Musicians Who Ruined Their Careers This Past Decade

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. One second, an artist can be on top of the world, selling out shows and enjoying a #1 hit on the radio only to wake up years later with no more success. In the 2010s, some musicians quickly peaked in popularity, but are still working at a smaller scale. Remember Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" back in 2011? He (say it with us, "go-tee-ay") comfortably went touring around Australia with a rare instrument called an ondioline, The Guardian reported. Other musicians were not so lucky, and slowly faded away in popularity or even worse, ruined their reputations overnight and were "canceled" by the public.

The nature of the music industry can be a cruel machine, creating a cautionary tale for young musicians who quickly rose to fame. Thanks to brave women and men speaking out, musicians and their cruel actions came to light from the #MeToo movement. Other artists attempted anything to climb back towards pop culture relevance. As you'll find out, even years later, it's possible for an artist to still rake in the dough from an earlier smash hit.

Do you think any of these recording artists have a chance at regaining their original glory, or is it too late? You may change your mind after taking a deep dive into the musicians who ruined their careers this past decade. 

Robin Thicke got way too mopey

Back in 2013, Robin Thicke skyrocketed in popularity off of the song of the summer, "Blurred Lines." He followed that up with one of the most iconic — or infamous, depending on how you look at it — moments in the decade, when Miley Cyrus twerked alongside him during their performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. According to ABC Newsdespite the huge viral surge the moment provided, which is normally a good thing for a star, the reaction from the crowd and the home viewers ranged from shock to revulsion. And while Cyrus bore plenty of the criticism, it was worse for Thicke. See, he was married to actress Paula Patton at the time, and she allegedly didn't take kindly to the performance.

A year later, Thicke released his album Paula. If you thought this was a sweet gesture dedicated towards his wife — not quite. The pair had already split, and the album was a desperate attempt to win her back. Thicke threw away subtlety with tracks like "Get Her Back," and the album received terrible reviews. Also by this point, the world collectively agreed that the lyrics of "Blurred Lines" were actually terrible since the song is essentially about "disrespecting a woman's boundaries," per Rolling Stone. As Billboard reported, Paula went down as one of the biggest album flops of the year.

But it wasn't all a wash. At least he helped launch the career of the scientifically beautiful Emily Ratajkowski.

Tekashi 6ix9ine lost everything

In the 2010s, the music service SoundCloud became a legitimate way to go from obscurity to superstardom, especially for rappers. Lil Peep, Juice WRLD, and Lil Uzi Vert can all thank the platform for creating their careers and starting the "SoundCloud Rap" genre. One of its most polarizing figures was Tekashi 6ix9ine. In 2017, his song "Gummo" went viral for a mix of catchy musicianship and his shocking image of rainbow hair, face tattoos, and multicolored teeth. 

Quickly, Tekashi 6ix9ine — real name Daniel Hernandez — started his amazing rise. The rapper collaborated with some of music's biggest stars, like Nicki Minaj and Kanye West, according to Rolling Stone. Then, this music "supervillain" ran into big trouble with the law. He remains locked up, as of this writing, for attempted murder, armed robbery, and a slew of other charges related to his alleged activity with the street gang Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. To try and reduce his minimum sentence of 47 years, Hernandez testified against his alleged former gang associates in 2019.

Even if Hernandez's cooperation with law enforcement works out, and a long-term prison sentence isn't what ultimately saps his career, his courtroom behavior probably already did the trick. According to The New York Times, he's clearly lost credibility in the industry, with fellow rappers like "Snoop Dogg, Future and Lil Durk [sharing] memes or pointed words denouncing 6ix9ine as a snitch." 

Ryan Adams tarnished his reputation

For nearly two decades, singer-songwriter Ryan Adams was "heralded as a mercurial creative genius and a respected industry tastemaker," according to The New York Times. But his career took a completely different turn in 2019. Adams allegedly used his fame to promise success in the music industry for female artists, when in reality, he had dark intentions.

The report highlighted allegations from "seven women and more than a dozen associates," who described a "pattern of manipulative behavior in which Adams dangled career opportunities while simultaneously pursuing female artists for sex." This allegedly included illicit text communication with a minor. Among those women who bravely came forward was actress and singer Mandy Moore — who also happens to be Adams' ex-wife. Moore claimed Adams psychologically abused her and stalled her music career. Other musicians, like Phoebe Bridgers, made similar accusations. 

On the day of The New York Times report, Adams apologized in a series of tweets, but maintained that it was "upsettingly inaccurate." Still, the fallout was severe. Variety reported that not only did three musical "gear" companies quickly cut ties with Adams, but also a trio of albums Adams planned to release starting in April 2019 were "put on hold." He also cancelled tours in the UK and Ireland. Adams only public statement after his initial apology seems to be a July 20 Instagram post that reads, in part, "I have a lot to say. I am going to. Soon." Will the world care about what he has to say?

