Johann Sebastian Bach was in his time well-regarded as an organist (with his compositions being seen as something of a sidenote), and after his death in 1750, the only people who took his work seriously were a small number of German composers (albeit some very good ones, such as Mozart and Beethoven). Even then, those composers focused on his keyboard work, mostly ignoring his other pieces. However, a biography of Bach in 1803 and then Felix Mendelssohn's 1823 performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion led to a renewed interest in Bach's work, and thence his acceptance as one of the greatest composers of Classical Music (broad sense) ever to have lived.
Another Classical Music example: One of Beethoven's final works, the "Große Fuge" ("Great Fugue"), featured the sort of wild complexity and dissonance that would still be considered radical in the early 20th century, and at the time of its premiere in 1826, it was dismissed by critics and audiences as being completely unlistenable; fellow composer Louis Spohr (who was, at the time, as famous and well-regarded as Beethoven) described it as "indecipherable, uncorrected horror." It took more than a century for it to become widely regarded as a work of genius, though still quite "challenging" for most listeners.
The last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the "Ode to Joy", was despised by critics when it was first performed in 1824 and long afterwards. Giuseppe Verdi called the symphony "marvellous in its first three movements, very badly set in the last. No one will ever surpass the sublimity of the first movement, but it will be an easy task to write as badly for voices as is done in the last movement." The last movement became beloved during the late 20th century, and is now considered one of his finest works and one of the greatest pieces of music ever written.
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer who delivered some of the most memorable classical works early in the era. Little do a lot of people know that when he was originally at work, people often dismissed him as a talentless hack who used improper voice-leading. Many classical composers wrote novel-length reviews of Symphonie Fantastique and said that his music was nothing more than "novelty". Come 1913 when Rite of Spring was performed (itself listed below) that Berlioz's influence started to be felt on composers. His techniques are now seen as his own rather than "incorrect" and Symphonie Fantastique is one of the most commonly analyzed symphonies in the world.
The opera Carmen was not a great success when it premiered in Paris, France on March 3, 1875 although the first act was well received as was the beginning of the second, the third and fourth act were greeted with stunned silence. Fortunately however it was well received at the second premiere (this time in Germany) just seven months later; however by that time Georges Bizet had already died (his death had nothing to do with the failure of the opera). Today Carmen is considered not only one of the world's greatest operas, but also one of the most popular operas ever written.
Scott Joplin, one of the greatest Ragtime composers. While he got some praise in the first decade of the 1900s, it would be in The Seventies when Joplin's work would hit the big time (thanks to the movie The Sting) with his greatest tune, "The Entertainer" becoming a top 10 pop hit and himself getting a posthumous Pulitzer prize among other major kudos. "The Entertainer" has become a Standard Snippet.
A particularly good example was his opera, Treemonisha. It wasn't even performed in its entirety until 60 years after it was written.
A major drawback for Joplin was that, while his songwriting talent cannot be denied, he never learned to play the piano on anything above a mediocre level. Certainly, when a composer cannot perform his own music very well, it becomes difficult for his genius to shine through.
Igor Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring caused a scandal in 1913 due to its loud, dissonant music and the sexual themes and violent motions of the choreography. Today it's one of the most popular, important, influential and famous classical works of the 20th century.
Franz Schubert received limited appreciation during his lifetime for his lieds and compositions, being seen as inferior to Beethoven, Mozart and Bach (though it's not hard to understand why). He is now regarded as a master songwriter.
Duke Bluebeard's Castle, Béla Bartók's only opera, was rejected by Hungarian Fine Arts Commission as unstageworthy when Bartok submitted it for an award. It wasn't performed until 5 years later, but is now considered one of Bartok's most important works, and, despite its unusually small cast causing some difficulty - it only has two main characters, and three silent roles, which is a little awkward if you have a large group of performers on retainer - it receives regular performance.
