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

That would suck

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.

E.g., Jordi by Maroon 5 (2021), judging by the number of tracks that have guests, I have a feeling the album will suck. Plus "Beautiful Mistakes" is a terrible song so it only adds up to this impression.

3 It has poor producer/songwriter choices

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.

E.g., Hard Candy by Madonna, where she teamed up with Timbaland and the Neptunes. Coming from her it was seen as a disappointing choice considering she would always choose producers that were relatively unknown (Mirwais, William Orbit, Stuart Price, etc.).

Music of The Spheres by Coldplay produced by Max Martin. I don't think he is suitable for that task.

"Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told" by Snoop Dogg (1998), which was produced by Master P.

4 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".

5 The release date keeps being pushed back

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

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.

6 It touches on politics
7 It's an album by a non-singer

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

8 The promotion is very aggressive

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)

9 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.

10 A handful of songs are released before the album

Half of the Silk Sonic's upcoming album have been revealed but I'm sure the album would be really good.

It just ruins the pleasure of discovery and makes the album sound like a compilation.

The Contenders
11 It's a rapper who wants to "bring real hip-hop back"
12 The lead single disappoints critically and commercially

E.g., "Yummy" by Justin Bieber (this song still went #2, but it didn't go #1 like JB wished)

13 The album is announced shortly after the previous one

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

14 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.

15 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.

16 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.

17 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)

18 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

19 The last few albums released were terrible

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

20 It's a follow-up to a masterpiece

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.

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

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

Kid A is a follow-up to a masterpiece and it's better than that masterpiece...

21 The title is potentially misleading
22 Clichéd or generic song titles in the tracklist
23 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.

24 The singer is very active on social media
25 The lead single was released more than 2 years ago

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

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