Deader Than Disco / Music

For a discussion on how disco itself relates to this trope, see here.

Examples from Hip-Hop, Country, and Rock Music have their own sections.

Note: A musician/group is not Deader Than Disco if they've had one or two underperforming songs/albums or are seen as Snark Bait by the general public. Otherwise, every mainstream musician or musical group in existence would be this trope! For a musician or group to be Deader Than Disco, they need to have irreparably fallen into mainstream obscurity to the point where they are now remembered only as a punchline, either through career-damaging behavior or simple shifts in cultural taste.

Second Note: This is not a forum for complaining about music and/or singers you don't like. Just because you're personally disgusted by a specific band or genre doesn't mean they can't be enjoyable in principle or have significant lasting appeal with the general population.

Third Note: If something fell out of popular favor at one point in time but made a comeback later on, it belongs under Popularity Polynomial. Do not confuse that with Deader Than Disco (which implies that the work has not made a comeback and has a very slim chance of ever making one).

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     Genres & Industry Trends 
  • The castrati were mainstays in 18th century opera until Mozart, who himself had several roles for them, came along. They very rapidly fell into disuse in the 19th century as composers wrote more male roles with high voices for women and tenors. Since most of them came from poor families in Italy, where the process of making one a castrato became illegal in 1861, the "elephant songbirds," as described during the premiere of Adelaide di Borgogna, an opera by Gioachino Rossini that had a more common travesti role, became "dodos" when the last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi, died in 1922.
  • Charity Motivation Songs. The first few multi-artist singles were done in response to the famine in Ethiopia in The '80s, and they were seen as revolutionary in bringing many artists together to promote a worthy cause. Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" and USA For Africa's "We Are The World", both aimed at supporting those affected by the famine, are credited for kicking off the trend (though a Canadian response to both singles called "Tears Are Not Enough" was also successful), and other multi-artist singles since then, such as the 1991 song "Voices That Care" (aimed at boosting the morale of those fighting in the Gulf War — which ended the very day the single got released) and the Artists Against AIDS Worldwide recording of "What's Going On", made international charts. As time went on, however, Values Dissonance kicked in and multi-artist charity songs are now largely viewed as Glurge and (as this brilliant AV Club article notes) mostly concerned about promoting the artists themselves instead of the cause.

    While the UK, who brought us "Do They Know" many years earlier, has continued to pump out multi-artist charity singles, many of which went to #1, the last American one of note was the 2010 "We Are The World" remake benefiting those affected by the Haitian earthquake, which, despite peaking at #2 on the charts, was widely panned by critics and considered inferior to the original version. Adding a rap verse, having autotuned parts courtesy of Akon, Lil Wayne, and T-Pain (all of whom became this trope after a few years), and giving parts to common targets of hatedom such as Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, and Justin Bieber, probably did not help, even though it also featured the likes of Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand and CÚline Dion, as well as keeping the vocals of Michael Jackson from the original as a tribute to him. It also holds the distinction of being the lowest-rated song of all-time on Rate Your Music. Nowadays, even the original charity singles like "We Are the World" have been derided as egotistical-sounding glurgefests—the only song to really escape this is Band Aid's original recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which may also be a divisive song but still enjoys airplay around Christmastime and otherwise doesn't share much of the tropes that sour many charity recordings.