Erik Satie was seen a musically light weight artist during his lifetime. Only decades later his minimalistic approach was reappreciated as being ahead of his time.
Robert Johnson was an obscure blues artist during the 1930s who was only known in his own state. The legend and mystery surrounding his life have helped him gaining notoriety and acclaim after his death. Today he is for most people the most well known blues singer of the interbellum.
Frank Zappa's music wasn't very succesful during his lifetime, but since his death in 1993 his reputation has only grown. No doubt that in centuries to come it will be regarded as one of the most important composers of his time.
Ringo Starr's work as drummer for The Beatles gained quite a bit of retroactive appreciation in recent years, after the albums were remastered and his fills became more audible.
Pete Best greatly appreciated his inclusion on ten tracks of Anthology 1, not merely for the royalties he received, but because the tracks vindicated him as a drummer, dispelling rumors caused by his dismissal that he was a substandard musician who couldn't keep time.
When Gram Parsons died in 1973, he was only known as a former member of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers who'd released a flop solo album. Gradually, people began to realize that he'd invented country-rock.
The Monkees' show was relatively popular and well-received in The Sixties (even winning two Emmys), and their records were top-sellers, but after the group was "discovered" to have been manufactured, anyone who wanted to look remotely hip or intellectual disavowed them completely. A couple decades later, an MTV marathon of the show and Rhino's re-releases of their albums incited renewed interest in the Monkees' music. As the story of the band's successful overthrow of their musical puppetmasters became more widely-known, and as the legitimate innovations and influences became more apparent (Michael Nesmith, for example, should probably share credit with Gram Parsons for inventing country rock), they finally started getting some critical respect for the music they made post-overthrow.
When Alex Chilton died in early 2010, his obituary in The New York Times noted that his band Big Star "left a legacy more easily measured in artistic influence than in commercial impact."
Nick Drake. Although he failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, Drake's work has grown steadily in stature, to the extent that he now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years.
Sixto Rodriguez's two albums were well received, but bombed completely in sales in the United States in the early 1970s. However, thanks to being the most extreme example of the Germans Love David Hasselhoff trope, he found himself a star in South Africa (and Australia and New Zealand) decades later. As a result, that bizarre story led to a well received documentary, Searching For Sugar Man, which led to him finally getting some much deserved media attention at last in America as a long overlooked musical star.
The Zombies' Odessey And Oracle was released in 1968 to little critical or commercial notice - it probably didn't help that the band broke up shortly before its release due to its being a bit of a Troubled Production. After several flopped singles, "Time Of The Season" became a surprise hit the following year, and this was enough to get the album a re-release, but it wasn't that much more successful. Nowadays Odessey And Oracle is critically acclaimed and regularly shows up on "Greatest Albums Of All Time" lists, and "Time Of The Season" keeps turning up in Nothing But Hits soundtracks to films or TV shows set in The Sixties.
Captain Beefheart 's Trout Mask Replica hardly sold any copies back in 1969 and the few who heard often found it hard to tolerate. Over the decades the album has been reappreciated as Beefheart's masterpiece and a milestone in music history.
Brian Eno is said to have joked that "only about 1,000 people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every one of them formed a rock and roll band."
The Beach Boys album Sunflower was panned at the time of its release. The passage of time has helped heal its critical standing considerably.
Suicide, big time. Made up of Martin Rev on synthesizer - from which he played little more than a drum loop and a repetitive synth melody - and Alan Vega on vocals, the duo referred to their music as "punk, funk & sewer music" and, even in the thick of the emerging Punk Rock scene, got a majorHatedom in the late 70s due to their confrontational, abrasive performances, where Vega tended to tunelessly chant and scream the lyrics over Rev's minimalist song structures. (One particularly infamous performance in Brussels, opening for Elvis Costello, wound up enraging the audience into a riot.) However, the cold, alienating music by the band was so powerful it wound up having a major hand in giving rise to Synth Pop, modern Electronic Music, Post Punk and Industrial, and influencing countless musicians. Not bad for two lunatics who pissed off a lot of drunk rock fans almost nightly.
