323 voters

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. 

  • In the '90s and early 2000s, it seemed like Doubt had a bright future ahead of it, as their albums Tragic Kingdom and Rock Steady both received tremendous public and critical acclaim. Unfortunately, the band went on hiatus in 2004, and while Gwen Stefani found success with her solo endeavors, the group wasn't able to recapture the magic when they reunited in 2009. 

    After a successful reunion tour, it took the band three years to release new music, and the group turned to Diplo in an effort to find a current, relevant sound. The result was the album Push and Shove, which released in 2012, and which Stefani admitted was rushed, as the "drained and burned out" band felt pressure to return to the spotlight. Reviewers tended to agree with Stefani's assessment, and Consequence of Sound said that the album "often sounds like it's on power-pop autopilot." 

      Has this act peaked?

      More No Doubt 

      The Best No Doubt Songs of All Time#63 of 151 The Greatest Chick Rock Bands Ever#121 of 359 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

    • Photo: Roy Stephens / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

      For a brief period in the 2000s, Nelly Furtado ran the world. Her 2000 release Whoa, Nelly! sold over 7 million units worldwide, and spawned two platinum hit singles ("I'm Like a Bird" and "Turn off the Light"). As if that weren't enough, she teamed up with Timbaland for 2006's Loose, which ranked 64 on Billboard's "Top Albums of 2006" list. As of 2012, Furtado's third album has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and her hit songs "Promiscuous" and "Maneater" are still remarkably well-remembered by pop music aficionados. 

      Since 2006, Furtado has been working hard, but none of her post-Loose efforts have panned out quite as well. Her 2009 album Mi Plan managed to chart gold, but Furtado's decision to sing exclusively in Portuguese caused the album to fall under the radar of many of her international fans, and the reviews compiled by Metacritic number roughly one third of the amount Loose received. When she released The Spirit Indestructible in 2012, reviews were even worse, and in the week after its release, the album only sold 6,000 copies in the US. While 2017's The Ride received marginally better reviews, its first week yielded 1,814 copies sold in the US. 

        Has this act peaked?

        More Nelly Furtado 

        The Best Nelly Furtado Songs#1465 of 2,753 The Most Influential People of All Time#538 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

      • Quick, what's the most recent Jewel song you remember bopping to? If you're like 99% of the world, you probably thought of "You Were Meant For Me" or "Who Will Save Your Soul," from her 1995 debut. Savvy fans maybe remember her 2003 hit "Intuition," which was actually a pretty clever roast of the music industry. In the last decade, however, she's taken to putting out albums of lullabies and Christmas tunes. On top of that, her last five LPs (not counting the ones aimed at children) all sold less than 500,000 units, despite being released by major labels like Atlantic Records. 

          Has this act peaked?

          More Jewel 

          #109 of 227 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters#538 of 739 The Best Singers Of All Time#110 of 602 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

        • In the '90s, Green Day helped establish the era's alt-rock sound. Their 1994 release Dookie went diamond on the US Billboard 200 chart after selling 10 million copies, and in 2014, Rolling Stone declared it the best alternative album of 1994. Unfortunately, the band's more recent string of releases failed to make quite as big a splash. 

          After releasing an American Idiot musical in 2009, Green Day seemed ready to return to their old sound. The band went on hiatus for three years, before releasing three complimentary albums in 2012. The records were titled ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tre!, and all three abandoned the "punk rock opera" genre in favor of the simple alt-bangers that first popularized the band.

          While two of the three records managed to go gold (for selling over 500,000 units), they collectively sold around 1,380,000 records (with the first release accounting for over 1 million of those sales), less than one fifth of Dookie's total sales. Even the most talented acts would have trouble filling out three full-length albums, and Billboard writer Jason Lipshutz noted that "whatever overall message Green Day wanted to convey on these three albums evaporates by the time the song list reaches the 20th track." 

          In 2016, Green Day released Revolution Radio, which charted better than their previous two releases, but still failed to go platinum. The album received generally lukewarm reviews, with Pitchfork saying that the record "lapses into pandering [and] embarrassing lyrical misfires."

            Has this act peaked?

            More Green Day 

            The Best Green Day Songs of All Time#66 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time#12 of 109 The Best Musical Trios Of All-Time