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"You see, we never ever do nothing nice and easy. We always do it nice and rough. So we're gonna take the beginning of this song and do it easy. Then we're gonna do the finish rough."
Tina Turner, spoken intro to "Proud Mary"

You're listening to a song on your media source of choice. You're grooving along to the beat and you get to a point where it sounds like you are going to get a Big Finish or a Truck Driver's Gear Change.

Not so fast! Instead, the music changes almost completely. It gets faster and more aggressive. As if someone rewrote the song in a different style and pasted that part into the middle of the recording.

If done well, it can result in some Crowning Music of Awesome. Bear in mind that this is ostensibly the same song, rather than a segue (one song, leading to another) or a medley (parts of different songs put together).

See also Mood Whiplash.

Examples of Song Style Shift include:
  • The Trope Codifier: Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird", shifting from mournful Southern Rock ballad to pure Guitar Attack rock.
  • Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" is composed of three quite different sections.
    • "Live And Let Die" has the format of a ballad, then an orchestra, then a reggae verse, then back to the orchestra, then back to the ballad, then back to the orchestra AGAIN.
    • "You Never Give Me Your Money" is much the same.
    • Speaking of The Beatles, "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", written by John Lennon, switches styles and moods radically at least three times, arguably more.
  • Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight", after the EPIC DRUM BREAK, goes from slow, dark pop song to faster pop/rock.
  • Sly & the Family Stone's "Stand"
  • Metallica's "One". Let Beavis and Butthead show you what we mean.
    • Also, "Fade to Black".
  • Santana's version of "Black Magic Woman" speeds up for an epic instrumental outro.
  • Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" speeds up into a coda called "Get Away" (usually left off on most radio edits).
  • Country music band Alabama shift two of their singles this way: "Dixieland Delight" and "Mountain Music".
  • "Dance Yrslf Clean" by LCD Soundsystem.
  • Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla" goes the other way: It's a fast-paced guitar-driven rock song, which suddenly shifts into a Linda Ronstadt piano piece.
  • Doctor Steel's "Childhood (Don't) A-Go-Go" has a major shift halfway through, abruptly going from hard-driving punk to a melancholy waltz.
    • It's somewhat explained in the music video (the punk part was from a wind-up music toy).
  • Prog Rock is full of these, particularly acts with "chapter"-structured songs. Rush's 2112 is a prime example.
  • Ike and Tina Turner's version of CCR's "Proud Mary".
  • Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" starts off as a mournful apology song, but after a long guitar solo turns into something faster-paced and more whimsical.
  • Motley Crue's "Wild Side" is an inversion.
  • Starflyer 59's "Who Says It's Easy?" starts as a fast (and for Sf59, relatively upbeat) pop-rock song, then slows down to a moody space-rock finish.
  • Richard Swift's "Buildings in America" starts off poppy, then turns industrial after the second chorus.
  • At the three-minute mark of Linkin Park's "And One", the song switches from the brand of nu-metal they became famous for to a musically and lyrically strange hip-hop section.
  • Led Zeppelin's "Over the Hills and Far Away" start out as an acoustic guitar folk ballad, and then it abruptly transitions into a faced-paced hard rock tune (with the acoustic guitar providing the rhythm), and then slows down into an echo-y finish.
  • "The Nameless" by Slipknot is a prime example of this. It starts aggressive and hard then switches into an almost pop-like chorus then switches back and builds up until the final chorus retains the melody but is much harder. Its jarring but fits the story of the song as its about the cycles of a dysfunctional relationship.
  • Pantera's "Cemetery Gates" starts out with an acoustic guitar, then shifts into an aggressive heavy metal tune.
  • "Frozen" by River of Guilt goes from a straight-forward groove metal song to a Proggy solo section that finishes off the song.
  • Pulp's "Like A Friend".
  • Styx's "Suite Madame Blue" starts out as a soft ballad, until a few minutes into the song - when it dramatically transitions into a full blown hard rock tune.
  • The Dingees' "Smoke Signals" is a very funky reggae song for most of its duration, then about two minutes before the end, a bunch of synthesizers wash over the song, and the whole rhythm section gets simultaneously louder and fuzzed-out.
  • A lot of hard rock and metal songs have slow, melodic intros, often with unusual instrumentation. Examples: Metallica's "Battery", Avenged Sevenfold's "Afterlife" and "Critical Acclaim", Megadeth's "My Last Words" or Disturbed's "Another way to Die".
  • Sublime's "Seed" rotates from being punk to reggea to ska throughout the song.
  • The Guess Who's "American Woman" - a slow one-and-a-half minute intro followed by a slightly harder second part. The intro is commonly edited out for radio airplay.
  • The refrain of "Should I Be Sweet" shifts repeatedly between "sweet" and "hot" styles with just about every other line.
  • In Vain's October's Monody takes this trope and runs with it. Recklessly. Starting with a standard metal acoustic intro, it seems to be a Hammond organ based post-black metal song at first. Suddenly, and "like a thief in the night", it drops the post--hard, launching into an old-school blast beat section. Okay, you say, so we're settling into a back and forth between Hammond organs and black metal. Until In Vain drive a truckload of blues into the song.
  • In Earthbound, Porky's battle theme ("Cease to Exist", more popularly known as "Pokey Means Business") starts off as an almost whimsical-sounding 8-bit boss tune, then suddenly shifts into much more aggressive hard rock/metal about a minute into the song.
  • Iwrestledabearonce is pretty notorious for this, for example throwing a random hoedown into You Ain't No Family or the strange electronic interlude in Tastes Like Kevin Bacon.
  • "Religion Song (Put Away The Gun)" by Everything Else starts with a gentle string section, then goes to a church song, then to a rock song, then to spoken word, then back to the church song.
  • One of the more noticable differences between pre-Aramary and post-Aramary Sound Horizon is that, besides getting significantly longer, songs have taken to shifting gears or even musical genres in the middle of them.
  • Frank Zappa was very fond of this. "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" packs about 20 different sections into 7 1/2 minutes, with tempos including "Slow shuffle", "Corny Swing", "Tempo di Cocktail Lounge", "Tempo di Beach Boys" and "No Tempo With Random Keyboard Effects" before ending on a "Fraudulent Dramatic Section".
  • "Rocket Queen" by Guns N' Roses starts as standard Appetite for Destruction song (fast, distorted guitars and dirty, dirty lyrics) before changing tempo and moving into a Power Ballad-ish love song in the final 2-and-a-half minutes of the song with a suitably epic Big Rock Ending.