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    Saturday Night Live performances 

The NBC series Saturday Night Live, which features performances by musicians both famous and obscure as part of its Sketch Comedy format, has long been known as a show whose platform has made many once-unknown musicians into overnight superstars... but it's also known as a show where many other artists have derailed their careers just as rapidly.

  • In 1981, former cast member John Belushi convinced new Show Runner Dick Ebersol to book the Los Angeles punk band Fear, whose frontman Lee Ving was a friend of his, for the season 7 episode hosted by Donald Pleasence (on October 31, appropriately enough). What followed was a rowdy punk show complete with mosh pit that ended in a riot; among other things, Ebersol was hit in the chest with a pumpkin, somebody got on stage and shouted "fuck New York!" into the microphone, the crowd of actual punks bused in for the show (which included a young Ian MacKaye, Tesco Vee of the Meatmen, and multiple members of the Cro-Mags) trashed the SNL set, and NBC cut the broadcast short and went to commercial. Not only was Fear permanently banned from SNL, but they also found it much harder to tour afterward as venue owners who had seen the nationally-televised SNL performance refused to let them use their venues, greatly limiting their career prospects. (Not like the tried-and-true punks of Fear really cared about mainstream success, mind.)
  • Sinéad O'Connor's performance of "War" on October 3, 1992, in which she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while saying "Fight the real enemy!" in reaction to the then-recent sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, caused a massive outcry among Catholics that greatly sapped her career momentum in the '90s. The episode's host Tim Robbins refused to acknowledge her at the end of the show, NBC received over four thousand angry phone calls over it, a protest was held outside Rockefeller Center where O'Connor's albums were crushed with a steamroller, the following week's host Joe Pesci said during his opening monologue that he wanted to smack O'Connor for what she did, and even Madonna, then in the midst of her Hotter and Sexier Erotica era and no stranger to controversy herself, thought she went too far. The scandal contributed to the sales disappointment of her just-released album Am I Not Your Girl? and her 1994 follow-up Universal Mother, and after the latter, she wouldn't release another album of new material for six years. To this day, reruns of the episode only show the dress rehearsal performance, where she held up a picture of a child from the Balkans (without tearing it up) as an anti-war protest.note  The worst part of it? Her "j'accuse" method was only a decade ahead of its time. When the sex abuse scandals she was criticizing burst open in the 2000s such that the Catholic Church could no longer cover them up, her response amounted to "I told you so."
  • Ashlee Simpson was expected to be the next Avril Lavigne, following in the footsteps of her big sister Jessica to become a major pop star. Her first album, Autobiography, went triple platinum, and like her sister, she had a successful Reality Show on MTV. Then came her disastrous performance on Saturday Night Live on the October 23, 2004 episode hosted by Jude Law, where she was caught lip-syncing when her band played the wrong song, followed by an embarrassing "hoe-down" when she realized what was happening. Following an equally disastrous half-time performance at the Orange Bowl a few months later, 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 her 2008 follow-up Bittersweet World was an out-and-out flop that finished off the remnants of her music career. 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 performances of Chicago.
  • Karmin was a music duo composed of Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan who built their success with cover songs on YouTube before they were tapped to perform on SNL in 2012, the second YouTube act to do so. While the first, Lana Del Rey, met scathing reviews for her performance, her career managed to come out mostly unscathed; Karmin, however, didn't. On the February 11, 2012 episode hosted by Zooey Deschanel, the group performed "Brokenhearted" and "I Told You So" from their forthcoming debut EP Hello, and were roundly mocked for both Amy's fashion sense and their Pretty Fly for a White Guy tendencies. Critics compared them to Pat Boone and an unironic version of The Lonely Island that was better at dancing and gesturing than they were at singing or rapping, and Hello vanished without a trace when it was released a few months later. Although Amy and Nick got married in 2016, their professional collaboration never recovered commercially from the SNL appearance, as their band subsequently released two full-length albums to minimal attention before going on hiatus in 2017, with Amy moving on to a solo career under the name Qveen Herby. Karmin is now largely remembered as a One-Hit Wonder for their lone Top 40 hit "Brokenhearted".

    Bands/groups 
  • 2 Unlimited had been arguably the most popular eurodance group of the 1990s, whether at sporting events in America or the pop charts in Europe, but amidst friction between the producers and singers over their creative direction, they disbanded in 1996. Rather than cap the project completely, however, the producers hired two new singers to perform under the 2 Unlimited banner for their third album II, which bombed hard despite its leadoff single charting well in a few countries.
  • 1989's Up by ABC. They were one of the biggest bands of the sophisti-pop movement in the 1980s, but once they ventured into house music on this album, their critical and commercial approval plunged to practically nothing almost immediately. However, the lead single "One Better World", while not successful, is notable for its explicitly pro-gay rights message, making it extremely progressive for a pop song in 1989.
  • Kids in the Street by The All-American Rejects was another rock album that got decent reviews but which failed to make a mainstream impact, due to being released after the genre itself disappeared from the pop charts. The band has not recorded a new studio album since this one failed to get certified.
  • Arrested Development's 1992 debut 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of... was a 4x-platinum-selling, critically acclaimed smash hit that got them hailed as the prophets of Alternative Hip Hop leading the counter-movement against the Gangsta Rap boom. Their 1994 follow-up Zingalamaduni was not nearly so successful. Despite decent reviews, it completely and utterly tanked due to a mix of poor promotion, poor choice of singles, the decline of Afrocentrism by the '90s, and the gangsta rap boom taking over Hip-Hop, which made them look like the faces of a preachy, judgmental, non-threatening hip-hop establishment lashing out at the new wave rather than any sort of "alternative". Not only did Zingalamaduni arrest the development of the group's mainstream career (at least in America), it caused them to be swiftly forgotten even by diehard hip-hop fans despite their earlier smash success, and they broke up soon after. This episode of Trainwreckords goes into more detail.
  • After two equally successful albums on Republic Nashville produced big hits such as "If I Die Young", "All Your Life", "Better Dig Two", and "DONE.", the sibling trio The Band Perry announced that their third project would be a New Sound Album with flashier pop influences. "Live Forever", the intended lead single to their third Republic album Heart + Beat, was absolutely trashed by fans and critics for being too extreme and different from their previous work, and it bombed so horribly at radio that Republic dropped them. The band even deleted nearly all references to "Live Forever" off their social media, to the point that the single was even unavailable on iTunes for a time. In 2016, they signed to Interscope Records — all while fighting rumors that they had abandoned country music entirely, with the band members even saying they only chose Interscope so that they could distribute singles to pop while also having sister label Mercury Records Nashville service their country material. They announced a new album title, My Bad Imagination, but their first Interscope single "Comeback Kid" fared even worse at country radio, and another single titled "Stay in the Dark" made no noise on the AC format. Although initially slated for a 2017 release, My Bad Imagination was stuck in Development Hell well into 2018. While they did issue a New Sound Album electronica EP titled Coordinates in 2018, it came and went without anyone noticing. Given how thoroughly the band seems to have abandoned its core, combined with the highly negative reception to their poppier material, it remains unlikely that The Band Perry will ever return to their "If I Die Young" glory days. The consensus among fans is that the band just got too full of themselves and too pompously wrapped up in their Genre Shift.
  • The Beach Boys seemed poised for a comeback after the massive (if polarizing) success of their 1988 single "Kokomo", a Breakaway Pop Hit from the film Cocktail, but the 1992 album Summer in Paradise destroyed that goodwill immediately. The first Beach Boys album where Mike Love was the driving creative force without any input from Brian Wilson, Summer in Paradise was absolutely thrashed by critics and sold so poorly that it became their first album to not make the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart. Todd in the Shadows, covering the album for Trainwreckords, described it as a mix of terrible attempts to recapture the success of "Kokomo", terrible covers (of both older Beach Boys songs and Doo-wop classics), and Mike Love creeping on much younger women, and said that it was so bad that it may have killed the "'60s boomer revival" trend in pop music that flourished in The '80s. Stars and Stripes Vol. 1, a 1996 cover album of old hits sung by country singers, did nothing to help their career, even with Brian Wilson producing (though his actual involvement was limited), and they were reduced to a touring oldies band from then on, one that wouldn't record a new album of original music until 2012.
  • The New Wave Music band Berlin scored their biggest hit with "Take My Breath Away" for the soundtrack to Top Gun, which won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best original song in 1986. However, this Black Sheep Hit created a rift in the band between singer Terri Nunn, who liked the song, and bassist and songwriter John Crawford, who hated it. The resulting infighting saw the band break up less than a year after the song was released.
  • Much like the rest of New Edition, Bell Biv DeVoe dominated the New Jack Swing movement throughout the early 1990s. By 1993, however, the genre was on its way out, resulting in their sophomore album Hootie Mack only going Gold, in contrast to its predecessor's Quadruple Platinum certification, and its only hit peaking at a modest #38 on the Hot 100. Though BBD reunited with New Edition for one more successful album in 1996, they were no longer huge names purely in their own right.
  • The critical mauling of The Black Eyed Peas' 2010 album The Beginning, along with their poorly-received Super Bowl halftime performance and the failure of their video game The Black Eyed Peas Experience, badly damaged their career and led to them going on hiatus in 2011. Since then, will.i.am has had success and failure as a solo artist, falling into obscurity in his native US but remaining popular outside it due to his involvement as one of the four coaches in the UK and Australian versions of The Voice. There were two songs featuring everyone but Fergie in 2015 and "#WheresTheLove", a reworked version of their Breakthrough Hit "Where is the Love?" (which did have Fergie back and had several featured artists), but a follow-up album wouldn't be released until 2018, to very little fanfare, though it was well received by critics for its Revisiting the Roots sound for the group. Todd in the Shadows, in his list of the worst hit songs of 2011, goes into more detail.
  • Boston had a legendary debut album, a capable follow up album, then took eight years for their third album. Granted, that release, Third Stage sold really well and had two of their biggest hits, "Amanda" and "We're Ready". But Boston then took another EIGHT years to release Walk On, which sold even worse despite going platinum. Since it was now 1994, a band that peaked in the 1970s had an uphill battle to release successful singles. Two songs briefly made the mainstream rock charts but that was it. Despite still being around after Walk On, they firmly became a nostalgia act. None of their subsequent albums have gained certifications and none of their singles have charted.
  • Boyz II Men absolutely dominated the Billboard Hot 100 throughout the entirety of the 1990s, but by the year 2000, R&B had evolved from being represented by earnest love ballads to thugged-out, hip hop-oriented sex and party jams. The two singles from their studio record that year, Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya, were such big flops that neither even came close to the top 40. The record also contained "Bounce, Shake, Move, Swing", an embarrassing foray into electronic disco.
  • 1987's Door to Door ended the career of The Cars. Despite eventually going gold, the album was a sales dud, especially compared to the five multi-platinum albums that preceded it. Meanwhile, critics were deeply disappointed by the album, which they felt was mediocre, formulaic, and half-hearted. First single "You Are the Girl" was a #17 hit in the US, but it fell off the charts quickly and didn't stick around on radio, with its quirky video directed by John Waters being just about the only well-remembered thing about the entire project. The album's other two singles were duds, and the band broke up in February 1988. They wouldn't release another album until 2011, and it would end up being their last — frontman Ric Ocasek died of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease eight years later. Door to Door was the last release with the classic lineup, as bassist Benjamin Orr had died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.
  • The Clash's 1985 album Cut the Crap was described by Todd in the Shadows, in this episode of Trainwreckords, as having not only killed the band but marked the last death rattle of the first wave of Punk Rock, at least as a mainstream force in popular music. The band was in turmoil by this point: drummer Topper Headon left due to drug problems and more importantly, lead guitarist and co-vocalist Mick Jones was fired due to both his attitude and his more eclectic musical influences clashing with the rest of the band, particularly their manager Bernie Rhodes and lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Joe Strummer. They were replaced with a trio of unknown musicians who contributed little, such that fans refer to this lineup as "The Clash Mk. II". The resulting album was more or less entirely the product of Rhodes (who produced it under the name "Jose Unidos" and co-wrote it with Strummer), and it sounded like a half-baked, poorly-produced ripoff of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Genesis, or any number of other synth-driven rock bands playing on MTV around that time. Even Strummer regarded it as an Old Shame, saying that he should never have let Rhodes fire Jones and that he stopped caring partway through recording the album. The Clash broke up for good shortly after, and while Strummer and Jones eventually reconciled, the band never reunited.
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival's infamous 1972 album Mardi Gras turned out to be their last. While all of the band's members have highly conflicting, mutually hostile stories of what went down behind the scenes, the general gist of it (laid out by Todd in the Shadows in this episode of Trainwreckords) is that Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook thought that John Fogerty was wielding too much power in the band, and came together in what John called "the night of the generals" to confront John and demand more authority over songwriting and composition. Eventually, John decided that he, Doug, and Stu (Tom having been forced out of the band by then) would each write a third of their next album. The tensions were visible for all to see on the finished product, a half-baked, half-formed mess that left none of them looking good and which everybody involved clearly wanted to just get finished so they wouldn't have to keep dealing with each other. Mardi Gras was seen as their weakest album and got barely any play on the radio, with the band's final concert ending with them getting pelted by coins and walking off, incinerating what was left of the goodwill in the band and ending it for good. To this day, John is not on speaking terms with Doug and Stu. He also was still estranged from his brother Tom at the time of his death in 1990.
  • You can tell the creativity had dried up for the Dead Kennedys with their final album, 1986's Bedtime for Democracy. The band had just survived a bitter obscenity trial for including a poster of H. R. Giger's Penis Landscape with their previous album, 1985's Frankenchrist, one that left frontman Jello Biafra's label Alternative Tentacles nearly bankrupt, and going into their next album, they were drained. Even the band themselves seem to realize it, the song "Chickenshit Conformist" serving up a blistering damnation of a dried-up punk scene and, in hindsight, almost a prediction that the Kennedys didn't have long left. Biafra would soon split away from the band and start his own collaboration projects and spoken word albums.
