The second album is notoriously tough, particularly in the fickle industry we know as pop. One minute you’re the country’s favourite newcomer, your singles are played on commercial radio about 204 times a day and your debut album flies off shelves quicker than you can say ‘Gabriella Cilmi’. But then the second album comes around and it all goes to pot.
Anyone remember Duffy’s second album Endlessly? Anyone brave enough to compare sales of Pixie Lott’s 2009 breakthrough Turn It Up with its 2011 sequel Young Foolish Happy? Did anyone even notice Alexandra Burke releasing her second LP a couple of weeks ago?
The follow-up is a death trap, and while many (JLS, Lady GaGa, Beyonce, The Wanted, Olly Murs, Britney Spears, Cheryl Cole etc etc) stay consistent, some come back far, far stronger than before. So today, as it is reported that poor Burkey is cut up about seeing her first-week album sales swan dive 95% and, on the other end of the spectrum, that Justin Bieber is heading for his first simultaneous transatlantic chart-topper, we take a look at the best 10 Second Albums to emerge from the pop world over the last 10-ish years.
10. Joe McElderry – Classic
August 2011, follow-up to 2010′s Wide Awake
Critics were (understandably) unimpressed, but fans were certainly a lot more taken with Joe’s first post-Cowell record than they were with his debut. Classic, released just four months after he was dropped from his SyCo record deal, outsold its X Factor-friendly predecessor within weeks of being released. Unfortunately it didn’t do a great deal for Joe’s reputation as one of the talent show’s least successful winners, but he is currently the only champion from the show’s roster to score three Gold-selling albums, and that wouldn’t have been possible without Classic.
09. Girls Aloud – What Will The Neighbours Say?
November 2004, follow-up to 2003′s Sound Of The Underground
The excitement around Girls Aloud looked like it was off down the drain very quickly, until producers Xenomania whipped out their A-Game and their second LP paved the way for what was to come over the next four or five years. ‘The Show’ and ‘Love Machine’ were both welcomed warmly by critics and pop music fans, and if it weren’t for this album the band would probably have disbanded a lot sooner. Who knows what Cheryl would be doing now…
08. Justin Bieber – Believe
June 2012, follow-up to 2010′s My World/My World 2.0
Just how successful this album will turn out to be in the long run remains to be seen, but its opening sales figures are nothing to be scoffed at. Believe has edged ahead of Cheryl Cole’s A Million Lights in the UK midweeks and could become his first ever No. 1 album in this country on Sunday, while in the US Madonna’s record for the best first-week sales of 2012 looks likely to be overtaken. But whether or not Believe has the longevity to out-do My World(s) remains to be seen.
07. Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds
September 2006, follow-up to 2002′s Justified
How do you follow an album that sells 8 million copies worldwide? With one that sells 10 million worldwide, that’s how. FutureSex/LoveSounds gave us a new, edgier Justin – one who has had a lasting influence on Bieber and our very own Conor Maynard, and one who is still missed today. ‘SexyBack’, ‘My Love’ and ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around’ were all global smash hits, and it remains a tragedy that he’s stepped away from hitmaking to focus on his much less interesting film career.
06. Sugababes – Angels With Dirty Faces
August 2002, follow-up to 2000′s One Touch
Everyone nowadays seems to be wetting themselves over the reunion of the “original” three Sugababes, but lest we forget that very few people really gave two shits about them back in the day. Their album peaked at No.26 and lost them a record deal. But when Siobhan left (claiming Keisha bullied her) and Heidi Range was bought in, things really started to pick up. Led by singles ‘Freak Like Me’, ‘Round Round’ and ‘Stronger’, Angels… went triple platinum and is the band’s top-selling record to date.
05. Will Young – Friday’s Child
December 2003, follow-up to 2002′s From Now On
Following a debut album that he himself probably detests, Will came back in 2003 with a game-changer that paved the way for one of the longest careers in talent show history. Friday’s Child launched with the enormohit ‘Leave Right Now’, and also produced ‘Your Game’, aka Song With The Coolest Video 2004. His more dedicated fans will say that Echoes is his best record to date, but there’s no way that would have even been released were it not for Friday’s Child.
04. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
February 2009, follow-up to 2006′s Alright, Still
Lily made a media-baiting name for herself in 2006 with her first record, but it was 2009′s sequel that cemented her position as one of the country’s best popstars. ‘The Fear’ rocketed to No.1, ‘Not Fair’ became an instant fan favourite, and it remains a (may-as-well-be-a-) criminal offence that ‘I Could Say’ was never given single treatment. Confirmation this week that she’s back in the recording studio with Greg Kurstin is among the best pieces of news EVER.
03. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
August 2010, follow-up to 2008′s One Of The Boys
One of the most successful second album campaigns in the history of pop, Teenage Dream spawned eight (yes EIGHT) singles that were ALL global hits, and were – mostly – all amazing. ‘Firework’! ‘Teenage Dream’! ‘E.T.’! ‘Last Friday Night’! ‘The One That Got Away’! The album propelled its singer from a slightly whacky newcomer to one of the most famous faces on the planet, and also paved the way for one of the most successful concert tours of all time. Good luck with album 3, Katy…
02. Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
November 2004, follow-up to 2003′s Thankful
Kelly’s attempts to break the international markets with her debut album fell flat on their face – in the UK for one, Thankful only charted at No. 41. But then came Breakaway. Initially making only a minor smash when the title track was chosen as the lead single in the US, it wasn’t until ‘Since U Been Gone’ hit airwaves that its sales skyrocketed and propelled Kelly to the most famous she has ever been, and ever will be, in her whole career. ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes’, ‘Because Of You’ and ‘Walk Away’ followed in similarly huge fashion, the live version of ‘Beautiful Disaster’ went down a storm, and the album sold 6.2 million units in the US, and 1.6 in the UK.
01. Adele – 21
January 2011, follow-up to 2008′s 19
Who else?! Whether or not you’re sick to the back teeth of hearing about it by now (and understandably so), 21 is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Resonating with so many people in so many places, it only dropped down as low as No12 for the first time a couple of weeks ago (this being after 18 months in the Top 10) and is STILL riding high in the US. Grammys, Brits, world record after world record… Adele admits herself that her third album stands a cat in hell’s chance of matching the success of 21, but to be fair, she’d really have to go some to pull that off.