inevitably, over-saturation and changing tastes lead to a huge backlash, and by 2003, it was like they never existed. The boy band stigma has largely prevented most former boy band members from having much of a solo career afterwards (except Justin Timberlake, and he beat the stigma by downplaying his association with *NSYNC).
    • Their Distaff Counterpart, the Girl Group, never experienced quite the backlash of boy bands, probably due to them having a solid Periphery Demographic driven by the Fan Service on display. But once again, it's telling that Beyonce's time with Destiny's Child is almost never brought up when people talk about her career, and that the only major girl groups to have much popularity in the last several years are the Pussycat Dolls (in America) and Girls Aloud (in Britain).
    • Related to the above, British listeners had pop groups like the Spice Girls (more on them below), S Club 7 and Steps, which were usually manufactured by record labels or the first talent shows (Pop Idol, Popstars etc.) to appeal almost exclusively to a younger demographic. They ruled the UK Top Forty airwaves in the mid-late '90s, but now they're either forgotten or derided for being part of a Dead Horse Genre.
    • As of early2012, it seems as though Boy Bands are making a comeback with Big Time Rush and UK Boy Bands One Direction and The Wanted very quickly gaining international popularity. One Direction even broke a record and became the first ever UK group to debut Billboard's top 200 album chart at #1 with the American release of their first album.
  • Easy Listening music and the radio stations that play them. Also known as Muzak, Elevator Music or the less derogatory term Lounge Music. There are few classic muzak songs that are more recent than the 1980s. As that was the last decade to produce in significant amounts music that appealed to more than the youth demographic all of whom find muzak boring. There are now companies that specialized in supplying piped music so it can occasionally still be heard in traditional locations such as some department stores and dentist offices although they seem to be slowly being replaced by remixes of more current tunes. On the radio, the current incarnation of easy listening prefers the label smooth jazz.


  • MC Hammer is a notable example of a single musician succumbing to this trope. In the early '90s, he was one of the biggest rap stars in the world, with the album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em going diamond (ten million sold -- the first rap album to accomplish that feat) and "U Can't Touch This" becoming a sensation. He made flaunting flashy clothes and lifestyle fashionable (rather than the strictly "hood" styles of most rappers of the time), and was on the leading edge of rappers acting as commercial pitchmen. Then, however, came three factors that derailed his success and caused him to fall harder and faster than even Michael Jackson, turning him into an almost overnight punchline:
    • Switching his sound to Gangsta Rap in order to stay relevant. To be fair, his 1994 album The Funky Headhunter was a platinum-selling success upon its release, even spawning the Memetic Mutation "it's all good". However, not only did it get him labeled a sellout by other rappers (the fact that he recorded several dis tracks probably didn't help), it ruined the clean-and-wholesome image that he had cultivated (he was, and still is, a Pentecostal minister, and included a Christian song on every one of his albums), which had allowed him to sell rap to mainstream America without the controversy raised by the more hardcore artists.
    • Overexposure. Even before he switched to gangsta, rivals like LL Cool J were dissing him for what they saw as over-the-top commercialization, which included shoes, T-shirts, Hammer pants and his Saturday Morning Cartoon Hammerman. This may have actually provoked his switch to gangsta rap, as it's possible that he felt he needed to prove to his detractors that he wasn't a one-trick pony.
    • Redefining the phrase "Conspicuous Consumption" for Generation X. There was his infamous mansion, for starters. Then there were his expensive music videos, which set records at the time. Throw in the cars, the thoroughbred racehorses, and to top it all off, the gold chains for his Rottweilers. He had to file for bankruptcy in 1996 as a result of this, and he remains a symbol of living beyond one's means. This is referenced in Nelly's song "Country Grammar (Hot S**t)", where he talks about how he's going to "blow 30 mil like I'm Hammer."
  • Liberace, the flamboyant piano player, was one of the most popular and highest paid music performers of The Fifties. He was especially popular among teenage girls who swooned over him the way their big sisters used to swoon over the young Frank Sinatra. His popularity extended well into The Sixties, as a pleasant alternative to rock 'n' roll. Most popular non-rock music performers of the Fifties are forgotten today, but not Liberace, oh no. He's still remembered, all right... as a ridiculously Camp figure, a joke on that era's cluelessness of his obvious closet homosexuality. If a character refers to Liberace ((Superman II, Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series), they're Ambiguously Gay. His fall from grace was completed when his Las Vegas museum closed due to waning popularity.
  • The entire city of Branson, Missouri owes its existence to this trope. When Garth Brooks and other younger stars took over Country Music in the early '90s, they brought in new fans and, more importantly, new Nashville record execs who didn't care about most of the established stars of country (although a few, like Reba McEntire and George Strait, managed to cross generational lines). Almost literally overnight, singers like Charley Pride and Barbara Mandrell went from having #1 hits to not even making the charts. Branson was pretty much the only place they could get anyone to pay to see their shows. So they all just moved there and opened up theaters. As The Simpsons put it...

