How Katy Perry, Adele, Lady Gaga, and Others Followed Up Their Hit Albums

Katy Perry
Katy Perry released her fifth studio opus, Witness, in June.  She’ll launch a tour to support that work late this summer.

Her trek kicks off Sept. 7 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.  The North American leg is scheduled to wrap Feb. 5, 2018 when Katy Perry performs in Vancouver, B.C.

Look for K.P. in Philadelphia on Sept. 18, Brooklyn on Nov. 11, and Atlanta on Dec. 12.  She plays two shows in Toronto, Boston, and Chicago.

Katy Perry also has two concerts planned for New York City.  Three shows are booked for Los Angeles.

Perry is an artist that’s released a very successful album.  I don’t mean an album that went to number one and sold a few copies.  I mean an album that sold millions and millions of copies, produces several hit singles, and won numerous awards.

Her historic album is Teenage Dream (2010).  The work went to number one in several countries, including the United States, sold more than six million copies, and was nominated for seven Grammy Awards.

Even more impressive, the album produced five number one singles.  Only one other album in the history of the world has ever done that, Michael Jackson’s Bad (more on that album later).

The success of Teenage Dream catapulted Perry into the record books, but it also put her in a tough situation, perhaps the toughest situation in music.  That tough situation is making an album after you had a monumental hit.

Her follow-up to Teenage Dream was Prism (2013).  It debuted at number one and eventually sold more than four million copies.  Instead of five, it produced just two number one singles.

Perry’s follow-up to Prism is the aforementioned Witness.  It hasn’t been released long enough to compare sales figure, but it did debut at number one (although it dropped to #13 the following week).

It should be noted that critics seemed to like Witness a lot less than they liked Teenage Dream or Prism.  That’s saying something because neither received many rave reviews.

How did the success of Perry’s follow-up compare to the follow-ups of other artists who released historically important albums?  See for yourself.

Below, are ten artists, their hit records, their follow-ups, and brief descriptions of their successes.

Adele
Hit Record: 21 (2011)
Follow-Up: 25 (2015)
Adele’s 21 was the bestselling album of 2011 and 2012, it won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and set a record for most weeks on the Billboard 200 for an album made by a woman. Adele’s next opus saw a 35 percent drop in sales—21 sold 31 million copies while 25 sold just 20 million. Like her debut, 25 won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Alicia Keys
Hit Record: Songs in A Minor (2001)
Follow-Up: The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003)
Two Grammy ceremonies before Beyoncé won five, Alicia Keys took home the quintet. Songs in A Minor has sold about 13 million units. Quite a feat for any singer, but especially impressive when you consider Keys was 20 when all this went down. Her follow-up avoided the sophomore slump. The Diary of Alicia Keys sold eight million copies and picked up three Grammy awards.

Beyoncé
Hit Record: Dangerously in Love (2003)
Follow-Up: B-Day (2006)
Beyoncé has yet to match the success of Dangerously in Love—eleven million in sales and five Grammy Awards. Her follow-up, B-Day, and the follow-up to that, I Am… Sasha Fierce, both sold more than eight million copies. Dangerously in Love and B-Day both peaked at number one. Then again, every Beyoncé album has reached the top spot of the Billboard 200.

Britney Spears
Hit Record: …Baby One More Time (1999)
Follow-Up: Oops!… I Did It Again (2000)
Britney Spears’ first two albums were released during the waning moments of when fans still bought physical copies of music. Together, her first two LPs combined for 45 million in sales. Both were gigantic successes, but her debut made her the “next Madonna,” a cultural icon, and a household name.

Bruno Mars
Hit Record: Unorthodox Jukebox (2012)
Follow-Up: 24K Magic (2016)
Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) sold as many units as Unorthodox Jukebox, six million, and both produced two number one singles. Doo-Wop was nominated for seven Grammy Awards but won none. Jukebox won a trophy for Best Pop Vocal Album. Unorthodox reached the zenith of the album charts. Doo-Wop only got as high as number three. That’s why I’ve picked Unorthodox Jukebox. His follow-up to that record, 24K Magic, failed to summit the Billboard 200 and has yet to sell 2 million units.