RAM by Paul and Linda McCartney wasn't kindly received by critics in 1971. Jon Landau, writing for Rolling Stone, infamously deemed it "inconsequential," "monumentally irrelevant" and "the nadir of the decomposition of Sixties rock thus far." A. J. Weberman of the Rock Liberation Front was so affronted by an album that "said nothing about what was happening on the street" that he staged a mock funeral to symbolize Paul's death as a "representative of youth culture." Ringo Starr sounded concerned for Paul's mental health when asked what he made of the albumnote "I feel sad with Paul's albums because I believe he's a great artist, incredibly creative, incredibly clever, but he disappoints me on his albums. I don't think there's one tune on the last one, RAM... he seems to be going strange"— and let's not go into John's reaction. Forty-odd years later, RAM has been the subject of at least three tribute albums and is regarded as a proto-indie pop masterpiece and one of Paul's best albums, if not his best, period. It received glowing reviews when remastered and rereleased in 2012 (including four and a half stars from Rolling Stone).
Mc Cartney in general was critically reviled as a soppy, over-whimsical soft-rock artist in The Seventies, especially by critics still upset at the Beatles' breakup in 1970. It didn't help that he recieved lots of negative press (and a very public feud with John Lennon) in the early '70s during the Beatles' legal battles (he received legal advice that he had to sue the other Beatles to indict Allen Klein, which rubbed off his bandmates the wrong way) and Mc Cartney's appearance in Let It Be gave him the image of dominating Control Freak. Years later, his albums would be critically re-evaluated as they were reissued in 2009.
David Bowie's Hunky Dory. At the time, he was still known as a One-Hit Wonder; the album's first-run sales were middling, and the one single ("Changes") was a blip in the States and failed to chart in Britain. Fast forward five months to a little album called The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars... the album is now frequently cited as his second-best or even best, often making "best album" lists, even outselling Ziggy itself by the end of the year. "Changes," "Queen Bitch," and especially "Life on Mars?" are regarded as classics.
Similarly, Bowie's minimalistic, synth-heavy "Berlin Trilogy" of the late 1970s (Low, "Heroes" and Lodger), on which he collaborated with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, were misunderstood and low-selling by his previous standards (though "Heroes" was NME's Album of the Year for 1977). Now they're cult classics noted for influencing Synth Pop, New Wave and ambient music, and the first two usually duke it out with Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust for the title of Bowie's Masterpiece. The title track of "Heroes", which didn't make waves as a single, is now one of his most beloved songs.
The album released prior to the trilogy, Station to Station, is being similarly re-evaluated, as it is an interesting transitional work with both blue-eyed Soul influences lingering from the previous album (Young Americans) and some interesting experiments in the direction of Low.
Only after their breakup have many review sites and magazines realized how great and important to this generation My Chemical Romance was, with even rolling stone in their album guide calling THe Black Parade "an instant classic".
Elton John is an interesting case. He began as a critical darling, though not without his share of harsh criticism, too, until his "glam period" when he decided to wear funny glasses and costumes, and he dropped the orchestral, somber "singer-songwriter" style for a more radio-friendly sound. Charges of "one-handed piano-player" and "disposable" came his way as he dominated the pop charts and news headlines. As he fell off the pop charts, albums like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy began to be considered classics. He came under fire again in The Nineties as a "soft rocker", but as the 2000s and 2010s came along, his music gained new respect and hipness.
One wonders if this doesn't have anything to do with his work on The Lion King.
The negative reviews even came as early as 1971; Elton mentioned in an interview he did for a BBC special he filmed to promote Madman Across The Water that a review mentioned an album Elton played on was good even though it had Elton John in it. It got very intense at the height of Elton's can-do-no-wrong "glam" period of 1972-76.
Lou Reed's album Berlin (1973) was torn down by critics back in the 1970s, but eventually found acclaim as a great record.
