ONTD Original: Ten Musicians Whose Second Albums Are Better Than Their Debut

Aug 01, 2021 12:40



They say you have a lifetime to make your first album and only a year to make your second.  As such, countless artists have fallen victim to the sophomore slump; a phenomonon in which their second album is nowhere near as good as their debut.

I have compiled a list (rhooc_thatsmyopinion.gif) of ten musicians who beat the odds and not only avoided the sophomore slump, but actually improved on their debut album.  Please note this list does not include any male artists because who cares.


1. Britney Spears - Oops I Did It Again (2000, Jive Records)


There is no doubt that Britney Spears' debut album was a cultural reset.  However if ...Baby One More Time was the popular new kid at school, then Oops was like her even cooler, more polished older sister.  This album, it's title track and that iconic red vinyl bodysuit cemented Britney as a worldwide megastar and the queen of the teen pop scene.

Singles: Oops!... I Did It Again, Lucky, Stronger, Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know
Sales: 20 Million + Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single - What U See (Is What You Get)

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2. Florence + The Machine - Ceremonials (2011, Island)


What happens when you give Florence Welch unlimited access to a full orchestra? The answer is their second album, Ceremonials which is one of the most lush, cinematic albums of this century.  This album is an entire mood and with its glorious harmonies, lush instrumentation and Florence's signature vocals there is no denying this is Lungs on steroids.

Singles: Shake It Out, No Light, No Light, Never Let Me Go, Spectrum (Say My Name), Lover to Lover
Sales: 2 Million + Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: Only If For A Night

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3. TLC - CrazySexyCool (1994, Arista)


On their debut album, Oooooooh... on the TLC Tip, the iconic musical trio burst onto the scene as the fun, hip and happening girls around the way.  However on their followup CrazySexyCool they established their ability to make full-blown grown women music.  The world may never know how many children were conceived to this album but it still knocks and has some of the sexiest instrumentals of all time.

Singes: Creep, Red Light Special, Waterfalls, Diggin on You
Sales: 14 Million Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: Kick Your Game

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4. Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway (2004, RCA)


It usually goes without saying that the pressure is *always* on to deliver a solid sophomore album, however when it came to Kelly Clarkson's followup this was truly a make or break moment for her.  It would have been all too easy to ascribe the success of her debut to the American Idol frenzy that had been sweeping the world, even though Miss Independent was a bop, however Breakway put all that to rest by absolutely dominating the charts and spawning hit after hit.  This was the album that rose Kelly above her reality television show beginnings into an actual bonafide pop star.

Singles: Breakaway, Since U Been Gone, Behind These Hazel Eyes, Because of You, Walk Away
Sales: 12 Million Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: Gone

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5. Alicia Keys - The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003, J)


It's rare for an artist to come almost out of nowhere and instantly achieve worldwide success and critical acclaim, but that is exactly what happened with Alicia Keys' debut album Songs in A Minor.  Surely it would be near impossible to outdo what had to have been her magnum opus, Fallin... enter her second studio album.  With hit after hit, including her new absolute smash If I Ain't Got You, Alicia proved that she wasn't a one-trick pony and was a one woman force of nature.

Singles: You Don't Know My Name, If I Ain't Got You, Diary, Karma
Sales: 8+ Million Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: If I Was Your Woman / Walk On By

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6. Christina Aguilera - Stripped (2002, RCA)


There is no denying the teen pop explosion of the late 90's, and while Britney may have proven herself Queen of the Scene, Aguilera was ready to take her own crown.  With her second effort, Aguilera literally stripped herself of the teeny bopper sound embued in her debut to take on a much more grown, adult and... dirty sound.  Displaying perhaps the best vocals of her career Stripped established Aguilera as not only a vocal powerhouse but also a global pop phenomonan.

Singles: Dirrty, Beautiful, Fighter, Can't Hold Us Down, The Voice Within
Sales: 10 Million + Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: Infatuation

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7. Aaliyah - One In a Million (1996, Blackground)


With her controversial debut Aaliyah could have very easily been lost in the sea of chatter, however with her second album she proved that her music and voice should be front and center.  Marking the beginning of her longstanding working relationship with iconic producers Timbaland as well as Missy Elliot, Aaliyah's sophomore effort was a natural extension of her debut but much more polished and promising.

Singles: If Your Girl Only Knew, Got to Give It Up, One in a Million, 4 Page Letter, Hot Like Fire, The One I Gave My Heart To
Sales: 8+ Million Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: Heartbroken

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8. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (2006, Island)


Amy's debut album Frank was a bold and modern take on jazz music.  With her second album Amy took her signature sound and amped it up by about 1000%, ushing in a whole new explosion of blue-eyed soul (you're welcome Adele).  Taking her inspiration from the classic girl group sounds of the 1960's Winehouse put her modern spin on a timeless musical inspiration... heartbreak.  With lyrics that cut straight to the bone and instrumentation that is classic yet also fresh Back to Black has stood the test of time and will always be amongst some of the most influential albums of all time.

Singles: Rehab, You Know I'm No Good, Tears Dry On Their Own, Back to Black, Love is a Losing Game
Sales: 16+ Million Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: Me & Mr. Jones

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9. Destiny's Child - The Writing's on the Wall (1999, Columbia)


With their eponymous debut, Destiny's Child asserted themselves as a promising and polished force on the R&B scene.  Any inklings that they may be a flash in the pan were quickly squashed with their second studio album, The Writing's On The Wall.  With infectious hooks, unabashed attitude and vocals that can take you to church and the club... there was no denying this album was everything we needed and then some.

Singles: Bills, Bills, Bills, Bug-A-Boo, Say My Name, Jumpin Jumpin
Sales: 13+ Million Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: So Good

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10. Brandy - Never Say Never (1998, Atlantic)


It takes a lot of gall to go by one name, and with her second studio album Brandy proved that she was right at home amongst the other one-name wonders.  With a successful debut as well a hit tv show under her belt, Brandy certainly must have felt the pressure to deliver a solid second album... and boy did she ever.  You couldn't turn on the radio in the 90s without hearing a Brandy bop and over twenty years later this album still sounds fresh and relevant.

Singles: The Boy is Mine, Top of the World, Have You Ever, Angel in Disguise, Almost Doesn't Count, U Don't Know Me (Like U Used To), (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Never Say Never
Sales: 16+ Million Worldwide
Shoulda Been a Single: Put That on Everything

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Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

alicia keys, florence + the machine, music / musician (pop), brandy, kelly rowland, britney spears, christina aguilera, ontd original, music / musician, music / musician (r&b and soul), beyoncé, amy winehouse

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