Whether you're honoring a ubiquitous egg-laying rabbit obsessed with scavenger hunts or the miraculous resurrection of a thirty-something Jewish carpenter, the Easter season is upon us once again. But regardless of your religious affiliation, in the world of music, returning from the dead seems to happen more often than it did in biblical times.
While there have been some incredible career comebacks over the years (Johnny Cash's return to prominence thanks to Rick Rubin) and artists who seemed to become more prolific after they died (Tupac), the last year or two has produced some incredible returns to the limelight for artists whose careers had been left in tombs behind big rocks. We may not be quite ready to canonize all these folks yet, but here's a look at some of the most surprising comebacks of recent memory. Miraculous? No. But pretty impressive nonetheless.
5. Korn Path of Totality, the band's tenth album in nearly twenty years -- and a bit of a departure from the heavy (analog) sounds that made the guys superstars back in the '90s --' dropped late last fall, much to surprise of everyone who isn't a member of Korn. Guitarist Brian "Head" Welch's departure over personal differences (he found Jesus) in the mid-'00s was seen as the first step toward the death of the nu-metal pioneers. And the band's 2010 release, KoRn III: Remember Who You Are, seemed like the last nail in the coffin. But lead singer Jonathan Davis found musical kindred spirits in the emergence of dubstep, and suddenly the guys were collabing with top shelf producers like Skrillex and Excision, among others. Maybe the move toward dubstep alienated some longtime fans, and maybe no one else cares about Korn except their longtime fans, but it definitely stopped a lot of critics from shoveling dirt onto the band's grave.
4. Darius Rucker Having sold 20 million records during his rise to fame with Hootie and the Blowfish, Darius "Don't Call Me Hootie" Rucker could've very easily ridden off into the sunset to count his Grammy statues -- actually he may have done that, because no one heard from him for years. An R&B project of his shelved by his label in 2001, and it seemed like the only gig he could get was singing a jingle for a Burger King commercial about bacon cheddar ranch burgers. But maybe the role of a burger-loving singing cowboy was just the inspiration he needed. Just a few years later, Rucker ignited his country music career with the record Learn to Live, scoring four consecutive chart topping singles. It was just like the old days again, except without the Blowfish. He won "New Artist of the Year" at the Country Music Awards even though he'd already had more than two decades making music.
3. Evanescence The emo-goth-pop trailblazers came out of the gates screaming in the new millennium and seemed poised for a chart-topping career thanks to a legion of devoted fans. But a few years passed and there were no new records to follow up on the success of the first two. Then a few years turned into five and almost everybody who wasn't mauling Evanescence songs at karaoke night forgot they ever existed. Out of nowhere last year, the band was back though, waving copies of a new self-titled record. There had been some personnel changes to the band, and lead singer Amy Lee had to remember how to talk about her music while on a press junket, but both fans and critics seemed to agree that the project was worthy of the group's initial wave of material, even if the sound had evolved some during the time off. Evanenscence topped the Billboard 200 last October. The top 2 are on Page 2
2. Fiona Apple She might have put out some more music, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a roomful of people who remained devoted to Apple after her initial rise to fame with the sultry, proto-American Apparel advertising aesthetics of the "Criminal" video. Yeah, there was an album she put out in 1999 that has the longest album title in history, but it didn't make ripples outside the pond of critics who still harbor smoldering teen desires for the pale songstress. But, it's 2012 now, and there she was rocking a show at Presbyterian church in Austin, Texas during SXSW, and suddenly everyone was like, "whoah, where have you been? We forgot you could sing like that." She's releasing her first album since 2005 this summer, titled The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes ever do. Despite trying to thwart success with that mouthful of a title, we're glad to see she's back.
1. Chris Brown The world watched Chris Brown's career get dropped off at the coroner's office after his assault against then-girlfriend Rihanna. When you're a sex symbol with a big female audience, getting violent with your special lady friend is a surefire way to end up an old, broke drunk saddling a bar stool and reminiscing about the good old days. He caught a beatdown from fans and the media alike, and was blacklisted from high profile events like the Grammys. But after two years in career purgatory, a handful of apologies, some community service, a couple of painful media appearances and a smash hit with "Look at Me Now," he's earned the moniker Comeback Kid (also a mixtape title from earlier this year). After making a much-hyped return to the Grammy's in 2012, and collaborating with Rihanna on a remix, it seems all but certain Brown is back with a new record called F.A.M.E. -- regardless of what that says about our society's tolerance of violence and the disparity of gender politics -- at least until the next incident.
Also read "It's Easter: Here Are Five Musicians Whose Careers We Would Resurrect" in the Phoenix New Times.
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