Musicians Who Ruined Their Career In A Matter Of Seconds

Musicians can be on top of the charts one day and in the tabloid headlines the next. Like most stars, these musically gifted artists are susceptible to drama and mistakes. Unfortunately, they aren't usually given second chances as the court of public opinion might bash them for life. From Dixie Chicks star Natalie Maines slamming then-President George Bush for invading Iraq to Chris Brown assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna, these celebs ruined their careers and there's no turning back.

Chris Brown

By 2009, Chris Brown had earned his throne atop the R&B and pop charts and quickly became a fixture in headlines as his relationship was Rihanna was heating up. But everything came to a screeching halt on February 8, 2009. After attending a pre-Grammy party, things between the two turned hellish as they argued over a sexual text message Brown received from another woman, reports Gawker.

The spat escalated to violence. Brown assaulted the Bajan pop star, leaving her battered and bruised. Not long after, a graphic image of the damage he caused to Rihanna's face surfaced. The leaked image showed her busted lip, bruised cheeks, and lumps on her forehead from the fight. Brown was officially charged with felony assault and felony criminal threats. According to The Guardian, he was sentenced to five years probation and 1,400 hours of labor service.

Unfortunately, Brown would never live down that incident nor would he ever gain the public's respect again. Since assaulting Rihanna, he has become a troublemaker — constantly falling on the wrong side of the law. A Rolling Stone timeline of his behavior pointed to violent incidents in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016. Noticeably absent from that list was 2014, during which, according to TMZ, the "Kiss Kiss" singer served 108 days in jail for violating his probation.

Ashlee Simpson

Ashlee Simpson had all the makings of a pop star as older sister Jessica Simpson as an A-list singer and reality TV queen. But Ashlee's career crashed and burned as fast as it rose to the top when a lip-syncing fiasco and a lie caused her demise. According to Today, Simpson was performing her second song of the night, "Autobiography," on Saturday Night Live in 2004 when vocals to her previous performance, "Pieces of Me," began to play. The starlet attempted to save the bumpy performance by dancing, but eventually left the stage utterly embarrassed. The show cut to commercial. At first, Simpson didn't cop to the mistake, instead deflecting and blaming the band: "I feel so bad. My band started playing the wrong song." Her record label stated that it was all a computer glitch.

Things got even crazier for Simpson as she confessed to lip-syncing because her voice was under a lot stress from constant promotional events. "I can't cancel something like SNL," she wrote on her website. "You and I have known that even if I [synced] on it or not, I'd still get seen by millions, maybe even make a few more fans."

She didn't think the snafu caused her career much harm, but her previous interview with Lucky magazine did her in. "I'm totally against it and offended by it," Simpson said of lip-syncing. "I'm going out to let my real talent show ... Personally, I'd never [lip-sync]. It's just not me."


In 2013, the music world was Miguel's oyster. He was the new kid on the block with a mega hit "Adorn." But with so much hype around the song and his rising star, perhaps he got too cocky during his performances. As the story goes, Miguel was performing "Adorn" at the Billboard Music Awards when he attempted to jump over a pit of fans from one stage to another. Unfortunately, he failed to make it to the second stage and crash landed on fans.

According to 5 NBCDFW, Khyati Shah claims she was kicked in the head during the nasty fall and suffered cognitive difficulties as a result. She's also said to have suffered from memory loss and wasn't able to take her exams. Her attorney threatened to sue the star, who at the time did not give any monetary help toward medical bills. "They didn't rush her to the hospital," her attorney said. "Instead they rushed a camera to her and an ice pack" and simply took advantage of a poor "star-struck, dazed and injured person."

Two years later, a second injured fan, Cindy Tsai, sued the star and the MGM Grand Hotel, where the event took place, reports TMZ. She asked for cash for medical bills and lost wages. Since the infamous leg drop that was turned into WWE memes, Miguel's performances have been very tame. And unfortunately, there hasn't been as much chatter about his music career either.

Boy George

In 2009, Boy George put the nail in his career's coffin when he was sentenced to 15 months behinds bars for handcuffing a male escort and beating him. The singer met Audun Carlsen in 2007. They first connected on the website Gaydar, where George hired him to be a nude model. During their meeting, Carlsen claims the star gave him oral sex then accused him of stealing photos from his computer, reports The Guardian.

After accusing him, George reportedly told the young man, "Now you're going to get what you deserve" as he was beaten. Carlsen claims to have escaped after uncuffing himself and dashing out to the street as he was whipped with a chain. George denied assaulting Carlsen. George allegedly sent lots of emails attempting to lure him back to ask more questions about his alleged theft. "I asked him to come [back to the flat] because I wanted to find out if this guy had borrowed my stuff," George told officers. "I got a friend there because I wanted to make sure he didn't leave so I could check the computer and his phone. The friend was just there in case he tried to stab me or take a hammer to me."

