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  • In 1992, Flatwoods, Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus hit right off the bat with "Achy Breaky Heart", the song that practically began the country line-dance craze. Despite having several more country hits and parlaying that success into several long-running TV series — Doc and, with daughter Miley, the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana — there are some who will never think of Billy Ray as more as that long-haired boy from the Kentucky backwoods who "got lucky with a bad dance song." (which was a Black Sheep Hit to boot). That, and being his daughter's father.
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  • Questlove, drummer for The Roots, said this about the trope in an interview:
    "For anyone that's ever had a musical breakthrough in their career, it's always followed by the departure period right after. Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life gave you Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. Prince's Purple Rain gave you Around the World in a Day. The Beatles' Revolver gave you Sgt. Pepper's — which kind of backfired and made them even bigger."
  • Don McLean was never able to create anything close to the success of "American Pie". Part of the problem was that it was a different type of song from the rest of what he did, so his other good songs were legitimately worse than American Pie by the measures of the people who preferred it, and many of the people who would have liked his other songs didn't bother listening to the further discography of "that guy who wrote American Pie."
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  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony can't make an album without people bitching about it not being like E.1999 Eternal (or The Art Of War, depending on who you ask).
  • Nas is always in the shadow of his classic debut Illmatic. Nothing he has made after that has been as acclaimed. He came close with Stillmatic, though. Some go as far to say that none of his songs top "Live at the BBQ."
  • Michael Jackson's Thriller became the best-selling album of all time in the early 1980s. An amazing feat, but perhaps the best example of a tough act to follow. Nobody, not even Michael Jackson himself, has ever managed to top the sales and the critical acclaim of this record, no matter how hard he tried.
  • Hootie & the Blowfish's Cracked Rear View is their dark cloud. However, lead singer Darius Rucker went on to have a fairly successful career in Country Music over a decade later.
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  • Alt/Rap group Arrested Development went through this after their debut album. Most credit their downfall mostly to Hype Backlash rather than a lack of good music.
  • The Beatles, as a band: there was no possible way a solo career was going to stand up to the massive success of the Beatles. None of them did poorly (You all know "Imagine", don't you?), but it's been a millstone ever since.
    Paul McCartney: You don't follow the Beatles. Everyone who'd ever tried to in our career - even to this daynote  - anyone who says 'We are the next Beatles' is dead.
    • George Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass, was by far the most well-received from his solo career, and remains to this day the best-selling solo effort by a Beatle.
  • Pietro Mascagni and his career after Cavalleria Rusticana (Countryside Knighthood). He was once interviewed and asked why he never made another Opera after Cavalleria Rusticana. He had a sad moment and then melancholically said "I did. I made a lot of other works. But no one seems to care."
  • Felix Mendelssohn:
    • One of his first works was the Op. 21, the overture for A Midsummer Night's Dream, and some claimed it indicated talent greater than that of Mozart. While not a failure, none of his later works ever reached the prominence of this one, composed when he was 17 years old.
    • Mendelssohn had a number of other works that are also very popular and successful, including his symphonies and violin concerto, but most of these were written several years after A Midsummer Night's Dream. (And then he died young.) This tends to be common among composers; since they often produce many individual works instead of a smaller number of collections (e.g. albums) like pop musicians do, it is unlikely that two consecutive works will be considered among their best.
  • Oasis averted this with their second album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, which sold better and as well-received by critics as their debut Definitely Maybe. The ones that followed spawned successful singles, but weren't in the standards of the first two. Their third album, Be Here Now, got a major amount of Hype Backlash and was the Genre Killer for Britpop.
  • Also a problem of Pearl Jam after the release of Ten:
    • The albums that came after couldn't really live up much to the success of it. In fact, Pearl Jam was consciously aware of this, and more or less intentionally sabotaged their own career to a certain extent so they wouldn't become major rock stars. Vitalogy, their third album, was initially released on vinyl, and only released on CD and cassette two weeks later, meaning it was only available on an effectively dead format for the first several weeks of its release.
