1.Natalia Kills was slowly rising in fame over the early 2010s, opening for acts like Kesha, the Black-Eyed Peas, and Katy Perry, as well as featuring on an LMFAO song.
2.Willy Moon was similarly rising in the music scene after going viral for his hit "Yeah Yeah." The two, who were married, both looked to be getting more notoriety with their first foray into reality television as judges on The X Factor New Zealand.
However, in their very first live show, Kills and Moon made such cruel comments to a contestant that both of their careers were almost immediately ruined. After contestant Joe Irvine sang "Cry Me a River," Kills called Irvine out for dressing like Moon, with Moon joining in. The audience booed, and the other judges tried to step in, but they kept going.
Natalia later issued an apology, saying, "A lot goes on behind the scenes of a reality TV show and [what] you see isn’t always the whole story. ... I was encouraged to be outspoken, and things got out of hand. ... Joe, I hope you can forgive me and I wish you all the best!" but the damage was done. The duo was let go from the show after a viral petition to get them fired. Natalia did continue her career, but she changed her name and started a different band with Moon, which still has not released their debut album.
3.R&B duo Milli Vanilli reached worldwide fame in the late '80s with their debut album, leading them to win the award for Best New Artist at the 1990 Grammy Awards. However, their careers quickly took a nosedive when their producer Frank Farian revealed they didn't sing any of the album, which was confirmed by member Rob Pilatus. The Grammys swiftly revoked their award.
While Pilatus and co-member Fab Morvan attempted multiple comebacks, the scandal followed them and they were unable to gain traction again.
4.Billy Squier skyrocketed to fame in the early 1980s, but by 1984, his career was essentially over. Why? The blame lies with the music video for his song "Rock Me Tonite," which was so bad manyclaimed it singlehandedly tanked his career. Even Squier said so: "The video had a deleterious effect on my career. The tour before, I was selling out arenas faster than Sinatra, and as soon as that video came out, I was playing to half houses," he said in 2011, according to I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution.
The song itself was a major hit, but the video — which mostly featured Squier dancing around in a bedroom, rolling on the floor, and ripping his shirt off — made people scratch their heads. “The video misrepresents who I am as an artist," Squier told the authors of I Want My MTV. "I was a good-looking sexy guy. That certainly didn’t hurt in promoting my music. But in this video, I’m kind of a pretty boy. And I’m preening around a room. People said ‘He’s gay,’ or ‘He’s on drugs’. It was traumatizing to me.”
5.Vanilla Ice rose to fame incredibly quickly with "Ice, Ice, Baby" in 1990, but he attracted controversy just as quickly. First, reported details about his past (namely that he had a rough background) were proven false. His music also was criticized for being white-washed and "mainstream." Then, Jim Carrey parodied him on In Living Color, he had a disastrous appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, and he was the subject of a diss track by 3rd Bass. Finally, he starred in the panned filmCool as Ice, which effectively ended his movie career before it began.
He then attempted a career in motocross and jet skiing, as well as in reality TV, and had multiple run-ins with the law. While he did attempt a comeback, it was unsuccessful, and his career never got back to what it was.
6.Iggy Azalea looked like she was going to become huge after the success of "Fancy." With "Problem" and "Black Widow," Azalea proved she wasn't just a one-hit wonder. But her career stalled after continued accusations of racism and profiting off of Black culture — including using a "Blaccent" — as well as her perceived inability to freestyle and public feuds. She eventually canceled her debut tour. She continued to make music, but acknowledged her career had "fallen off a cliff," and never returned to her "Fancy" level of success.
7.CeeLo Green went massively viral with his hit song "Fuck You" in 2010, which was followed by a stint guest-hosting on The Voice, along with performing at the Super Bowl halftime show. But allegations of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2012 derailed his career before he could become an A-List star.
Rape charges were not filed due to a lack of evidence, and his charges were reduced to supplying ecstasy to the woman. Green pled no contest, and was sentenced to three years of probation. Green may have continued his career — his lawyer claimed the encounter was consensual — but then he took to Twitter to write things such as "If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously! so WITH Implies consent” and "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!"
Green quit The Voice (reportedly believing he'd be fired, though he later said, "I ran my course there just naturally"), and his reality show, The Good Life, was canceled. Green is still around today, but not even close to the degree of his early 2010s fame.