Queen was regularly panned by music critics during the 1970's, due to their pomp and general goofiness. Then-renowned music critic Dave Marsh even called them "the first truly fascist rock band." After their disco-centric 1982 album "Hot Space" flopped, they were more-or-less written off as relics of 70's flamboyance and excess (although they did have a hit song in 1984 with "Radio Ga Ga"). However, Freddie Mercury's death from AIDS in late 1991 and their 1975 hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" appearing in the popular 1992 comedy Wayne's World caused a major resurgence in the band's popularity, with many critics seriously reconsidering their prior dismissal of the band. They are now almost unanimously considered to be one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Queen's final album with Freddie Mercury, 1991's "Innuendo," was predictably slammed by critics upon release and mostly ignored by the general public. However, once it was revealed that Mercury was dying of AIDS during the album's recording (his diagnosis wasn't publicly announced until a mere days before he died), the album's mix of silliness/goofiness and serious life questioning made a lot more sense. It's now considered by many fans and critics to be one of the band's best post-1970's albums.
Suede's second album Dog Man Star saw a lukewarm reception and so-so sales upon its release, but is nowadays commonly considered to be the band's Magnum Opus.
The Ramones' first record peaked on the Billboard charts at #111, and while subsequent releases would fare somewhat better (1980's End of the Century made it all the way to #44), none of them would even be remotely considered hits. Only four songs by them entered the Billboard charts. Today, the Ramones are considered one of the most important rock bands of all time for writing a huge chunk of the blueprint for punk rock.
Similar with both The Stooges and Kyuss; they didn't sell many records but they are now acknowledged as the godfathers of punk and stoner metal.
Swiss metal band Hellhammer were generally hated when active, and brought down reception of Celtic Frost, the band that formed immediately after Hellhammer's break-up. These days they are seen as one of the most influential metal bands in history.
Kate Bush's "The Dreaming" was both a critical and commerical failure when it was originally released, mostly for being simply too experimental and difficult. Today it's considered to be one of her best albums (or even THE best, depending on who you're asking) and generally one of the best and most daring albums of the 80's.
The self-titled album by folk punk trio Violent Femmes flopped upon release but slowly gained a cult-following and quietly turned platinum about a decade after its 1983 release. Its lead single "Blister in the Sun" went being thought of as a cute novelty song to one of the most important alternative rock songs ever written in roughly the same amount of time, largely due to the Colbert Bump it got from the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack.
Dazzle Ships, the fourth album by synthpop duo Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark met with terrible reviews and poor sales upon its release in 1983 because of the weird, incomprehensible musique concrète that comprises half of the record and the experimental nature of the actual songs on the album. After its failure, the band resigned to never do anything as experimental again and eventually settled into writing pop songs like "So In Love" and "If You Leave". Contrast this reception with the critical hosannas it received when it was re-issued in 2008.
Dwight Yoakam may have had critical acclaim and decent hit songs during his prime, but nobody really thought of him as anything legendary... Then in the late 2000s new country artists were popping up listing Yoakam as a key influence. He had a strong influence on Alternative Country and may very well have been the first artist of the genre. This Time and Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room are now regarded as classics.
The Electric Light Orchestra's album Balance of Power received mixed reviews in the US, and decidedly negative reviews in the UK. For two decades it was something of a black sheep among fans. It was marginalized by many ELO resources in print and online, including the liner notes for the hits collections "Afterglow" and "Strange Magic." There were even rumors that Jeff Lynne just threw something together to fulfill his contract, which he denies (and his claim is supported by ELO archivist Rob Caiger, who says the 34-minute album was condensed down from 4 hours of material). The 2006 expanded remaster has caused "Balance of Power" to be reevaluated by fans and critics alike.