    • Vs. has become one of these on a critical level, and has built a reputation as their pivotal moment of creativity and passion. Everything afterwards is considered either a clumsily-conceived experiment or a tired retread.
  • Country music singer Cyndi Thomson stopped recording because she couldn't handle the pressure of a second album. To this day, she remains a One-Hit Wonder with "What I Really Meant to Say".
  • Carl Orff disowned everything he had written before Carmina Burana. His later works, while not entirely unknown, are largely overshadowed (and it doesn't help that some of them quote words from Carmina Burana).
  • Natalie Imbruglia and "Torn", as well as the fact unbeknownst to most it was a cover, almost everything she's done afterwards has never quite lived up to the massive success of her debut single. Outside her homeland and especially in the U.S, she's almost universally remembered as a One-Hit Wonder. It even holds a place as the most played track on Australian radio since 1990 as of May 2009, about 11 years after its release.
  • Eagles certainly realised that Hotel California was going to be a Tough Act to Follow. Not only did their next album, The Long Run, fail to live up to that challenge, but the stress of striving to make it do so was one of the main factors in the subsequent breakup of the group.
  • Mayhem will always be remembered primarily for their debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Every subsequent album has been nowhere near as widely acclaimed.
  • Slayer felt they couldn't follow up their 1986 album Reign in Blood with faster guitar work, so they made a deliberate decision to slow down for 1988's South of Heaven.
  • The Strokes. Their first album, Is This It, was released to massive critical acclaim and is often named as one of the greatest albums ever created. While all of their follow-up albums are very good, they will forever be eclipsed by it.
  • The Cars, after a successful run of singles in the late '70s and early '80s, had one of the top-selling albums of the decade with their 1984 album, Heartbeat City. The innovative video for "You Might Think", won the first MTV Video Music Award for "Best Video", and they followed that up with hits (promoted with groundbreaking videos) like "Drive" (their first Top 10 hit in the UK), "Magic", "Why Can't I Have You", the title track, and "Hello Again". A successful tour followed which brought them to Live Aid. Aside from a Greatest Hits Album with the single "Tonight She Comes", they took a hiatus from 1985–87, they released one more album, Door to Door, which largely failed to make an impact, and they were unable to fill arenas. Only one major hit was released, "You Are the Girl". They broke up amicably in 1988. Bandleader Ric Ocasek maintained a low-profile solo career, bassist/vocalist Benjamin Orr died of pancreatic cancer, and drummer David Robinson retired. guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes largely laid low, except to form "The New Cars" with Todd Rundgren replacing Ocasek. Ocasek, Easton, Hawkes, and Robinson did finally get back together in 2010, releasing Move Like This a year later - instead of drafting a new member, Easton and Hawkes alternated playing bass and Ocasek sang lead for the whole album. Unsurprisingly, Move Like This didn't match the success of their earlier material, but it did meet with generally positive reviews and debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
  • Mike Oldfield has never done anything else as brilliant as his debut album Tubular Bells (which made Richard Branson very, very rich). There was certainly a radical change after Incantations and only Tubular Bells 2 (a very clever rewrite of the original) and Amarok have been anything like it.
  • George Michael and his FAITH album of 1987. It didn't help to have more challenging and introspective follow-up albums, constant Take Thats at his sex symbol image in later videos, a scandal which had him Forced Out of the Closet in the late-'90s, problems with his record labels, and drug- and alcohol-related run-ins with the law over the years.
  • Even the kindest reviews of Weezer's latest albums will usually have the aside: "It's not as good as The Blue Album or Pinkerton, but..."
  • Jay-Z is a weird hybrid of this trope and Broken Base. His first album Reasonable Doubt is considered a hip-hop classic. But he has since made albums that are at least five times more popular financially. But people still put Reasonable Doubt as his top record artistically, and critically, even above his second best album The Blueprint.
