Now That’s What I Call A Major Flop

flop

It’s the ultimate purpose of all charts and sales discussions: define which album is a success and which one is a flop. There are thousands of ways to compare records and as many misleading facts to highlight wrongful conclusions. Obviously, there isn’t a manager nor a stan in the world that will accept that his favorite act flopped. It’s their job to point out every minor argument to have the general public believe he did well. Regardless, the truth doesn’t lie.

At Chartmasters.org, we are very close to 1,000 studio albums analyzed so far with the CSPC process. Among them, many of the most successful records of all-time. But also various severe bombs. Would you like to know which albums posted the steepest declines in comparison to their immediate predecessor?

Some results are truly ugly. There is 9 albums which sold more than 10 times less than their predecessor. The harshest drop is 94,5%, that is producing 550,000 units after a 10-million smash. As you can guess, all numbers are expressed in equivalent album sales rather than pure sales since they are much more representative of the success of an era. That’s why we will be extensively using the acronym EAS which stands for Equivalent Album Sales.

Setting up some rules…

These scores are obtained on a like-to-like basis. For example, recent albums are excluded since they aren’t completely done. That is, albums less than a year old when their related CSPC article was posted. For instance, exit Katy Perry‘s Witness. In any case, it is down 81,9% from Prism so it almost looks like a smash against the albums that we are going to present you here.

Also, exit Christmas albums. It would be unfair to include successful Christmas records from N’Sync, Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift just because their proper studio albums sold even more. Additionally, side-projects Soundtracks like Madonna‘s Who’s That Girl, Phil CollinsBuster or BeatlesYellow Submarine are also excluded. Similarly, discographies of bilingual artists are split in two. For example, we won’t be considering Céline Dion‘s S’Il Suffisait D’aimer a flop just because it did much less than Let’s Talk About Love. Instead, it is compared with D’Eux.

Cross-artists statistics

Let’s start with a few statistics. After the application of exclusion rules, 832 albums remain. There is 94 debut albums, which obviously have no predecessor. That’s 738 candidates to feature in this article. As many as 213 of them sold less than half of the album they followed. Then, a significant 86 of them represented a drop of 70% or more for the artist. These key data show that dropping your results by 50% is fairly frequent. Consequently, it takes a sharper decrease to be flagged as a flop.

Of course, we can’t define an album as a success or a flop only with the evolution over its predecessor. Market data and standards of the artist should be considered too. Still, except a pair of records, albums that will be presented here dropped so much that no matter how we look at it, they bombed. As a matter of fact, let’s just point out that even Mariah Carey‘s Glitter doesn’t belong to the Top 50 of largest bombs.

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Matrix

Iinteresting list, to say the least.

Cher + (Sonny & Cher) 9 albums
Elton John 4 albums
Barbara Streisand 4 albums
Fleetwood Mac 3 albums

So, it’s safe to say CHER is undoubtedly the queen of major flops, imho.

Alan

Did I miss its listing, but waht about Genesis and the drop from We Can’t Dance to Calling All Stations?

Brando

If we count Use Your Illusion I & II as a one double album, then The Spaghetti Incident? should be on this list as well.

Ann

It’s a surprise that Hard Candy and American Life aren’t on the list. Madonna’s not an exception.

RLAAMJR.

Hi MJD, Loving the article but I think there’s just a lot of examples you have provided and for sure, there are more aside from what has been included in the article. While I agree on some, I don’t really think Cher has flop albums cos her album sales have always been that low. I think it would be best if you could actually give us a list of like “the 10 or 20 biggest major flop albums of all time.” as well as the top 10 or 20 one-hit wonders of all time. I’m giving you a number like… Read more »

luca vitali

Probably also Time Fades Away, released after Harvest, is in this “good” bunch…

Jules Giddings

Flash Gordon was a big disappointment for Queen commercially but I don’t think it was designed to be a hit. I really enjoy listening to it these days just because it’s so out there, there’s never been anything like it before or since. Same with Hot space.

Lorrane

Gnr Lies?

Will

What about the Pink album “Try This”? That was a huge flop when considering that it came off her biggest album, Missundaztood, right?
Also, what about Double Dutchess? That was big flop compared to Fergie’s first album.

Donald Miller

It’s not a caricature, it’s an editorial. But it’s your website. You want to alienate half your potential audience, go ahead.

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