Obviously, being a musician for a living is tough. How do you make album after album, ensuring that the next is as good as the last one you put out? For most seasoned artists, it’s almost inevitable that they’ll make a few disappointing albums. This is only made worse when the artist (or the fans) hype up an album for months before its release, only for the record to be just-okay.
While most musicians are able to bounce back from these unsuccessful releases, sometimes a flop album can make or break an artist’s career. Here are 17 albums from our fave artists that just tragically didn’t live up to the hype.
17. Artpop by Lady Gaga
Now, don’t get us wrong. This isn’t to say that Lady Gaga doesn’t have a hugely successful career or anything. The only problem with Artpop is that it was nearly impossible to live up the hype of Born This Way. After BTW’s success, everyone couldn’t wait for what Gaga was going to do next — seeing if she could top herself. Unfortunately, this meant that it was nearly impossible for her to not create one of her more disappointing albums. Although it had minor hits like “Do What U Want” and “Applause,” none really lived up to her previous work and the album in itself is fairly forgettable.
16. 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day
As a kid whose entire middle school experience was defined by American Idiot, I can confidently say that Green Day truly needs to stop. They were the kings of punk/rock/emo for almost two decades, but after their smash-hit rock opera, American Idiot, it kind of all went downhill. However, many of us hoped at the time that American Idiot signified some kind of comeback for the trio, so we had high hopes for their next album. Unfortunately, 21st Century Breakdown was basically just a watered-down version of their last album and it was not very good at all.
15. This is All Yours by Alt-J
For indie fans everywhere, this was truly one of the most disappointing albums ever. If you’re not familiar with Alt-J, they’re one of the most unique-sounding and talented groups to make it big in the indie scene in recent history. Their debut album, An Awesome Wave was a work of freaking art. Their biggest song “Breezeblocks” could be heard on college radio stations nationwide. Unfortunately, this set the bar pretty high for This is All Yours, which paled in comparison to the genius musicianship of An Awesome Wave.
14. PRISM by Katy Perry
Although Katy Perry’s career is still going totally strong, PRISM was definitely one of the “California Girl”‘s more disappointing albums. Not that it didn’t have a few ~certified~ bangers like “Dark Horse” and “Roar,” but it just didn’t quite live up to the expectations that Teenage Dream left in its wake. There was something about the previous album that was still somewhat unique and edgy, which is what got Katy so big in the first place. Unfortunately, Roar sounded a lot like every other pop album released around that time and, like we said, besides the very few jams, PRISM wasn’t an album we NEEDED to have on our playlists.
13. Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz by Miley Cyrus
In addition to talking about disappointing albums, I’m gonna be honest and put this on the list of albums I didn’t even know existed. Regardless of how you felt about Miley Cyrus’s bizarre transformation, Bangerz was a huge success. The album got tons of attention and had a couple undeniably catchy and (I’ll say it) great songs. “We Can’t Stop”? “Wrecking Ball”? “Adore You”? I could go on and on. After Bangerz, Miley decided to go even further off the beaten path with Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. The title? Yikes. But the independently-produced album with 23 tracks was, TBH, a disaster. It feels (and sounds) super self-indulgent; like Miley just made this album because she could.
12. Believe by Justin Bieber
Sweet, sweet Justin Bieber. If you don’t remember, Believe basically served as Bieber’s “I’m not a kid anymore!” album. It was this weird place between adulthood and childhood, and the album unfortunately was one of pop’s more disappointing albums. There were some great songs, like “Beauty and a Beat,” “As Long as You Love Me,” and, who could forget: “Boyfriend.” But the faux-rapping and weirdly-seductive lyrics of “Boyfriend” kind of set the tone for the album. It felt pretty forced and just wasn’t as cohesive as My World 2.0 which was pretty damn epic and set the bar for JB.
11. Reflektor by Arcade Fire
Of all the bands to make disappointing albums, few thought that Arcade Fire would be capable of doing it. Fans of Arcade Fire were fairly disappointed after falling in love with The Suburbs, only for Reflektor to lack the same amount of passion and creativity. That’s not to say it was bad, in fact many would say it was better than the band’s most recent album, Everything Now, but there were definitely higher expectations and frankly, many were let down.
10. Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse by Mariah Carey
If you couldn’t tell by the album title, Mariah Carey, is the queen of hyping herself up. While it is on our list of disappointing albums, it should also definitely be number one on the list of most extra album titles. While the album prior, Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel, wasn’t exactly a hugesuccess, it had everyone’s famous revenge anthem “Obsessed” which makes it great in our books. Hopes were pretty high for the “Elusive Chanteuse,” and it unfortunately the album didn’t deliver. None of the songs got a whole lot of public recognition and many of us Mimi fans probably can’t name a single track.
