Releasing multiple albums in under a year is an ambitious task for any artist to undertake. Whether motivated by heady concepts, rabid demand or a state of perpetual creation, many artists and bands have pulled off the impressive feat over the years, with varying degrees of success.
To commemorate the release of Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande’s triumphant follow-up to 2018’s Sweetener, we’ve rounded up 10 artists and bands across multiple genres who have released two (or more!) full-length albums in the space of less than 12 months.
Future – Future and Hndrxx
Release dates: Feb 17, 2017; Feb. 24, 2017
Future became the first artist to ever score back-to-back No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 in consecutive weeks when he released Future and Hndrxx just seven days apart in Feb. 2017. The self-titled Future was filled with the rapper’s trademark radio-friendly trap bangers, while Hndrxx, named for Future’s alter ego, was a more introspective affair thanks to confessional tracks like “Turn On Me” and the Rihanna-assisted “Selfish.”
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience — The Complete Experience
Release dates: March 19, 2013; Sept. 30, 2013
When Justin Timberlake announced The 20/20 Experience in March 2013 after seven long years away from the studio, he was holding another card up his sleeve. Just two days before the album was released, JT’s pal Questlove tweeted out that there would be even more new music coming later that year in the form of The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2. Together, the albums contained a cohesive collection of 20 songs that perfectly captured the former boy bander’s funky, suit-and-tie vision.
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour
Release dates: May 26, 1967; Nov. 27, 1967
As Beatlemania swept through the 1960s, The Beatles mastered the art of striking while the iron was hot, starting with Meet the Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, A Hard Day’s Night and Beatles ‘65 — their string of four No. 1 albums all released in 1964. Even more impressive, however, was the release of their seminal classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at the height of their fame followed by Magical Mystery Tour (the soundtrack to the Fab Four’s theatrical film of the same name) just five months later.
David Bowie – Low and “Heroes”
Release dates: Jan. 14, 1977; Oct. 14, 1977
Released as part of his iconic Berlin Trilogy, Low and “Heroes” were both recorded following David Bowie’s move to West Berlin in late 1976. In an effort to distance himself from the LA drug culture that had consumed him during his Thin White Duke era, Bowie established a home base at Berlin’s Hansa Studios just steps from the Berlin Wall to battle through his demons and personal issues. The resulting body of work that came from the Berlin era — which also includes 1979’s Lodger — remains an enduring, experimental milestone in the rock icon’s decades-long legacy.
S Club 7 – S Club and 7
Release dates: Oct. 4, 1999; June 12, 2000
Ain’t no party like an S Club party! Formed by Simon Fuller, the legendary music manager also behind the Spice Girls, S Club 7 dominated the U.K. charts in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s thanks to three top three albums, four successful BBC children’s series (which aired on Fox Family in the U.S.) and a relentless marketing blitz on both sides of the Atlantic that aimed the septet’s sunny brand of bubblegum pop at a rabid pre-teen audience. The British pop group’s first two albums — fittingly titled S Club and 7 — were released in rapid-fire succession within a mere eight months of each other and spawned the first seven of the group’s 11 consecutive top five hits in the U.K. including certified bops like “Bring It All Back,” “Reach” and “Never Had a Dream Come True,” the latter of which peaked at No. 10 in the U.S.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – five albums in 2017
Release dates: Feb. 24, 2017; June 23, 2017; Aug. 18, 2017; Nov. 17, 2017; Dec. 31, 2017
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard proposed a crazy idea at the start of 2017: They were going to release five albums of brand-new music in the space of a year starting with the Turkish baglama inspiration of Flying Microtonal Banana. Following through on their promise, the Australian psych rockers delivered a completely diverse array of albums throughout the year — from the high-concept, multi-chaptered Murder of the Universe in February to Sketches of Brunswick East, a collaboration with psychedelic jazz project Mild High Club in August. Clocking in at the last possible second, the band released their fifth and final album of 2017, Gumboot Soup, on Dec. 31 after announcing it just the day before.
Nelly – Sweat and Suit
Release date: September 14, 2004
At the turn of the new millennium, Nelly practically defined the rise of early 2000s hip-hop with classic hits like “Ride Wit Me,” “Hot in Herre” and “Air Force Ones.” Coming off the success of the six-times platinum-selling Nellyville (not to mention his Diamond-certified debut album Country Grammar), the rapper expanded his vision with the release of dueling concept albums Sweat and Suit in 2004. Released simultaneously as contrasting sides of the same coin, Sweat featured the uptempo, club-ready bangers Nelly was famous for, while Suit stirred up a more melodic, sexual vibe. The strategy worked, with Suit and Sweat debuting at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on the Billboard 200.
Rihanna – Music of the Sun and A Girl Like Me
Release dates: August 12, 2005; April 11, 2006
Rihanna burst onto the scene back in 2005 to the dancehall groove of “Pon De Replay” and never looked back. Positioned by Def Jam as the Caribbean princess of pop, the then-17-year-old churned out a solid string of top 10 hits over the course of the next year. Across two albums in eight short months, singles like “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want,” “SOS” and “Unfaithful” helped the budding star gain momentum and defined early RiRi before the future Fenti Beauty mogul made the leap to true pop superstardom with “Umbrella” in 2007.
Bruce Springsteen – Human Touch and Lucky Town
Release date: March 31, 1992
In the wake of breaking up the E Street Band, Bruce Springstreen famously dropped two completely different albums, Human Touch and Lucky Town, on the same day in March 1992. Critics preferred the latter’s stripped-down, rootsy sound to the former’s mainstream pop, though interestingly, Human Touch peaked at No. 2 over the better-reviewed Lucky Town, which landed just one spot behind at No. 3. The album that kept both from hitting No. 1? Garth Brooks’ monster Ropin’ the Wind, which was the first country album to ever debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and was the best-performing album of the year.
Prince – Purple Rain and Around the World in a Day
Release dates: June 25, 1984; April 22, 1985
A true master of his craft, Prince was constantly and continuously creating new music throughout his life. In fact, the sheer volume of music led to the artist’s frustration with his record label, Warner Bros. Records, who only wanted to release one album per year. (This release strategy also contributed to the amount of unheard, original work left in the late artist’s vault.) His Royal Badness’ penchant for constant creation was perhaps most notable in the mid-’80s, when Purple Rain — his first studio album to feature backing band The Revolution — topped the charts in June 1984 followed by fellow No. 1 Around the World In a Day (also with The Revolution) just 10 months later.