    Male solo artists 
  • During The Fifties, Pat Boone was one of the biggest pop performers in America. He explicitly served as The Moral Substitute to the edgy Rock & Roll artists of the day by singing Bowdlerised covers of their songs, with a number of them (such as his versions of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame") actually making it higher on the charts than the originals. Nowadays, though, the original songs serve as the First and Foremost versions, while his covers have faded into obscurity. When he is remembered, it's usually as a symbol of the buttoned-up cultural conservatism of '50s pop culture; the fact that he's since found steady work as a right-wing Christian commentator hasn't done much to challenge that image. He has a cult following among metalheads for his album In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, which featured covers of classic metal songs in his big-band style. (Ronnie James Dio even sang backing vocals on Boone's cover of "Holy Diver"!) Even then, though, it's chiefly an ironic fandom, akin to that of Chuck Norris.
  • The animated character "Crazy Frog", former mascot of German music and cellphone company Jamster, was everywhere in Europe early in The Noughties. The character was a male frog-like creature with a high-pitched voice who sang various songs and sometimes making weird sounds and gibberish. He was so popular that he gained his own set of video games and a few arcade cabinets. However by the mid 2000s, the character started gaining a lot of dislike from the public and resulted in Jamster having to retire the character in early 2007 and ended up getting replaced with Schnuffel, the company's current mascot who has gained more positive reaction with the public. The character even made a cameo in The Amazing World of Gumball where it gets chased by a group of angry animals.
  • 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 '60s, as a pleasant alternative to rock 'n' roll. Most popular non-rock and non-Motown music performers of the '50s and '60s 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 ("I wish my brother George was here" was referenced on some Looney Tunes cartoons). If a character refers to Liberace (Superman II, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series), they're Ambiguously Gay. What's more, his legacy in modern times suffers on account of the fact that he was, during his life, very adamant about denying that he was gay, giving him a Periphery Hatedom in today's LGBT community. To be fair, being openly gay back then was tantamount to career suicide, but even after his death in 1987, his estate and personal physician went through great efforts to cover up the fact that he died from AIDS-related complications. His fall from grace appeared complete when his Las Vegas museum closed due to waning popularity in The New Tens.
  • Not for lack of trying on his part, but people called time of death on Robin Thicke's musical career as quickly as it started. Kicking around the business for years, he finally broke through in 2013, riding a wave of No Such Thing as Bad Publicity thanks to his kinda-sleazy song "Blurred Lines", which became the unofficial Song of the Summer, and an equally controversial performance with Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMAs. This seemed to work primarily because of a carefully constructed image of a Rule-Abiding Rebel: he played the part of a lecherous womanizer, but got something of a pass because he was clearly devoted to his wife and high school sweetheart, actress Paula Patton, who appeared on the cover of his debut A Beautiful World.

    However, throughout 2013 and 2014, stories began to emerge that his sleazy creep persona wasn't all an act, and after getting proof in the form of a Tumblr post with rape survivors holding up cards with their rapists' quotes on them that eerily echo "Blurred Lines", and a photo taken in an elevator with mirrored walls showed him groping a female fan, Patton finally left him. His follow-up album Paula, as the name implies, was a transparent, desperate, and somewhat depressing attempt to win her back, only digging him further down, while a Twitter Q&A went haywire fast when Thicke was inundated with angry messages. The trust between Thicke and his female fans was broken, potentially irreparably, and Paula bombed with only 24,000 copies sold in the US in its first week (compared to 177,000 for his debut) and international numbers even worse (only 550 copies in Canada, 530 in the UK, and 158 in Australia. The album that took the place of #500 in Australian charts instead of Paula? A greatest hits compilation by Blondie, which sold 159 units). By the summer of 2014, Thicke's name is more synonymous with "that rape-y song" than anything else, with few people defending the Unfortunate Implications of "Blurred Lines" anymore. Of course, music is a business with "never say never" as a mantra, but for him to recover from falling that far that fast would take nothing short of a miracle at that point. More news arose with the allegations that he copied his signature song from Marvin Gaye, which proved to be true, and in March 2015, Thicke and Pharrell lost the lawsuit and were forced to pay Gaye's descendants $7.5 million due to the jury finding that "Blurred Lines" infringed the rights of "Got to Give It Up". in August 2016, Thicke and his featured artists on "Blurred Lines" announced that they would appeal the settlement against the Gaye estate. Despite support from artists who are far from DTD status, this is unlikely to repair Thicke's reputation. Today, most of the R&B and urban stations that he had been a staple of for over a decade have dropped him from the airwaves, or at least significantly downplayed his presence. Even airplay of his mega-hit nowadays is sporadic as the Unfortunate Implications and infringement of the song have become its most famous aspect. It's likely he'll be seen as an Old Shame for many of his former fans, and for those who actually liked "Blurred Lines" at the height of its popularity (what also doesn't help is "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody "Word Crimes" to the relief from fans of Mandatory Fun). What truly solidified his Deader Than Disco status was in 2015, where rap superstar Flo Rida attempted to breathe some life into his career by having him sing in his summer jam "I Don't Like It, I Love It". Not only did it not help revive his career, but he brought the song down as well. It spent what felt like forever at the bottom of the charts, only fall just short of the Top 40 at #43, before subsequently plummeting downward. Comparing that to Rida's other two singles from the My House EP ("G.D.F.R." and the Title Track), which had no problems reaching the Top 10, you'll see why it failed to be a hit. The final nail was "Back Together" featuring Nicki Minaj, which tried to throw back the disco sounds of "Blurred Lines", only to fail to get any traction whatsoever. While other similar R&B crossover stars with a single pop hit like John Legend and Pharrell Williams remain iconic examples of R&B in The New Tens, Thicke is seen as a quintessential One-Hit Wonder to most of the general public.