9. Congratulations by MGMT
Another one of indie’s more disappointing albums, MGMT made huge waves on the music scene with their first album, Oracular Spectacular. Songs like “Time to Pretend,” “Weekend Warriors,” and “Kids” were every ~hipster~ kid’s anthem in the late 2000s, and we couldn’t wait to hear the next couple of songs to belt out at music festivals. Unfortunately, Congratulations was way more experimental and way harder to listen to than Oracular, but maybe they were just trying to keep from selling out? IDK.
8. Danger Days by My Chemical Romance
This was one of those disappointing albums that truly no one saw coming. For die-hard My Chemical Romance Fans, Danger Days came as a total shock. Gone were the days of red eyeshadow, black hair, pale skin and dancing around at funerals. The goth boys that had gotten us through middle school were nowhere to be found in Danger Days. Let’s be honest, the song “Na Na Na” was like a slap in the face to emo kids everywhere.
7. Back to Basics by Christina Aguilera
There’s no doubt that Christina Aguilera is one of the most famous divas of our generation, but lately her actual album sales have been pretty lackluster. It all kind of started with Back to Basics. While Aguilera definitely doesn’t need the album sales at this point in her career, Back to Basics was kind of a flop. Aside from the minor hits, “Candyman” and “Ain’t No Other Man,” the album was nowhere near the level of Stripped, although living up to the legacy of a gem like “Beautiful” is no easy feat.
6. This is What the Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stefani
Against all odds, we would still classify Gwen Stefani’s solo career as a total success. Especially because after leaving No Doubt, the world was dubious about Gwen going off on her own. Luckily, her first solo albums, Love Angel Music Baby and The Sweet Escape produced tons of hits. She had found her stride and made a name for herself. Unfortunately, the streak didn’t really continue with This is What the Truth Feels Like. Released in 2016, the album did moderately well on the charts, but after anthems like “The Sweet Escape,” “Cool” and of course, “Hollaback Girl,” it didn’t quite measure up.
5. 808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West
Regardless of how you feel about Kanye West, it’s pretty clear why this is one of the most disappointing albums in rap history. It’s just not Kanye. Granted, we now know him as a super extravagant experimental artist, but after Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak is not what we expected. Kanye was incredibly commercially successful with songs that were brilliant because of their simplicity, like “Good Life,” “Touch the Sky,” and “Jesus Walk.” 808s was just too much unnecessary effects, not enough Kanye.
4. Kiss Land by the Weeknd
It seemed like The Weeknd became an R&B; sensation overnight. With the voice of an angel, he became the go-to artist for slow jams and sexy, sultry tunes. His first album, Trilogy was a masterpiece. The entire thing had a cohesive, intense mood that was super unique. Unfortunately, that’s why Kiss Land was definitely one of the more disappointing albums. It may have been because Abel Tesfaye tried to go a little more mainstream but we liked him just the way he was.
3. More Life by Drake
Drake has been at the top of his game pretty much since the beginning of his career. Every album he’s put out has had at least three or four huge hits. That’s what makes More Life one that we can say with certainty was a very, very disappointing album. While it was obviously successful (he is Drake, after all), it just didn’t have the same response as his previous albums. While “Fake Love” and “Passionfruit” were pretty successful, that was kind of it. Our hopes might have been too high after Views was FULL of bangers, but More Life just didn’t really deliver.
2. Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy
And finally, we have another one of emo’s most disappointing albums. Fall Out Boy fans all over the world remember where they were when the band decided to take a hiatus. We were devastated. The band had been together forever, creating hit album after hit album. After the release of Folie À Deux, however, their future was unclear. Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump went off to pursue other projects that ultimately flopped before returning to FOB.
Unfortunately for die-hard fans, Save Rock and Roll might as well have been a different band. It was over-produced and sounded like a just-okay pop album. That’s not to say they aren’t still doing incredibly well, but this album was a big step in the wrong direction.
1. Humanz by Gorillaz
After the totally-revolutionary, animated band became hugely successful in the late 2000s, they kind of disappeared after releasing Plastic Beach in 2010. With songs like “DARE,” “Clint Eastwood,” and the song that played on loop on MTV Hits, “Feel Good Inc,” the group was one of the most unusual and unlikely bands to gain the kind of mainstream recognition they did. That’s why, after seven years of hiatus, their 2017 album Humanz was kind of a huge deal. We couldn’t wait to see what new, creative highs the band had reached. The album was okay, but didn’t come anywhere close to their older work.