It happens to many artists – they lose their ‘luster.’ As Maroon 5 once sang, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” and the same could be said about sustained commercial success and general relevance within the music industry. Many of the artists that are featured on this list are established, veteran artists who ultimately have little to prove. Yet, these artists are still releasing new music, much of which has less relevance than previous releases or hasn’t latched on like their illustrious past. Here are six artists who have lost their luster, with explanations provided.
It’s extremely hard to criticize a legend in the game, but Madonna is no longer the innovative pop diva she used to be. A prime example is the terrible rollout for her latest album, Rebel Heart. The album was beat to the #1 spot by the Empire Soundtrack, underperformed in sales, and the in its second week, dropped from #2 to #21. One album definitely doesn’t mean all luster has worn off, but Madonna’s previous album, MDNA, fell flat after a big start. Luster lost – methinks so.
This one hurts to even pen and it definitely deserves explanation. In regards to touring and thriving off the past, Prince continues to be one of the best to ever do it. This argument could be said about the aforementioned Madonna as well. But in regard to his relevance as of late with new material, Prince has lost some of his luster. Yes, his previous two albums ART OFFICIAL AGE and PLECTRUMELECTRUM both debuted in the top 10, but neither have spawned a notable hit or truly electrified the charts. Back in the 00s, Prince had a comeback that featured several notable albums in Musicology (2004), 3121 (2006), Planet Earth (2007), and MPLSound/ Lotusflow3r/ Elixir (2009). Luster lost – as far as contemporary hits, yes.
3) Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey’s lost luster may be looking up as she recently landed a new deal with Epic. But after all the misfortunes that Carey has went through as of late, she’s in serious need of a lift. Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel definitely didn’t ignite the charts in 2009, debuting much less robustly than either The Emancipation of Mimi (2005) or E=MC2 (2008) did. Little did Carey know her biggest flop would come with the awkwardly titled Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse, which missed the top spot of the Billboard 200 selling a tepid 58,000 copies. Throw in some horrid live performances where Carey couldn’t buy her high notes if she wanted to, and it would seem Mimi is as tarnished as they come.
4) 50 Cent
R.I.P. Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent. He had a run with three multiplatinum/platinum albums, but by the time 2009 effort Before I Self Destruct came about, 50 just didn’t feel nearly as compelling or captivating. Then 50 would miss on numerous singles to try to recapture his swagger, never doing so. 2014 indie album Animal Ambition went nowhere, debuting extremely modestly at #4 selling just 47,000 copies. Sure it’s an indie album, but an MC that was as huge as 50 Cent could and should be doing better – just saying!
5) India Arie
India Arie to her credit is incredibly consistent. That said, she’s too consistent in the regard she has yet to shake up her formula. When India Arie first broke through, she was definitely a big deal. Who wasn’t digging “Video” off of Acoustic Voyage? She was nominated for multiple Grammys for that album, though lost to another upstart, Alicia Keys. She’d get her just due on another respectable effort, Voyage To India, while she’d land her only #1 album to date, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship. Since a heroic trio of albums though, Arie has become to complacent – almost stationary from an artistic perspective. How many people will remember much about Testimony: Vol. 2 (2009) or Songversation (2013). The answer is few.
This is another shocker. Yes, Usher did very well for himself with a naughty, but hot single in “Good Kisser.” That said, Usher releasing numerous singles in 2014 without a planned album is almost never a good sign. Throw in the fact that his last album, 2013’s Looking 4 Myself was very different from Usher’s previous albums (electro-R&B), and the sales were not what one would call, um, spectacular. While Usher still has enough looks, charm, and talent to make a valiant comeback – particularly compared to others on this list – these recent trends suggest perhaps he truly needs to work arduously to reclaim his swagger.