  • Dream Theater's Falling Into Infinity isn't a terrible album by any means, but the fact that it came on the heels of Images and Words and Awake (two of the most acclaimed Progressive Metal albums ever) meant that everyone was disappointed by it. To a degree, every subsequent album (except for maybe Scenes from a Memory) is inevitably compared to Images and Words and Awake.
  • Natasha Bedingfield's two singles "Single" and "I Bruise Easily" underperformed, partially because they were both released after her monster hit "Unwritten," which radio stations simply refused to let die. It wasn't until "Pocketful of Sunshine" that things got back on track.
  • Delta Goodrem's Innocent Eyes is exactly this, 4.5 million copies worldwide, number one at the ARIA's for 29 weeks, coupled with the Tall Poppy Syndrome when her second album came out. She may be justified in wanting a break now and again. Still Australia's princess never the less.
  • Evanescence's Fallen is still the go-to record for a lot of people's "teen angst" stage and was a HUGE success for the band selling 17 million worldwide and top three in the Billboard charts. Sadly everything released afterwards has only been received at a temperature of lukewarm or ignored outright; the departure of primary songwriter Ben Moody is an easily pinpointable catalyst.
  • Boston's self-titled album was the (then) highest selling debut album of all time with 17 million copies sold and spawned songs that are played repeatedly on any classic rock station. None of the four albums since have reached that amount of success and aren't well remembered out of some of the band's more hardcore fans.
  • In 2006, a country music band called Heartland had a number one hit with "I Loved Her First". This was quite a feat, as a.) it was the first top 40 hit ever for their label, Lofton Creek Records, and b.) they became only the second band in the history of country music to send a debut single to #1 (Diamond Rio was the first). Then the label dropped the ball massively by flip-flopping on what the second single would be. The original plan was for "Let's Get Dirty", but the label heads changed their minds and went with "Built to Last," very similar in sound to "I Loved Her First." After "Built to Last" amassed a single week at #58, they went with "Let's Get Dirty" but it went nowhere. Heartland ended up changing labels twice but still have nothing to show for it.
  • Metallica has had plenty of trouble following up Master of Puppets, especially thanks to the tragic death of Cliff Burton and introduction of Replacement Goldfish Jason Newsted, who, no matter your opinion of him, was nowhere near the musical force that Cliff was, even though the band achieved the peak of their commercial success with the self-titled "Black Album", the second with Jason on the bass.
  • Most older Mariah Carey fans will tell you that 1995 until 2000 was both her creative, commercial and critical peak. During that time period, she had 3 platinum-selling hit albums (one of which has since gone DIAMOND), a special compilation that featured every #1 hit she had up until that point (13 of them, only 8 years in to her career), and amassed 7 number one hits (which gave her a #1 for every year of the 1990s). All of her post-comeback work has been compared by the fandom to that period in her career, with the consensus being that her 2009 Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is the closest she has ever come to returning to her late-'90s peak — well, at least creatively. Critically and commercially speaking, that would have to be her 2005 comeback, The Emancipation of Mimi, where not only did she almost break her own record that she set 10 years prior (her 1995 hit, "One Sweet Day" spent a record-breaking 16 weeks at #1; her 2005 hit "We Belong Together" spent 14 weeks at #1), but she also set a Billboard achievement by being the first female artist to occupy the top 2 positions on the charts (her #2 hit was "Shake It Off").
  • Sir Elton John had a critically winning period from 1970's Self-Titled Album until 1973's classic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Even when the reviews got worse, he had a financially successful streak from 1972 to 1976, when he was the biggest-selling most popular male solo act in The '70s. His friend John Lennon was quoted in an interview as saying that Elton was the biggest thing to come along since The Beatles came along. The period was also marked with Elton wearing elaborate, crazy costumes, glasses, theatrics and wardrobe, and he even reached Teen Idol status. Following his self-outing in Rolling Stone magazine in 1976, and a 10-Minute Retirement a year later, his popularity fell fast. He's been largely unable to repeat his 1970–76 success since. He's had a few career comebacks, a sobering-up in the early '90s, an Oscar for co-writing songs for The Lion King, and one of the best-selling singles of all time ("Candle in the Wind 1997"), but nothing compared to his glam period.