  • After a four year absence and being dropped by Warner Bros. after the mediocre Shout album (an album that relied too heavily on a synth sound, which turned people off) Devo signed to Enigma and were asked to produce a standard pop and dance album. Total Devo stayed away from Devo's typical weirdness and what we got was a homogenized schlock with very little value. To put things into perspective, Enigma signed one of the most creative bands in history and asked them to sound like everyone else. There's a couple of decent songs but most are skippable, including an uninspired cover of "Don't Be Cruel" that they do absolutely nothing with. Devo's covers have always revolved around making the song unrecognizable to the original in style but it's just a straight cover instead.
  • Dexys Midnight Runners followed up their 1982 international hit album Too-Rye-Ay with Don't Stand Me Down in 1985, an expansive experimental soul album. It was mauled by critics and didn't sit too well with their fans, who wanted another "Come On Eileen". An actual single from the album wasn't released until several months after the album was, and the single chosen — "This Is What She's Like" — was twelve minutes long. The band was gone soon afterward. Don't Stand Me Down has since gained far more acclaim than it had when it initially came out. When Dexys returned in 2012, they and leader Kevin Rowland were significantly more humble than the band that had such lofty artistic aspirations in 1985.
  • Digable Planets was an up-and-coming jazz-rap group who were well on their way to stardom thanks to cross-genre appeal of their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" and debut album Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space). Then their second album, Blowout Comb, bombed despite critical acclaim, likely due to its more sociopolitical and Afrocentric themes. The band disbanded soon after.
  • Dire Straits' On Every Street, released in 1991, was the follow-up to the massively successful Brothers in Arms album from 1985. While the album was highly anticipated, the reviews were underwhelming. The lengthy supporting tour was also a miserable slog. Frontman Mark Knopfler, who had been arm-twisted into reforming the band and releasing the album by his record company, finally broke up the band for good after the tour was completed.
  • Although it was a moderate commercial success, the 1999 single "National Express" ended up doing permanent damage to the career of The Divine Comedy, as the perceived class snobbery of its Buses Are for Freaks lyrics finally gave critics who'd always hated Neil Hannon for his aristocratic background some ammunition.
  • On March 10, 2003, just ten days before the invasion of Iraq, the Dixie Chicks were performing in London. There, lead singer Natalie Maines told the crowd that she opposed the war and was ashamed that President George W. Bush came from her home state of Texas, comments that earned applause from the British crowd (where public opinion was staunchly against the war) but infuriated her fans back home. American Country Music in 2003 was filled with pro-war jingoism almost to the point of parody, and many fans saw Maines' opposition to the war as borderline treasonous. Virtually overnight, one of the biggest country acts and all-female music groups in history was all but blacklisted from American country radio; the band's singles rapidly fell off the charts, Maines received death threats, bandmate Emily Robison's house was vandalized, and one radio station in Louisiana held a promotion where listeners could bring their Dixie Chicks albums and merchandise to be crushed by a bulldozer. They recorded another album, Taking the Long Way in 2006, one that was heavily informed by the controversy at that, and while it was commercially and critically successful, this was in spite of a near-total rejection from country fandom and radio. The album's hit single "Not Ready to Make Nice" peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 and won both Record and Song of the Year at the 2007 Grammys, but it only reached #36 on the country chart. Two years later, they went on hiatus. The worst part? Just a few years later, Maines would enjoy the last laugh when the rest of the country turned against the war, such that she commemorated the ten-year anniversary of her comments by literally tweeting out "I was right." It didn't help the band recover its past glories, though; after their Accidents & Accusations Tour in 2006, they wouldn't tour the US as a headlining act again until 2016 and would not release another album until Gaslighter in 2020. To this day, many country fans still haven't forgiven them, with their collaboration with Taylor Swift on "Soon You'll Get Better" in 2019 leading to many angry calls to radio stations that played it.
  • Eagles have been hit with this twice.
    • When "Take It to the Limit" became a hit, frontman Glenn Frey pushed bassist Randy Meisner to perform the song during live performances, as he was the only member of the band who could consistently hit the high notes. Meisner grew increasingly disgruntled with having to sing it at every show, culminating in a backstage fistfight between him and Frey during the Hotel California tour in 1977 that led Meisner to quit the band. The rest of the band broke up three years later after the "Long Night at Wrong Beach", when tensions between Frey and Don Felder boiled over at a concert in Long Beach, California and the two of them threatened physical violence against each other after the show. The Eagles only stayed together long enough to finish the concert tour and record a live album before going on a fourteen-year hiatus.
    • The band reunited in 1994 (sparked mainly by the success of Common Thread, a covers album put out by multiple Country Music artists), but Felder was forced out of the band in 2001 and sued them as a result. The band seemed effectively done again in 2016 due to Frey's death — but, in spite of Henley announcing that the Eagles would not continue without him, they performed several concerts in 2017 featuring Frey's son Deacon and country singer Vince Gill and have been touring frequently since then.
  • Evanescence was absolutely enormous in the early 2000s but declined in popularity rather quickly. Their sophomore record, The Open Door, was a huge disappointment compared to their world-conquering debut, but it still went multi-Platinum, thanks to the success of "Call Me When You're Sober". This self-titled third album, however, was yet another steep fall from grace. Not only did it come out at a time when rock music was just about gone from the mainstream, it failed even to capitalize on the recent trend of piano ballads, which the band had proven they were capable of with "My Immortal". While this album topped the Billboard 200 upon release, it lacked hit singles and was quickly forgotten. The band has been mostly dormant since then.
  • The huge failure of Extreme's Waiting for the Punchline led to the band going on hiatus, setting the stage for frontman Gary Cherone's infamous stint with Van Halen.
  • The First Class followed their self-titled 1974 debut album, featuring the hit "Beach Baby," with SST two years later, which sold so poorly that they broke up shortly thereafter.
  • While Foghat has remained together to this day except for one hiatus in the mid-1980s, the poor reception of Tight Shoes in 1980 killed off their commercial relevance and they never made any sort of comeback afterwards.
  • While The Fray band was never a favorite with critics, they had a series of successes on top 40 and adult contemporary radio in the late 2000s. Scars & Stories was their first to not reach any certification or produce a top 40 hit, although lead single "Heartbeat" was successful on adult alternative radio. Helios, released two years later, fared even worse. They haven't released an album since.
  • While it did score their highest charting single since 1999, Garbage's fourth album Bleed Like Me divided critics for its more Post-Grunge driven sound and sales of the album didn't match the likes of their first two albums. It didn't help that it suffered from a Troubled Production that prompted them to briefly split and they went on hiatus after abruptly cancelling the remaining dates of the tour promoting their album. While they have since reformed and their following two albums have been well received by critics, they have yet to hit the heights of their heyday since.
  • The departure of Phil Collins in 1996 and the release of ...Calling All Stations... the following year ultimately killed Genesis. After the release of their 1986 smash hit album Invisible Touch, the band entered a period of gradual decline due to the growing backlash against Collins' over-saturation of the pop charts (not helped by the fact that he had an extremely successful solo career) and the rise of Alternative Rock that would take over much of the rock charts of the '90s, not to mention growing disagreements within the Genesis fanbase over whether or not Collins could match the legacy of former lead vocalist Peter Gabriel, who had left in 1975 and been replaced by Collins. Five years after the release of the 1991 album We Can't Dance, which sold well but generated only one Top 10 hit single, "I Can't Dance", in the US, Collins decided to quit Genesis to focus on his solo opportunities, leaving Mike Rutherford and Anthony Banks, neither of whom were experienced with lead vocals, as the only remaining members of the band. In an effort to stay relevant in the '90s, the band hired Post-Grunge musician Ray Wilson, who was the frontman of Scottish band Stiltskin, to take over lead vocals and rushed out ...Calling All Stations..., which consisted primarily of pop tunes with cheesy lyrics and awkward fusion with alternative rock and art rock. Neither critics nor fans of Genesis liked the album one bit, and it ended up becoming the lowest-rated album of the band's discography. After a concert tour promoting the album bombed, Genesis formally split up, with only two one-off reunions that did not include any material from ...Calling All Stations....
  • Talk Show, the third album by early '80s new wave juggernauts The Go-Go's. Though it yielded two top 40 singles and was slightly better-received than their previous record Vacation, it sold poorly, and after replacing bassist Jane Wiedlin, who left in October 1984, the band broke up due to internal conflict. Frontwoman Belinda Carlisle went on to enjoy a highly successful solo career, while Wiedlin had a hit song of her own with "Rush Hour". They ultimately reformed in the late '90s and released one more album in 2001, but by that point, their moment was long over. Nowadays, they hardly play anything from this album during live performances.
  • The recording of Guns N' Roses' cover of "Sympathy for the Devil" for the Interview with the Vampire soundtrack caused tensions that had long been boiling between Axl Rose and the rest of the band to snap. Axl attempted to micromanage the song's production, with Slash recounting that he demanded that the guitar be played note-for-note as Keith Richards did on the original. When he was unhappy with Slash's version, Axl had his friend play over Slash's part. Slash left the band shortly afterward, followed shortly thereafter by Gilby Clarke, who was upset that he hadn't been called in to help record the song at all, especially given his fandom of the Stones. GNR would only record one album of original material, the notoriously-delayed Chinese Democracy in 2008, in the two decades it took Axl and Slash to reconcile. His and longtime bassist Duff McKagan's return in 2016 may send a signal that the band is coming back big-time.
  • Yes Please! by Happy Mondays was such a train wreck it one of many things that caused Factory Records to go into bankruptcy. The band at the time was headed by a recovering drug addict Shaun Ryder and managed to convince the label to let them record the album in Barbados. But before they got there, Ryder somehow lost all the methadone he was supposed to take with him. The recording of the album took way longer then expected. When the Monday’s returned to Manchester, Shaun held the master tapes hostage and threatened to destroy them unless he got some money. The record label caved into his demands and payed him a staggering 50 pounds (for Americans, that's about $65 today) for the tapes. And when Factory finally listened to the recordings they discovered there weren’t any vocals. Ryder did not write or record any. They were added later.
  • The Hawthorne Muchachos were ascending the ranks of Drum Corps International when they were disqualified for marching an overage member just prior to the 1975 DCI Championship Finals. The corps never made it back to Finals and folded three years later.
  • All-American Nightmare marked the beginning of the end of Hinder's rock stardom, despite the Title Track peaking at #6 on Mainstream Rock, as Post-Grunge fell out of favor in The New '10s.
  • Hootie & the Blowfish's second album, 1996's Fairweather Johnson, is remembered as a textbook example of a Sophomore Slump. After their 1994 major label debut Cracked Rear View broke sales records and shattered all expectations, Hootie became one of the biggest bands in the world almost overnight, their folksy, traditional brand of roots rock serving as an antidote for rock fans burned out on grunge (especially after Kurt Cobain's suicide) even as it invited backlash from Alternative Rock fans who saw Hootie as saccharine, edgeless, and cornball. Fairweather Johnson was rushed out the door to cash in, and while it went triple platinum on the strength of name recognition, it was nowhere near the hit that Cracked Rear View was, seen as lacking hooks and merely retreading the sound of its predecessor while its attempts at greater lyrical depth (from a band that was previously characterized by straightforward songwriting) floundered. Todd in the Shadows, when he covered the album for Trainwreckords, called it so boring that he struggled to find enough interesting things to say about it for a twenty-minute video. While the album met decent reviews initially, a lot of this (as with Oasis' Be Here Now, described below) was seen as an attempt by music critics and publications to avoid offending their fans, as evidenced when Rolling Stone fired Jim DeRogatis for his negative review. Hootie's fanbase dissipated and moved on to adult alternative acts like Counting Crows, their detractors kept right on hating them, and after their first two singles from Fairweather Johnson they never reached the Top 40 again, eventually breaking up in 2008 after a decade of only intermittent success on the adult contemporary charts. Frontman Darius Rucker, fortunately, would go on to have a Career Resurrection in Country Music, and the band reunited in 2019.
  • After the post-hardcore band Hum scored some unexpected success with You'd Prefer An Astronaut in 1995, the band spent waited nearly three years before they released their followup, Downward Is Heavenward. The album was a commercial failure in comparison to its predecessor, and the band's label, RCA, lost a great deal of money trying to promote it. Partially because of the album's inability to reach an audience, the band broke up shortly afterward. However, over the years the album has come to be recognized as not only Hum's masterpiece but as one of the best albums of the '90s.
  • The Jacksons made out quite well financially from their troubled Victory tour. But, to the unpleasant surprise of everyone but him, Michael announced after the last show that the brothers would never tour together again. They and their father had been planning to do another leg of shows in Europe. But Michael was right, as he had a massively successful solo career.
  • British pop duo Jemini participated in the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest with their song "Cry Baby". Unfortunately, their off-key performance (which they blame on a technical fault that made them unable to hear the backing track) led to them not only finishing in last, but getting the dreaded nul points. Following their Eurovision failure, their label dropped them, their album was never released, and they split up the following year.
  • Kill Hannah were a band who were fairly well-regarded and built up a cult following in the indie rock scene for their unique mix of Electronic Music with elements of Shoegazing and Post-Punk, compounded by singer Mat Devine's breathy Dream Pop inspired vocals. Their singles "Kennedy" and "Lips Like Morphine" were used in quite a few youth-oriented shows such as One Tree Hill, which compounded their fandom. The band was due to release a new album on a major label in 2013, but Mat Devine was attempting to become a Broadway star and the band ended up never recording the songs due to being tied down by their continued touring as well as Devine's continued performances in Broadway. They finally called it quits in 2016, after 18 years as a band.