    Female solo artists 
  • In 2002, Avril Lavigne burst onto the scene at only 17 years old with her Top 10 hits "Complicated", "Sk8er Boi", and "I'm With You", which propelled her album Let Go to 6x platinum status. Lavigne quickly became the face of a movement of singers/songwriters rebelling against the "manufactured" pop and sexual images peddled by the likes of Britney Spears (to the point that she was called the "anti-Britney") and was viewed as a Spiritual Successor of sorts to Alanis Morissette. She had built a reputation as a girl with an attitude, but also with a sweet spot on the inside, with her combination of rock and Pop Punk with mainstream sensibilities giving her a large magnitude of teenage fans, girls and boys alike. Not only that, she also built up a large following in Asia, especially Japan. In 2004, she released the Darker and Edgier Under My Skin, which was also a massive success and spawned the hit "My Happy Ending". She even tried her hand at acting in a number of films, such as Over the Hedge and the film adaptation of Fast Food Nation. Her popularity as an artist peaked in 2007 when she released "Girlfriend", which became her first song to hit #1 on the Hot 100. Its music video was, for a time, the most-viewed video on YouTube, and its parent album The Best Damn Thing was the best-selling album of 2007.

    Unfortunately for her, she simply couldn't keep up the momentum after "Girlfriend" was released. Her 2011 follow-up Goodbye Lullaby only debuted at #4, and failed to even reach Gold status in the US, while many fans saw it as a sellout that took a far more commercial direction as opposed to her more personal and angsty earlier albums. She'd also long had a brewing hatedom among Punk Rock fans who saw her Pop Punk style (along with that of contemporary artists like Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco) as borderline blasphemy; her increasingly pop-oriented direction only made their charges easier to stick. The album did spawn a Top 20 single with "What the Hell", but it didn't have anywhere near the staying power that her previous singles did, while her follow-up singles barely scraped the Top 70 on the chart.

