5 Largest Album Flops this Side of the Millenium

While most artists fizzle out politely after falling ill of the feared ‘second album syndrome’, it must be said that Johnny Borell offers an intriguing anomaly after managing to sell only 594 copies of his first solo album, Borell 1.

Though it has been released by a major label (Mercury Records no less), and has been recorded by a man who has previously sold 4 million albums with another act, it could be deemed that as of yet, Borell 1 offers the biggest commercial failure of 2013.

With that in mind however, he is not alone, as here are five other spectacular flops from this side of the millennium:

Klaxons – Surfing the Void -2010

An album that was by no means poor, Surfing the Void failed to impress music executives after selling just 30,000 copies in its first week of release.

Though this would be impressive for an independent band on an independent label, their first album shifted 350,000 copies and won them a Mercury Prize.

The sales also meant that 92 per cent of the people who bought Myths of the Near Future felt that this effort simply wasn’t worth bothering with.

Surfing the Void won Best Album Artwork at the 2011 NME Awards.

MGMT – Congratulations - 2010

After stealing the pop world with their first record in 2007, hopes were high for MGMT’s follow up, Congratulations.

Like the Klaxons however, MGMT suffered with their second album after selling merely 66,000 copies during the first week of release.

Oracular Spectacular was a momentous success that managed to sell 250,000 copies in the UK alone; unfortunately for MGMT however, Congratulations never broke the 70,000 mark and very little has been heard of the band since.

By all accounts, they are currently working on album 3 (to be released in September) after managing to retain their contract with Columbia.

Lou Reed and Metallica – Lulu - 2012

Although some flops in the music world are well reviewed by critics, this just isn’t one of them, and to make things worse, neither Reed or Metallica reacted well to the criticism.

James Hetfield stated that negative reactions probably only came from ‘people still typing in their mother’s basements’ and Reed stated that the album was only for ‘literate’ people.

It sold 13,000 copies in its first week.

The Darkness – One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back - 2005

Quite possibly the biggest album flop to hit the rock world this side of the Atlantic Ocean, One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back represents the titanic of all albums and offers very few lifeboats.

After debuting at number 11, the album fell completely out of the charts by the third week and signalled the beginning of the end for a band whose first album sold 1.5 million copies in the UK alone.

The cost of the album was said to be phenomenal (roughly around £1 million) as The Darkness used 400 reels of tape, with up to 1,000 tracks per song, leaving little wonder why it took one whole year to record. Since release seven years ago, it has sold less than 100,000 copies.

Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy – 2008

One of the best-parked turds in the history of the world, Chinese Democracy is now used as a study of what not to do for musicians and music management students alike.

With production costs found in excess of $13 million, it is difficult to define just exactly why this album was a commercial failure. Surely, the most expensive album of all time will also be the best?

If you forget to take into account an ego that pars (if not surpasses) that of a megalomaniac, a string of producers and 15 years of tired progression, you might have just assumed that.

In Chinese Democracy however, the proof was in the pudding and Axl Rose and his support band sounded tired, bloated and used up throughout all 14 songs - which is probably why it has still only sold around 3 million copies.

As a counterpoint however, if you look at their 28 song set list from Sydney this March, you’ll be able to see that at least four songs were played from the album; proving that at least people in Australia still care enough to listen.

Words by Andy Jessop