Top 10 Signs an Album is Going to Suck

The Top Ten
1 It's an old band/artist desperately trying to sound young/modern
2 It has a lot of guests

An exception would be "Song Machine Season 1: Strange Timez" by Gorillaz (2020). That album has at least one guest on every track but it never feels phoned in or out of place because each guest complements Gorillaz's performance and is chosen carefully. Albums with lots of guest features are usually overshadowed by their star powers or mostly feel unfocused but that's not the case here.

3 The artist changes his/her usual genre

E.g., One More Light by Linkin Park (2017), which transitioned them from alt-rock/metal to electro-pop, to a widespread negative reception from fans.

Wolfmother went from Hard Rock to EDM with their new single "High On My Own Supply".

4 It has poor producer/songwriter choices

Death of a Ladies' Man by Leonard Cohen, which was produced by Phil Spector. Not only did a lot of fans feel like Spector's "wall of sound" doesn't fit Cohen's songwriting style, but Cohen himself said recording the album with Spector was a very uncomfortable experience as he drank heavily and owned a lot of guns in his recording studio.

X by Def Leppard (2002), which had contributions from multiple Swedish songwriters/producers (including Max Martin) who worked with pop artists such as Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Celine Dion and Westlife.

5 The promotion is very aggressive

Songs of Innocence by U2 (2014), which was uploaded to everyone's iPhones without their consent.

E.g., Music of the Spheres by Coldplay (a teaser revealed most of the songs before the album came out, which kind of ruined it in my opinion)

6 A handful of songs are released before the album

Around half of the songs off of Falling In Reverse's upcoming album "Popular Monster" has already been revealed, and almost all of those ones are at least over a year old. But what do you expect, it's from a band fronted by one of the biggest clowns in music, so it's pretty much guaranteed to suck, and I could definitely see Fantano giving it a "not good" rating as well as even it being #1 on his worst albums of 2024, and hopefully that spot will actually be deserving this time.

E.g. Muse's Will of the People. So far (at the time I am writing this comment) there have been 3 tracks released. WSD is awesome, but Compliance and the title track (which isn't bad on its own but the constant "Will of the People chance is a massive killjoy in the song) are mediocre, and looks like there is one more coming titled "Kill or be Killed". Matt calls it a "greatest hits" album but so far I'm not really getting that.

7 The lead single disappoints critically and commercially

"Cleopatra's Cat" by the Spin Doctors (1994), the follow-up single to their breakout debut album Pocket Full of Kryptonite. Apparently, many critics and listeners were confused and unimpressed with the song when it came out, saying it lacked melody and cohesion. Eventually the album flopped and Spin Doctors faded into obscurity afterwards.

E.g., Avenged Sevenfold's Life Is but a Dream. A lot of A7X fans seemed to be disappointed in the single "Nobody" (though I have heard of a couple of fans praising it) and critics don't really seem to be that crazy for it either.

8 The release date keeps being pushed back

It's generally not a good sign, because it suggests that there is record label interference or the artist is too much of a perfectionist.

Drake's releasing a new album in 2021 "Certified Lover Boy". I don't have much hope for it as it's release date did get pushed back. Let's not hope for a Scorpion 2.0

9 Review embargoes put in place on release date

This is an obvious sign that the artist is still nervous or insecure about sharing his new material, especially if it's a high-profile artist, because he's conscious it may divide a lot of people.

Or should I say, big magazines and websites such as Rolling Stone, Allmusic or NME refusing to review the album. This is generally an indicator that the album might suck.

10 The album is announced shortly after the previous one

E.g. Red Hot Chili Pepper's Return of the Dream Canteen. UL was pretty good but sadly I have a good feeling this one is gonna suck. Unlimited Love came out on April 1, 2022 and now it looks like we're getting another one six months later.

Luckily some didn't disappoint such as Ariana Grande with Thank U, Next

The Contenders
11 It's an album by a non-singer

E.g., Playing with Fire by Kevin Federline (2006)

12 It touches on politics
13 It's a "comeback album" after a long hiatus

"Comeback albums" are generally hit or miss, but most of the time they feel like an obvious attempt to cash in on nostalgia, especially when a band was past its prime before its eventual hiatus. Sometimes reunion or anniversary tours are just enough.

14 Clichéd or generic song titles in the tracklist

E.g., Trapt's Shadow Work. This album only sold 600 copies in its first week! Looking at the song titles, they look the same and did they even try naming these songs? (E.g., Far Enough Away, Too Far Away, I Want to Want What I Want, Too Little Too Late, Save Your Soul) I have never heard any Trapt album and never will, and their only hit "Headstrong" is incredibly mediocre. The lead singer's name is Chris Brown, and he's just as bad as the R&B Chris Brown honestly. (E.g., he blamed George Floyd for his own death, fat-shamed women, and insulted and argued with a whole bunch of people on Twitter)

15 It's a follow-up to a masterpiece

Foo Fighters went from Wasting Light (their best album) to Sonic Highways (their worst album), so that's true.

Not really it might seem worse by comparison with it's predecessor but in general I don't think the follow up to a great album is more likely to suck see the list about the greatest album runs of all time as a counter example.

Also counts for "sequels" to great albums such as Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II, Bat Out of Hell II, etc.

16 The last few albums released were terrible

I think this is a better sign than the previous album being a masterpiece.

17 The title has a pun based on a another album

It can be tongue-in-cheek like it can be a desperate cling for attention.

18 The release date is announced more than 6 months in advance

E.g., "Will of the People" by Muse, which will be released on August 26, 2022. The release date was announced 6 months in advance, which is a bad sign because we might either wait too long or have a third or a half of the album released before it actually comes out.

19 It's a covers album

Covers albums are usually nothing to be excited about. They are either an artistic recreation or a cash-grab. In some countries, covers albums were a method for artists to relaunch their careers, but this trend has since fallen. Luckily there have been some solid covers albums recently, such as Delta Kream by the Black Keys.

E.g., "Vanilla Ice Is Back" by Vanilla Ice (2008) or "Thank You" by Duran Duran (1995)

20 3 or more songs on the tracklist feature samples of well-known songs

Unless these samples are cleverly used or discreet, it shows how creatively bankrupt the artist may be.

Lemonade by Beyonce use a lot of samples Hung Up alone use 4 sample.

21 The lead single was released more than 2 years ago

E.g., Nu King by Jason Derulo (2024). "Swalla" was released in 2017 and was intended to be the single of a long-awaited album that didn't come out until 2024. The album must completely lack cohesion for having a handful of singles that were released between 2017 and 2024.

I can't think of any albums that do this.

22 It’s a solo artist who changed their name

Kanye West just legally changed his name to "Ye". I have never gone through a full album of his but haven't heard some very good things about his newer material.

23 It has loads of producers

I agree on this one, I would also count loads of songwriters, because sometimes it shows the lack of personality and cohesion

24 It’s a concept album

E.g., Music from the Elder by Kiss (1981)
Concept albums are generally hit or miss. Sometimes they can be a testament to an artist's creativity and songwriting, but other times they can come off as pretentious and self-indulgent, lack the bombast and musical depth it strives for, or just lack cohesion.

25 The singer is very active on social media
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