Whether coming together organically or through a TV show, most boy bands and girl groups have had at least one member leave in hopes of pursuing a solo career. And even if an individual venture doesn’t mean the band is necessarily breaking up, at some point or another curiosity has taken over and resulted in solo projects from members of the Backstreet Boys, Destiny’s Child and more of the pop world’s biggest phenomenons.
With Camila Cabello joining the star-studded ranks of band members that have released their own material on Jan. 12 with the release of her debut solo album, Camila. The LP marks Cabello’s first full-length since leaving Fifth Harmony in December 2016 — and inspired us to see just how many have done the same.
Geri Halliwell – Schizophonic, 1999
Being the first band to give the pop group scene new life, that meant the Spice Girls were also the first to go through some very public group drama seeing a member abruptly exit. Geri Halliwell, more commonly known as Ginger Spice, initially cited “differences between us” and exhaustion for her reason to leave in May 1998, but it seems it may have been the solo scene she was after. Almost exactly a year later, Halliwell released her debut, Schizophonic, on June 7, 1999, going on to release two more solo records after that (2002’s Scream If You Wanna Go Faster and 2005’s Passion). But despite the collection she created, Halliwell’s first was the only to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching No. 42.
Melanie C – Northern Star, 1999
Mel C, aka Sporty Spice, aka Melanie Chisholm released her solo album Northern Star in 1999, after massive success with the Spice Girls. The album features a wide variety of genres, from rock-inspired tracks to Spice Girl-esque pop jams. Her fourth single, “I Turn To You” was her most successful, hitting the top spot on the Dance Club song chart.
Mel B – Hot, 2000
Another Spice Girl, Mel B (Melanie Brown) went on to release her own solo album in 2000, Hot. The album was a pop and hip-hop blend of love songs, with a single featuring Missy Elliot. She released a follow-up album, L.A. State of Mind, five years later, but decided to later ditch the music to pursue television ventures, competing on Dancing with the Stars and becoming an America’s Got Talent judge.
Emma Bunton – A Girl Like Me, 2001
Baby Spice went a different route, releasing a soft-rock album of solo hits in 2000’s A Girl Like Me. The album did well in The UK, peaking at No. 4 on the UK charts, but Bunton was unable to keep that momentum to really launch a memorable solo career.
Victoria Beckham –Victoria Beckham, 2001
All her other bandmates ventured out on their own, so why not try it too? Perhaps that’s what Beckham was thinking when she put together her 12-song album, as this was her only solo effort. Unfortunately for Beckham, her solo attempt was cut short reportedly because of disappointing results, despite signing a £1.5 million contract after her self-titled debut. But while her musical solo venture didn’t quite pan out, Beckham found success in other ways: She’s written two books, started a multi-million-dollar fashion empire and married to one of soccer’s biggest (and hottest) legends, David Beckham.
Nick Carter – Now or Never, 2002
Upon completing the Black & Blue World Tour in November 2001, issues began to arise within the group’s interpersonal relationships and their relationship with their management team that resulted in a hiatus of nearly two years. Carter took advantage of that time and the resources the band had built to launch his own solo career, with the release of his first single “Help Me” in June 2002 and a 12-track album four months later. While Now Or Never was his most successful solo effort to date — and the Backstreet Boys have continued cranking out albums — peaking at No. 17 in November 2002, Carter went on to release two more solo LPs, 2011’s I’m Taking Off and 2015’s All American, as well as a collaboration record with New Kids On the Block’s Jordan Knight (Nick & Knight) in 2014.
Brian Littrell – Welcome Home, 2006
Following the major success of Backstreet Boys, Littrell went on to try something a little different: a Christian rock album. Welcome Home was released in 2006, which featured some major early-2000s soft rock vibes with religious-themed lyrics. The album was only a moderate success in mainstream music, reaching a peak of No. 74 on the Billboard 200. But, the album was seemingly a hit in its own genre, as Littrell was able to secure a No. 3 spot on the Christian Albums chart.
