8 musical artists who successfully conquered the sophomore jinx curse

A bad second album can sweep away a career but the artists avoided that and made their second albums even better than the first.
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"Sophomore Jinx" and "Second Album Slump"? However you want to address it, it’s real. Very real.

A bad second album can make or break a career. The artists below, however, conquered the fear of the potential sophomore jinx by releasing fantastic follow-up albums.

In fact, not only did these artists create immaculate follow-ups, but these albums were also all career-defining. Each album likely changed how we listen to music. Well, many of us anyway.

Musical artists who wiped away any potential fears of a sophomore jinx

Drake – Take Care 

The rocket has been strapped on Drake since his 2009 So Far Gone mixtape debut! After the success of  Drake’s 1st album Thank Me Later, he upped the ante with Take Care. Take Care not only debuted at #1 on the charts, but this album also started a wave of some of the best acronyms! We couldn’t get “YOLO” or HYFR (Hell Yeah F*ckin Right). Take Care also gave Drake his first Grammy win.

Madonna – Like A Virgin

Madonna’s self-titled album is arguably one of the best debut albums of all time but her follow-up sophomore album Like A Virgin stamped her legacy as the Queen of 80s Pop. With songs like “Material Girl” and “Like A Virgin”, this sophomore album proved that Madonna was here to stay!

A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory

Make no mistake, A Tribe Called Quest’s debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was an amazing contribution to the construction of hip-hop with its catchy, lyrical, and alternative approach. That album went on to become one of the greatest debut hip-hop albums of all time. However, their Sophomore album, The Low End Theory, was a game-changer! With songs like “Check The Rhyme”, “Jazz We’ve Got” and “Scenario”, this album combined jazz and hip hop in such a poetic way! Not to mention it helped launch the career of Busta Rhymes. Rolling Stone ranked this album #43 on the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. A true masterpiece!

Kanye West – Late Registration

Yeah, we know, Kanye, but let’s remember the good times! College Dropout (my personal favorite Kanye album) was the setup for what was to come, and Late Registration was the execution. Taking on Universalism in “Gold Digger” along with Consumerism in “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”, Late Registration is truly a thought-provoking and lyrically entertaining album. Late Registration was ranked #1 on 5 “Best Albums of 2005” lists, and he was nominated for 8 Grammys, winning “Best Rap Album”. 

Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

Five #1 singles. Prior to the release of Perry’s Teenage Dream, there was only one album that produced five #1 singles; that album was Michael Jackson’s Bad. Need I say more??? With songs like “E.T.”, “California Girls” and of course “Teenage Dream”, Katy Perry does a phenomenal job combining elements of Pop, Hip Hop & R&B! The album is a complete acid trip but in a good way!!! An album that truly holds weight almost 14 years later. 

Adele – 21

There are so many amazing sophomore albums and Adele’s 21 is one of them! 21 truly stood the test of time as one of the best follow-ups in music history. Some artists use personal heartbreak as inspiration for an album and with singles such as “Rolling in the Deep”, “Someone Like You” & “Fire to the Rain”, Adele created a masterpiece to help others who may end up experiencing heartbreak due to a breakup. 21 topped the charts in 30 countries, was #1 in the US for 24 weeks becoming the best-selling album in 2011 and it’s also the 4th best-selling album of all time. 

Mariah Carey – Emotions

I love a story when you hear an artist fighting for creative freedom after being placed in a bubble and Mariah Carey’s Emotions is the true definition of what happens when you win creative freedom and control over your art. Finding her newfound freedom, Carey released an album that truly displays her lyrical and vocal talent. The track listing includes “Emotions”, “Make It Happen” and “Can’t Let Go”. 

TLC – CrazySexyCool

It’s very bittersweet to acknowledge CrazySexyCool because their biggest-selling album came with many trials & tribulations. Oooooooh….On the TLC Tip was fun, youthful, and colorful but it was CrazySexyCool that set the tone for the trio. It showed their mature side literally blending the elements of their album title.  With tracks like “Creep”, Diggin’ on You”, “Red Light Special” & the critically acclaimed “Waterfalls”, TLC’s follow-up stood the test of time! TLC was nominated for 6 Grammys in 1996, winning 2 (including Best R&B Album). TLC filing for bankruptcy the same year they released their biggest-selling album makes this bittersweet.

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