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These Beloved Artists Have Peaked, And There's Hard Data To Prove It

Updated April 10, 2018 2.2k votes 323 voters 4.2k views14 items

List RulesVote up the hit musicians whose glory days are unfortunately behind them.

If you expect your favorite group to only produce smash hits, you're being unrealistic. There are tons of once-great musicians who've continued to record and perform well past their prime, and the songs they put out are nothing like the ones that first entranced the public. 

It's always sad to hear about bands that don't make good music anymore, since many of them gave us some of the catchiest songs of decades past. Sometimes, an artist's decline can be attributed to sheer laziness. Once a musician makes it big, it's easy for them to phone in future releases, as their fans will buy any album with their name on it. In other cases, the backslide is less intentional. When an artist stops releasing good songs, it makes you wish that they had quit when they were ahead. 

  • These days, Bob Dylan seems to get by on name recognition. He's still selling out tour dates, and his recent efforts have charted decent sales, but at this point, people would probably pay to listen to Dylan gargle mouthwash. It's not that Dylan isn't talented; he's released over five studio albums since 2009, so clearly his mind is still running hot. Unfortunately, decades of free-wheeling and cigarette smoking haven't been kind to his body, and these days, his signature rasp is basically unintelligible.

    Dylan actually called out his detractors in a 2015 interview with Newsweek, saying that people have been complaining about how sounds "like a frog" since "Day One." While critics might have been wrong in 1962, modern-day concertgoers have reported that Dylan's voice is now severely lacking.

    In 2015, Vulture was so concerned by the state of the singer's voice that they actually contacted an otolaryngologist to get a professional opinion on the state of Dylan's vocal chords. After listening to some of Dylan's more recent releases, the doctor concluded that "'The top part of Dylan's pitch range has dropped, so he can't access that... When he's trying to go up in his pitch with certain words and phrases, the voice gets rough. The other thing is that his whole tone is lower.'" Folk music fans across the globe can only hope that medical technology will one day advance enough to restore the star to his former ability. 

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    • Music fans have had plenty of bones to pick with U2. In 2014, the band decided that it was a good idea to force their new album Songs of Innocence onto Apple users without asking permission. If the album had been as good as 1987's The Joshua Treepeople might have been more understanding, but the final product was largely panned by music fans, with Pitchfork saying that the "indisputably queasy approach to the 'surprise release' gambit might be the most interesting element about the band's latest album."

      That album's spiritual successor, Songs of Experience, dropped in 2017, and seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for many fans. One devout fan figured out that ticket prices for the album's corresponding tour cost more than any past U2 show (ranging from $80-$325 per seat), and that for the first time in recent memory, the band had failed to sell out every venue they played. When coupled with asinine ticket purchasing systems, many felt that the band was no longer putting out good enough music to justify the high barriers of entry.

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      • Photo: @Eminem / Twitter

        Eminem initially found fame by writing lyrics that were foul enough to get the attention of the public at large. Flash forward a couple decades, and the gimmick has gotten a bit old. When Em rapped about how he wanted to "punch Lana Del Rey in the face twice," people were quick to point out that a man in his early 40s was threatening a woman in her mid-20s, and many felt that society had progressed beyond the rapper's violent lyrics. 

        After seemingly calling it quits in 2007 (after the release of Encore), then again in 2010 (after releasing Recovery), Em returned yet again to drop a sequel to his hit album The Marshall Mathers LP. Reviews were generally lukewarm, but that didn't stop Mathers from continuing on with Revival in 2017.

        Despite featuring artists like Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran, the album was one of the worst reviewed major releases of that year, and holds the record for the artist's lowest scoring album on Metacritic to date. In his review for Consequence of Sound, Dan Weiss summed up fans' frustrations by saying "it’s a genuine shame, but Revival is the most pleasureless record [Eminem's] ever made... stymied by his worst tendencies... it only points out how much further he has to go."

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        • Photo: livepict.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

          A victim of a front-loaded career, Alanis Morissette was never able to duplicate the otherworldly smash success of her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. Since the '90s, she's put out four albums, but the stars only truly aligned once, and her 2012 effort sold less than 100,000 copies in the first three years it was on the market. While she's clearly working hard, it would be difficult for anyone to top a melancholic anthem like "You Oughta Know." 

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