  • For over 15 years, Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon had no trouble following up a critically acclaimed album. The two band's albums were consistently loved and praised. Then in 2008, somehow he outdid everything he had done before with Sun Kil Moon's April and the two albums since have been showing some disappointed reactions as they aren't as dark as April. Mark shows the pressure he's under in his latest album by giving off a bit of ego.
  • This happened twice to Green Day. In 1994, their major label debut Dookie brought punk back to the mainstream and sold 14 million copies. Their followups Insomniac and Nimrod each sold into the millions, but far less than their predecessor, and they hit a low point with Warning, their most experimental release up to that point, which sold only half a million copies. Then came American Idiot, widely considered their masterpiece — a rock opera that incorporated a drastically new arena rock sound influenced by The Who and Queen and became one of the epochal albums of the first decade of the 2000s, selling over 15 million copies and later becoming a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Their next effort, another Concept Album entitled 21st Century Breakdown, took them five years to record, and while it was their best-charting release to date, it sold only 5 million copies (though this could be because of a huge increase in music piracy since American Idiot's release in 2004). When they released their Uno! Dos! Trè! trilogy, fans would never let them hear the end of it about how they had gone "mainstream" with their sound, which is noticeably upbeat and even poppy compared to the rest of their discography. Commercial-wise, the trilogy only sold 266,000 copies altogether in their first week.
  • Cracked's "5 Works of Art So Good, They Ruined Their Whole Genre" calls David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars a tough act to follow in glam rock and two Bob Marley albums, Exodus and Legend tough acts to follow in reggae.
  • Pink Floyd admitted that they struggled with this trope when trying to come up with a new album after The Dark Side of the Moon.
    • The few albums released following the departure of Roger Waters in 1985, while successful, found the band struggling to escape the shadow of their 1973-79 artistic and commercial peak.
  • In November 2012, Kevin Shields announced a follow-up to Loveless. That is, the album which completely defined the entire Shoegazing movement and effectively destroyed the genre in 1991.
  • Played straight (maybe unwillingly) by Swedish prog act Pain of Salvation. 2000's The Perfect Element. Part I was just Exactly What It Says on the Tin according to fans and critics, and it's their most regarded album to date. Then came 2007's Scarsick. Even though Daniel Gildenlow claimed to be "part II of The Perfect Element", the majority of their fanbase and critics tend to disregard it as such. Scarsick is not a bad album in and out of itself (for the genre it's classified under, mind you), but one would think if you make a sequel to a work, you would at least try to make it in the same vein and style of the previous album.
  • Averted frequently by Porcupine Tree.
    • All along the road this band has switched genres, yet they're somehow able to make at least one outstanding album for each period the band has been into. The Sky Moves Sideways was considered their first masterpiece in the "Pink Floyd/King Crimson-esque" British prog rock approach, until Signify appeared in 1996. Enter 1999 and Stupid Dream, their most acclaimed album when it comes to "alternative pop/rock". 2002 delivered us In Absentia, not only their most popular and well-regarded work in their "Progressive Metal" period but in their entire discography. And their albums Fear of a Blank Planet and The Incident (not exactly best-sellers, but definitive cult albums in the countries where they're the most popular, such as the Netherlands and Mexico) are solid evidence that this band isn't afraid to keep experimenting while going back and forth their musical roots all the way. Their quality has been so consistent throughout the years, a lot of people consider the band itself to be the Tough Act to Follow from within the British progressive rock scene, more than them releasing an album as good as the previous one.
    • Band leader Steven Wilson is a well-known perfectionist and a full-time music person, so it comes as no surprise this is the key for their constant success. Most of Porcupine Tree's albums take from 2 to 4 years of completion, in order for the transitions between the songs and the overall music to sound cohesive and coherent, yet feel fresh; something hard to achieve in a genre so musically nitpicky and technically-sided as progressive rock is (the fact all members of the band are involved in a ton of other side and solo projects doesn't help them meet their deadlines either).