During sentencing, the judge laid down the law, saying, "Whilst I accept that Mr. Carlsen's physical injuries were not serious or permanent, in my view there can be no doubt that your premeditated, callous and humiliating hand-cuffing and detention of Mr. Carlsen shocked, degraded and traumatised." The star's offenses were "so serious that only an immediate sentence of imprisonment can be justified."

Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke was on top of the world in 2013. He had a huge hit, "Blurred Lines," and was set to perform it along with Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards. While everyone was sure the performance would be something to talk about, few knew it would be so raunchy and sexually suggestive. When the performance was complete, the pair caught a lot of flack. Thicke tried to dodge the drama as if he wasn't in on the over-the-top sexiness. "He acted like he didn't know that was going to happen," Cyrus later told The New York Times. "You were in rehearsals! You knew exactly what was going to happen."

To make matters worse, the internet slammed Thicke's next album, Paula (2014), which was created to help heal his broken marriage to Paula Patton (which wasn't helped by his VMA performance). But it all turned out to be a terrible publicity tour that left Thicke crying at various performances — including a BET Awards performance. "I came home, and my best friend of 20 years, Craig Crawford, said, 'I saw your BET performance,'" Thicke told The New York Times. "And I said: 'Oh yeah! What did you think?' You know — excited. And he goes: 'I gotta be honest with you, buddy. You're kind of playing yourself. You look like a sucker.' And it hit me that I'd lost my perspective ... What I thought was romantic was just embarrassing."

According to Billboard, that embarrassing album, which didn't save his marriage, sold a dismal 48,000 copies by the end of 2014. Ouch!

Mary J. Blige

The pain and drama of Mary J. Blige is her strong suit when it comes to marketing. But fans didn't connect with her dancing for chicken wraps in a controversial Burger King ad. In the spring of 2012, a leaked version of Blige's commercial, showing her singing about a fried chicken wrap, caused a stir, according to Rolling Stone. The star was accused of playing up racial stereotypes. The ad was immediately yanked, but the flames were still hot under both the brand and Blige. It was a mistake she'll never forget.

Months later, Blige found the courage to speak out on the matter. "I want to apologize to everyone that was offended or thought that I would do something so disrespectful to our culture," she told Hot 97's Angie Martinez (via Rolling Stone). "I would never do anything like that purposefully. I thought I was doing something right. So forgive me." Burger King even issued an apology to Blige and her fans. "We would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final," read a statement from the fast-food chain. "We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon."

Upon seeing the video for the first time, Blige recalls being horrified: "Oh my God, my heart dropped down to my stomach. I got this sweat and I said, real calm, 'This too shall pass.' But it just kept getting worse and worse and worse."

Natalie Maines

Politics and country music just don't mix. It's a painful lesson that Natalie Maines learned in 2003. The Dixie Chicks frontwoman received a firestorm of backlash after saying not-so kind remarks about then-President George W. Bush. "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," Maines told a crowd during a London concert, reports Rolling Stone. Almost immediately, the radio stations across Texas began trashing their records and boycotting the group. Stations also hosted informal polls asking fans if their music should be banned from airwaves.

In response to the drama, Maines released a statement (via The Guardian): "We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American." Many didn't find her remarks to be remorseful enough as she didn't quite apologize either. According to CBS News, Maines was forced to give a second statement shortly after, saying, "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect."

In hindsight, the remarks may not have been the smartest given their fan base is mostly southerners who hold republican views.

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne is certainly a wordsmith when it comes to his catchy rap lyrics. But a 2013 comparison of sex and the murder of Emmett Till was too much for many. The rapper caught hell for the lyric, "Beat that p***y up like Emmett Till," which is on Future's "Karate Chop" remix, reports Rolling Stone. Till was murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman in 1955. He was just 14. "I have tremendous respect for those who paved the way for the liberty and opportunities that African-Americans currently enjoy," the "Lollipop" rapper wrote in a lengthy apology. "As a business owner who employs several African-American employees and gives philanthropically to organizations that help youth to pursue their dreams my ultimate intention is to uplift rather than degrade our community." He also promised not to perform the song and supports the record label's decision to remove the song from airwaves.

Wayne found himself in hot water once again in 2016 for not knowing what Black Lives Matter is. "I don't feel connected to a damn thing that ain't got nothin' to do with me," the rapper said while dismissing the social movement in an interview with Nightline. The reporter further explained the purpose of the moment, to which Wayne said, "That just sounds weird ... I don't know what it is. Don't come at me with that dumb s**t, ma'am. My life matter, especially to my b****es." After embarrassing himself, Wayne quit the interview saying, "I ain't no f**king politician."

