For most musicians, releasing a best selling album is something that just never happens. And maybe that’s a good thing, because the pressure to follow up an accomplishment like that can, by most accounts, be pretty intense. Sadly, sometimes people crack under that pressure. Here are 10 artists who know exactly what I mean…
Oasis – Be Here Now
Is it even possible to call the fastest selling British album of all time, an album that sold 8 million copies, a disaster? Damn straight, especially when you’re following an album that just sold 20 million. But when it comes to Be Here Now, it’s not all about the sales. Most important is the fact that if you could pinpoint the one moment when the world turned on Oasis, the release of this album would be it. Up to this point, people seemed to be genuinely charmed by the group’s cantankerous behavior and unapologetic unibrowedness. But with all of the hype leading up to the release of this record, people were expecting a full on masterpiece.
Instead, what they got was “the sound of a bunch of guys, on coke, in the studio not giving a f-ck.” Notice those quotes, Oasis fans. Noel Gallagher said it, not me. After this album, things were never the same for Oasis. But on the bright side, the album that followed this one, Standing On the Shoulders of Giants, was WAY worse!
MC Hammer – Too Legit To Quit
Unlike Be Here Now, when it comes to Too Legit to Quit, it is ALL about the sales. While the album still managed to move a respectable 3 million units, it didn’t put up nearly the same numbers as its predecessor, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em. And after buying a $10,000,000 house and shooting one of the most expensive videos ever (for the title track), Hammer was sorely in need of the influx of cash that selling another 10 million albums would have provided. But it never happened. The rest, is Behind the Music history.
Chingy – Powerballin’
Have you ever heard the saying “don’t bite the hands that feeds you?” Sure you have, everybody has, except for Chingy, apparently. His first album, Jackpot, was a huge success that produced the massively popular and retardedly spelled singles “Right Thurr” and “Holidae In.” But almost as soon his career took off, he accused his Disturbing tha Peace Records boss, Ludacris, of cheating him out of money he was owed. Whether the allegations were true or not, they didn’t do much to help his career. In the wake of the dispute, he left DTP and started his own label and released Poweballin’. Sure, it eventually crept is way, slowly, towards platinum status, but have you ever heard it? Yep, me neither.
Neil Young – Hawks and Doves
From approximately the mid-1960’s through the end of the 1970’s, Neil Young could just about do no wrong. He ended the 70’s on a high note with Rust Never Sleeps, an album that ranks among his best ever and is often credited as an early touchstone for the “grunge” sound that dominated the 90’s.
So how do you follow up a triumph like that? By haphazardly tossing together a bunch of borderline awful country-rock leftover tunes from previous sessions and calling it a new album, of course. To further add to the nightmare, make sure the few new songs present a rabid patriotism and espousal of right wing beliefs that makes 60’s era Neil Young sound like the dirty hippie that he totally was. But people love hippie Neil. As for Republican Neil, not so much. This album kickstarted a decade long slump that wouldn’t let up until 1987’s Freedom.
Jay-Z and R. Kelly – Unfinished Business
When Jay-Z and R. Kelly released their first joint album, 2002’s Best of Both Worlds, all points led to it being a massive hit. But then, a video of R. Kelly pissing on an underage chick was anonymously mailed to a Chicago journalist and promotional efforts hit a — wait for it — “minor” snag. Ha! Get it?!?!? “Minor” snag, because she was only fourteen! Classic. Anyway, because the public’s statute of limitations on being appalled at statutory rape is a mere two years, the tandem regrouped and gave it another shot with 2004’s Unfinished Business. Things got off to a rocky start when the album managed to debut at number one, but still sold 70,000 fewer units during the first week than its predecessor. And then, the tour happened.
Rumors of bad feelings between the two superstars came to a head during a show on Halloween night. R. Kelly claimed someone in the crowed pointed a gun at him and responded by leaving the stage and refusing to return, a problem that was dealt with in the least gangster manner possible when a Jay-Z associate pepper sprayed Kelly backstage. Needless to say, he didn’t return to the tour and both parties acted like the album never even happened after that.
The Knack – …But the Little Girls Understand
The Knack’s debut album, Get the Knack, was a huge smash featuring the timeless classic “My Sharona.” The follow up, …But the Little Girls Understand, was a half assed attempt to strike while the iron was hot that fans saw right through. The album managed to go gold, but that’s a steep decline from the 5x platinum success of their debut. Also, a casual reference to preferring teenage girls on your biggest hit is creepy enough on its own (“I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind…”), but following that up with an album called …But the Little Girls Understand is enough to lead to an FBI investigation in most states.
Terrence Trent D’Arby – Neither Fish Nor Flesh
In 1987, Terrence Trent D’Arby’s first album practically dominated pop radio with the singles “Sign Your Name” and “Wishing Well.” As for the follow up, Neither Fish Nor Flesh, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t actually even exist. Good luck finding a copy if it does. D’Arby’s problem was one of arrogance, which is a kinder way of saying he was a total dick to just about everyone he spoke to, even going so far as to fall into the classic “I’m gonna be bigger than The Beatles” trap. When you talk a game like that, you better follow it up with a damn masterpiece, or else the world will be waiting to tear you down. And tear him down they did.
Sisq0 – Return of the Dragon
In Terrence Trent D’Arby’s defense, he could at least back up all of that bravado with the fact that he had one completely stellar debut album to his credit. Sisqo, on the other hand, had one novelty hit about ass floss (“The Thong Song”) and decided he had set a new standard for awesome that all who hoped to be awesome after him would fail miserably trying to reach. Turns out, he was actually just a shitty one hit wonder with ridiculous blonde hair.
Mase – Double Up
Before Mase’s second album dropped, there were rumors that it was going to be a huge disappointment. Before Mase could answer for how things went so horribly awry, he had quit the music business to become a minister. It’s a classic “the chicken or the egg” situation. Did the album suck because he already wanted to quit rapping and become a Bible thumper, or did his shitty album send him fleeing in to the arms of the Lord? We may never know, and frankly, as long as I never have to hear Double Up again, I can live without knowing.
Vanilla Ice – Mind Blowin’
Ha! I’m writing about music, so I’m legally bound by the strictest of internet etiquette standards to make fun of Vanilla Ice for at least one paragraph. In a strictly technical sense, this wasn’t the follow up to his notorious debut, To the Extreme. That would be Cool As Ice, the awful soundtrack to the awful movie of the same name. But really, that’s what makes this album such a disaster. Cool As Ice was recorded at the height of his powers, that brief window in time (approximately 48 weeks) when the world didn’t think Vanilla Ice was the biggest tool on Earth. So how was he to know that by the time it was released the world would be on the verge of turning on him in the most dramatic fashion imaginable?
But no similar excuse can be made for Mind Blowin’. By this point, he knew he was going to have to do something drastic to change the public’s perception of him. To pull of this Herculean task, he decided to grow dreadlocks and start smoking weed. So basically, he was saying “just kidding guys, I don’t think I’m a rapper from the mean streets of Miami, I’m actually Jamaican.” Shockingly, nobody bought the new persona. Even fewer people bought the album.