Almost every Shoegazing band not named My Bloody Valentine or Ride are far more popular and acclaimed now than they were back when the fad was still going. Some notable examples:
Kitchens of Distinction - Originally seen as a ripoff of The Smiths because their vocalists sounded similar. Upon further evaluation in the 2000s, though, the band has seen a great improvement in critical opinion. Death of Cool has been getting more and more praise for its subtle drama and capturing the fear of the AIDS epidemic. Patrick Fitzgerald, the band's lead singer, even expressed that he felt cursed that nobody quite understood the album at the time.
The Boo Radleys - Originally only majorly popular in Britain, their albums Wake Up and Giant Steps have both been seen as Brit Pop and Shoegazing classics respectively. America and several other countries have finally become much more familiar with them.
Slowdive - Considered "worst than Hitler" by the Manic Street Preachers, this band is now beloved for their more subtle approach to the genre. Souvlaki is hailed as a modern day classic, when it was originally hated by fans and critics for still trying to be Shoegazing despite it being a dying fad.
Catherine Wheel - Became a laughing stock for their final album Wishville, leaving much of their earlier work forgotten. Chrome and Ferment are now both seen as classics of not only Shoegazing, but Hard Rock as well.
Pale Saints - Really obscure and barely even reviewed back during their existence. Nowadays their albums and E Ps get swiped up on eBay because of how much their stature has grown. They command a pretty penny because they barely sold in the day.
Autopsy released their first two albums into the obscurity that was the early Death Metal scene. Years later as the movement expanded and other bands listed them as an influence the albums were rediscovered, and are now often called classics of the genre.
Slayer's South of Heaven album. Upon its release, the album was criticized for its slower tempos and more melodic style, a deliberate decision taken by the band as they felt they could not top the speed of Reign in Blood. Today, it's regarded as one of the band's best albums and one of the better (if not necessarily "best") thrash albums of the 80's.
The Church were highly under-appreciated in their early days. Even with the hit song "Under The Milky Way", they were just considered a one-off one hit wonder. Enter into the 2010s with a new appreciation emerging from Dream Pop revivalism, The Church have been embraced by many music lovers. They are often labeled as being the band that innovated Australian Alternative Rock (like what The Smiths did for the UK, and R.E.M. for the US).
Then there's the album, Heyday, which at the time was lambasted by critics for missing much of the soloing and stripped-down orchestrations of their previous work. The addition of strings and horns were not well received, and when Starfish was released, many critics embraced it as a refreshing return to form. As of right now, fans will very likely prefer Heyday to Starfish or The Blurred Crusade and has even gone on to ber recognized by some critics to be the definitive Church album.
The Stone Roses' first album was given a disappointing 6/10 by NME when it was released in 1989. In 2006, it was given the crown of Greatest Indie Album Of All Time by the same publication.
Their second album, Second Coming, (aka "The 'I Like It' album") was panned by both critics and fans when it first came out. It didn't help that a contract dispute stalled the band from performing and recording for four years, resulting in the long wait between the albums. Subsequently, when the album was released, the British music scene changed drastically with the popularity of rave and Britpop acts, while grunge and alternative music revolutionized music in America, leading to Second Coming losing its luster. The Stone Roses broke up in the shadow of the Britpop bands that the band influenced, but both their first and second albums are hailed as British post-Beatles classics.
Jellyfish made only two unsuccessful (or moderate successful) albums and was not a precursor to a commercially successful nor critically acclaimed musical movement, but many modern acts associated with Alternative Power Pop can claim to be infuenced by the band, so much so that a boxed set (Fan Club) and an all-star tribute album (Sensory Lullabyes: The Ultimate Tribute To Jellyfish) were released in the years following the band's breakup. Recently, the band's two studio albums were remastered and rereleased on vinyl by an independent label.
