10 Pop Artists that Deserve a 2015 Comeback
Who wouldn't want a Nelly Furtado revival? How about Janet, Sean Paul or Cascada? Here are the 10 artists we'd love to see return to the charts.
There are some artists that were behind the "hottest new tunes" (as a grandpa might put it) back in the day, and, no offense, deserve to be left back in the day -- their style could not be translated to modern music in a way that would be particularly exciting or meaningful. On the other hand, some long-dormant artists are just begging for a popular resurrection, pop personalities with staying power that have proven their long-term viability time and time again. For one reason or another, these artists are no longer at the forefront of popular music… but if they were given that one shot, that one opportunity for a comeback, it's likely that they would capture it and not let it slip.
From the "Crank That" king to a few artists that make us want to "La La," here are the 10 pop veterans that deserve to return to the charts in 2015.
Frightening fact: there are teenagers in this world who were born after Janet Jackson's last appearance in the Top 10 of the Hot 100 as a lead artist. The R&B icon has not scored a mainstream hit since "Someone to Call My Lover" in 2001, and is currently in the middle of the longest album drought of her career, have most recently stepped out in 2008 with Discipline. Rumors of a new album sprang up last August, with Jackson neither confirming nor denying their veracity. And although Jackson, one of the biggest-selling artists of the '80s and '90s, has nothing left to prove, a revitalizing crossover track -- Janet's version of "We Belong Together," if you will -- would be a delightful surprise for longtime fans and novices who only associate Jackson with the words "wardrobe" and "malfunction."
We still have faith. Fergie's 2006 debut The Dutchess was too good to never receive a follow-up, too brimming with hits (it remains one of two albums released since 2000 with five Top 5 singles on the Hot 100, the other being Katy Perry's Teenage Dream) and too promising of a start for a Black Eyed Pea with a powerful voice and ambidextrous approach to pop. Fergie did return late last year with "L.A. Love (La La)," an intriguing collaboration with DJ Mustard that featured an underwhelming hook and failed to heat up Top 40 radio. A sophomore album has yet to materialize, but one middling single can't entirely derail Ferg 2.0, right?
Count out dancehall phenom Sean Paul at your own risk -- although it's been a few years since his last hit as a lead artist, he recently helped Enrique Iglesias' single "Bailando" become a record-setting juggernaut in the Latin music world. A proper Sean Paul comeback, though, sounds enticing, if only for the awkward dancing opportunities it would produce. After all, who doesn't enjoy trying to keep up with the rhythms of Dutty Rock smashes "Get Busy," "Gimme The Light" and especially "Like Glue" every now and again? Who hasn't mumbled along to the chorus of "Temperature" at a dance party, or flailed ridiculously to "We Be Burnin'"? Sean Paul has been trying to reconnect with radio for years, but, as "Bailando" shows, he's still got a few tricks up his sleeve.
What would an Ashlee Simpson album from a grown-up Ashlee Simpson sound like? There's no way to know -- the former starlet hasn't put out an album since 2008's Bittersweet World, which came out when she was 23. Simpson is now 30, married (to Diana Ross' son!), and years removed from a music career that had begun so promisingly with hits like "La La" and "Pieces of Me," from her 2004 debut Autobiography. By her third album, Simpson had been moving beyond her bratty punk confines and dabbling in beat-driven electro-pop with Timbaland and the Neptunes, to varying degrees of success; the change in sound may have been uneven, but Simpson's songwriting was as sharp as ever. If a new Ashlee Simpson album isn't in the cards, perhaps the singer will someday reinvent herself as a songwriter, with the poise and pop-rock pedigree of Linda Perry.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Loose, Nelly Furtado's third studio album and one of the defining pop projects of the mid-00's. With Timbaland, Danja and Jim Beanz producing 10 of the album's 12 tracks, Furtado -- who had previously been known as the folkie responsible for "I'm Like a Bird" -- reinvented herself as a rhythmic dance chanteuse on still-great smashes like "Promiscuous," "Maneater" and "Say It Right." After Loose came a Spanish-language album, Mi Plan, in 2009, and a failed pop comeback in 2012 with The Spirit Indestructible. Furtado is a more compelling artist than that album suggested -- although the Spirit single "Parking Lot" was quietly a banger -- and could recapture the magic by dialing up Timbaland for her next project.
JoJo's label struggles have been well-documented over the past few years, but it's worth reminding outsiders why the singer of decade-old singles like "Leave (Get Out)" and "Too Little Too Late" needs to have her label struggles documented. Joanna Levesque was a teenager when those songs came out -- and she is now a 24-year-old with a startlingly original approach to R&B. JoJo made the most of a rare non-Drake piece of production from Noah "40" Shebib with the 2012 single "Demonstrate," and that year's Agápē mixtape was even more impressive, a subtly experimental showcase for the powerhouse vocalist. JoJo finally signed a new deal with Atlantic Records last year, and expectations are rightfully high for her first official album since 2006.
Australian twin-sister duo the Veronicas enjoyed a brief moment in the sun during the mid-aughts thanks to sneering pop staples like "4ever," "Everything I'm Not" and "Untouched" -- songs that were humble in scope but made a profound impact for many fans. Some of those diehards have turned up at recent U.S. shows to support the pop pair's 2014 self-titled album, which came out in the U.S. this year after a seven-year break (and a contentious label battle) but still flashes the charisma of the Veronicas' early work. So, yes, technically the Veronicas have come back, but in a more muted fashion than was expected. Dig in to the new songs, though, and you'll find some gems worthy of the stateside radio play the Veronicas have always deserved but have yet to receive.
Oh hey, Cascada actually put out a new single, "Reason," earlier this year, and although the German dance artist is no longer a staple of American pop radio, a full-scale Cascada comeback would be far from unwelcome. After all, Natalie Horler is still a voice that pops up at many a U.S. senior prom thanks to the relentless techno smashes "Everytime We Touch" and "Evacuate the Dancefloor," songs that were released four years apart from each other and did gangbusters on the Hot 100 chart. Six years ago, Cascada decisively evacuated the dancefloor; in 2015, they should be given the opportunity to once again fill it.
Oh, Soulja Boy… your time as a hip-hop eccentricity/revolutionary was far too short. Make no mistake, DeAndre Way aka Soulja Boy Tell 'Em aka Soulja Boy was the most commercially successful pop-rap artist of the mid-'00s because he was the most forward-thinking, turning the rudimentary steelpan riff on "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" into a movement and the idea of turning one's swag on into a thundering, irresistible anthem called "Turn My Swag On." Soulja Boy preceded cloud-rap and gave birth to the cult appeal of Lil B, and while he's still collaborating with current stars like Nicki Minaj and Migos, his days as a hit-maker have been squarely in the rearview. The world needs you to crank that one more time, Soulja Boy -- even if it doesn't yet realize it.
While little-heard in the U.S., Rachel Stevens' 2005 album Come and Get It was a game-changer for the former member of S Club 7, spawning multiple Top 10 hits in the U.K. and showcasing an intoxicating, ultra-confident pop artist at the peak of her powers. Stevens singles like "Some Girls" and "So Good" delighted fans of British pop acts like Girls Aloud and the Sugababes, but Come and Get It was never given a proper follow-up, as Stevens moved on to acting work and reality television, among other pursuits. For a small but dedicated group of fans, a new Rachel Stevens album would be deeply exciting -- and with recent news of an S Club 7 reunion, it's not entirely out of the question.