  • The Knack followed up their 1979 hit album Get the Knack and #1 hit single "My Sharona" with ...But the Little Girls Understand the following year. The album was critically eviscerated (though it went gold in two months), and despite releasing a couple more albums before they broke up, those releases never troubled the pop charts and were released with almost no fanfare.
  • Britpop band Kula Shaker, despite being loathed by critics for their style, were a moderately-successful band in the 1990s. However, the band's career was derailed when lead singer Crispen Mills admitted to hoping the Swastika would be reused for its positive mystical meanings during a newspaper interview. Some research then discovered that Mills' previous band The Objects of Desire had included a former member of the far-right National Front party (who had dated Mills' mother), and had played at a conspiracy theory conference in London that had also neo-Nazis among the speakers. While Mills did apologize for his comments later on and ridiculed neo-Nazi ideology, the band broke up in 1999 from fierce backlash, before reuniting in 2004 to slim success.
  • A literal killer occurred with Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who died of suicide two months after the release of his group's 2017 album One More Light, which earned polarizing reviews from critics and fans alike due to its pop-oriented sound — a reaction that Bennington had not taken well. This was compounded by the sudden suicide of his friend Chris Cornell after a concert only two months earlier. Linkin Park currently remains inactive, and it's unknown whether or not they'll ever recover from this.
  • Welsh rock band Lostprophets lost its prestige when frontman Ian Watkins was charged with predatory child molestation in 2012 and sentenced to 29 years in prison. The rest of the band has since disowned the Lostprophets name, and started over as No Devotion with Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly.
  • Madison Avenue, an Australian-based pop group helmed by singer Cheyne Coates and DJ Andy Van Dorsselaer, rose to fame with a pair of hits in 1999, including "Who The Hell Are You?" and "Don't Call Me Baby". Despite riding a wave of popularity with their debut album, their success evaporated virtually overnight after Cheyne's diva antics and disastrous performance at the 2000 Australian ARIA Awards, the most prestigious music event in the country. The night started badly for her after she was caught rolling her eyes after Van Dorsselaer accidentally stepped on the back of her dress when they walked to the stage to pick up an award for Single of the Year. Afterward, the group performed a medley of their hits. Aside from singing out-of-tune through the entire performance, Coates called for a glass of water midway through the set. As guests looked on, she proceeded to set it down at the front of the stage and left it there for the rest of the performance, even pausing at one point to pick up the glass and drink from it in the middle of a choreographed dance sequence. Her diva antics became an instant punchline in the Australian media, and the band never recovered from the incident, disbanding in 2002 after attempting to produce a second record. While Coates did attempt to have a solo career, her album failed to produce any traction and she left the music industry soon after to become an interior designer. The ARIA Awards incident is so infamous that, nearly two decades on, it's still used as a punchline on social media.
  • While Madness were the premier act of the 2 Tone movement in the late '70s and early '80s, by the mid-'80s, not only was their critical and commercial approval in decline, but the band's creative differences caused them to break from Stiff Records and form Zarjazz, a sub label of Virgin Records. Their first Zarjazz album Mad Not Mad flopped and they disbanded a year later. Much like Blondie, they ultimately had a comeback in 1999 that was spearheaded by a big hit single, though they were never as huge as they were during their late '70s/early '80s peak.
    • In 1988, they launched a failed attempt to resurrect the band with a new lineup (as The Madness) after they officially broke up. Though the new album was intended as a more mature record, it fared even worse than Mad Not Mad and definitively put the band on ice for a decade.
  • Following the commercial decline of AC/DC and Little River Band at the dawn of the MTV era, Men at Work quickly emerged the biggest musical act from Australia. Far more than what the enduring, borderline-novelty #1 smash "Down Under" would lead modern audiences to believe, they were anything but one-hit-wonders throughout the early 1980s, not only dominating the Australian pop scene at the time but also scoring five top 40 hits, two #1's, and two huge-selling albums in America, where they played a central role in both the rise of New Wave, as well as the Australia craze that decade. Unfortunately, due to the severe creative friction between the band members, their time in the spotlight would hardly last more than a few years. Things came to a head during the compromising production of their third LP, Two Hearts, by which point drummer Jerry Speiser and bassist John Rees had been unceremoniously kicked out in favor of session musicians and drum machines. Amidst the ongoing rivalry between frontman Colin Hay and instrumentalist Greg Ham, guitarist Ron Strykert jumped ship before the record was finished. The album's abysmal critical and commercial reception proved to be the last straw, with only one charting single (which didn't even make the top 40 in America and only got to #37 in Australia) and no certification except a Gold in the US. Unsurprisingly, the band broke up immediately after the failed album cycle, with Colin Hay subsequently establishing himself as a respected solo act in the indie scene.
    • A more tragically literal case of this occurred when Greg Ham passed away shortly after the band lost a court case accusing them of plagiarizing the hook from the Australian folk song "Kookaburra" for their signature "Down Under". Though it only comprises a small fraction of the piece, Ham excerpts the opening notes of "Kookaburra" on flute multiple times throughout "Down Under". Despite the lawsuit being filed nearly three decades after the release of "Down Under", which came out back when original writer of "Kookaburra", Marion Sinclair, was still alive (she never pursued action herself for the rest of her life), the Federal Court of Australia controversially sided with Larrikin Music, which inherited the rights to the song in 1990, following Sinclair's passing in 1988. It's widely believed that the crippling guilt Ham felt in the aftermath of the ruling was the primary factor to his failing health and untimely death.
  • Milli Vanilli's career came crashing to the ground in 1990 when it was revealed that the faces of the band were not only lip-syncing during live shows, but had never recorded the vocals on the album at all, the songs having actually been sung by other artists in the studio (who, after the controversy, recorded an album of their own as The Real Milli Vanilli). This was enough for the duo to have their Grammy for Best New Artist revoked, and more broadly, the affair triggered a strong backlash against dance-pop that lasted well into The '90s and fueled the growth of adult alternative during that decade.
  • Head, both the soundtrack and the film itself, was this for The Monkees in the aftermath of their TV show being cancelled. Despite its modern status as a cult classic psychedelic exploitation film in the same pantheon as Yellow Submarine, it was a critical and commercial disaster at the time of its release due to the band's catch-22 of wanting to break from their carefree, family-friendly origins while still being dismissed as a manufactured joke by the counterculture scene. Unable to find a sizable audience, the film bombed at the box office and the soundtrack failed to produce any top 40 hits. Crippled further by the subsequent departure of Peter Tork, the band's next few albums went by with virtually no fanfare, and they finally broke up in 1971, although they've reunited on multiple occasions since.
  • Morbid Angel had been one of the most popular and acclaimed death metal acts around for most of their career, but they hit a decidedly low point with their 2003 album Heretic, which was derided for its awful production, poor songwriting, and large amounts of filler. After that, the band more or less fell off the radar for a long while aside from the release of a new song. Then Illud Divinum Insanus hit in 2011, with no small amount of hype, and it was not the album fans had been waiting for. The straight death metal songs were by far the album's best, and even those were far below their usual standards, while the other tracks ranged from Lamb of God-esque post-thrash to outdated industrial buttrock, worsened by David Vincent's degraded voice and the weak lyrics. Even drummer Pete Sandoval, who didn't play or write anything on the album, had no love for it. While the band still does well live, Illud stained Morbid Angel's reputation so badly all the band members aside from Trey Azagthoth left, and the band reformed with former vocalist Steve Tucker for their next album Kingdoms Disdained in 2017.
  • Nickelback was always a whipping boy among music nerds, who saw them as the face of a creatively stagnant Post-Grunge scene and a symbol of everything wrong with rock music in the 2000s, but none of that ever stopped them from becoming the biggest rock band of the 2000s (at least in North America). That is, until their commercial success finally came to a halt with 2011's Here and Now, which came out right around the time that hard rock as a whole ceased to be a mainstream genre of music — a process that many blamed Nickelback for due to the omnipresence of them and bands like them on the radio. Tellingly, two years later they released a Greatest Hits Album.
  • 2012's Push and Shove proved to be a failed comeback attempt for No Doubt, despite receiving decent reviews from critics. Gwen Stefani's This is What the Truth Feels Like didn't fare much better, despite her stint as a judge on The Voice.
  • Oasis' 1997 album Be Here Now not only snapped the momentum they'd built off their first two albums, 1994's Definitely Maybe and 1995's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (both of which were '90s rock classics), it played a major role in killing the Britpop scene that they were among the leaders of. Described on this very wiki as "a sprawling, cocaine-fueled ode to the excess of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll", it initially earned rapturous praise from music critics — praise that is now widely seen as stemming from a desire to avoid making the same mistake as when they missed the boat on their first two albums. Everybody else, and before long the critics too, soon derided the album as a bloated mess, a monument to the sheer Spinal Tap levels of dysfunction that the band was in. By 2000, the album had become infamous in the UK for being a common sight in used bins at charity shops. While they continued recording music until finally breaking up in 2009, none of their later material received anything close to the acclaim or impact of Definitely Maybe or Morning Glory, and the fall of the Gallagher brothers from rock gods to tabloid punchlines was swift. Todd in the Shadows goes into more detail in this episode of Trainwreckords, comparing it to The Phantom Menace as an overhyped late '90s project that went from major success to Hype Backlash to "was it really that bad?" twenty years later.
  • While The Offspring's Conspiracy of One wasn't regarded by many as a great album, it was successful. Splinter, however, was mediocre and unsuccessful. They just kept on being mediocre since then although that was only two albums. To be more specific, after the success of "Pretty Fly for a White Guy", Offspring recorded and released a handful of 'silly' songs of that particular song's ilk for their Americana and Conspiracy of One albums. Those 'silly' songs however, were still well received mostly. Then for Splinter, they seemed to crank their silliness to full-on 10. That's at least one reason why the vast majority of that album fell flat and just flat out did not work in the songs' final product.
  • By 1996, the Synth-Pop movement that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark had dominated for so long was long past its peak, prompting them to flirt with Britpop, which was at the height of its influence at the time. The resulting album, Universal, produced one decent hit in their native UK, but was nonetheless a critical and commercial failure, prompting frontman Andy McClusky to put the band on ice for a decade, during which he founded and managed Atomic Kitten. While OMD have been relatively successful for a legacy act since reforming in 2006, none of their post-comeback albums have been certified, nor have they scored any hit singles.
  • Despite solid reviews, OneRepublic failed to promote their 2016 album Oh My My due to personal issues; as a result, it became their first to not reach any certification or produce a hit.
  • Pink Floyd's 1983 album The Final Cut has a lot of parallels with Styx's below-mentioned Kilroy Was Here. The album was a vanity project Concept Album by Roger Waters that the other members were dead-set against, with Waters taking so much control that the album was credited as "By Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd". The tensions between Waters and guitarist David Gilmour boiled over, with the two of them recording their parts in different studios. Waters finally left the band after its release, declaring the band "a creatively spent force". This was the end of the Waters-led incarnation of the band. Pink Floyd subsequently reformed without Waters to massive success. Waters had his own career setbacks described below, but subsequently reunited with the band for a one-off performance at Live 8 in 2005.
  • The Japanese pop duo Pink Lady started out as teenagers after winning the talent competition Star Tanjo! in 1976. They scored #4 on the Oricon charts with their debut single "Pepper Keibu", followed it up with several more, their own anime, and a movie, then scored a hit in the United States with "Kiss in the Dark". However, in early 1980, they were caught in a scandal involving a New Year's special and a school for the blind.What happened?  Then they tried to save their careers by eyeing the States once again with Pink Lady and Jeff, which killed not only their careers but also the entire variety show genre in the US. After four part-time reformations, they reunited for good in 2010 and have been active ever since.
  • Public Enemy saw their fame take a beating in 1994 with of the release of their fifth studio album Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess-Age. While it gave the group their first and only Billboard Top 40 single "Give It Up", the album was strongly criticized by reviewers and fans claiming the group got out-of-touch with the world they helped pioneer, as well as the rhymes attacking gangsta rap. As a result, Public Enemy took an extended hiatus.
  • Released at the tail-end of the post-grunge movement, Puddle of Mudd's Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love and Hate peaked at a measly #95 on the Billboard 200, despite two #6 Mainstream Rock hits. The band has been completely irrelevant ever since, even in the niche market.
    • In 2019, the band, with newly sober frontman Wes Scantlin leading the way, released Welcome to Galvania, their first album of new material in a decade, and while it got the latest of many iterations of Puddle of Mudd some attention, it became their first to miss the Billboard 200, even counting their 2011 covers album. It hasn't helped that the album has received almost unanimously scathing reviews from critics.
  • Jarvis Cocker had started to grow resentful of the fairweather fandom that came after Pulp's 1995 album Different Class, and in response created a very dark album well away from their "Common People" peak. While This Is Hardcore was a critical success, it ended Pulp as a mainstream entity, which was arguably Jarvis' main intention.
  • Queen's American popularity took a nosedive thanks to their 1982 album Hot Space. Their previous album The Game in 1980 had been heavily informed by disco just as that genre was becoming, well, Deader Than Disco, yet it was their biggest hit to date, selling over four million copies in the United States. As a result, Queen decided to build on that album's disco and dance-pop stylings with Hot Space, whose release came well into the early '80s backlash against disco in the US. Needless to say, the reaction was not pleasant; while "Under Pressure", their duet with David Bowie, was very well-received, the rest of the album is widely seen as the band's Dork Age, a reaction that was especially pronounced Stateside. Overseas, Queen quickly recovered from that misstep and remained successful, but they were dead in America as a result of Hot Space. It went From Bad to Worse with the video for their 1984 single "I Want to Break Free", which featured the band in drag as a parody of Coronation Street, and which was banned on MTV for that reason (since Americans don't know what Coronation Street is, all they saw was the cross-dressing). Only after the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991, followed by the use of "Bohemian Rhapsody" in Wayne's World the following year, did Queen's American popularity start to recover.