The Manic Street Preachers were initially viewed as Guns N' Roses imitators whose albums, mixing glam style with political punk fury, were viewed as out of touch with the depressing grunge scene stateside and the trendy shoegaze and Britpop scenes in the UK. Their third album, The Holy Bible, was darker and more depressing than the ones that preceded it. The album was not critically and commercially successful, since troubled lyricist Richey Edwards' self-destructive antics and lyrics were considered to be shallow attempts to grab attention (it didn't help that, before the band released their debut, he slashed "4REAL" on his arm in front of a skeptical journalist). It turned out that he really did have issues after all, and his disappearance/apparent suicide on the eve of the band's American tour derailed the band's ambitions for success. The band since found success by toning down their act, while their first three albums are regarded as posthumous classics.
Mark Kozelek spent much of his career in obscurity and commercial under-performance. While always critically acclaimed, many of his albums made by Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon went under the radar of many music listeners. However, after having his music talked about by devoted fans on /mu/ and The Lost Media Wiki, many listeners started to catch on. Then, in 2014, Sun Kil Moon's album Benji was lauded with critical praise (most notably by Pitchfork who gave it a 9.2). People listened to it out of curiosity and realized how emotionally deep and genuine the performance was. Listeners took a listen to not just the rest of Sun Kil Moon's discography, but Red House Painters as well and found themselves captivated. While Benji is still well-loved, albums like Ghosts of the Great Highway, Songs For A Blue Guitar, and especially Rollercoaster have been seen as some of the best albums ever created. To put things into perspective, take a look at how Rollercoaster was originally ranked at around 22 or 23 in the year 1993 on Best Ever Albums.com, but has since been climbing at a rate that is faster than most albums climb on the list.
Temple of the Dog's only album, Temple of the Dog. When it was first released, no one noticed it. Later in the year, the two bands which had members in Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, achieved mainstream success with Ten and Badmotorfinger respectively. Due to the popularity of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, the album eventually sold a million copies, and is now considered by fans and critics alike to be one of the greatest grunge records ever made.
Temple of the Dog was actually a tribute to Mother Love Bone whose lead singer died of heroin overdose in 1990. Chris Cornell who was roommates with him for the longest time felt heartbroken over the loss of his dear friend. Mother Love Bone themselves are considered one of the greatest grunge acts in existence by those who have heard of them (rivaling Nirvana for many). Mother Love Bone, though still quite obscure, are much more acclaimed now than they were back in their heyday.
Despite being their lowest charting single at the time, performing so poorly that plans for a third single were scrapped the day before shooting for the video began, Duran Duran's "Serious" is now recognized my most fans as one of the best songs they've ever written.
When Keith Urban premiered, he was a radio favorite but critics found his music either boring or derivative. Come the end of the decade, he was being hailed as one of the most important Country Music artist of the 2000s.
When Ten was released, Pearl Jam was accused of being a soulless corporate response to Nirvana, resulting in a minor feud between the two bands. With Kurt Cobain's suicide, Pearl Jam's failed fight against Ticketmaster, and the downfall of the grunge movement along with the rise of formulaic "post-grunge" bands, Pearl Jam is looked upon as one of the greatest grunge bands (alongside Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and their former rivals Nirvana), with Ten regarded as a classic of the genre.
Michael Jackson's Dangerous and Invincible albums. The former had only one #1 as opposed to the five of the predecessor Bad... and still sold more.
Whilst many considered him past his prime when he put out History (despite it selling well), the album is now quite well regarded as showing his troubled state of mind.
Tupac Shakur. While a popular rap artist among fans of the genre, he was mostly criticized and ripped apart in the public media. He was seen as too radical and a trouble maker for his strong views against racism and police brutality, which he talked about in some of his most memorable songs. His run-ins with law furthered convinced people of this image. After he was murdered, a flood of low-to-high budget documentaries came out, showing how Tupac was really a bright, deep-thinker, and poet. Today he's considered one of the most influential artist in music, and music fans of other genres see him as an icon.