  • In his song "'Till I Collapse", rapper Eminem remarks as to how people think that he would never top "My Name Is". Of course, he was more than happy to prove them wrong.
  • Producer first and rapper second, Dr. Dre found this out the hard way with his second album The Aftermath. His second effort was ripped apart by both the critics and the fans. Unlike his first album, The Chronic, which was considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time and helped pushed the genre into the mainstream.
  • Live managed to live up to the expectations laid by their Cult Classic Mental Jewelry with their multi-platinum breakout Throwing Copper, featuring a rich arrangement of well-written and creatively crafted gems. Every album since then has been considered either a crushing disappointment or outright non-existent.
  • Faith No More ended up with two of these: The Real Thing on a commercial level, Angel Dust on a creative level. It didn't help that Jim Martin, the guitarist who played on both albums, was jettisoned from the group. The band pressed on trying to carve a niche for themselves with King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime, but when it came time to record Album of the Year it became apparent to the band that their songwriting was sliding into irrelevance, and became a major factor in their 1998 breakup. Mike Patton himself said in an interview, "We started making bad music." Most fans agree that Angel Dust is a level of artistic achievement that can never again be replicated.
  • The difficulty of topping Crimson is generally considered to be the main reason Progressive Death Metal group Edge of Sanity broke up.
  • Avicii's "Wake Me Up!" was one of the biggest hits of 2013. Not only was it, at the time, the biggest EDM radio hit in American history, but was also notable for an uncharacteristically slow decline down the charts. His next single, "Hey Brother" (a folk-tinged tune featuring Dan Tyminski) struggled to rise up the charts as radio stations were reluctant to move on to the new song. Simultaneously, "Wake Me Up" vocalist Aloe Blacc released "The Man", which took off thanks to its placement in a Beats ad. The song also got the cold shoulder from radio executives. Once both songs peaked around April-May, radio stations dropped them faster than a hot potato and went straight back to playing "Wake Me Up!" Neither artist has hit the U.S. Top 40 since, and Avicii passed away on April 20, 2018.
  • The critical and commercial success of Talking Heads (and to an extent, David Byrne and Brian Eno's side project My Life in the Bush of Ghosts) has been both a blessing and a curse to David Byrne's solo career since the Heads broke up. On the one hand, those past albums gave Byrne the Auteur License to record whatever the heck he feels like. On the other hand, it seems none of his solo stuff will ever be as popular as the Heads were. Byrne could put out an album that cured cancer in everyone who heard it, and people would still bug him about reuniting Talking Heads.
    • Talking Heads themselves also struggled with this trope following the release of the massively successful and insurmountably acclaimed Remain in Light, often considered one of the greatest albums of the 1980s, if not of all time. Everything the band put out afterwards inevitably ended up getting compared to Remain in Light, with critics more often than not regarding their later albums as good, but not up to the level of their seminal fourth album. Even Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads' beloved 1984 concert film believed to represent the band at their peak, exists in the shadow of Remain in Light.
  • Bon Jovi found this with their New Jersey album, which followed the phenomenal success of Slippery When Wet, which sold 28 million copies worldwide (12 million in the U.S.). They needn't have worried — after a relatively slow start, it went on to sell a very solid 7 million copies in the U.S. and 18 million worldwide. However, they were never able to match Slippery's success.
  • Both Simon Cowell and Olly Murs have stated that The X Factor will never again create an act as globally successful as One Direction.
  • 5 Seconds of Summer, a former 1D opening act, hasn't had an easy time filling the void their predecessors left behind and replicating their successes, in part due to 1D not fading away nearly as fast as expected. Then again, most people assumed that recreating Bieber Fever was borderline impossible for 1D; they did so with ease. In the end, not only did 5SOS completely fail to replicate 1D's success (although they've done far better than any other 2010s boy band), but 1D stayed much more popular than them throughout their entire run. The final nail in the coffin came in 2016, when 1D were nominated for their fourth consecutive Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Music Group despite being on hiatus whereas 5SOS, who were still active and coming off of a "best new artist" nomination the year before, wasn't honored anywhere outside their native Australia.