Eminem
Hit Record: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Follow-Up: The Eminem Show (2002)
The Marshall Mathers LP (34 million) is the bestselling album of the 21st century. The Eminem Show (30 million) is the fourth best. He followed that up with Encore (2004). That oeuvre sold 21 million copies. Altogether, Eminem has released eight studio albums. Five have sold more than 10 million copies.

Lady Gaga
Hit Record: The Fame (2008)
Follow-Up: Born This Way (2011)
If you include The Fame Monster, then The Fame has moved more than 15 million units. Rolling Stone magazine ranks The Fame as one of the greatest debuts of all-time. How did Lady Gaga follow it up? She released Born This Way three years later. That collection has sold around six million copies. Interestingly, The Fame stalled at number two, but Born This Way reached the top of the album charts.

Linkin Park
Hit Record: Hybrid Theory (2000)
Follow-Up: Meteora (2003)
Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory is the bestselling debut of the 21st century. It has sold more than 30 million copies. Three years later, they released Meteora. It wasn’t the cultural phenomenon of Hybrid, nor was it rated as high its predecessor, but it did reach the top spot. Hybrid Theory halted its climb at the penultimate position.

Michael Jackson
Hit Record: Thriller (1982)
Follow-Up: Bad (1987)
Michael Jackson’s Thriller can easily be a follow-up to Off the Wall (1979). At the time, critics asked how he can Jackson best Off the Wall? He did. Thriller is the world’s bestselling album of all-time—sales figures exceed 65 million. It also won eight Grammy Awards. Besides the five number one singles, Bad sold more than 30 million copies and earned six Grammys.

Norah Jones
Hit Record: Come Away with Me (2002)
Follow-Up: Feels Like Home (2004)
Norah Jones is another artist on our list who has won five Grammy Awards in one night. She achieved the feat thanks to Come Away with Me, an album that’s sold more 27 million units. What most music fans don’t know is her album actually won three more Grammys (eight in total), but those went home with other people. Her follow-up, Feels Like Home, sold just over 12 million copies and earned Jones an additional trophy for her crowded mantle.

Paul McCartney, Penny Lane, and The Piccolo Trumpet

pennylane

Paul McCartney has a lot to celebrate in 2017.

He turns 75 on June 18.  Earlier in the month, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the greatest rock album of all-time, turns 50.

Then on July 5, Macca kicks off a string of 21 dates in the United States.  The trek is part of his ongoing “One on One” world tour.

That July 5 date has Sir Paul rocking Miami.  His last date in America is Oct. 2, that’s the second of two shows in Detroit.

There’s another milestone involving the former Beatle that a lot of fans are overlooking.  This year, one of the greatest singles of all-time, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, turns the big five-0.

pennylane

Those two amazing songs weren’t released as separate singles.  They were released together, as one single!

Long before iTunes and the internet, artists released singles on small vinyl records, designed to be played on a phonograph.  These small vinyl records contained one song on each side, thus the term single.

They were also called “45s,” a reference to the speed of the turntable—45 revolutions per minute—that was necessary to play them.  Long play albums ran at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.

Generally, but not always, artists put their big new song on side A and a throw away song on side B.

For example, The Rolling Stones’ single “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” released more than year after “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” has as its B-side, “Child of the Moon.”

The novelty song, “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!,” released more than a year before “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” has as its B-side “!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er’yehT.”   The song is “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” played in reverse.

It was rare for an artist to put two groundbreaking songs on opposite sides of the same single.  Both “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” were from the recording sessions that gave us Sgt. Peppers and made their way onto the Magical Mystery Tour album.

Both sides of this historic 45, heard John and Paul getting nostalgic.  “Strawberry Fields” was John’s song while “Penny Lane” belonged to Paul.

Penny Lane does exist.  It is an actual street in Liverpool, England, The Beatles hometown.  Penny Lane is also the name of the area surrounding the street.

Incidentally, Elvis Costello’s mother grew up near Penny Lane.  Even more incidental, Costello has written and recorded with McCartney.

Before making it big, John and Paul would meet at Penny Lane to catch the bus.  Since the release of the song, the Penny Lane area has become something of a tourist destination.  Road signs are bolted to walls to prevent Beatles fans from stealing them.

While much of the lyrical content of “Penny Lane” is taken from real-life, some of it is poetic license.  For example, the fireman and fire engine referenced in the song are half-a-mile down the road.