Janet Jackson

There will never be another Super Bowl halftime show like 2004's. That year, Janet Jackson teamed up with Justin Timberlake and others in what was supposed to be a high-energy performance for Super Bowl XXXVIII, according to Rolling Stone. But at the end of the show, as Timberlake finished his lyrics, he reached across Jackson's bustier and ripped off the top portion, leaving her bare breast exposed. For 9/16ths of a second, viewers around the world caught a glimpse of Jackson's breast, which was covered with a star-shape shield. The incident is now known as "Nipplegate."

The outcry was almost immediate, added the site. Over 540,000 viewers contacted the Federal Communications Commission to file complaints about Jackson and Timberlake's raunchy behavior. The NFL issued an apology to the world saying in short, "We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show." Weeks later, Jackson appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and dodged questions about nipplegate, saying, "I don't want to revisit."

By August of that year, The Guinness Book of World Records named "Nipplegate" at the most searched term in internet history. The FCC then handed down fines totaling $550,000 to CBS. For the next several years, legal battles and more headlines keep the incident alive in the media. Unlike Timberlake's career (for some reason), Jackson's has unfortunately taken a tumble since then.

Sinead O'Connor

In 1992, at the top of her music game, Sinead O'Connor sent her career into a tailspin after a controversial performance on Saturday Night Live. The singer was performing an a cappella version of Bob Marley's "War" with changed lyrics to bring attention to the rampant abuse in the Catholic Church, reports The Guardian. At the end of her emotional performance, O'Connor ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II. The action left audiences stunned.

While talking to Irish magazine Hot Press years later, O'Connor said her decision to smear the Pope was inspired by Bob Geldof, who ripped up a photo of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on television. "And I thought, 'Yeah, f**k! What if someone ripped up a picture of the Pope?' Half of me was just like: 'Jesus, I'd love to just see what'd happen.'" She also said the photo used in the performance actually came from her mother's bedroom wall. "What I think is wrong is that the people running the show are misrepresenting what Catholicism actually is," she told The Guardian in a 2010 interview. "What I'm talking about is the highest echelons of the Vatican as I call it. Do we need a f**king Pope? Why do we need a Pope? Christ doesn't need a representative. Ten years from now the church will be nothing resembling what it has been."

O'Connor's career hasn't been the same since, but it hasn't stopped her from stirring up drama.

Lee Ryan

"Who gives a f**k about New York when elephants are being killed?" Lee Ryan of the British boyband Blue said in an interview with the The Sun (via NME). "They are ignoring animals that are more important. Animals need saving and that's more important. This New York thing is being blown out of all proportion."

Without any context, that statement might have only just offended New Yorkers, but Ryan said this ... a month after 9/11. Ryan, who was 17 at the time, quickly went into damage control. "By now you might have heard about the stupid comments I made the other day to The Sun newspaper," he released in a statement. "I just wanted to say to you all how sorry I am, I can't believe I said it. I didn't even mean it like that and the second I said it I was like 'Oh My God, that isn't what I meant.'" Ryan went on to say that the terrorists were "awful" and that he cried his "eyes out" when watching the towers collapse, adding, "I'm not good with words and I get mixed up, but I know what I'm saying when I say I'm sorry." 

However, despite his apology, neither his nor the band's career ever recovered. The Guardian reports that by 2015, Ryan became the final member of Blue to go bankrupt.

Billy Squier

Even if you have to Google the name "Billy Squier" to know who we're talking about, you've more than likely heard his huge hit — 1981's "The Stroke" — at some point in your life. The infectious song has been on countless movie soundtracks, was sampled by Eminem, and even appeared in American Horror Story: 1984.

In the era of new wave, Squier proved that rock was king. Two of his albums, 1981's Don't Say No and 1982's Emotions in Motion, went multi-platinum. "Rock Me Tonite," the lead single off his third record, reached No. 15 on Billboard's Hot 100, and his future looked brighter than ever (via OnStage Magazine). However, that all came crashing down when the music video, which was directed by High School Musical's Kenny Ortega, had the rocker prancing around in a sleeveless t-shirt on satin sheets.

Squier fought to keep the cringeworthy video from ever seeing the light of day, but his record label overruled him. "The video had a deleterious effect on my career. The tour before, I was selling out arenas faster than Sinatra, and as soon as that video came out I was playing to half houses," Squier said in the 2011 book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution (via OnStage Magazine). "When I saw the video, my jaw dropped. It was diabolical. I looked at it and went, "What the **** is this?" Squier immediately fired his managers, but his career never recovered.