For all but a few superstars, celebrity status and career success is a fickle thing. From messy nights on the town to social media rants, it can take just one wrong move for a musician’s career to take a serious hit.
Sure, heaps of artists have had small slip ups in the public eye, but what happens when you say something unrecoverable in an interview, or a few tweets of your warped political ideals hit the front page?
Here are just a few musicians who have gone to unfortunate lengths to kill their careers, sometimes in a matter of seconds.
Once one of America’s most beloved singer/songwriters Ted Nugent decided to out himself as an extremist Conservative, with public statements so hateful and bizarre even the move conservative states are asking him to leave.
From describing President Obama as a “subhuman mongrel” to referring to Hillary Clinton as a “toxic c**t” it’s clear why this National Rifle Association board member was paid NOT to preform in Texas. Nowadays his Facebook is bombarded with assorted abuse, and he seems to spend most of his time hunting.
’80s rock fans will remember well the rise and fall of Billy Squier. Before his unfortunate implosion, Squier was a pretty massive deal; appealing to lovers of blue collar Americana, Journey, and Van Halen alike. Then came ‘That Video’.
The world premiere video from hell was hyped to death by MTV before bombing harder than any music video since. Swaggering American hero he was not, replaced by a pastel-clad tribute to Flashdance, much to the dismay of expectant hard rock fans.
Homophobic rants on Facebook are a surefire career killer. After growing festival buzz and strong 2014 single ‘Walking with Elephants’, Lithuanian producer Ten Walls took to Facebook spouting volumes of homophobia.
It’s understandably pretty hard for your career to bounce back after referring to homosexuals as “people of a different breed”, even likening gay sex to the abuse of children by Catholic priests. Free advice for any budding musicians: bigoted ignorance isn’t the best way to garner public exposure.
Setting the record for career decimation are underground shoegazers Whirr, tanking their career after being rightfully dropped by their label for a series of transphobic comments on Twitter.
Addressing Washington band G.L.O.S.S, fronted by a transgender singer, Whirr labeled the group “boys running around in panties making shitty music”, before going on to insist that if the trans community has such a high rate of attempted suicide, they’re clearing not doing it right. Yep, seeya Whirr.
Natalia Kills & Willy Moon
Natalia Kills and her husband/first musician to ever wear a suit Willy Moon couldn’t have been more ignorant of their career suicide. As judges on X Factor NZ the pair brutally bullied a suited contestant for copying Moon’s style, even comparing him to several serial killers including Psycho’s Norman Bates.
If the unanimously-booing crowd didn’t immediately clue them in to their idiocy then the pair’s subsequent sacking from the show and rapid decline in record sales probably did the trick.
One way to be sure your band never sees the light of day again is to downplay the tragedy of 9/11. With over 14 million in sales worldwide, UK boy band Blue were poised to secure a US record deal… so one band member decided to ruin it for everyone, going on the record shortly after 9/11 with the statement “This New York thing is being blown out of proportion”, asking audiences “What about whales? They are ignoring animals that are more important. Animals need saving and that’s more important.” Pretty safe to say they didn’t get the record deal.
In 2016 B.o.B. left fans more that a little confused when he proclaimed that the world was flat, arguing in an epic Twitter tirade with scores of fans, and even astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Despite their best efforts the rapper seemingly remained ignorant (or just a very dedicated troll), insisting that fans simply do their research. B.o.B. has since gone on to release a sincere Neil deGrasse Tyson diss track. Er, career made..?
We all remember Robin Thicke’s dismal attempt to regain the spotlight in 2013. If his infamous single ‘Blurred Lines’ and questionable appearance at that years VMAs wasn’t enough to put his career back to bed, the release of 2014’s Paula really put the final nail in the coffin.
The epitome of the album nobody wanted to hear, Paula was an album dedicated to winning back his estranged wife of the same name, selling a pitiful 47 copies Australia wide.
Cee Lo Green
After pleading no contest to supplying ecstasy to a sexual partner in a court case in 2014, Cee Lo Green took to Twitter to defend his actions, incriminating himself in the eyes of his fans in the process. While his Twitter was then deleted to cover the evidence, a quick-acting user screen-grabbed some of the tweets, where Green made several fairly questionable remarks about sexual consent.
With no charges pressed for sexual assault Green walked away with 3 years probation and 45 days of community service for the drug charge, but the damage to his music career was already done.
What’s more career-killing than not actually having a career as a musician? After sowing the seeds of doubt among fans with several incidents of lip-syncing, Milli Vanilli were eventually outed as musical impostors by one of their actual recorded singers.
A slew of refund-related lawsuits quickly followed, as well as the withdrawal of the band’s Grammy award. Turns out that not being a musician is definitely the best way kill your career in music…
The Dixie Chicks
What started as a humble act of rebellion against an ignorant, warmongering president quickly spiraled out of control for the country three piece. In 2003, Dixie Chicks haters famously turned twelve simple words – “we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas” – into a smear campaign run by former fans, including accusations of treason and graphic death threats.
While clearly a noble act of protest, angering their many right wing fans was so financially damaging that the group never full recovered. Poor things; nowadays, bashing the president is the trendy thing for any band to do, no matter which side of the political fence you’re one.
Where did it all go wrong for this frankly remarkable rapper? Her debut album was beyond amazing and her many mixtapes are music to the ears of dedicated fans. But Azealia’s major career mistake was pretty much just creating a Twitter account. Having more beefs with other artists than chart-placing singles is a start, but when combined with regular homophobic and racist slurs, Azealia set a standard for career-killing that won’t be beaten for years to come.
Man, ‘212’ was a jam though.
This article was originally published on 29/03/16Write a Letter to the Editor