    • Queen did have a couple of songs that would be considered minor hits (including "Body Language" off of Hot Space, which reached #11 in the US), but they were never huge in the US again during Freddie Mercury's lifetime.
  • Saliva's poorly-received Cinco Diablo only peaked at #104, and the band has struggled even in the hard rock niche market ever since.
  • Sepultura was one of the biggest names in metal during the early-mid '90s. Things begun to get unstuck with Roots, which was strongly influenced by the then-nascent Nu Metal genre. The album was a commercial success but proved to be far more divisive among fans. After the departure of Max Cavalera and his replacement by Derrick Green, the band continued to pursue a nu metal sound, driving away more fans and suffering declining album sales. Things would begin to look up with Dante XXI, and now they have managed to regain some respect in the metal community.
  • Shadows Fall was poised to become one of the biggest names in heavy music in the 2000s alongside other rising stars like Lamb of God, Avenged Sevenfold, Mastodon, Trivium, and their fellow hometown heroes Killswitch Engage. 2004's The War Within managed to chart at #20 on the Billboard 200 while signed to an indie label, and their mix of metallic hardcore, thrash metal, and hard rock had endeared them to a wide variety of fans. Like all of the aforementioned bands, they were snatched up by a major label. Unlike the aforementioned bands, their major label debut, 2007's Threads of Life, was a bomb, debuting at #46 (compared to #27 for Ashes of the Wake, #30 for City of Evil, and #34 for Blood Mountain; Ascendancy barely charted but wound up selling far more over the long run) and providing two singles ("Redemption" and "Another Hero Lost") that went nowhere, as the former was too heavy for the average rock radio listener and the latter sounded nothing like the rest of the album. Furthermore, it did nothing to increase their live draw and also helped alienate a lot of longtime listeners with its decidedly more commercial sound. While it didn't destroy their career immediately, it did kick off the start of a lengthy downward slide that took them from being able to pull 800-1,000 people a night in the mid-2000s to pulling 70 a night if they were very lucky by the time of their farewell tour in 2014, turning them into has-been jokes in terms of reputation.
  • Back in 1995, The Smashing Pumpkins was one of the biggest bands in Alternative Rock, with its first two albums having been hugely successful. For the third album, the band insisted on going bigger. What emerged in 1995 was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, a double album meant to follow in the footsteps of Pink Floyd's The Wall or The Beatles' White Album. While it was a critical and financial success, the work required to create and mix two compact discs' worth of material caused tensions within the band. The tour exacerbated these tensions, especially after Jonathan Melvoin and Jimmy Chamberlain overdosed on heroin, leading to Melvoin dying and Chamberlain, who survived, getting fired. Soon after, Billy Corgan's personal issues, including his divorce and his mother's death, caused him to become a control freak. note  While the band released three more albums, none of them got the same acclaim as their previous efforts, and the original band dissolved in 2000 (they did eventually reunite in 2007).
    • Adore may have truly marked turning point in the bands' popularity and lineup. Besides the aforementioned incidents of Jonathan Melvoin od'ing and Jimmy Chamberlin being kicked out of the band during the MCIS tour, people hated the "electronica" elements they built much of the album around. And then there's the music videos during the Adore era being bizarre neo-goth fests. While the videos from The Mellon Collie era (and previous ones) showed the Pumpkins mostly as just real people, or did whimsical things like the "Tonight, Tonight" video, in the Adore era all of a sudden, Billy Corgan's dressed up like Pinhead.
  • While the 1996 album Down on the Upside performed well with critics and fans and sold over a million copies, the growing tensions between the band and the music business would bring down Soundgarden. Criticism over the band's departure from the grunge musical style that made them popular, combined with frontman Chris Cornell wanting to retire the heavy guitar riffing that became a trademark of the band, caused a seemingly irreparable rift that kept them apart. Cornell sank into alcoholism following the breakup and attempted a comeback with several Rage Against the Machine members with a supergroup called Audioslave, which, despite three successful albums, also broke up due to Creative Differences. However, in 2010, Cornell and his former Soundgarden colleagues finally made up their differences and reunited the band, releasing King Animal in 2012 to critical acclaim and good sales. Tragically, King Animal turned out to be the band's only post-reunion effort, as Cornell died by suicide five years after its release, and the band ultimately broke up for good after his death.
  • The Stone Roses' sophomore album Second Coming had been delayed by Executive Meddling, a productivity-halting lawsuit trying to stop them from moving to Geffen, and general band procrastination (moving to Wales to record did not help). The album was finally released in 1994, over five years after their debut album. The album completely failed to live up to its hype, and despite the lead single "Love Spreads" becoming a genuine hit, the album received middling reviews and disappeared from the charts quickly. Both critics and fans were disappointed by the album's abandonment of the dance-influenced sound that had made the band popular in favor of Led Zeppelin-style heavy blues-rock and guitar wankery (although the aforementioned "Love Spreads" continues to be well-regarded). The band didn't last much longer: they split up two years later, after a series of badly-reviewed live appearances and hiring Replacement Scrappies after their guitarist and drummer left. Frontman Ian Brown later began a modestly-successful solo career, and the band reformed in 2011 with a successful reunion tour.
  • The 1983 album Kilroy Was Here sold well and generated a hit single with "Mr. Roboto", but its recording and promotion would be the end of Styx. Guitarists Tommy Shaw and James "JY" Young were growing increasingly disgruntled with Dennis DeYoung's preference for a poppier sound over the hard-edged prog-tinged material that had made them stars in the late '70s, and feared that another Concept Album after Paradise Theatre would pigeonhole the band. As such, they went along with DeYoung's project with a great deal of hesitation. Shaw hated "Mr. Roboto" especially, saying he'd rather quit Styx than sing about robots. The tour for the album, a full-blown musical Rock Opera, not only disappointed fans who came simply for the music, but only further alienated Shaw, who had neither the talent nor the taste for acting and was intensely frustrated by it, finally snapping and smashing his guitar during a show in Landover, Maryland. He quit the band the next day, and Styx spent the next seven years on hiatus. It would be thirty-five years before the band (now led by Shaw and Young) finally gave in to fan requests and played "Mr. Roboto" live again (which DeYoung praised). Todd in the Shadows goes into more detail on the band's breakup in this episode of Trainwreckords.
  • By the time Sugar Ray's In the Pursuit of Leisure came out, their blend of ska, pop, and hip hop had fallen out of touch with modern trends in music, resulting in the record producing zero hits and failing to earn an RIAA certification despite solid reviews. This led to the band taking a 6-year hiatus before their following album, which sold even less.
  • Sugarland had the unfortunate distinctions of their career not being destroyed by music or behavior but bad weather. Their 2010 New Sound Album The Incredible Machine was extremely divisive to both fans and critics, and only one of its singles, "Stuck Like Glue", was a hit. In August 2011, only about a month after the album's last single became their lowest-peaking to date, the duo was subject to a series of lawsuits after a stage collapse during one of their concerts at the Indiana State Fair which killed seven concertgoers. They went on hiatus soon afterward, with both halves of the duo (lead singer Jennifer Nettles and guitarist/mandolinist Kristian Bush) releasing solo efforts in the interim to minimal success. They issued a reunion album Bigger in 2018, but its two singles faltered, sales were abysmal, and the State Fair stage collapse seemed to infiltrate nearly all discussion of the album and its singles.
  • Sum 41's 2007 album Underclass Hero. Their previous record Chuck was a stylistically different yet successful step towards maturity for the band, but they weren't so lucky with this album, which returned to their classic Pop Punk roots but was framed as a Concept Album centered around personal topics. Released around the height of Emo Music's popularity, Underclass Hero received marginal critical reviews, sold extremely poorly, and failed to produce a hit even on Billboard's rock airplay charts.
  • Although The Supremes were able to squeak by with a few more hits after Diana Ross left them to focus on her solo career, their album sales went downhill as a result, finally culminating in The Supremes Produced and Arranged by Jimmy Webb becoming their first record since their breakthrough to not contain any major hits, despite the proven track record of its headlining producer. After this album came out, the group never made a significant splash on the Hot 100 again and they finally broke up in 1977.
  • Like their 1983 album Caught in the Game, Survivor's Too Hot to Sleep flopped hard commercially and produced no top 40 hits. As a result, the band went on hiatus for several years, while lead vocalist Jimi Jamison continued to perform under the Survivor banner without legal permission. By the time Rocky V came out, they were unavailable to contribute a song to the movie's soundtrack, as they famously had for III and IV. They eventually reformed with original frontman Dave Bickler, who had left in 1983 due to vocal problems, but they've never risen above niche status since then.
  • Axiomatic, the 2005 third album by Australian pop-rock group Taxiride, was an attempt at Genre Shift to a more hard rock style. Needless to say, it bombed dramatically compared to their two prior albums (which were both certified platinum). To put it into perspective, Axiomatic peaked at #91, whereas their other albums peaked in the top 5. After releasing an acoustic best-of album Electrophobia that completely flew under the radar, Taxiride fell into obscurity.
  • "Creep" probably would have destroyed TLC in the long run even if Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes hadn't died in a car wreck first. Lopes was disgusted by its Pay Evil unto Evil message (a girl gets revenge on her boyfriend's cheating by cheating on him in turn), and she was not shy about letting it be known, even threatening to wear black tape over her mouth in the video.
  • Three Dog Night were one of the biggest pop rock bands of the late '60s and early '70s, but their fortunes started to decline with the release of Coming Down Your Way and only worsened with American Pastime, which peaked well below the top 100 of the Billboard 200 and producing no charting singles, resulting in their disbandment. They reunited a few years later, but they remain mostly forgotten to this day, despite their enormous success in the late '60s and early '70s.
  • A Tribe Called Quest broke up a month after releasing their 1998 album The Love Movement, not only because it polarized fans but also because members Phife Dawg and Q-Tip were unable to get along with each other. Phife's health issues led to the group reuniting to pay for his medical expenses, and they were in talks to produce a new album to complete their contract with Jive Records, but nothing came to fruition. They continued to tour together through 2013, with their last performance as a group as supporting acts to Kanye West's "Yeezus" tour, and they reformed again in 2015 to record the critically acclaimed We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service. This became the last album to feature Phife, as he passed away in March 2016, eight months before its release.
  • Twisted Sister was among the hottest acts in rock in 1985. "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock", both from the 1984 album Stay Hungry, were catchy, instantly memorable songs that did well on MTV and/or the Billboard charts, while singer Dee Snider earned praise for his rational, intelligent arguments in the notorious PMRC Senate hearings, which proved to be a Pyrrhic Victory for Tipper Gore and her Moral Guardian organization. That year, however, they released the follow-up Come Out and Play, which sold much less than Stay Hungry and didn't have any standout hits. The video for "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" was banned by MTV for alleged offensive content, and the one for their cover of "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las was panned.

    While Come Out and Play was a letdown, 1987's Love is for Suckers polished the band's sound, took away most of their sense of humor, and wiped their makeup off Kiss-style. Twisted Sister split up the following year; after three one-off reunions in 1997, 2001 and 2002, the band reunited full-time in 2003 and officially disbanded with a 2016 farewell tour after the death of drummer A. J. Pero.
  • While never big in America, Ultravox was a hugely popular and influential Synth-Pop band in their native UK throughout the early 1980s. However, the commercial failure and disappointing critical reception of U-Vox ultimately led them to break up two years later. Though they reformed in 1992, they would not return to their classic lineup until 2008, by which point they were long past their period of chart relevance.
  • The use of Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" in a commercial for Wendy's drove a deep rift into the band. Not only did fans accuse them of selling out, but bassist Brian Ritchie felt the same way and sued frontman Gordon Gano, claiming joint ownership of the rights to the song. The group disbanded, and wouldn't reunite until 2013.
  • Van Halen's 1998 album Van Halen III.
    • It marked the debut of Gary Cherone of Extreme as the band's third frontman after David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. It was also the last album he'd be featured on, as well as the last album of new material they would release until 2012, as its sharply negative reception would cause Cherone to leave Van Halen and the band to go on hiatus. As Todd in the Shadows would argue in this episode of Trainwreckords, the same factors that drove both Roth and Hagar to quit Van Halen on bad terms were responsible for the failure of Van Halen III — namely, that, despite Cherone ostensibly being the frontman, Eddie Van Halen was the one who was really in charge, even though he had depended on Roth and Hagar to help compose the music in the past.
    • It was also the last album that composer Mike Post would produce, after which he would return to his day job composing theme music for TV shows.
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    Female artists (solo) 
  • Paula Abdul took time off to deal with her bulimia after her Under My Spell Tour in 1992, but when she tried to return around 1995 the whole music scene had changed! The beginning of the end was when she performed at the 1991 Video Music Awards and looked rotund in her skimpy costume. She was badly ridiculed for that. Paula was around the same time, accused of using special thinning cameras for "The Promise of a New Day" music video. So when she performed at the VMAs, people saw for themselves that she had gained weight, which added to the shock. In the days before the Internet/social media, you either took a person's word for it or waited for an official confirmation. She never did sing live and when injuries and excruciating pain stopped her from being able to dance, she turned to painkillers and American Idol.
  • Natasha Bedingfield's Strip Me album. Despite international success at the beginning of her career, following in the footsteps of her already successful older brother Daniel, her popularity became almost exclusively concentrated in North America by the time "Pocketful of Sunshine" came out in 2008. As a result, advertising for this album focused primarily on the US and Canada, but the album and its singles flopped badly on the charts, and things didn't improve for her when she finally released "Pocketful of Sunshine" in Europe, three years after its American success. Her planned fourth album, The Next Chapter, finally came out in 2019, seven years after its original announcement, to little success.