Kodak Black once again fought the law

Before his 2017 breakout hit "Tunnel Vision," rapper Kodak Black was already infamous — at least, to law enforcement. As XXL summarized, Black's legal woes started in 2015 when the rapper, described as "a product of the juvenile detention system," constantly ran afoul of the law. Though his music career was taking off with smash singles like "ZEZE" and appearing on Gucci Mane's "Wake Up in the Sky," Black simultaneously expanded his criminal record with arrests for everything from illegal drug and weapons possession, to "first-degree criminal sexual conduct," according to the Associated Press.

Despite his lengthy rap sheet, it took until 2019 for Black to catch a long-term sentence. That finally happened after police arrested him ahead of his set at Rolling Loud music festival in Miami for allegedly "[lying] about his criminal history on a federal document that must be completed to buy a gun from a registered dealer," according to the Miami Herald. Handing down a nearly four year sentence, Judge Federico Moreno told Black, "Young people do stupid things and I normally give them a break for that. The problem is that you have been doing stupid things since 15."

Obviously, four years in prison will sap Black's career, but that's hardly the end of his troubles. The Herald also noted that for just two of the remaining charges on the much longer list he faces, Black could be looking at "up to 30 years in prison on each count as a 'habitual violent offender.'"

Ameer Vann got the boy band boot

You know the typical image of a boy band: clean cut, wholesome, and with striking, coordinated dance moves to boot. But this has never been the case for Brockhampton, the collective of musicians and artists from Texas. Things seemed to be on the rise for the eclectic band until one of its founders and main rappers, Ameer Vann, made headlines for all the wrong reasons. According to Pitchfork, in 2018, several women accused the rapper of alleged sexual misconduct, including "emotionally manipulative and mentally abusive" behaviors. In a series of since-deleted tweets, Vann responded, in part: "Although my behavior has been selfish, childish, and unkind, I have never criminally harmed anyone or disrespected their boundaries."

After the allegations, the group announced via Twitter that "Ameer is no longer in Brockhampton." They also claimed that Vann lied to them about the situation, and cancelled the rest of their 2018 tour "to go home and regroup." Though the guys proceeded to release their fourth album Iridescence, the end result left much to be desired. Pitchfork reviewed the album, noting that Brockhampton's "vocalists often get swallowed in the heavy mix, making the absence of Vann, their sharpest MC on past releases, noticeable."

According to NME, Vann "vanished from public life" in May 2019. The rapper later emerged and released his first solo album, Emmanuel, which the outlet blasted as a "chilly depiction of self-loathing and wrath" that is "not an enjoyable listen, nor an easy one." 

R. Kelly's past finally caught up with him

At the start of the decade in 2010, Billboard named R. Kelly the most successful R&B / Hip Hop artist of the last 25 years. Among his accomplishments were an astounding six #1 albums and 54 songs that reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But cut to the back half of the decade and the career arc for the crooner drastically changed. 

A 2017 report by Rolling Stone revealed R. Kelly allegedly abused one of his former girlfriends, among a long history of reportedly manipulating women. Then in 2019, Lifetime network aired the mini-series "Surviving R. Kelly" that investigated the decades of rumors and allegations against the singer. According to The New York Times, "a Homeland Security Investigations official" said that an agent watched the series and started to investigate the truth behind R. Kelly's behaviors. The same year, courts in Chicago and Brooklyn indicted the singer on multiple charges, including "conspiracy to obstruct justice," "racketeering," and several charges dealing with the sexual abuse of minors.  

Both before and after the 2019 charges, celebrities started openly distancing themselves from the tainted singer. As reported by Spin, several singers like Chance the Rapper and Lady Gaga removed their collaborative songs with R. Kelly from music streaming services. Even the streaming services themselves got involved, according to Rolling Stone. For example, Spotify removed R. Kelly from all editorial playlists in 2018, then later added a feature in2019 for users to permanently mute artists from automatically playing.

Nelly attempt at real country grammar flopped

Rapper Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. — you know him as Nelly — was on the top of the hip-hop music scene in the early aughts with hits like "Ride Wit Me" and "Hot in Herre." His success carried in to the next decade with his hit single "Just A Dream" in 2010, which hit #3 on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart

Then in 2013, the rapper tried to rebrand as more of a country artist. The biggest example was when Nelly was the featured guest on the song "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line, which broke the top five songs on the Billboard Hot 100. As Forbes reported, Nelly also released a cover of the country song "Die A Happy Man" and went on tour with Florida Georgia Line to "introduce himself to even more country music lovers." The move never fully paid off, however, and the rapper's last album was 2013's disastrous M.O. According Vice, by the end of the year the album only sold around 23,000 copies.

In the latter half of the decade, several women accused Nelly of sexual assault, as reported by TMZ, which probably further damaged any comeback attempt. Plus musically, it appeared Nelly just hadn't figured out the right formula. Lil Nas X ended up finding the perfect combination of country and rap with the mega-hit "Old Town Road."

T-Pain didn't have enough 'shawties'

Auto-Tune king T-Pain couldn't be stopped in the back half of the aughts. Between 2006 and 2011 the singer appeared on a breathtaking 45 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Yet from 2012 to 2019, his success drastically decreased and he only appeared on three songs in the top 100.