Megadeth's 1994 album Youthanasia. Upon release, the album garnered a fair amount of fan backlash for its slower tempos and more straightforward heavy metal sound (notice the parallel between this and the criticism lobbied at South Of Heaven six years prior). Over time, however, the album's popularity with the metal community increased significantly. Many Megadeth fans now consider it to be one of the band's best albums.
Similarly, Cryptic Writings was considered too alternative at the time but is now hailed for its eclectic selection of genres.
Weezer's second album, Pinkerton, was initially trashed by both critics and fans and sold dismally. Rolling Stone readers named it the second worst album of 1996, and Rivers Cuomo viewed it as an Old Shame for years. Today, it's regarded as one of the greatest albums of The Nineties, and as one of the albums responsible for bringing emo to the mainstream.
Rolling Stone readers voted Pinkerton the second worst album of 1996 at the time. In 2002, Rolling Stone readers voted it the 16th best album of ALL TIME. Quite a reversal indeed. The only major magazines who gave Pinkerton praise at the time of release were Pitchfork and the NME.
Nas' sophomore album It Was Written was dismissed by critics as not being Illmatic Part II. It has since grown in status over the years.
To put it more succinctly: Illmatic is an album for fans, It Was Written is an album for other rappers — the AP Style guide of rap if you will.
Metallica's Load and Reload albums are comparably light but notable examples. Upon release, the albums were heavily criticized for their alternative rock leanings and the band's questionable fashion choices. Over time, however, they've become more accepted by the metal community. The reasoning for this is twofold: First, while the Load twins alienated many of the band's longtime fans, they also gained the band many new ones. Most significantly, they brought Metallica's music (and arguably metal in general) to a much younger audience. Since a good portion of the people that got onboard the Metallica bandwagon with the Loads eventually went on to discover less mainstream metal bands, it's only natural that the albums would be more accepted by the metal community now than they were during the mid-90's. Secondly, in a weird way, the enormous backlash (not just with metal fans but also with the mainstream) 2003's St. Anger got led many to go back and listen to the Load albums, realizing that "For bluesy hard rock (ie. mostly non-metal) albums, these really aren't so bad."
Kylie Minogue's Darker and Edgier offering, Impossible Princess, was critically and commercially reviled upon its release in 1997, as she had been previously known for her cheerful image and sound. Once she returned to the spotlight with a sleeker dance-pop sound, music critics and fans revisited Impossible Princess and found it to be much better than it was first perceived.
The Auteurs' song "Future Generations" is about this trope. Whether any of Luke Haines and the Auteurs many non-hits will actually be vindicated by future generations remains to be seen.
The Mars Volta are now an example of this. The group was mostly popular in South America with a strong cult following in North America. Now that the band has broken up in early 2013, more and more people are discovering their music. Most videos of their performances have comments by people who claimed they discovered them, right at the time they've broken up.
Some Finnish people thought that having Lordi as their country's entry in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest would be a national embarrassment. They ended up winning, breaking the points record in the process.
Beach House's third album, Teen Dream was praised by some critics, but was called boring and meandering by many more others. The album also suffered mediocre sales (though it's the only charting release the duo had up to that point) and by the end of the year most Indie fans were decrying it as overrated. As 2010 came to a close, the album barely scraped "Best of the Year" charts and was labeled as being part of a "passing fad". One year later, people who were just discovering it started praising it and the album hit a second wave of acclaim and love. It doesn't look like it's about to fade back anytime soon.
Part of the reason for its failure to scrape the charts was because of it being Overshadowed by Awesome by Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and most notably, Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. Teen Dream's subtlety got it labeled as "boring" in the wake of the other two albums' bold, loud sounds.
This sometimes happens to artists or groups who were "controversial" at the height of their fame. Eminem references this in his song "Sing for the Moment":
Eminem: "And maybe they'll admit it when we're gone. Just let our spirits live on through our lyrics that your hear in our songs and we can...(Steven Tyler:) Sing with me, sing for the year..."