Modern American listeners might find themselves scratching their heads at a few lines.  In particular, “Four of fish and finger pies.” The first part of the phrase refers to fish and chips while the second part is a sexual slang.

Besides being a beautiful song with a lovely melody, “Penny Lane” also contains a motif that will become quite famous and imitated.

The Beatles started recording “Penny Lane” four days after Christmas in 1966.  The sessions for the song went well, but McCartney felt the instrumental section was lacking.

Then, one night, Paul saw a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto on the BBC.

A Picture of a Piccolo

When he returned to the studio, he told Beatles producer George Martin about the performance and asked him for the name of the high-pitched trumpet he heard.  Martin’s answer was a piccolo trumpet.

McCartney thought the instrument would work well in “Penny Lane.”  In true Beatles fashion, they didn’t just get any piccolo trumpet player, they got the piccolo trumpet player Paul heard in the BBC performance, David Mason.

Mason recorded “Penny Lane’s” famous piccolo trumpet solo on Jan. 17, 1967.  He was paid 27 pounds and 10 shillings.  Converting that to U.S. currency, and adjusting for inflation, Mason payment had the purchasing power of about $550.

Mason was not done with The Beatles.  He would return to play trumpet in “A Day in the Life,” “All You Need Is Love,” “It’s All Too Much,” and “Magical Mystery Tour.”

Sound engineer Geoff Emerick has two interesting tidbits about Mason’s solo.  One, after he played the take you hear in the song, McCartney asked him to do another.

George Martin intervened and said the recording was over.  Martin was worried about over exerting the classical trumpeter.

This is significant because The Beatles usually had the final say in the studio, not George Martin.

Emerick’s also claims that the high “E” Mason played in the solo was previously thought to be unobtainable.  After “Penny Lane,” the note became standard for piccolo trumpet players.

McCartney’s ingenuity was responsible for what is probably the first use of the piccolo trumpet in a rock song.  The instrument, built an octave higher than typical trumpets, produces a distinct, clean sound that can pierce through so-called walls of sounds.

Similar piccolo trumpet solos have been used by other artists.  For example, there’s The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” Tears for Fears’ “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” XTC’s “Merely A Man,” and Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator.”

In the United States, a promotional single of “Penny Lane” was sent to radio stations.  This single had an additional piccolo trumpet flourish near the end of the track.  Subsequent singles had a different mix without the final trumpet part.

Singles with the trumpet part are some of the rarest and most valuable Beatles collectibles.  There’s a version of “Penny Lane” with the additional trumpet part on The Beatles Anthology 2.

“Penny Lane” peaked at number one in several countries including the United States.  Oddly, it stalled at number two in the United Kingdom, the country home to Penny Lane.

Paul has played “Penny Lane” in concert—it’s included on his 1993 live album, Paul Is Live—but it doesn’t seem to be on his setlist for his current “One on One” tour.  Very strange.

Lady Gaga Is Getting Old

Lady Gaga Is Getting Old (relatively speaking)

With Lady Gaga’s performance during the halftime of Super Bowl LI, and the subsequent announcement of her “Joanne World Tour,” Mother Monster has been on my mind a lot lately.

While brushing up on all things Gaga, I was reminded that her debut album, The Fame, dropped in Aug. 19, 2008.

It’s eight years old!

That realization blew my mind.  Lady Gaga’s first album is nearing its tenth anniversary.

Maybe it’s me, but it doesn’t seem like Lady Gaga, or anything she’s produced, can be anywhere near a decade old.  She seems timeless.

Now, I usually don’t fall for this kind of stuff.  You know, those lists that have observations like: “High schoolers today have never used a compact disc.”

Big deal.  Things age.  Who cares?

Yet, I still can’t get over the fact that The Fame is eight years old!

Below, are several examples of exactly how much time has passed since Lady Gaga first studio album hit store shelves.  Whether you’re as blown away by the age of The Fame as am I, you’ll definitely agree that a lot has changed since it was released.