    She seemed to be making a comeback in 2013 with her Top 20 single "Here's to Never Growing Up", which managed to attain platinum status in the US, but she went and blew it completely the following year with "Hello Kitty", an attempt to capitalize on both the dubstep craze and her continued popularity in Japan. It certainly got attention... but not the kind she was looking for. The video, which was filmed in Japan and had emotionless, robotic backup dancers filled with exaggerated Japanese imagery, was widely derided for being racist and stereotypical (or at least Japandering taken to embarrassing extremes), and the song barely charted on the American or Japanese charts. Her self-titled album, which contained both of the previously-mentioned songs, was the biggest flop in her career, selling even worse than her previous release (although admittedly, it was released against the red-hot Marshall Mathers LP 2 from Eminem). Nowadays, Lavigne is seen as a relic of the early-to-mid 2000s who made annoying pop songs like "Complicated" and "Girlfriend" that got stuck in your head for the wrong reasons. The fact that she's been married to Chad Kroeger, the frontman of Nickelback (a band that's become Deader than Disco as well), probably doesn't help matters. The announcement of their separation in September 2015 was a source of Snark Bait among radio DJs, particularly on rock radio, at least when it was mentioned at all.
  • The revolving door of female pop-rockers in the early-mid '00s that included Avril Lavigne continued with Ashlee Simpson. She was billed as an edgier version of her big sister Jessica, and was expected to follow her and Lavigne's footsteps to become a major pop star. Her first album, Autobiography, went triple platinum. Then her disastrous performance on Saturday Night Live in October 2004, where she was caught lip-syncing when her band started playing the wrong song, followed by an embarrassing "hoe-down" when she realized what was happening lowered people's opinions of her, though she still had three more hit songs following the incident. Then that was followed by an equally disastrous half-time performance at the Orange Bowl a few months later (in which she was singing live, and it showed), Ashlee's music career was all but over. Her following album, 2005's I Am Me, sold far less than Autobiography and didn't even reach the platinum mark, and she only released one more album after that, the commercial bomb Bittersweet World in 2008. She's had a bit more success as an actress, playing Violet Foster on the short-lived Melrose Place Sequel Series and Roxie Hart in Broadway and West End productions of Chicago, but when she's brought up today (outside the tabloids), it's usually in the same breath as Milli Vanilli, as the punchline of jokes about lip-syncing and manufactured pop stars.

  • The Jonas Brothers scored a massive following with young girls. Songs like "SOS" and "Burnin' Up" were huge hits on the pop charts, and they were able to sell over 18 million albums worldwide in just a couple of years. They also took part in acting on the Disney Channel, starring in Camp Rock alongside Demi Lovato, and they eventually got their own show called Jonas, and later Jonas L.A.. Unfortunately for them, they also built up a massive hatedom on the internet right from the get-go, and as the girls that flocked to them grew older or moved on to other things, eventually only the hatedom remained. Touring died down because no one wanted to see them and Jonas L.A. was unceremoniously cancelled due to low ratings. Before long they were known only as a joke in spoofs such as South Park S 13 E 1 The Ring, in which they're depicted as a manufactured and disposable group under the thumb of the Disney corporation as personified by a corrupt and evil Mickey Mouse.
  • In 1989 and 1990, German pop duo Milli Vanilli was one of the biggest pop acts on the planet. Best known for their hit singles "Girl You Know It's True," "Blame It on the Rain," and "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You," the group managed to sell over 6 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. They were on top of the world.

    There was just one problem, though: the duo's members, Rob Pilatus and Fabrice "Fab" Morvan, didn't actually sing their own material on the album. Over the course of 1990, after a series of onstage lip-syncing mistakes (highlighted by a Repetitive Audio Glitch) 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 their manager confessed in November 1990 that the rumors were true, there was a huge public backlash against the band, with 27 lawsuits demanding refunds being filed, their Grammy Award being revoked, and Arista Records deleting their music from their archives, putting them out of print (probably the highest-selling act to do so). 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 apparent drug overdose in a hotel room. Today, Morvan has gone solo, releasing a couple of surprisingly decent albums and singles and even recording new songs with one of the original vocalists in Milli Vanilli.

  • When it was released in 2000, "The Christmas Shoes" by the Christian Rock band NewSong became a massive crossover hit with secular listeners, topping the Adult Contemporary chart in the US and reaching #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song received cover versions and a novelization that was adapted into a Made-for-TV Movie. These days, it frequently shows up on lists of the worst Christmas songs of all time, mainly for its glurge-y lyrics that paint a very twisted portrait of the True Meaning of Christmas (which Patton Oswalt devoted a stand-up routine to tearing apart and making fun of). Because of the song's reputation, the song gets rarely played nowadays on radio stations during the holidays, not even on Christian radio.