 Bart: We're in Branson, Missouri. My dad says that it's what Las Vegas would look like if it were run by Ned Flanders.

  • The Darkness: huge in 2004, won loads of awards, album sold over a million copies in the UK alone. Then the follow-up album arrived in 2005, sold less well and the band subsequently split. Now, despite probably still having a copy of Permission To Land kicking-around, most people pretend they never liked them in the first place.
    • Others did enjoy the second album, the follow-up bands Hot Leg and Stone Gods (of singer Justin Hawkins and of the rest of the band + new singer, respectively) and are looking forward to the upcoming reunion.
  • The Spice Girls were one of the few British pop groups, especially after The Eighties, to successfully cross The Pond and make it big in the United States. At their peak from 1996-98, they were everywhere. "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life" were inescapable, "Girl Power" was the slogan of a whole generation of tween girls, and the movie Spice World was an inexplicable blockbuster hit. Dr. Wiki's article on them refers to that period of time, unironically, as "Spicemania". They remain the highest-selling Girl Group of all time even after their backlash... and oh, what a backlash. By the year 2000, Geri Halliwell was long gone from the group, their album Forever was shaping up to be nothing short of a disappointment, and all of the remaining members were pursuing solo careers. Today, the band is chiefly remembered for its campiness and flamboyance, and its members are better known for their work and lives after the Spice Girls.
  • The orchestra hit. A recording of same was included with the Fairlight CMI digital sampling workstation of the early 1980s, and was quickly exploited by producer Trevor Horn for Yes' Owner of a Lonely Heart and anything else Horn produced over the next few years. It became a cliche of 80s synth pop, appearing on records by Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys and New Order. The sound was resurrected in cartoon form by the rave and acid house crowd in the early 1990s - notably by Altern-8 and The Immortals for their Mortal Kombat theme - but was killed stone dead forever by its association with 2 Unlimited. It hasn't come back since, not even ironically.
  • The 90s vogue for Gregorian chants and/or New Agey music mixed in with modern instruments. Canto Gregoriano, Adiemus, Enigma and the like sold ridiculous amounts of discs back then but soon receded back into semi-obscurity.
  • In 1989 and 1990, German pop duo Milli Vanilli was one of the biggest pop acts on the planet. Best known for their hit single "Blame It On The Rain", the group managed to sell over six million copies of their North American debut album Girl You Know It's True over the course of a few months. In February of 1990 they were awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The problem was, the duo's members, Rob Pilatus and Fabrice "Fab" Morvan, didn't sing their own material on the album. Over the course of 1990, after a series of onstage lip-synching mistakes and an MTV interview in which they displayed a spectacularly poor grasp of the English language (much worse than on their album), rumors began to circulate that Pilatus and Morvan weren't the real singers. When Milli Vanilli's manager confessed in November 1990 that the rumors were true, there was a huge public bashlash against the band, with 27 lawsuits demanding refunds being filed and their Grammy Award being revoked. Milli Vanilli's popularity collapsed overnight, and for the next several years they were only brought up as the butt of jokes by stand-up comedians. They would not make headlines again until 1998, when Pilatus was found dead of an apparant drug overdose in a hotel room.
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