  • Michelle Branch's future looked bright after a pair of hit albums, The Spirit Room in 2001 and Hotel Paper in 2003. Unfortunately, her career was a victim of turbulence at Warner Bros. Records, with a revolving door of five label presidents each attempting their own Executive Meddling on her third album, pushing her to sound like (at various times) Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry. It wouldn't be until 2017, fourteen years after Hotel Paper, that she finally released her third solo studio album Hopeless Romantic after getting out of her contract at Warner Bros., by which point she had long since fallen out of the spotlight.
  • Anita Bryant had been a very popular singer in the 1960s and early '70s. She was known for four top 40 hit songs, her Super Bowl V performance, her muzak covers of then-contemporary hits, and being the ambassador of the Florida Citrus Commission (which promoted the sale of oranges). However, her career went entirely sour in 1977 when, after her former friend Ruth Shack helped Dade County, Florida (which includes Miami) pass a landmark bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Bryant set up the Save Our Children group to oppose such laws in a campaign that ran heavily on All Gays Are Pedophiles rhetoric. While her campaign was successful and Dade County repealed the ordinance, almost immediately Bryant received fierce backlash from the public and numerous counter-protests, ranging from popular singers like Elton John boycotting performances in Florida to boycotts of Florida oranges, with gay bars creating the "Anita Bryant Cocktail" with apple juice in response. Bryant lost her FCC contract, and her music career died soon. Eventually, the fundamentalist community also turned against her after a divorce from another popular anti-LGBT crusader, which got her branded a hypocrite. Her musical career is mostly forgotten, overshadowed by her activism, and she has remained largely under the radar since.
  • Despite strong reviews, Colbie Caillat's All of You was her first album that failed to produce a hit or reach any certification; her subsequent albums have fared even worse, and she was ultimately dropped by Republic Records in 2015.
  • Neneh Cherry's debut album Raw Like Sushi was a major critical and commercial hit that quickly established her as one of the most unique faces in pop music and a potent contender to Madonna and Janet Jackson for the title of Queen of Pop. Unfortunately, by the time she released her sophomore album in 1992, most of the world had lost interest in her, despite the album itself earning positive reviews. It produced one minor hit with "Buddy X" (a diss track directed against Lenny Kravitz), but failed to chart on the Billboard 200. Although she continued to find plenty of success overseas through the mid-'90s, she never found her way back into the limelight in the US.
  • Kelly Clarkson's 2015 album Piece by Piece ended her run as an A-list pop diva. The title track was a top 10 hit, but only because it was redone to promote the last season of American Idol on Fox. It was also her final album with RCA Records, as she left them for Atlantic Records shortly afterward. Her Atlantic debut Meaning of Life in 2017 got strong reviews but failed to produce a hit. Nowadays, she spends most of her time on TV as a judge on The Voice and as the host of her eponymous daytime Talk Show (where she performs cover songs Once an Episode), doing occasional voice acting roles in animated films, and performing in a Las Vegas residency.
  • Wildflower was this for Sheryl Crow. The adult alternative movement was already in its elder years by the time this album came out in 2005, but its mediocre reception and lack of smash hit singles signaled the end of her tenure as one of the genre's leading faces.
  • Taylor Dayne was flying high with a string of Top 10 pop hits between 1987-1990, including her #1 single "Love Will Lead You Back". By the time that her third album was being made, she wanted to write more songs and she got the chance. But that third album, Soul Dancing, was not as good as her previous two. Dayne was always more a singles artist than an album artist, and that album didn't generate a hit like the first two did. She released an OK cover of Barry White's "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love" but the video was kind of low budget and the song didn't reach top 10. Arista Records basically stopped promoting her, particularly when she sang "Original Sin" from the film The Shadow.
  • Country Music singer Holly Dunn's career was abruptly halted by her 1991 single "Maybe I Mean Yes". Although the song was merely about a flirtatious woman playing the By "No", I Mean "Yes" trope, some listeners felt that the lyrics, especially the line "When I say 'no' I mean 'maybe', or maybe I mean 'yes'", were a condonement of Date Rape. Dunn solicited radio stations to stop playing the song, had its music video pulled off the air, and stopped performing it in concert, but the damage had already been done. None of her other songs made any impact anywhere, and she was quietly dropped from Warner (Bros.) Records one album later. Following the release of her final album Full Circle in 2003, Dunn retired from the music industry to become a painter before dying of ovarian cancer in 2016. Most news articles at the time of her death placed prominence on the controversy surrounding "Maybe I Mean Yes", even above the actual hits she had in her career.
  • Willa Ford has alluded to the theory that the tragic events of September 11, 2001 was the primary cause in her music career stalling. In May of that year, Ford released the single "I Wanna Be Bad", which peaked at 56 on the Billboard 200 and sold approximately 200,000 copies. Ford's next single from her album Willa Was Here, "Did Ya' Understand That" failed to garner much attention. It’s worth noting the release date for "Did Ya' Understand That" up for debate. Wikipedia and Discogs claim it was released in December 2001 while Ford herself claims that it was released on September 11, 2001. While 9/11 did signify a huge shift in pop music and caused the music industry to be at a standstill and shut down, Ford none the less still broke through at a time when the market was already flooded with blonde starlets (namely, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore). What didn't help Ford was that she was being marketed as the edgy alternative to the teen pop star at a time when her peers were already developing a mature image. Ford was marketed towards young men who may have watched her music videos but didn’t exactly buy the albums/singles. Another possible reason why Willa Ford's career didn't take off is because a lot of girls hated her. She had dated Nick Carter and they had a messy breakup. Before social media, she was getting all kinds of hate online on her website from his crazed fans.
  • Released several years after the blockbuster success of her previous English record Loose and after Timbaland's heyday came to an end, Nelly Furtado's The Spirit Indestructible got marginal reception and barely made any mainstream impact.
  • A particularly disheartening example would be that of Alison Gold, who followed up her Guilty Pleasure "Chinese Food" with the 2014 single "Shush Up". Not unlike "Rock Me Tonite", the song itself wasn't the killer, but rather, the video for it. The video was shot when Gold was 11 years old, and it features an 11-year-old being pregnant, commiting robbery with murder implied and thus given death sentence via electric chair, tortured, committing suicide, and dancing in skimpy (lack of) clothing and doing extremely inappropriate dance moves — not to mention that titling the song "Shush Up" seems to imply that the term "Shut Up" is more offensive than sexualized depiction of minors! The video's dislikes went through the roof and it received a record number of complaints about its barrage of offensive content, such that it was swiftly pulled and Gold hasn't done anything noteworthy since then. It also seems to have left a black mark on the Ark Music Factory's reputation too, especially when founder Patrice Wilson awkwardly defended the video as "art". With the lone exceptions of Rebecca Black (who has managed an active online and musical presence) and Patrice Wilson (who released a bizarre music video in 2015), none of its acts have done anything noteworthy ever since.
  • When Lauryn Hill's 1998 solo debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill won critical acclaim, massive sales, and the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, she quickly emerged as the Breakup Breakout of The Fugees and looked to have a long career ahead... only for her studio follow-up to fall into Development Hell amid reports of mental health problems. The Last Straw for many fans awaiting new material was her 2002 Live Album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, a Creator Breakdown recorded on compact disc in which, instead of performing her hits, she performed a series of brand-new, unfinished, and very lengthy songs without her backing band (who she was in a legal fight with at the time), after having blown her voice out in rehearsals the night before (leaving her sounding raspy and frequently flubbing her lyrics), and spent the time in between rambling about "reality" and how Celebrity Is Overrated. Many listeners and critics found it preachy, self-indulgent, and lacking the energy of Miseducation, and even some of the executives at Columbia Records admitted that had anybody other than Hill recorded that album, it never would have been released. She vanished from mainstream attention soon after and came to be better known for her personal troubles than her music. Todd in the Shadows goes into more detail in this video.
  • A localized example came for the Cantopop singer Denise Ho, whose music was blacklisted in mainland China due to her participation in Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement protests in 2014, which got her arrested.
  • In 2002, Jewel's career took an unexpected turn with "Serve the Ego", which brought the folksy singer-songwriter a surprise #1 hit on the dance charts. Seeking to capitalize, in 2003 she recorded and released the full-blown electronic dance-pop album 0304 — a move that went over like a lead balloon with her existing fanbase, who branded her a Sell-Out, and failed to bring her new fans. Todd in the Shadows, in the debut episode of Trainwreckords discussing the album, compared it to Joni Mitchell suddenly releasing a disco album out of nowhere, or Taylor Swift jumping straight from "Teardrops on My Guitar" to "Look What You Made Me Do". An attempted Parody Retcon claiming that she was satirizing the vapid Idol Singers of the early '00s did little to stem the damage, especially given that she had licensed the lead-off single "Intuition" to promote a line of razors by that name. While she quickly retreated back into her comfort zone after 0304 crashed and burned (her later forays into Country Music feeling far less removed from her usual style), her career never returned to its '90s heights.
  • In 2012, Kesha was a polarizing yet highly successful pop star coming off her second album Warrior. It was around this time, however, that her continued sexual abuse at the hands of her Record Producer Dr. Luke grew too much for her to bear, leading to a Creator Breakdown as she checked into rehab for bulimia and engaged in a long legal battle to get out of her contract. Together, these problems prevented her from releasing any new material for five years, sapping her career momentum just as it looked like she had a number of interesting projects in the works. Fortunately, after getting out of her contract with Dr. Luke (who wound up disgraced by the whole affair; see below for more on him), she enjoyed a Career Resurrection in 2017 with the New Sound Album Rainbow.
  • Alicia Keys' 2016 album Here was considered a return to form after Girl on Fire earned her accusations of selling out, but commercially, it was too little too late.
  • Long before she became an Academy Award winner and MCU superhero, Brie Larson launched a bid at Teen Pop superstardom in the vein of Hilary Duff, Michelle Branch, and Avril Lavigne. In 2005, Larson released her debut album Finally Out of P.E. Despite collaborating with a heavy-hitting roster of songwriters like Pam Sheyne (Christina Aguilera's “Genie in a Bottle,” Dream's “He Loves U Not”) and Lindy Robbins (Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper," Fifth Harmony's “Miss Movin’ On”), a surprisingly addictive lead single in "She Said", and going on tour with Jesse Mc Cartney for Teen People’s Rock in Shop Tour, Larson’s album only sold 3,500 copies. To put things into proper perspective, 2005’s No. 1 album was Mariah Carey’s The Emancipation of Mimi, which sold 404,000 in its first week and, at that point, had the highest first-week album sales in Carey’s career. Although Larson promised fans in 2008 on her Myspace that she would be releasing a new EP, it never materialized. In effect, her music career was shuttered largely because the record label, Casablanca Records, had moved on. And after becoming disenchanted with the music industry, she moved on to acting full-time. Larson’s next foray into pop music was in 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, where she sung Metric’s “Black Sheep”.
  • Leona Lewis' debut was so huge that she became one of the only British pop singers to achieve legitimate success across the Pond during the 2000s, but her two followups (Glassheart and Echo) both saw sharp declines in sales, even in her native UK.
  • Despite earning more positive reviews than her debut, Cher Lloyd's sophomore effort Sorry I'm Late was an enormous flop on both sides of the Atlantic, in part due to disagreements between Lloyd and her management that resulted in the album being delayed by half a year and receiving limited promotion. Her profile was already declining in her native UK by the time she crossed over to North America in 2012, but her newfound maturity on this record wasn't enough to counter her initial reputation as a bubblegummy teen pop ditz. Subsequently, she was dropped by Epic Records and went on hiatus for a few years. She has since signed a new deal with Universal Music Group and plans on releasing a new album in the near future, but the only songs she put out since joining Universal went nowhere on the charts.
  • Lisa Loeb's mainstream success ended with the commercial failure of her 2002 album Cake and Pie, which got her dropped from A&M Records. Notably, the album received such poor promotion from the label that Loeb eventually bought the rights to the masters of the songs and rereleased the album later that year as Hello Lisa, with an altered track listing and some new songs.
  • In the early '00s, Jennifer Lopez endured a double-header of bad career moves that put her success on the skids.
    • First, in 2002, she released the single "Jenny from the Block" at the height of the tabloid storm surrounding her romance with Ben Affleck. The song and its accompanying video (which co-starred Affleck) attempted to reinforce her street cred as a working-class Puerto Rican girl made good, but they backfired, instead painting a picture of Lopez as an out-of-touch celebrity who had forgotten her roots and sold out. "Jenny from the Block" became the defining image of Lopez, often in mockery. Although the song itself was a hit, reaching #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, her next few albums were sales disappointments, and she largely faded from the limelight until her Career Resurrection in the early 2010s.
    • "Jenny from the Block", however, was just a speedbump compared to the fallout from the infamous Gigli released a year later — a film starring Lopez and Affleck that featured their romance at center stage. Widely derided by virtually everybody who saw it as one of the worst films ever made, "winning" six out of nine nominated Razzies (a subsequent seventh award was bestowed to the film a couple of years later) and grossing barely above $7 million out of its $75 million budget, Gigli was the double-tap that finished Lopez's A-list stardom for good. (Co-star Affleck and director Martin Brest were no better for wear in the film's aftermath either, with Affleck's relationship with Lopez falling apart and his career floundering before he took up directing films, and Brest retiring from filmmaking altogether.)