It's not to say T-Pain stopped trying. One of his highlights came with the FOX network's 2019 series "The Masked Singer." In the show, T-Pain competed with other professional musicians in identity-hiding costumes, though many fans had their theories about each singer. In the end, the masks came off and T-Pain won the competition without ever using Auto-Tune — proving the pure talent of this musician.

Sadly though, his victory didn't translate into as much success as he wanted. In October 2019, the singer posted a heartfelt video on Instagram to announce he had to cancel his planned tour. T-Pain admitted his lack of involvement in planning and other factors prompted the cancelation. To his credit, he shouldered most of the blame for the ill-conceived tour. He also refused to mislead his fans, claiming that "most artists lie" and "whenever tours get canceled it's for low ticket sales."

Iggy Azalea couldn't live up to her own hype

Australian model and rapper Iggy Azalea exploded onto the music scene with the song "Fancy" off her 2014 debut album The New Classic. Her popularity rapidly peaked, and Iggy Azalea appeared on several other popular songs like "Black Widow," but then she seemed to go on a hiatus for several years. And by hiatus, we mean creating continuous controversy that may have destroyed her career.

For example, when Iggy Azalea reemerged in 2018 and released her Survive the Summer EP, it was not a... new classic. In it's scathing review, Pitchfork summarized the album as the product "of someone too deep in the hole to stop digging." Of her "songcraft," the outlet wrote that the new tracks are "so derivative that it's hard not to home in and nitpick every instance where she says or does something absurd." Ouch. As Variety reported, Iggy Azalea canceled her 2018 "Bad Girls" tour around North America. The article hypothesized that her long time "out of the spotlight ... probably contributed to low sales."

In 2019, Iggy Azalea released both the In My Defense album and Wicked Lips EP, still hoping to climb back to the top of the music world. As of 2019, "Fancy" is still her only #1 hit.

LMFAO couldn't keep the party going

"Every day I'm shuff-a-lin'." Those are the words to "Party Rock Anthem," which took over the world in 2011 and prompted everyone to get up and dance. It was such a smash, it became one of only 20 songs to ever reach the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) "diamond" status, according to Forbes. LMFAO earned its second number one hit in 2012 with "Sexy and I Know It." The party boys who made up the group — Redfoo and Sky Blu — are actually related to Motown royalty, Berry Gordon, the founder of Motown Records. What's more, Redfoo is actually Sky Blu's uncle, according to The New York Times

Unfortunately, the party ended when LMFAO split up amid a nasty personal feud that Sky Blu aired out on Facebook in 2016. He accused his uncle of not only abandoning him after a back injury that left him unable to perform during "a huge stadium tour," but also attempting to continue performing as LMFAO without him. According to Digital Spy, Redfoo released his 2016 solo album Party Rock Mansion, which only "sold 144 copies in its first week on sale in Australia." As for Sky Blu, he rebranded as "8ky" and released two solo albums, Rebel Music in 2013 and Fxck Yeah: Chaos To Consciousness in 2016, neither of which got the party started again. 

But don't worry. As Forbes also noted, "Party Rock Anthem" was huge enough "to keep them both living large for some time." 

Boyd Tinsley had to face the music

You may not know the names of anyone in the Dave Matthews Band besides the lead singer, but according to the group's website, its formation in 1991, it consisted of LeRoi Moore (saxophone), Stefan Lessard (bass), Carter Beauford (drums), Peter Griesar (keyboards), and Boyd Tinsley (violin). Shortly after, the Dave Matthews Band rose to fame with its 1994 debut studio album, Under the Table and Dreaming.

Countless numbers of live shows and albums later cemented the band as one of the most iconic ever, but rough waters were ahead. In early 2018, Tinsley tweeted that he needed to "take a break from the band" to focus on his family and health. Months later, Consequence of Sound reported that James Frost-Winn, a Seattle-based trumpet player, publicly accused Tinsley of "sexual assault, harassment, and long-term grooming." Soon after, Rolling Stone reported that Tinsley was sued for sexual harassment, and a representative for the Dave Matthews Band confirmed that "Boyd is no longer a member of the band."

It remains to be seen if the impact will affect the legacy of the Dave Matthews Band. For example, the group was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 induction, reported NPR.

Jesse Lacey's personal issues tanked his band

Brand New was one of the most popular alternative rock bands in the 2000s, capitalizing on the "emo music" trend. However, lead singer Jesse Lacey and the rest of the members seemed to be done after their 2009 album Daisy until Brand New released its 2017 album Science Fiction. Even after the group's long hiatus, the album received positive critical reviews and fan response, giving Brand New its first number one album on the Billboard 200 chart.

Months after the release of Science Fiction, several women accused Lacey of sexual misconduct in a Facebook thread, as summarized by Rolling Stone. Lacey addressed the claims through Brand New's official band Facebook account, writing, "I am absolutely sorry. I do not stand in defense of myself nor do I forgive myself." One day later, Brand New canceled the three remaining shows on the band's tour.