  • DJ Shadow's first album, Endtroducing....., received mass critical acclaim for its unique sample-centric sound, being recognized as one of the nineties' greatest musical efforts. Unfortunately, every future album he released would be crushed under outcries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks!.
  • ABC's debut The Lexicon of Love was such an amazing Synth Pop/New Wave album with so many iconic songs the band has never really been able to follow it with anything like the same success (though Alphabet City came close).
  • T.I. had this happen to him. He's credited for being one of the biggest names in southern hip-hop, and helped bring Atlanta to the mainstream. This all culminated with Paper Trail. It went triple platinum in the US and produced three pop crossover hits — "Whatever You Like", "Live Your Life", and "Dead and Gone", as well as massive urban hits such as "Swagger Like Us". Since then, his albums have sold far fewer copies and the success of his songs are primarily limited to urban radio. This isn't really helped by his multiple run-ins with the law.
  • While Bruno Mars certainly won't have any problems finding success following his hit collaboration with Mark Ronson, "Uptown Funk!", it's doubtful that he ever has a song come anywhere close to its popularity again. While he got another #1 two years later with "That's What I Like", it's doubtful that the song becomes nearly as massive as "Uptown Funk!" was. However, it will almost certainly be played straight for Ronson himself, as he was almost completely unknown outside his native U.K. prior to the hit. Signs of the inevitable were already showing as its parent album Uptown Special bombed spectacularly outside the U.K. and none of its other songs have charted at all even in his home country. Not helping the fact was that it was almost universally seen as Mars' song in the public eye (despite the fact that Ronson was billed as the lead artist and Mars the guest). It's saying something when Ronson's only major appearance on an international singles chart since was a small cameo on an A$AP Rocky song that charted for a single week.
  • Wiz Khalifa won't have any problems finding success after his megahit "See You Again", his tribute to Paul Walker, however it's unlikely that he'll ever score a hit nearly as big, or have another big crossover as the lead (especially since it sounds nothing like his normal material). "See You Again" became the Breakthrough Hit for collaborator Charlie Puth, who was almost completely unknown prior to the song and scored a few Top 40 hits afterwards. His next three singles, "Marvin Gaye" (a #21 duet with Meghan Trainor), the #12 "One Call Away", and the Top 10 "We Don't Talk Anymore", were all big enough hits to make his debut Nine Track Mind go gold, while "Attention" was a #5 hit in August 2017. in fact, it's safe to say Puth's post-"See You Again" career has been more successful than Khalifa's (despite the latter having been known a long time beforehand). Also, it's unlikely there will be another soundtrack album that will be as popular as the Furious 7 Soundtrack, or another hit song produced from the franchise.
  • Iggy Azalea was hit pretty hard with this trope fast. After exploding on the scene in 2014 with "Fancy" and "Black Widow", which featured her Signature Style of EDM-pop-rap songs featuring female pop singers with music videos that homage chick flicks. She repeated this exact formula with "Beg for It"note , "Trouble", and "Pretty Girls" — with less-than-stellar results. This, combined with a wide variety of other things, got everyone burnt out on her after a year and turned her into a cultural pariah.
  • Papa Roach had this happen to them twice. The first was 2000's Infest, which went triple platinum and produced their signature "Last Resort", becoming a hallmark of the Nu Metal era. Then their second album, 2002's Lovehatetragedy only barely reached gold status and its lead single "She Loves Me Not" quickly faded out of public consciousness. After that, they changed their sound to an Alternative Metal leaning towards Hard Rock style, and saw more success with 2004's Getting Away with Murder. The Title Track dominated rock radio upon its release, but even better, the single "Scars" became their first Top 40 hit, and it went all the way to #15. The album went platinum and they successfully transitioned to fit the new sound of the mid-2000s. Unfortunately, it would also be their only hit, and all albums afterwards failed to even reach gold, with airplay limited to mainstream rock radio.