  • Taylor Swift was 18.
  • Chance the Rapper was 15.
  • Tony Bennett was just 82.
  • Justin Bieber had yet to release anything. His first single, “One Time,” didn’t drop until May 18, 2009.
  • One Direction had yet to form. They first started performing together in 2010 on the television show The X Factor.
  • Ariana Grande had just turned 15, and her big break, the musical 13, was a month away from beginning previews.
  • Adele was two months out from performing on Saturday Night Live. Her episode, thanks to an appearance by Sarah Palin, was seen by 17 million people.  It basically started her career in America.
  • Drake had yet to release an album. His first, Thank Me Later, won’t hit store shelves until June 15, 2010.
  • Kanye West had interrupted exactly zero award show acceptance speeches.
  • The entire run of Glee occurred since the release of The Fame. Glee debuted on Fox television on May 19, 2009 and finished March 20, 2015.
  • Adam Lambert, Phillip Phillips, Candice Glover, Nick Fradiani, and La’Porsha Renae had yet to appear on American Idol.
  • U2 had yet to launch their “360° Tour,” the highest grossing concert tour of all-time.
  • Broadway had yet to see Billy Elliott the Musical, Rock of Ages, American Idiot, Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots, or Hamilton.
  • Since the release of The Fame, we’ve lost Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Lou Reed, B.B. King, Prince, David Bowie, and George Michael.
  • When The Fame was released, the New England Patriots had only reached six Super Bowls and had won three.
  • See Lady Gaga in 2017 live in concert in cities such as Austin, Montreal, or Las Vegas.

But as the picture at the top of this article proves, Gaga has a long ways to go before she actually is ‘old’.

The Hottest Pop Stars with the Hottest Wives & Husbands


Tim & Faith

John & Chrissy

Alicia & Swizz

Carrie & Mike

Pink & Carey
         

Nicole & Keith

Ciara & Russell

Adam & Behati

Jessica & Justin

Jay-Z & Beyonce

 

We all grew up with posters of pop stars on our walls, and dreamt of what it would be like to be with them, possibly even married to them.

What is it like to be hot and to be married to a hot pop star?  We have no idea.  In fact, few people know what’s that like.

But ever wonder what Pink’s hubby looks like? Or how about Carrie Underwood’s or Alicia Keys’ husband? Ever see a picture of John Legend’s wife or a pic of Adam Levine’s beautiful wife? Then read on…

Interestingly, all ten spouses we’ve listed here are famous.  Three are in the music business, three are professional athletes, two are models, and two are actresses.  Although we didn’t list where each couple said their “I dos”, a large number did so in Europe.

To be included on this list you must be a pop star, you must be hot, and you must be married to a hottie.  No divorced or about-to-be-married couples.

Obviously, we can’t guarantee that the following ten bride-grooms will still be hitched by the time you read this, but we have a feeling most are in it for the long haul.

Pop Star: Tim McGraw or Faith Hill

His/Her Hot Spouse: Tim McGraw or Faith Hill

We start things off with a two-fer, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.  Both are hot pop stars and both are spouses of hot pop stars. The super-hot couple married in 1996.  Together they have three daughters.  Their chemistry also translates to the stage. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert tours are always insanely successful and usually the top grossing country tour of the year.  Combined, McGraw and Hill have sold more than 80 million albums.

John Legend's Wife: Chrissy Teigen and John Legend

Pop Star: John Legend

John Legend’s Wife: Chrissy Teigen

John Legend is hot and even hotter when he’s behind the piano singing “Ordinary People,” “Green Light,” or “All of Me.”  He met his future wife, Chrissy Teigen, on the set of a music video.  They dated for four years and then tied the knot in Italy in September of 2013.  Of all the couples on our list, John and Chrissy are the ones you’d most like to invite over for dinner and game night.  They seem super down to Earth for a hot, power couple.

Alicia Keys' Husband: Swizz Beatz & Alicia Keys

Pop Star: Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys’ Husband: Swizz Beatz

Alicia Keys is a stone-cold beauty as well as a talented singer-songwriter who has sold millions of albums and captured multiple Grammy Awards.  Keys married rapper and record producer Swiss Beatz (Kasseem Dean) on the final day of July 2010.  They exchanged vows on the French island of Corsica.  The couple’s first son, Egypt Daoud, was born that October.  In 2016, while just five years old, Egypt received a producing credit on Kendrick Lamar’s compilation, Untitled Unmastered.  It’s good to have hot, powerful parents.