  • Madonna's 2003 album American Life marked the end of her nearly 20-year streak of chart success in her native United States. It divided critics and fans for its anvilicious message and failed forays into rapping and folktronica, the songs seen as filled with Clueless Aesops that did less to satirize modern America than they did to make Madonna look like an out-of-touch celebrity complaining about First World Problems. The title track was poorly received and became her lowest-charting Top 40 hit in the US, peaking at number 37, not helped by US radio stations blacklisting her due to it coming out during the US invasion of Iraq, while its music video was so controversial that MTV pulled it at her request a day after its premiere and hastily swapped it out for a different one that was just her singing in front of a backdrop of various flags. Todd in the Shadows goes into more detail in this episode of Trainwreckords, arguing that, while American Life didn't end Madonna's career like some of the other albums he'd covered, it still marked the point at which she went from the most daring woman in pop music to a nostalgia act who played it safe, comparing her post-American Life output to that of The Rolling Stones in The '80s. While she has continued scoring hits worldwide and bounced back with the follow-up Confessions on a Dance Floor, she never fully recovered from the backlash in her home country, only scoring four more Top 40 hits there since thennote  and none since 2012.
  • British electropop singer Natalia Kills, after enjoying some success in Europe and Australia in the early '10s, saw her career come to a screeching halt in 2015 when she and her husband Willy Moon's gigs as judges on the New Zealand version of The X Factor went horribly awry. On the first live show of the season, Natalia horribly bullied a contestant simply because she thought that he had copied his style from her husband, with Willy joining in with her. The outrage against the two was immediate and scathing, with Natalia and Willy being booted from the show and replaced the very next day. Natalia had to drop her stage name and start using her legal name Teddy Sinclair in order to keep working in the music industry at all, and while she still works as a songwriter and with the band Cruel Youth, her career as a pop star in her own right ended with that incident.
  • After Olivia Newton-John reigned as one of the biggest pop divas in the world in the late '70s and early '80s, following her Grease-fueled comeback, the sales for her 1985 album Soul Kiss were disappointing, largely due to the younger and more provocative Madonna overtaking her throne as the biggest female star in pop. It only produced one top 20 hit and merely went Gold, while its followup had no major hits and wasn't certified.
  • Liz Phair was an indie darling in The '90s but did not enjoy much commercial success, which she sought to rectify in 2003 with a Self-Titled Album that marked a Genre Shift from indie alt-rock to mainstream teen pop-rock. The album met a scathing reception from critics who saw it as a Sell-Out (Meghan O'Rourke of The New York Times even called it "career suicide"), and the modest Top 40 success of the lead single "Why Can't I?" failed to last. Phair only recorded two little-heard albums after that, her career momentum and reputation having been effectively snapped overnight. Phair spent the rest of the 2000s and 2010s slowly rebuilding her indie cred, owing in part to some well-received tours, an acclaimed 2018 reissue of her breakthrough Exile in Guyville album, and the self-titled album receiving an unexpected critical re-evaluation in the late 2010s. However, she has not released any new music since 2010.
  • After spending the early '70s as an international icon of glam rock and one of the most successful women in rock and roll, Suzi Quatro finally broke her native America during the late '70s, propelled by a brief stint on Happy Days. Having already adopted a generally softer and more eclectic style by her comeback, she began to flirt with Synth-Pop on Main Attraction, her only record with Polydor and the one with the most personal input to that point. The result was panned by audiences and led to a nearly decade-long hiatus before she put out another studio album, by which point she was long forgotten. Meanwhile, women like Joan Jett and Pat Benatar assumed her role as the MTV era really took off.
  • While Ashlee Simpson's career was killed by her SNL performance, her sister Jessica Simpson found her musical career killed by a Genre Shift. In 2008, Jessica decided to release a Country Music album, Do You Know. Although the lead single "Come On Over" was somewhat well-received, and she had scored a touring gig with Rascal Flatts, the album promptly fell flat on its face. Critics panned the material as boring and lifeless, saying that she felt like a dollar-store knockoff of Carrie Underwood (not helping matters was that nearly half the album was written by frequent Underwood collaborator Hillary Lindsey). Followup singles went absolutely nowhere, with the third completely failing to chart at all, and sales petered out at 200,000 copies. She was booed offstage at a concert in Wisconsin, and ultimately lost her record deal with Epic Records. Simpson's only musical output since then was an independently released Christmas album in 2010, which came and went without a trace. Since then, she has largely focused on business ventures and television work.
  • Released six years after her previous album, Jordin Sparks' attempted comeback record Right Here Right Now performed absolutely dismally commercially, despite decent critical reviews, and produced no charting singles.
  • Former S Club 7 member Rachel Stevens had a moderately successful solo career upon her original group’s disbandment, reaching #2 twice on the UK Singles Chart. Unfortunately, this would turn out to be rather short-lived. Critics fell in love with her 2005 sophomore record, Come and Get It, thanks to its progressive electronic sound, but it fared poorly with general audiences, despite the positive hype and Stevens being one of the biggest English sex symbols at the time. The album’s failure can be attributed to her general abstinence from a celebrity lifestyle and therefore lack of a provocative public persona in a time when provocative pop princesses were in vogue, not helped by the fact that she had almost no writing credits on the record. Although her Polydor contract promised three more albums, she never returned to the studio after her label prematurely stopped promoting Come and Get It, and after a failed attempt at a Hollywood breakthrough, she instead opted to focus on modeling, Reality Television, and raising a family. However, the record is still a minor cult hit, having featured on The Guardian’s “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” and retaining enough of a fanbase that Stevens DJ’d at a celebration of its 10th anniversary.
  • Tiffany's third album, New Inside, flopped so hard that it and its singles failed to chart, a sharp decline considering her previous album went Platinum and contained two top 40 singles, one of which peaked at #6. As was also the case for fellow late '80s teen pop queen Gibson's Anything Is Possible (itself a career-killer), this album was actually a reasonable success in Japan, where it peaked at #17.
  • Kim Wilde was one of the most popular and versatile solo female musicians of the 1980s in her native Britain, Germany, and Switzerland. Despite starting off as a new wave singer, she successfully transitioned into dance-pop as her career went along, remaining moderately popular during the house movement of the early ‘90s, as well. Then came 1995’s Now and Forever, a foray into contemporary R&B that got thrashed by critics due to its formulaic, bubblegummy lyrics and lack of creative direction. The record was also a commercial bomb, failing to chart in the UK and scoring only a couple of super minor hits on the British and German pop charts. Due largely to its failure, Wilde took a decade-long hiatus before finally returning with a new record. Fortunately, she’s been a highly successful touring artist whose albums still chart well in Europe since her comeback.
  • Gretchen Wilson came out of nowhere in 2004 with "Redneck Woman", the lead single to her quintuple-platinum 2014 smash Here for the Party. The album was heralded for her unpolished, hardcore style, and seen as a welcome change as the last wave of female country artists had died out so hard that no solo female had a #1 country hit in all of 2003. Her success also dovetailed into that of the MuzikMafia, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter aggregation spearheaded by Big & Rich, who had almost equal success with their own debut album Horse of a Different Color. Wilson was a member of said Mafia, and several members contributed to her album (most prominently Big & Rich member John Rich, who co-wrote and produced most of it). Although she had some detractors, most critics and fans saw Gretchen as a new voice of women in country music, balancing old-school honky-tonk with a fresh level of aggression and grit. But it all came tumbling down fast in 2005 with "All Jacked Up". Despite debuting at #21 on the country charts, the highest debut ever made by a female artist at the time, the song came to a dead halt at #8 less than two months later before reversing course. Gretchen's followups went almost nowhere, and she quietly left Columbia Records in 2008. The sudden flameout seemed to kill the momentum of nearly everyone in the MuzikMafia except Big & Rich as well, lending an air of overexposure to the whole proceedings.
  • Kiely Williams tried to pursue a solo career after The Cheetah Girls broke up, but it was killed by her first single in 2010, "Spectacular". It received negative reviews and became highly controversial thanks to its questionable lyrics that celebrate binge drinking and unprotected sex with strangers, and possibly rape — the protagonist was so drunk that her consent was questionable at best, and a few lines suggest that the guy intentionally got her that drunk, and possibly drugged her. Williams tried to defend the song by saying it was actually a protest against the behaviors it portrayed, but it didn't help. Since then she hasn't released anything (ignoring the 2018 leak of her unreleased single "Make Me a Drink", which was expected to be her solo debut).

    Male artists (solo) 
  • 50 Cent's 2007 album Curtis, particularly the media storm he built around it, ruined his career and image virtually overnight. His 2003 debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin' is widely considered to be a classic of early '00s Hip-Hop, and is one of the best-selling rap albums of all time, but his 2005 sophomore album The Massacre received a very polarized reaction from both critics and fans. With people questioning his staying power, Fifty, in an attempt to build hype around Curtis, boastfully announced to the public that if Kanye West's album Graduation sold more copies than Curtis during their first week of release (both albums were deliberately released on the same day), he would officially retire from rapping. This drew the ire of many fans, who began to perceive him as an arrogant prick on top of being a mediocre talent. The fact that Fifty went back on his word when Graduation did indeed sell far more copies than Curtis was the finishing blow. Curtis failure was also credited by multiple critics as the Genre-Killer as well, since Gangsta Rap took a visible nosedive from mainstream prominence, taking a few big careers along with it, some of them mentioned below. His fourth album, 2009's Before I Self Destruct, was both a critical and commercial failure, and the album Animal Ambition was stuck in Development Hell before quietly being released in 2014. While Get Rich Or Die Tryin' still has many fans, Fifty himself is now seen as a joke by the rap community.
  • Despite only finishing as runner-up in The X Factor UK 2005, Andy Abraham initially had a very promising career, and his first two albums enjoyed strong sales. Unfortunately, his future was destroyed virtually overnight by his disastrous failure and last-place finish in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Aside from the single release of his Eurovision song (which flopped so badly it didn't even get into the charts), Abraham hasn't released a single album since.
  • The hit song "Sexy Bitch", while launching David Guetta's career, killed that of guest-artist Akon, who hasn't had a hit since. The Auto-Tune craze slowly dying down, plus the heavy scrutiny he received for simulating sex acts on a 15-year-old girl onstage, certainly didn't help for him.
  • Biz Markie's music career was derailed severely by a lawsuit filed by singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan over a track on his 1991 album I Need a Haircut, which heavily sampled Sullivan's 1972 hit, "Alone Again (Naturally)" without Sullivan's permission. The track was permanently banned, Warner Bros. Records was permanently banned from selling the album (which would eventually be re-released by another company without the offending track), and Markie was referred to the criminal courts. Though he narrowly avoided criminal charges of copyright infringement due to the attorney general declining to press charges, the damage had been done, and his next album in 1993, All Samples Cleared!, would sell extremely poorly as a result. Markie would only release one more album of original material after that.
  • B.o.B was a rising star in Hip-Hop in the late '00s and early '10s. His albums B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray in 2010 and Strange Clouds in 2012 went double-platinum and platinum respectively, both produced multiple hit singles, and he was seen as a herald of a new wave of Alternative Hip Hop entering the mainstream. He became an in-demand guest artist and collaborator in the first half of the 2010s; not only did he work with artists like Bruno Mars, Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo, Lil Wayne, and Taylor Swift on some of his biggest hits, he also appeared on over two dozen songs by other artists (most notably Jessie J's "Price Tag"). However, following the critical and sales disappointment of 2013's Underground Luxury and 2015's Psycadelik Thoughtz, B.o.B split from Atlantic Records and started his own independent label, No Genre. It didn't take long for him to jump completely off the deep end. His 2016 single "Flatline", a diss track aimed at (of all people) the celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (whose rapper nephew Stephen responded with his own diss track "Flat to Fact"), saw him in full ranting Conspiracy Theorist mode; the title referred to his belief that the Earth was flat and that NASA was lying to everyone about it, and it also included unrelated conspiracy theories about The Reptilians, the Freemasons, and the Jews. Vulture music critic Nate Jones described the title of "Flatline" as "a reference to the horizon of the Earth and also a fitting description of B.o.B's career", and sure enough, he vanished from mainstream attention soon after, remembered only as one of the biggest flashes-in-the-pan of 2010s hip-hop.
  • Back on My B.S. by Busta Rhymes. In addition to being his worst-received album to date, it was his first not to receive any certification, signaling the end of his heyday.
  • Country Music singer Chris Cagle had been a fairly consistent hit-maker for the first decade of the 21st century with big hits such as "Laredo", "I Breathe In, I Breathe Out" (part of a Network to the Rescue moment for Cagle, as Capitol Records picked him up for this song after buying out his previous label, Virgin Records Nashville), "Chicks Dig It", and "What a Beautiful Day". In late 2007, he looked to be shaping up for one of the biggest hits of his career with "What Kinda Gone". But right as that song peaked, Cagle was arrested and jailed for domestic assault of his girlfriend. Followup singles bombed completely, and Capitol dropped him. While he released another album on Bigger Picture Music Group in 2012, its singles were largely unsuccessful and the label closed two years later. Cagle ultimately retired in 2015.
  • Despite some big hit singles in the mid-2000s, St. Louis rapper Chingy was constantly subject to Nickelback-levels of scorn from people who considered him a Nelly wannabe with poor rapping skills. After two commercially successful but unfavorably received records, he finally struck out with his third effort Hood Star, which produced one top 10 single with "Pullin' Me Back" but sold marginally and fared no better critically than his previous two records. Since then, Chingy has been pretty much entirely insignificant.
  • Gavin DeGraw had a brief comeback in 2012 with the Platinum-certified hit "Not Over You", but the leadoff single to Make Your Move, "Best I Ever Had", failed to crack the top 40, putting an end to his relevance except for some modest success in the adult pop market.
