With the latest rumours of a Queen+Adam Lambert reunion set for the summer, I thought it'd be a good idea to look at a few musicians, unlike Brian May, who have made a distinct effort to move past their roots and have actually been successful at it.
Damon Albarn of Blur
People can argue that Blur are technically back together but Damon doesn't see that band as a necessity anymore. Indeed, the alleged setbacks for their next reputed album have partially been because of him.
Why should Damon try to re-kindle the spark though? In 2001, he unleashed Gorillaz, which became a bigger success than Blur ever were and finally managed to break the US. Besides the multiple hits that spanned their tenure ("Feel Good Inc.," "Dare," "Dirty Harry," etc.), he also managed to gain more respect in the music scene for his diversity across a number of other projects (e.g. the Good, the Bad and the Queen). He is probably the only man (besides Noel Gallagher) to have moved beyond Britpop with more to show, than you'd imagine. His first solo album will be released in April.
Beyonce of Destiny's Child
Beyonce pretty much dominated Destiny's Child but props must be given to the Queen B of pop, for moving in to one of the most successful solo careers of all time. Last year, she played the Superbowl and released a surprise album. This year, she has already brought the attention back to her, thanks to a semi-raunchy performance of "Drunk In Love" with hubby Jay-Z at the Grammys. There will always be something worth watching out for with Ms. Carter. Five albums in now and none the poorer, ever the more desirable, she upholds a gravitational pull for hits and ogglers.
Dave Grohl of Nirvana
Since he was not the frontman of Nirvana, it might have been easier for Dave to move on than Kurt would have, possibly. Still, he was one of only three members of the biggest band in the world in the early 1990s. Following up hits like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Heart Shaped Box" must have been daunting.
The Foo Fighters have gone on, in many respects however, to eclipse Nirvana. They have gathered a steady rise in popularity since the mid-1990s and now have a setlist most rock bands would dream of, to showcase. Grohl has also branched out too. He's worked with Paul McCartney, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures and even Tenacious D (he's the devil in "Tribute") amongst others to garner a well-received reputation in the music industry. Unlike many producers and artists today, he champions the quality of a raw-sounding guitar which had made him one of the last true rock n' rollers around.
Justin Timberlake of N Sync
JT is both an actor and a singer. This is not a rare case for those who grew up with a Disney project but to pull it off, on both sides, as successfully as he has done, is baffling.
Last year, JT released two albums under the 20/20 Experience project and played a medley of hits throughout his career at the MTV VMAs. This showed just how many hits he had over the years. With a brief appearance from N Sync too, we were reminded of how they played only a small part in his career. It was ultimately "Mirrors" which would define that performance; a song which after 7 years of seclusion from the music industry, sky-rocketed him back to the top.
One cannot say for sure whether JT will always return to music but whatever scenario plays out, we're sure he'll be just fine.
Dr Dre of NWA
You probably know the name, if only for the beats' headphones. Dr. Dre, along with Ice Cube and a few others, was once however a member of the influential rap group N.W.A. They helped to develop the sound of hip hop, which progressed in the late '80s and early '90s tremendously. With their references to gangs and Compton, they showcased an attitude foreign to other genres of music.
Dre, ever the aspirational, was of course not content to give it all up with the end of the band in 1991. He went on to become a successful solo artist and a masterful producer, helping to propel the likes of Eminem straight to the top. He may not have released a solo album in over a decade but Dr. Dre will always have a voice in the hip-hop scene.
Robbie Williams of Take That
Robbie will likely be remembered for his solo career and Take That. Both have been wildly successful in the UK and his consistent line of popular numbers (from "Angels" to "Candy") have made him a favourite amongst a variety of age groups.
People expected Gary Barlow to have the stand-out solo career once their favourite boy band had split. As fate would have it however, it would be the "fat Take That dancer" (Noel Gallagher) who would go on to command Knebworth in 2003. He's had his highs and lows but every time he releases an album, it's a delight to see him on Graham Norton.
And the Rest...
Cases can of course be made for a multitude of artists including the former Beatles, George Michael, MJ, Sting and even Bressie, if you want to be petty about it, but these seven are undoubted contenders I feel strongly deserve nomination. Do you agree? If so or if not, please comment your own suggestions below with frustrated slights.