You can blame it on the Beatles. Sure, they were one of — if not the — most successful bands ever, and they also proved — at least initially — they could find success as solo artists. Within a few years of their breakup in 1970, three-quarters of the band produced No. 1 albums (Paul McCartney's "McCartney," George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass," and John Lennon's "Imagine"). Even Ringo Starr scored a No. 2 album with 1973's "Ringo." Other artists going solo from hit-making bands haven't been as lucky.
1. Joe Jonas, "Fastlife," 2011 (chart peak: No. 15)
At the height of their fame, the Jonas Brothers landed chart-topping albums in 2008 and 2009 with "A Little Bit Longer" and "Lines, Vines and Trying Times," respectively. When frontman Joe Jonas tested the solo waters with his 2011 album, "Fastlife," he wasn't as fortunate. Despite the fact the album received some positive reviews, with AllMusic saying it positioned him "as a worthy successor to Justin [Timberlake]," and a guest spot from Lil Wayne, it got off to a slow start at No. 15 and plummeted from there.
2. will.i.am, "Songs About Girls," 2007 (chart peak: No. 38)
As mastermind of the Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am has enjoyed huge success. The band's 2005 album, "Monkey Business," reached No. 2, while the act reached the summit in 2009 with "The E.N.D." But will.i.am's solo forays haven't been as successful. His 2007 solo spin, "Songs About Girls," peaked at a lowly No. 38 on the Billboard 200, but fared a bit better on the R&B Album chart where it reached No. 14. That had to hurt, since Will's fellow Pea, Fergie, hit No. 2 in 2006 with her solo bow, "The Dutchess," which was mostly produced by Will. He did better earlier this year with "#willpower," which cracked the Top 10 with a No. 9 debut.
3. Chris Cornell, "Songbook," 2011 (chart peak: No. 69)
Chris Cornell proved that solo stiffs aren't limited to pop acts. The Soundgarden/Audioslave singer's solo career got off to an adequate start with 1999's "Euphoria Morning," which bowed at No. 18; and he continued the upward momentum with 2007's "Carry On" (No. 17) and 2009's "Scream" (No. 10). However, after Soundgarden reunited in 2010, it seemed as if not many wanted to hear Cornell solo. "Songbook," a live album with choice covers and material spanning his career, stalled at No. 69, despite good reviews. Karina Halle of Consequence of Sound wrote, ""Songbook" is more than a worthy addition to any Cornell fan’s collection; it’s a beautiful showcase of his career that any music lover should have."
4. Scott Weiland, "Happy in Galoshes," 2008 (chart peak: No. 97)
Like Cornell, Scott Weiland has had success fronting two different rock bands (Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver), but hasn't had nearly as much luck as a solo act. His 1998 solo debut, "12 Bar Blues," gave Weiland reason to sing the blues when it stalled at No. 42. But his fortunes were even worse a decade later when "Happy in Galoshes" peaked at No. 97. As a small consolation, the title did reach No. 5 on the Top Independent Albums chart.
5. Dave Gahan, "Hourglass," 2007 (chart peak: No. 120)
At the height of their popularity, Depeche Mode sold out the Rose Bowl and topped the Billboard 200 with "Songs of Faith and Devotion" in 1993. Singer Dave Gahan hasn't had a fraction of that success as a solo act. His 2003 album, "Hourglass," reached No. 4 on the Heatseekers new artist chart, but failed to chart on the Billboard 200. In 2007, "Hourglass" reached No. 1 on the Top Electronic Albums and Heatseekers chart, but only managed to reach No. 120 on the main album chart.
The Spice Girls solo:
6. Geri Halliwell, "Schizophonic," 1999 (chart peak: No. 42)
7. Melanie C, "Northern Star," 1999 (chart peak: failed to reach Billboard 200)
8. Melanie B, "Hot," 2000 (chart peak: failed to reach Billboard 200)
9. Emma Bunton, "A Girl Like Me," 2001 (chart peak: failed to reach Billboard 200)
Like Oasis, the Spice Girls enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic, with 1997's "Spiceworld" reaching No. 3 in the U.S., while the follow-up, "Spice," released the same year, topped the chart in America. Separately, the girls were nowhere near as successful. Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell was the first to test the waters with 1999's "Schizophonic," which stalled at No. 42. You'd think that the other girls might have taken note, but that wasn't the case. They had to take their solo shots as well. Melanie "Sporty Spice" C's debut, 1999's "Northern Star," reached No. 8 on the Heatseekers new artist chart, but failed to crack the Billboard 200. Melanie "Scary Spice" B's solo 2000 solo debut, "Hot," was anything but. It failed to chart in the U.S., as did Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton's 2001 solo debut, "A Girl Like Me".
10. Andrew Ridgeley, "Son of Albert," 1990 (chart peak: 130)
Wake me up before you go solo. Poor Andrew Ridgeley had huge success as a member of Wham! with George Michael. Their 1984 album "Make It Big" did just that, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. Then Ridgeley watched while his former partner enjoyed even greater success with his solo effort "Faith" in 1987. When Ridgeley tried his hand at a solo stint, the results were not pretty. "Son of Albert" was received like a bastard child in 1990, peaking at a lowly No. 130.
11. Brian Littrell (Backstreet Boys), "Welcome Home," 2006 (chart peak: No. 74)
One Direction members take note: For every Justin Timberlake-style success, there are dozens of boy-band refugees who have had unsuccessful solo stints. Most didn't even release solo albums; or they did and they had so little success, all traces of them even existing have been scrubbed from the Internet. However, there are some notable misfires still documented. Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell's 2006 effort "Welcome Home" wasn't too welcomed on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 74; but the singer who initially planned to be a minister did find a home on the Top Christian Albums chart, where the same album reached No. 3.
12. Gene Simmons, "***HOLE," 2004 (chart peak: No. 86)
For all his hot air, bluster and self-promotion, you'd think if Gene Simmons released a solo album, it would be a hit based on his will alone. You'd be wrong. Back when the members of KISS released simultaneous solo albums in 1978, Simmons had moderate success with his self-titled effort reaching No. 22, besting his bandmates. In 2004, however, it didn't seem that there was much interest in Simmons when his "***HOLE" (that's the title of the album), peaked at No. 86.
13. Roger Daltrey, "Parting Should Be Painless," 1984 (chart peak: 102)
Who are you?...indeed. Roger Daltrey became a legend fronting the Who. As a solo artist, not so much. In fact, on his own, poor Rog has yet to crack the Top 20 of the Billboard album chart with seven different titles. Daltrey hit rock bottom with the 1984 album "Parting Should Be Painless," which stalled at No. 102; that is, unless you count his 1982 compilation "Best Bits," which barely even made the chart, peaking at No. 185.
14. Mick Jagger, "Primitive Cool," 1987 (chart peak: No. 41)
Since we blamed the advent of solo albums on the Beatles, it seems only appropriate that we wrap things up with a Rolling Stone. That's right: Mick friggin' Jagger has yet to score a hit solo album. Jagger waited until 1985, when his relationship with Stones partner Keith Richards was strained, before he tried the solo waters with "She's the Boss." It peaked at No. 13, and he's been lukewarm and just plain cold ever since. "Primitive Cool," his 1987 solo follow-up, peaked at No. 41. To make matters worse, "The Very Best of Mick Jagger" stalled at No. 77 in 2007.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Chris Cornell
- Billboard 200