  • Country Music singer Tyler Farr, after two false starts, seemed to be shaping up for a solid career in the genre between 2013 and 2014. During this timespan, he scored top-five hits on the country charts with "Redneck Crazy" and "Whiskey in My Water", followed by his first #1 hit "A Guy Walks Into a Bar". After the latter, the label chose to release an impassioned ballad called "Withdrawals". Despite positive reception, the song was only on the charts for two months before the label decided to withdraw it in favor of "Better in Boots". This was a massive case of Executive Meddling, as the newly-appointed label heads felt that Tyler should release a more upbeat song with female appeal instead of a ballad (even though both "Redneck Crazy" and "A Guy Walks Into a Bar" were also ballads). "Boots" was derided as a lightweight novelty track, and stalled out at #26. The choice seems to have completely derailed Farr's career, as his attempts at follow-ups have completely failed on the charts, and even his big hits seem to have fallen into obscurity. (It doesn't help that, except for "A Guy Walks Into a Bar" and "Withdrawals", most of Farr's material was heavily divisive due to stock "country boy" lyrical content and Farr's gruff singing voice.)
  • Peter Frampton's follow-up to his highly popular live album Frampton Comes Alive! was I'm In You, a low-key experimental funk album. Despite the title track managing to become his biggest hit (#2 on the US pop charts), the album confounded his teenybopper fans, and the combination of the album's failure and his role in the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (which also killed producer Robert Stigwood's RSO label) the next year completely obliterated his career. To add insult to injury, Frank Zappa spoofed the album with "I Have Been In You", a cut from his own album Sheik Yerbouti.
  • While the '90s did not bring him any significant hits, Gary Glitter was still a respected and bankable performer and one of the symbols of the '70s Glam Rock scene. In 1997, however, he was convicted for possession of child pornography on his computer. In the aftermath, he was banned from all performances and his cameo in Spice World was cut. With this, and various organizations (including the NFL) banning the use of his songs during events, he was forced to produce and release his final studio album On (2001) independently as no record company or distributor wanted their name attached to him, dooming it to sell only 5,000 copies. Whatever slim chances he had of winning back the crowd were lost when he was convicted in Vietnam for performing sexual acts on minors in 2006, and again in 2015 (in his native UK) for several child molestation cases from the late '70s.
  • Billy Idol's career never recovered from the 1993 bomb of Cyberpunk, a Concept Album inspired by the cyberpunk literary movement and the new computer technology of the time. His new image and sound, far from futuristic and rebellious, were ironically seen as woefully out-of-date and pretentious at the height of the grunge era, while actual cyberpunk enthusiasts saw him as a shallow poser. Between that and a near-fatal drug overdose shortly after, Idol went on hiatus for eleven years starting in 1994 in order to concentrate on his family. Again, Todd in the Shadows has the details.
  • Michael Jackson's fall from grace wasn't really due to a bad album per se, but due to his various personal controversies. Still, Invincible was Jackson's first real album in six years and outside of "You Rock My World", is incredibly forgettable. Prior to that, there was HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I, which in hindsight felt like a huge ego trip; endless advertising, sailing giant statues of himself around the world, hyping this up as era defining. And for what? Half a greatest hits album and a couple of new singles and filler. And that's before getting into stuff like the controversy over the lyrics to "They Don't Care About Us" and his deteriorating relationship with his label. These were all the ingredients were there for a massive letdown that might have cause people to go "oh, really?" at him as an artist for the first time. How much of that was tied into him trying to overcompensate for the scandals is another matter. But there was a possibility of this becoming messy anyway.
  • Throughout 1984 and 1985, Nik Kershaw was one of Britain's most consistent hitmakers, with seven top 20 singles in a row, of which "Wouldn't It Be Good", "I Won't Let the Sun Go Down On Me", and "The Riddle" reached the top 5 and also achieved success internationally. Things started to slow down, however, with the failure of "When a Heart Beats" near the end of 1985, and once he finally released his third solo album, Radio Musicola, nearly a year later, he seemed to have completely lost his magic touch. Despite "Nobody Knows" becoming a major hit in Japan, none of the new record's singles even made the top 40 in his native UK. Kershaw himself blames the album's poor performance on previous overexposure, but even after attempting multiple comebacks years later, nothing ever seemed to get his career back on track. Fortunately though, he found renewed success as a behind-the-scenes songwriter in the '90s, most notably for the mid-'90s Boy Band Let Loose, as well as Chesney Hawkes' UK #1 single "The One and Only" (which also yielded success on the Hot 100 that had alluded Kershaw during his prime as a singer).
  • Even with the decently-charting single "Eenie Meenie" (which was fueled by Justin Bieber), Sean Kingston's Back 2 Life album did poorly commercially and Kingston's career has never recovered in any way since.
  • Tracy Lawrence was a constant chart presence on country radio for most of The '90s. He hit #1 on the country music charts with his 1991 debut single "Sticks and Stones", boosted by the publicity that he received when he survived getting shot four times after protecting a female friend from an attempted robbery and rape at a Nashville hotel. His next nineteen singles all peaked within that chart's Top 10 while his first four albums all sold either platinum or double-platinum. Even a 1994 incident where he was charged with reckless endangerment after allegedly shooting at some teenagers on the freeway didn't seem to have a negative impact on his career, partially because he was cleared of the charges. But his momentum stopped abruptly in fall 1997 when he was accused of abusing his then-wife, former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Stacie Drew, after a concert in Las Vegas. His then-current single "The Coast Is Clear" fell off the charts entirely from a #26 peak, and a Nevada judge convicted him and ordered him to pay $500 to a women's shelter. Atlantic Records allegedly put a temporary recording ban on him, although Lawrence himself later denied this. While he had momentary returns to the Top 10 with "Lessons Learned" in 2000 and "Paint Me a Birmingham" in 2004, both were quickly stunted by label closures. His last radio hit was 2008's "Find Out Who Your Friends Are", an independent release which only took off due to a remix featuring Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. Combined with his increasing age and his twangy traditionalist style falling out of favor at the Turn of the Millennium, he was unlikely to last much longer anyway, but his 1997 misdeeds almost certainly hastened the end of his ongoing relationship with radio.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis was, in 1958, one of Rock & Roll's biggest stars, with hits like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire", and a wildman persona that left fans breathless. Then, while on tour in England, word got out to the press that Lewis' new wife Myra was thirteen years old. And his cousin. English fans booed him mercilessly and forced the early cancellation of his U.K. tour. Upon returning home to America, Lewis discovered that even his youthful fan base back home didn't want anything more to do with him. He was blacklisted in the music industry and soon reduced to playing small gigs. Seemingly washed-up in his early 20s, it took several years before Lewis regained the respect of fans and the industry, having switched to country music in 1968 and topped the country charts with the song "Another Place, Another Time".
  • Macklemore and his producer/partner-in-crime Ryan Lewis followed up the surprise success of 2012's The Heist, which featured songs like "Thrift Shop" and "Same Love" which are forever cemented in the modern pop music pantheon as game changers, with 2016's This Unruly Mess I've Made. The album itself wasn't the killer (it did quite well in its first few weeks of release, though not on the same level as The Heist, as it was clear at that point his 15 minutes had ended a long time ago), but rather the album's second single, "White Privilege II", which was, putting it mildly, a huge disaster. The song was nine minutes long and was seen in the public eye as a self-indulgent, self-pitying mess that shamelessly pandered to Macklemore's left-wing fanbase, who mostly hated it themselves and saw it as insincere. The backlash came almost immediately, and while Macklemore's credibility had been questioned as far back as his debut ("Same Love", a pro-gay rights song, in particular had been criticized as a case of Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?), said song pretty much wrecked it. The later single "Dance Off" bombed on the charts, and despite the album being released in 2016, Macklemore and Lewis announced that they would be taking a break from recording music together in 2017 with Macklemore focusing on his solo career. His subsequent solo singles "Glorious" and "Good Old Days" were critically well received and got some radio airplay, but were nowhere near as big as the hits he had in 2012, and both songs missed the Top 40 in the US. His biggest markets since have been Australia and New Zealand (where "Glorious" reached #2 and #1, respectively).
  • 2018 proved to be a very bad year for Zayn Malik, despite him arguably being one of the only singers of the pop genre to naturally fit the zeitgeist of the era. "Let Me", the leadoff single for his sophomore solo album Icarus Falls, was a huge flop, while the several tracks he released afterwards barely even charted. Once the album finally came out at the end of the year, it sold extremely poorly, despite his previous record topping the album charts of several countries just two years prior.
  • Marilyn Manson attributes his downfall to the Columbine massacre, for which he was widely Mis-blamed by Moral Guardians who felt that his music had influenced Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to become killers. While he's kept working to this day and still has a good core of fans, his A-list mainstream momentum was snapped by the shooting, and his subsequent albums, 2000's Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) and 2003's The Golden Age of Grotesque were both sales disappointments (in the US, at least; they were among his biggest hits in Europe, where the Columbine controversy never reached), signaling a Dork Age that would last until the release of The Pale Emperor in 2015. Ironically, he thinks that the killers likely would have been better off had they actually listened to his music; in real life, Harris is known to have dismissed Manson as a poser.
  • Ricky Martin's Self-Titled Album in 1999 was not only his big smash crossover in America, it was the big bang for the "Latin Invasion" of American pop music in the late '90s and '00s. And yet, somehow it was all the other singers from that boom (Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, etc.) who benefited much more in the long run than Ricky, who pretty much flamed out just as quickly as he roared into the U.S. music scene. For why, one can easily blame his 2000 followup Sound Loaded. For one, the songs on Sound Loaded were very mediocre compared to the album cuts from the previous album, and furthermore, while he was still closeted, even at the time it was widely speculated that Martin was gay, and there was some evidence to it beyond just the fact that he was a Pretty Boy pop idol. This being a time when homophobia was more widespread in the US than it is today, Martin's appeal was thus unfortunately narrowed, from both guys who didn't want to be Mistaken for Gay and from girls who couldn't buy him as a Latin heartthrob.
  • MC Hammer was a Hip-Hop superstar in the early '90s, but the Gangsta Rap boom caused his goofy, PG-rated persona to go out of style, which led him to adopt a Darker and Edgier image on his 1994 album The Funky Headhunter. It alienated his existing fanbase, who saw the new, gangsta-flavored Hammer (he dropped the "MC" from his name) as a betrayal of the parents and kids who made him famous, and was mostly laughed at by actual gangsta rappers, who saw it as a ridiculous and shallow pose and a desperate attempt to stay relevant. After the failure of The Funky Headhunter, Hammer's Conspicuous Consumption caught up with him, causing him to file for bankruptcy in 1996. Todd in the Shadows goes into more detail here.
  • Willy Moon, the husband of Natalia Kills (described above under Female Artists), harpooned his own career just as badly in the same incident. His stumble wasn't as steep given that he wasn't as big a name and didn't have as far to fall, but it still effectively buried his shot at success.
  • Good Man was this for Ne-Yo. While his previous album Non-Fiction was also fairly polarizing, it at least sold reasonably well and had a modest urban and top 40 hit with “She Knows”. In addition to receiving even more middling reviews and failing to send either of its singles to the Hot 100, this album only reached a measly #33 on the Billboard 200 and didn’t even reach the top 10 on the urban albums chart, cementing the fact that his days as a pop/R&B superstar are over.
  • Jerrod Niemann had an inconsistent chart presence in The New '10s, but when he hit, he hit big: "Lover, Lover" (a cover of Sonia Dada's "You Don't Treat Me No Good") was a #1 smash on the Hot Country Songs charts in 2010, and "Drink to That All Night" was also a chart-topper in late 2013-early 2014, despite derision from fans and critics over its Auto-Tune-dominated production and simplistic lyrics about partying in a transparent attempt to cash in on the "bro-country" trend that was going on at the time. But following the latter, he put out "Donkey", another electronic-influenced novelty with embarrassingly bad Double Entendre lyrics about, well, the ass (and possibly even sodomy, given the line "They all walk funny when they're done, riding you know who"). This caused the song to go over abysmally in the traditionally conservative-minded country fandom, so Arista pulled it less than two months later in favor of the much safer "Buzz Back Girl". Despite their attempts to cover up "Donkey" by referring to "Buzz Back Girl" as the second single in ad copy, the damage had already been done. An intended single for a fourth Arista album ("Blue Bandana") also underperformed so poorly that he exited the label. He moved to Curb Records in 2016 and released a duet with labelmate and close friend Lee Brice which, despite Brice's better track record and name recognition, barely made any noise either. Jerrod released an album on Curb in fall 2017, but it sold so poorly that it failed to chart, and almost no mainstream critics except Allmusic even bothered to review it. Any discussion about Jerrod in the country music fandom seems to center on what a terrible choice "Donkey" was for a single, and how badly it seems to have damaged his career. "Donkey" also seems to have killed the career of Sony Nashville's then-head Gary Overton, who made several other bad decisions on the Sony-owned Arista and RCA Nashville labels in the same timespan.
  • As explained here by Todd in the Shadows, soul singer Billy Paul's career took a massive blow after his debut single "Me and Mrs. Jones" was followed up by "Am I Black Enough For You?". Nearly everybody on the label, including Paul himself, thought that "Black Enough" was a terrible choice for a single, and that its black nationalist themes and message would alienate mainstream white listeners and paint a picture of Paul as a Malcolm Xerox, but the head of the label loved the song and released it as his second single anyway. Sure enough, while "Black Enough" became a minor cult hit among black nationalists, Paul became remembered as a One-Hit Wonder afterward.
  • Imperial Blaze derailed Sean Paul's career. While he still has modest success as a guest performer (including a different #1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 2016), this album's poor sales and reception (combined with the death of the dancehall craze) effectively killed his momentum.