The song "Love Gun" by Kiss. While the namesake album, released in the summer of 1977, became one of the biggest smash hits of all time (even going platinum before its release, thanks to a deluge of pre-orders), the song itself didn't even crack the Top 50 when it was released as a single - and this was during a time when it was practically impossible for anything by Kiss to not be an instant success! Certainly, "Love Gun" was the Darkest And Edgiest - and the heaviest - Kiss song up to that time, and in all likelihood it was probably just too "metal" for late Seventies audiences. But Paul Stanley (who wrote the tune) considers it one of his three favorite Kiss songs, it had a huge influence on the earliest Hair Metal bands such as Quiet Riot and Ratt, and it's been played at virtually every Kiss concert for the past three-and-a-half decades. ("Rock and Roll All Nite" will always be the group's Signature Song, however.) Meanwhile, the song off that album that did become a hit in '77 - the Fifties-inspired tune "Christine Sixteen" - has fallen into obscurity and is remembered only by diehard Kiss fans.
No one cared about Exhumed in their original era, and their efforts to change this with Anatomy Is Destiny went unnoticed, eventually causing Matt Harvey to call it a day and focus on various other musical endeavors. Come 2009, Job for a Cowboy covered "The Matter of Splatter" as a bonus track, which created some renewed interest and helped encourage Harvey to give Exhumed another shot. Not only was All Guts, No Glory met with a very warm critical reception and decent sales, but the band found themselves getting put on high-profile tours left and right and co-headlining some of them. Other acts in metal have pulled similar comebacks, but few have had quite as drastic a change in status as Exhumed.
Simple Minds early albums did not sell massively well in their prime, but are now viewed as seminal influences on electronic music and post-punk. For many years the public thought of them as U2 copyists, known for their mid to late 80s work, ie Don't You (Forget About Me) and Alive & Kicking. In particular, bands like Manic Street Preachers and The Killers have mentioned them as influences and the instrumental track Theme For Great Cities became a dance hit when remixed as The Real Life - it was already played in Ibiza for years despite not being a single. Jim Kerr had spoken to Italian dance producers who were massive fans of the band's early work which encouraged him to return to their early influences for Black And White 050505. They also released a box set of the first five albums called X5 which got rave reviews and sold out very quickly.
The Gibson Les Paul line of electric guitars, particularly the '58-'60 "bursts." Considered heavy and overpriced for their day, they were replaced in 1961 with the simpler, lighter, cheaper Gibson SG line. In the mid-'60s, British blues musicians such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Peter Green rediscovered the guitar's sound through newer high-gain amplifiers, causing Gibson to reactivate the line before the end of the decade.
Camel spent its peak years in the 70's stuck in the shadow of more successful prog bands like Yes or Pink Floyd, only appearing to gain any commercial momentum towards the end of the decade...right when Progressive Rock was becoming Deader Than Disco. Later generations, however, have increasingly regarded them as unfairly overlooked, to the point where Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth has cited them as a major influence.
Same thing goes for In Rainbows, which at first turned off listeners due to a more mainstream sound, but quickly regained acclaim.
Jewel's debut album Pieces Of You, upon release, garnered mostly So Okay, It's Average reviews from critics and was largely ignored by the public. A whole two years later, the album unexpectedly shot up to the top of the charts after "Who Will Save Your Soul?" became a radio staple. The album continued to sell like hotcakes, eventually reaching Diamond certification in the United States (a rare feat for any album, let alone a debut). Critics have also retrospectively looked at the album more favorably, with SputnikMusic giving it a 5 Star "Classic" rating in a 2011 review and AllMusic Guide also retrospectively reviewing the album positively.
At one point, Hilary Duff was one of the most hated Disney artists in existence, and after the release of a "best-of" compilation in 2008, vanished from the public radar. While it's probably just the Nostalgia Filter speaking, she is much more well-liked by the public than she was before, and is often praised for not only for her catchy music and personality, but also in that she chose not to take a Hotter and Sexier direction when she ended her relationship with the Mouse House.