10 Albums Where The Sophomore Effect Was Real


Let’s cut to the chase – sometimes the second time around can be pretty crappy. For most of the musicians on this list, their second album/second album of note didn’t go as planned in the commercial department. Some of these sophomore albums are respectable, with some even being the critical equal of the debut. The problem is, these albums just didn’t experience the same level of success. Here are 10 albums where the sophomore effect was real! Yep – them numbers had ‘em like day-um! 

1) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (2016)

After The Heist was “kind of a big deal” in 2012, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ long-awaited follow-up wasn’t quite as ‘highly anticipated’ as some expected it to be. Yes, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made debuted at no. 4 on the Billboard 200 with 61,000 units, but the album hasn’t performed nearly as well as The Heist.   

2) Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion (2015)

It’s safe to say that fewer folks came along for Carly Rae Jepsen’s sophomore album (actually her third overall) Emotion compared to her debut (true sophomore effort), Kiss. Kiss started at no. 6 in 2012 while Emotion settled for no. 16. It should be noted that even Kiss was mediocre in the sales department, but still, it had 9x platinum single “Call Me Maybe” working for it.

3) August Alsina, This Thing Called Life (2015)

On March 29, 2016, August Alsina’s debut album Testimony was certified gold by the RIAA. Considering R&B albums are a hard sell, being certified gold is amazing. Furthermore, Alsina’s debut album started at no. 2 on the Billboard 200 with respectable numbers. The same can’t be said of This Thing Called Life, which debuted to less fanfare at no. 14 with little impact on the Billboard 200.

4) David Cook, This Loud Morning (2011)

For many American Idol alums, the second album has been the album that truly cut ties with major labels. David Cook’s debut album was huge – it debuted at no. 3 and was certified platinum. Unfortunately, when it came time for album number two, This Loud Morning, the longevity wasn’t there. Things started respectably at no. 7 but proceeded to fall off. But then again, This Loud Morning didn’t have “Light On” or “Time of My Life” working for it either…

5) Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape (2006)

First, let’s make it clear – Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape wasn’t a bomb. It merely didn’t perform like the multiplatinum, Grammy-nominated juggernaut Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Has been certified triple-platinum while The Sweet Escape settled for merely platinum status. Love. Angel. Music. Baby was a better album (most would agree) and had more hits, particularly “Hollaback Girl” and “Rich Girl” featuring Eve.

6) J. Holiday, Round 2 (2009)

J. Holiday had something going on debut Back of My Lac. Back of My Lac debuted at no. 5, spawned a huge top-five hit with “Bed” and was certified gold. As for Round 2, it started off promising at no. 4 but never gained any traction on the charts.

7) Big Sean, Hall Of Fame (2013)

Okay, first things first. Big Sean’s biggest album of his career is third album Dark Sky Paradise, which was certified platinum February 1, 2016. His debut album, Finally Famous didn’t perform badly in the least, debuting at no. 3. Sophomore effort Hall of Fame also started at no. 3 with fewer sales. What else made Hall of Fame flop? The lack of notable singles that Finally Famous had working on its behalf (“My Last,” “Dance A$$” and “Marvin & Chardonnay”).

8) LeToya, Lady Love (2009)

LeToya did something many ex-girl group members can’t do, particularly those who aren’t the focal point – she released a successful debut album. 2006’s LeToya debuted at no. 1, spawned a hit in “Torn” and eventually went on to be certified platinum. Unfortunately for Lady Love, things had changed by the time it arrived. LeToya settled for a modest no. 12 start and the lack of a big-time single.

9) Ruben Studdard, I Need An Angel (2004) and The Return (2006)

Let’s be fair to Mr. Studdard. I Need An Angel, Studdard’s official sophomore album, is an inspirational album, and inspirational albums don’t sell like pop albums. After Soulful topped the Billboard 200 and fell just short of double-platinum status, I Need An Angel started at no. 20 during the busy holiday season, eventually earning a modest gold certification. As for Studdard’s R&B follow-up to Soulful, The Return, it started at no. 8 but went NOWHERE. By nowhere, that means no RIAA certification or notable singles.

10) MIMS, Guilt (2009)

MIMS wasn’t “hot” for long, despite what his former no. 1 single might suggest. Music Is My Savior debuted at no. 4 in 2007. While the album was no juggernaut, “This Is Why I’m Hot” was, eventually being certified double platinum. So where does that leave album two, Guilt? Guilt debuted tepidly at no. 53. #Damn MIMS

There are plenty of instances where sophomore albums flopped like a “fish out of water.” This just cracks the surface. Unfortunately, not every album is a success. 

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