  • In The '50s, Elvis Presley was the poster child for youth rebellion. He had to put his career on hold in 1958 when he got called up for the draft, but upon completing his Army service in 1960, he seemed poised for a comeback. Unfortunately, his manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker, pushed him into a film career that saw him starring in a string of musical comedies, and while he was still successful as a movie star and live performer, his music career dried up outside of soundtrack hits. John Lennon put it quite plainly when he said following Elvis's death that "he died when he went in the Army" and that the rest of his career was "a living death". He did eventually enjoy a comeback as a musician in 1968 courtesy of his live TV special that year, albeit with a Genre Shift to country and adult contemporary.
  • Shaggy's fourth album Midnite Lover was a huge flop and almost ended his career, but he made a triumphant comeback a few years later with Hot Shot, which contained two #1 hits. Lucky Day, however, received disappointing reviews and failed to produce any major hits, despite its lead single "Hey Sexy Lady" appearing in Kangaroo Jack, and Shaggy was immediately replaced by Sean Paul as the big pop-reggae singer/rapper of the day. He managed to score a minor hit in 2015, but he has still never come anywhere close to matching the success of "Boombastic", “Angel” or "It Wasn't Me" since this record's failure.
  • Sam Smith showed promise in 2014 when, after for two years being known as the voice behind Disclosure's dance hit "Latch" and Naughty Boy's "La La La", they dropped their massively successful debut album In the Lonely Hour. Said album showed major promise with many hit singles, and they were heralded as "the male Adele"note . However, that all came to a screeching halt a year later when they released their much maligned theme song for the film Spectre, "The Writing's on the Wall", which received major backlash from 007 fans and critics and divided even Smith's fans. Things weren't made better when they performed a damningly off-key version at the 2016 Academy Awards, which even Smith regarded as the worst moment of their career, and even winning "Best Original Song" did nothing to help this either. Not helping matters were the revelation that said song beat out a much better-received song by Radiohead titled after the film. As a result, though they did have a minor hit with "Too Good at Goodbyes" in 2017, and its subsequent album The Thrill of It All, neither were anywhere near as successful as In the Lonely Hour, and as a solo artist they disappeared from view pretty quickly. Since then, Smith's most successful ventures have been features on other artists' tunes, most notably Calvin Harris' "Promises" and Normani's "Dancing with a Stranger"; as a solo artist, it's clear their day in the limelight is done.
  • Soulja Boy was lucky to avoid becoming a one-hit wonder when "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" emerged a major hit in 2009, but after the rise of Young Money ushered in a new era of pop rap, the hype for Soulja Boy finally died down by the time he released The DeAndre Way a year later.
  • Ironically, despite "Rock Me Tonite" being Billy Squier's biggest hit single, the video killed his career. Kenny Ortega stepped in to direct it two weeks before it was due for a World Premiere Video on MTV; Billy was too much of a nice guy to junk an already troubled video in that time frame. Within days of people seeing the footage of him arising from satin sheets and prancing around in a pink tank top, they drew the only obvious conclusion, and he stopped selling out shows. He fired his manager and didn't release another album for two years.
  • Cat Stevens narrowly escaped this with 1975's Numbers, but Executive Meddling pushed him on to complete two more albums, 1977's Izitso and 1979's Back to Earth. The latter was a true Creator Killer for him, as it failed to make the Top 30 and left Stevens, by this time formally known as Yusuf Islam, absent from the pop world for nearly thirty years.
  • Keith Sweat's career went south once he tried for a Darker and Edgier image. While this worked okay on Still in the Game, it didn't pan out on Didn't See Me Coming, which failed to produce a major hit and marked the end of his time as a major force in contemporary R&B.
  • T.I.'s No Mercy received lukewarm reception and failed to match the monster sales of its predecessor Paper Trail, and he has yet to come anywhere close to his late-2000s success (aside from his feature on “Blurred Lines”).
  • Robin Thicke was a reliable R&B hitmaker in the late 2000s, scoring a string of huge hits on the format, including 2007's "Lost Without U", the first song by a white artist to top the Billboard R&B year-end chart since 1965. In 2013, Thicke went from a genre star to being one of the biggest musicians in the world, propelled by the tremendous success of his controversial hit "Blurred Lines", featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I.. His Self-Titled Album sold 177,000 units in the first week. Then, his career was taken down by two heavy blows. First, he attempted to promote the album by doing an extremely indecent dance with Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards that year. While it skyrocketed Cyrus's career to the greatest heights since her Hannah Montana days, it torpedoed Thicke's, setting off a chain reaction that caused his single and album to disappear from the charts. Second, Thicke's affair and divorce finished the job. While he always had a very flamboyant, overly-sexed stage persona, he always had the excuse that it was just for show and that he was a faithful family man in real life. A photo released of him groping a fan, and subsequent revelations of his infidelity, ruined that instantly. He made his next album Paula solely to win his wife back, and it was critically panned and gained very, very low sales (and an episode of Trainwreckords, complete with deeply unfavorable comparisons to Usher's Confessions, where Thicke helped out as a songwriter on the track "Can U Handle It?" in his earlier days). Following "Blurred Lines", his core R&B audience evaporated, and he only charted two more top 40 hits on the format before disappearing from it altogether. His fate was formally sealed in March 2015, when a jury in a Los Angeles civil court found that "Blurred Lines" had infringed on the copyright of Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up", which both Thicke and co-writer Pharrell stated to be an influence to writing their song.note  His next work following that case, a featured spot on Flo Rida's "I Don't Like It, I Love It," went nowhere as it fell just short of the Top 40, possibly ensuring that he may never find an audience again.
  • Ike Turner was a respected blues/funk musician for decades, but all that stopped in the early '90s when ex-wife Tina Turner's autobiography I, Tina, adapted into the biofilm What's Love Got to Do with It, utterly destroyed his reputation by revealing him to be a domestic abuser. The fact that he defended himself with statements like "yeah, I hit her, but I didn't hit her more than the average guy beats his wife" didn't help matters. Even in death, he is known as Tina's abusive ex-husband first and a musician second.
  • While Usher's charisma and good looks kept his superstardom alive for nearly two decades, his profile finally seems to have faded since the huge underperformance of 2016's Hard II Love, which failed to earn an RIAA certification and only produced one minor top 40 hit in "No Limit", making its overall performance comparable to his mostly forgotten 1994 self-titled debut. Following this record's disappointment, Usher has not been in any demand as a guest star, despite his frequent appearances on other people's tracks during the years leading up to the album's release.
  • (West) German liedermacher Hannes Wader invoked this. When he became too popular with the German bourgeoisie, he recorded Hannes Wader singt Arbeiterliedernote , a live album of radically leftist music that earned him the status of a Persona Non Grata for multiple decades. He won back the crowd when he broke with the German communist party.
  • Former Pink Floyd bassist/vocalist/songwriter Roger Waters derailed his solo career with the failure of The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking and Radio K.A.O.S combined with his feud with the rest of Pink Floyd. While his third solo album, Amused to Death was hailed as on par with classic Floyd albums, his career never truly recovered until his 1999-2000 "In The Flesh" tour and a one-off reunion with Pink Floyd at Live 8 in 2005. Waters subsequently staged successful live revivals of The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall.
  • Despite Wiz Khalifa's earlier successes in the 2010s decade and Rolling Papers 2 coming out during a time that rap had almost completely swallowed up the Hot 100, the record went by mostly ignored, received marginal reviews, and failed to chart any of its songs in the top 40.

    Producers/composers 
  • David Guetta's well of hits ran dry once he released 7 in 2017. While his previous two albums were polarizing, they at least produced massive hits. Only one track from this album charted on the Hot 100 (and even that was only because of Justin Bieber); the album itself had an even worse showing on the Billboard 200, bringing his strings of successes to an end. He's still moderately popular overseas, but even then, his track record has been less consistent than it was earlier in the decade.
  • At the premiere of Lily in 1977, the audience turned out in droves within just 20 minutes. Leon Kirchner never wrote another opera thereafter, although his musical career continued.
  • After the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, where Janet Jackson's breast was accidentally exposed on national television in the middle of a highly sexualized performance, MTV was effectively blacklisted from ever putting on another Super Bowl halftime show, and the NFL turned to classic rock for the next six halftime shows before switching back to mainstream pop in 2011. Janet's career also suffered; while it wasn't quite a Creator Killer for her, she did undergo a Dork Age and a career downturn that lasted into the 2010s, only ending with the 2015 album Unbreakable and her 2019 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Justin Timberlake, however, went virtually unscathed from the incident.
  • It wasn't so much a failure as it was long, but William Tell prevented Gioachino Rossini from composing a fortieth opera altogether.
    • Constantino Dall'Argine composed a Barber of Seville that failed miserably at its premiere in Bologna in 1868 — two days before Rossini's death — and destroyed his career as a composer.
  • Japanese rock musician Mamoru Samuragochi's composing career was suddenly halted in February 2014 when it was revealed that not only were most of his compositions were actually ghostwritten by Takashi Niigaki, but he wasn't deaf. This was enough to have his Hiroshima Citizen's Award rescinded and Nippon Columbia to drop him from their roster. Samuragochi has remained relatively quiet since the controversy.
  • Although nowadays it's seen as one of his best ever productions, the relative American failure of the Ike & Tina Turner single "River Deep, Mountain High" brought producer Phil Spector's career to a standstill and was a major factor in driving him into seclusion for the rest of his life, along with his divisive production of The Beatles' Let It Be. Ironically, it was actually a huge success in Europe, not that this brought him much comfort.
  • Lithuanian producer Ten Walls was a rising name of the EDM stage, scoring a top 10 hit in 2014 with "Walking with Elephants", only for his career to implode in June 2015 after going on a homophobic rant on Facebook. Because of that, he was dropped from several EDM festivals and has remained mostly quiet since.

    Record labels 
  • Artery Recordings' history of screwing over artists came to bit them in the ass when they got bought out by Warner in 2017. Given what Artery alumni Attila (Metalcore) and Chelsea Grin had to say about the label, it was only a matter of time before this happened to them.
  • The pioneering New Wave Music label Factory Records was taken down by Yes Please!, the disastrous 1992 album by Happy Mondays. The album went several times over-budget and the band members spent more time doing crack (which, ironically, was the result of them relocating to Barbados to kick their heroin addiction; there was no heroin on the island, but plenty of crack) than recording any material (the first demos sent to the label didn't even have vocals because the band forgot to write any lyrics). The failure of the album also took down Happy Mondays, who wouldn't record another album until 2007.
    • Lead singer Shaun Ryder's side-project Black Grape was also killed off. After the critical and commercial success of their debut album It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah, the band followed it up with Stupid Stupid Stupid, which flopped and ended Black Grape.
    • New Order's delay in following up Technique has also been cited as contributing to Factory's demise. When the band finally released Republic the year after Factory went under, it was a major hit for their new label London Records and would have been the album that saved Factory from its sad demise.
  • MCA formed the sub-label Infinity Records in 1978 in the hopes of the Los Angeles-based label expanding its operations to the East Coast. It only produced one hit, the Rupert Holmes album Partners in Crime which contained the mega-hit "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)". The label also had some modest success with albums by the jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra, but most of their other releases flopped or failed to turn a profit. Desperate to stay alive, Infinity spent millions of dollars to the Roman Catholic Church in order to secure the rights to a number of Pope John Paul II's recordings, which were compiled in the album Pope John Paul II Sings at the Festival of Sacrosong for an October 1979 release in the hopes that his international popularity would save the label. They instead lost even more money on it, as the album in question was widely panned and sold far below what Infinity hoped for. After its failure, MCA got smart and shuttered Infinity, sending its operations and masters back to the main MCA label and dropping all of its artists from their roster with the exceptions of Holmes and Spyro Gyra.
  • Music producer/guitarist Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald's music label, Kemosabe Records, was closed in April 2017 after Sony Music began distancing themselves from him, amidst allegations of sexual assault and abuse which already claimed his career.note  Luke's career never recovered from the scandal, not having had a hit since R. City's "Locked Away" in late 2015. Even Katy Perry stopped collaborating with him as her 2017 album Witness became her first album to have no involvement from him.
  • When Volumes revealed that their label, Mediaskare Records, didn't pay them royalties for their first two albums (Via and No Sleep), it tarnished whatever credibility the label had left. While the label was already well-known in industry circles for their terrible deals and poor treatment of the acts on their roster and had been quietly declining for a while as most of the bands on it either broke up or went on indefinite hiatus (most of them being in such dire financial straits due to Mediaskare that they weren't even trying to find new labels), this likely served as the final blow to an already-ailing label. They had been called out before (particularly by As Blood Runs Black, another former flagship act), but the difference was that Volumes had enough of a present following to make it hurt, while the bands that the label would have signed were instead going to Stay Sick and Unique Leader, and they no longer had a ready supply of desperate young bands who would accept their atrocious contracts. Mediaskare's social media has been inactive since 2018 and their website is no longer up, implying that the label quietly closed their doors.
  • Master P and his record label No Limit's popularity declined due to a lawsuit and split from production company Beats By the Pound. These events forced the bulk of their catalog to cease production, forcing them to attempt to restart their empire from scratch.
  • While WWF - The Music, Vol. 3 was a major hit for low-budget VHS leader Simitar Entertainment, they lost a copyright infringement lawsuit from WWF parent company Titan Sports, Inc. and music licensee Cherry River Co., and the resulting debts drove them to bankruptcy.
  • Interscope Records's Suretone imprint was killed off by the one-two punch of Chris Cornell's Screamnote  and Shwayze's Let It Beatnote , both of which failed commercially and critically. Suretone's implosion had unintended consequences for the label's biggest act The Cure, who found themselves without a recording contract after the dust settled. Angels & Airwaves, another successful Suretone band, also got lost in the shuffle but were able to find their footing as an independent act. The Suretone brand was revived in 2017 with distribution through Warner's ADA division, with a new lineup of acts including Collective Soul.


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