8.Ben Hopkins of Pwr Bttm also saw their career derailed by sexual misconduct allegations. Just as the group was gaining traction, days before the release of their second album, Hopkins was accused of being a sexual predator. Their label dropped them, streaming platforms removed their music, and their upcoming tour was canceled. Hopkins says the anonymous accusations are false and eventually released music as a solo artist in 2020 after taking a break from the public eye. However, they have yet to release a new album or make a full comeback.
9.Another example? Mystikal, who'd steadily risen in fame over the '90s and early 2000s. In 2003, he seemed on top of the world, gaining his first-ever Album of the Year Grammy nomination and starring in the film 13 Dead Men. However, in early 2004, he was convicted of sexual battery and sentenced to six years in prison.
Mystikal attempted to make a comeback when he was released in 2010 and found some success in early performances. However, he continued to have run-ins with the law, being accused of rape and domestic battery, among other charges, and he is currently facing a life sentence (he plead not guilty to all charges and his former attorney proclaimed his innocence). He has not released a solo album since 2001.
10.Canadian-Chinese singer Kris Wu rose to fame through the Canadian-Korean boy band Exo before finding major success as a solo artist. He also made waves as an actor, appearing in the Vin Diesel film XXX: Return of Xander Cage, and seemed poised to break into the American market. But in 2021, the 30-year-old Wu was accused of sexual assault of a 17-year-old two years prior. He denied the allegations, but was arrested and ultimately sentenced to 13 years in prison, a conviction which was upheld upon appeal.
11.Another musician whose career was derailed by jail time is Tory Lanez. Lanez was a rising star who was finding mainstream success in the late 2010s — and then he was accused of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in 2020. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Time will tell if he attempts to make a comeback after that.
12.Despite legal trouble, 6ix9ine shot to fame quickly in the late 2010s, but his involvement with the Nine Trey gang led to his arrest in 2018 on racketeering, robbery, and firearm charges. He was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison after testifying against other Nine Trey members, leading to him beinglabeled a "snitch" and essentially ruining his credibility in hip-hop.
13.Keri Hilson had a wildly successful debut album and continued that success with her second album. But she never reached the career highs that were expected for her — due in part to her allegedly shading Beyoncé and Ciara in a few lyrics in her 2009 song “Turnin’ Me On" (which Hilson denied). Hilson continued to face what she referred to as "verbal abuse" from Beyoncé fans for years and ended up taking a years-long break from music, later revealing she was dealing with depression and the grief of her father's passing. She still has not released another album.
Hilson eventually alleged her label had told her to diss Beyoncé, saying she was too young and insecure to refuse. She says she's since made up with Beyoncé.
14.Fiona Apple was an ingenue when her debut album was released to widespread acclaim, but public opinion turned swiftly against her when she won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. She got up on stage and said she hadn't prepared a speech, then famously said, "This world is bullshit and you shouldn’t model your life ... about what you think that we think is cool and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything." Apple was labeled afterward — in her own words — a "brat bitch loose cannon."
She later said she felt like a "sellout" when she won and became "a paper doll in order to be accepted." Her infamous speech, along with storming offstage during a show in 2000, led her to be seen as "unstable," which followed her for her entire career. While Apple has continued to have an acclaimed, Grammy-award-winning career, she never again reached her pre-2000 commercial heights.
15.Pop duo Karmin had just begun to find mainstream success (after making a name for themselves with YouTube covers) in 2012 with their EP Hello. But their performance on SNL that same year is widely cited as one of the worstSNL performances of all time. This effectively killed their momentum, and they ended up disbanding the group and starting a new music endeavor, Qveen Herby.
16.While Robin Thicke was around for years before "Blurred Lines," the song catapulted him into global superstardom and he became a household name, getting nominated for his first non-production-related Grammy in 2014. But his performance of the song with Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMAs generated significant controversy, as did the lyrics and music video for Thicke's song (Thicke also lost a lawsuit about the song's similarities to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up").
Thicke may have been able to save his career — but his highly publicized divorce and ensuing album focused on getting his wife back, which was a massive critical failure, cemented his ousting from the music A-list. His next album wasn't in 2021 and did not cement a comeback for Thicke.
17.And finally, we'll end on Azealia Banks. In the early 2010s, Banks seemed poised for a long career in the music business, but since then, her outspoken Twitter rants and feuds have meant that she's more well-known for her controversial online presence than her music. While she still performs, she certainly has not achieved the level of mainstream success she might have.
What other up-and-coming musicians and singers essentially ruined their own careers? Let us know in the comments!