Carrie Underwood's Husband: Mike Fisher & Carrie

Pop Star: Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood’s Husband: Mike Fisher

The hot American Idol married a hot Canadian athlete.  Country music superstar Carrie Underwood and NHL forward Mike Fisher walked down the aisle in July of 2010.  In 2011, Fisher was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Nashville Predators.  Some believe Underwood made the trade happen so her hubby could skate in Music City.

In response to Fisher’s departure, an Ottawa radio station banned Underwood’s music.  That was a huge mistake.  Underwood’s fans rallied and promised to boycott the radio station.  Even though the station didn’t play Underwood’s music, they apologized and recanted.  Whether Underwood had anything to do with the trade, she made The Hockey News’ annual list of “100 People of Power and Influence in Ice Hockey.”

Pink's Husband: Carey Hart & Pink

Pop Star: Pink

Pink’s Husband: Carey Hart

Pink proposed to her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart, in 2005.  She did so during a race, by writing her proposal on his pit board.  Hart didn’t see it at first, but when he did, he pulled off the track and accepted.  Pink then made her fiancé get back on his bike because she didn’t want to marry a loser.  The couple wedded in 2006.  Pink and Carey have had their fair share of ups-and-downs.  Then again, what do you expect from a pop goddess and a motorcycle daredevil?  Nowadays, things seem to be motoring along just fine.  They just welcomed their second child (December of 2016).

Keith Urban's Wife: Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban

Pop Star: Keith Urban

Keith Urban’s Wife: Nicole Kidman

This isn’t a joke.  In January of 2005, Keith Urban met Nicole Kidman at G’Day LA, an event honoring Australians.  It sounds like something out of Arrested Development, but it’s an actual thing.  The couple started dating six months after they met and married in June of 2006 in Sydney.  With Nicole, Keith has had two children and one stint in rehab.  Urban is bona fide country music superstar.  He has charted 18 number one country songs, notched three Grammy victories, and has sold more than 15 million albums.

Ciara's Husband: Russell Wilson & Ciara

Pop Star: Ciara

Ciara’s Husband: Russell Wilson

What Ciara lacks in pop star chops, she more than makes up for it in the “hot” category.  Besides being a singer, songwriter, and record producer, she’s also a model and spokesperson.  Her pop star credentials aren’t all that bad.  She’s won a Grammy, sold more than 20 million albums, and charted a number one album and single.  She married Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, in July of 2016 in jolly old England.  That October they announced that they were expecting their first child, hopefully a lineman.

Adam Levine's Wife: Behati Prinsloo & Adam

Hot Pop Star: Adam Levine

Adam Levine’s Wife: Behati Prinsloo

Adam Levine married a Victoria’s Secret Angel.  And that’s why young boys pick up guitars and form bands.  So they can grow up and marry a lingerie model.  Maroon 5’s frontman married Behati Prinsloo in the spring of 2012.  Levine is from California and has moves like Jagger.  Prinsloo is from Namibia and moves down a catwalk.  The couple welcomed their first daughter in the fall of 2016.  We don’t know what she looks like but she has definitely won the lottery in the good-looking genes department.

Justin Timberlake's Wife: Jessica Biel & Justin Timberlake

Hot Pop Star: Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake’s Wife: Jessica Biel

Justin Timberlake is one of those rare, ultra-talented pop singers that could have been a star in any era.  He can sing, dance, act, and tell a joke.  He also led one of the most successful boy bands in the history of music, NSYNC.  JT started dating actress Jessica Biel in 2007.  They became engaged in 2011.  They married in Italy in 2012.  They had their first child, a boy, in 2015.  We wonder if Justin ever gave Jessica a d**K in a box for Christmas?  Probably not.

Beyonce's Husband: Jay-Z and Beyonce

Hot Pop Star: Beyonce

Beyonce’s Husband: Jay-Z

Beyoncé’s music is hot.  She’s hot.  Heck, everything she does is hot.  Together, her and Jay-Z are surface-of-the-Sun hot.  Combined, they’ve sold a quarter of a billion units, charted 18 number one albums, and won more than 40 Grammy Awards.

A couple of years ago, Bey and Jay were having serious trouble, like go see a marriage counselor trouble, like don’t buy them an anniversary gift trouble.  Their deteriorating relationship, at its nadir saw them barely speaking, may or may not have stemmed from Hova’s infidelity.  Oh well, their marital strife is our gain.  It’s the inspiration behind Beyonce’s latest masterpiece, Lemonade.