  • Imagine Dragons was hit pretty hard with this trope after Night Visions. The album produced three massive crossover singles with "It's Time", "Radioactive", and "Demons" and their album went double platinum in the US alone. This level of success was almost unheard of for a rock band in The New '10s. Naturally, it wouldn't be an easy follow-up, with Smoke + Mirrors not being nearly as successful. While it was their first #1 hit on the albums chart, it took what felt like forever to reach gold and even longer to hit platinum. Its lead single "I Bet My Life" only barely scraped the Top 40 and its airplay was primarily limited to alternative and hot adult contemporary radio, while further singles were played exclusively on the alternative format. It's not that it wasn't good, it's just that it couldn't live up to the massive success of their debut. Averted with their third album Evolve, which had two Top-5 crossover hits ("Believer" and "Thunder") and went platinum within four months.
  • Tears for Fears' first album, The Hurting, was a decent enough success that spawned a couple of hit singles in "Pale Shelter" and "Mad World," the latter of which was Covered Up for the Donnie Darko soundtrack. But TFF's follow up album, Songs From the Big Chair, released around 1985, was a massive success, spawning 3 Top 40 hits that still get a lot of radio airplay to this day. Nothing the band has released since has even come close to that level of success.
  • After being a punchline in the music world for a couple of years with their novelty song "#SELFIE", The Chainsmokers burst onto the scene in 2016 with "Roses", which hit the top 10 of the charts. The momentum continued with "Don't Let Me Down", which broke the top 3, and capped off with "Closer", a megahit that began a 12-week reign atop the charts in only its third week of release. Given it was one of the most successful songs of all time, it's doubtful the Chainsmokers will ever come close to replicating its success. Their follow-ups "All We Know", despite its high debut on the charts, fell down the charts rapidly and into its predecessor's shadow, and "Setting Fires" did even worse. Things started to turn around the next year with the one-two punch of "Paris" and "Something Just Like This", which while also massive hits are unlikely to come close to "Closer"'s level of popularity. The same can be said with Halsey, the featured singer on the song, as it's unlikely she'll ever get another hit on that level either with her normal alterna-pop sound or via another EDM collaboration. Finally, as the biggest Electronic/Dance hit in U.S. history, it has set a high bar for all other songs of the genre to reach.
  • In 2014, Austria won the Eurovision Song Contest. They hosted in the next year and became the first defending champion to finish with the dreaded nil points tag.
  • Ken Kato (who, among other things, worked in the audio departments at Microsoft and 343 Industries) considers the Windows 98 start-up sound his "tough act to follow".
  • Can you name any song Snow Patrol released after "Chasing Cars"? Probably not, as none of their songs afterwards sold 1.2 million copies in the United Kingdom and nearly 4 million in the United States (it also managed to spend 111 weeks in the British charts).
  • New Order. Hoo boy, where to begin?
    • Firstly, there's the fact that the band perpetually exists in the shadow of their previous incarnation Joy Division, often considered a pioneering force in the Post-Punk movement and one of Manchester's great cultural legends (in part due to the sudden sense of mystique procured by frontman Ian Curtis' suicide in 1980, which re-contextualized Joy Division's famously dreary lyrics). Despite New Order continuously making more money and establishing a greater foothold in the music scene, it's Joy Division that sees the greater amount of acclaim.
    • Second, there's Technique, New Order's 1989 album that fully embraced the Alternative Dance side of the band's music, bringing them full-swing into the Madchester music scene. The album is often considered to represent the pinnacle of their unique blend of Post-Punk and synthpop and demonstrates the power of Factory Records at its peak. As a result, almost everything the band's released afterwards stands in the shadow of Technique, with their later albums being treated apathetically by fans if not outright ignored. Only one aversion to this phenomenon exists in New Order's case, that being...
    • ...Get Ready, New Order's 2001 comeback album following a hiatus that spanned the bulk of the 1990s. However, it also ended up becoming an example of this trope because of its acclaim and success: it stands as the yardstick against which all of New Order's following musical efforts have been measured.

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