AJ McLean – Have It All, 2010
Seven years after publicly going through recovery from a severe drug and alcohol addiction — one that almost resulted in his dismissal from the group — McLean not only mended his relationships with the guys to make more BSB music, but also set out to make his own record several years after that. Following the release of the second Kevin Richardson-less album, This Is Us, in 2009, McLean released his own LP in Japan in January 2010 and in the U.S. a year later in February 2011. Although the album didn’t spawn any hits, McLean did collaborate with a familiar boy band face for the album: *NSYNC’s JC Chasez helped produce and write the songs “Teenage Wildlife” and “Love Crazy.”
Justin Timberlake – Justified, 2002
Just as *NSYNC’s final tour as a group came to an end in the spring of 2002, Timberlake was hard at work in the studio with The Neptunes creating what may possibly be the most iconic debut album from a former band member in pop music history. With more than three million units sold and Hot 100 hits like “Cry Me A River” and “Rock Your Body,” Justified was a bona-fide success that foreshadowed Timberlake’s superstardom to come. At the same time, the album was a declaration of independence from his poppier beginnings, as Justified incorporated more R&B and a bit of a racier vibe — one that worked well with JT’s voice and subsequently helped him break out of the boy band mold and kickstart one hell of an epic (and very much still happening) solo career.
JC Chasez – Schizophrenic, 2004
The former *NSYNC member released his solo album Schizophrenic in 2004, complete with sexually-charged and controversial lyrics. The first single, “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love)” — which featured a drum breakdown mid-song — was released as a part of the Drumline movie soundtrack in 2002. Chasez was then slated to perform “Some Girls (Dance With Women)” at the 2004 Pro Bowl Halftime, but was dropped after the NFL deemed his lyrics too inappropriate, especially following Justin Timberlake’s Superbowl Halftime controversy.
Nick Lachey – SoulO, 2003
Lachey’s solo endeavor, appropriately (and cleverly) named SoulO, dropped in 2003, during a 98 Degrees hiatus. The album was a mix of slow acoustic guitar songs and pop-influenced tracks. Lachey didn’t reach major success until his second solo album, an his debut album was considered a failure. Lachey then went on to release more successful albums, and even became a reality show host.
Jeff Timmons – Whisper That Way, 2004
Following in his bandmate’s footsteps just one year later, Timmons decided to try the solo route too. But unlike Lachey, Timmons really took the “solo” part to heart: He wrote and arranged every song on the 13-song album. While the effort was certainly a valiant one, Whisper That Way resulted in just three singles, only one of which reached a top 25 spot on the Adult Contemporary Chart.
Ashley Parker Angel – Soundtrack to Your Life, 2006
After O-Town was dropped from their label in 2003, a door opened for Angel to pursue his solo career. Similar to his beginnings on Making the Band, Angel documented his album process on a TV show, There and Back, in which he went from dancing boy band member to an impressive singer-songwriter. The result was a 12-song LP entirely co-written by Angel himself — but despite a No. 5 debut on the Billboard 200 and the lead single “Let U Go” performing well, Angel has yet to make a follow-up.
Jesse McCartney – Beautiful Soul, 2004
Way back in 1999, Dream Street was a must-listen to for anyone who lived and breathed Limited Too and Hit Clips. They were only together for a few short years before frontman Jesse McCartney branched off into his own solo career. McCartney’s debut solo album, Beautiful Soul — which was the beginning of a now four-album catalog — is a mix of late ‘90s pop-influences, along with some acoustic guitar for a more intimate sound from McCartney, who was only 17 years old at the time. His single “Beautiful Soul” peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Pop 100.
Omarion – O, 2005
After B2K disbanded in 2004, lead vocalist Omarion went on to released a solo R&B album O in 2005. The album peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and went on to be nominated for best contemporary R&B album at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards. Omarion went on to launch an acting career, and later released three more albums.
Rich Cronin – Billion Dollar Sound, 2008
If LFO fans were curious about what frontman Rich Cronin had been up to after the trio split in 2002, they got their answer six years later. The 18 tracks on Billion Dollar Sound — which took three years to put together — chronicled Cronin’s experiences from when LFO’s hit “Summer Girls” became a smash to his launch as a solo artist. With Cronin having a hand in writing and including no collaborations on the album, it was a prolific way for Cronin to show off his musical talents before sadly losing his battle to cancer in 2010.
Michelle Williams – Heart to Yours, 2002
A year after Destiny’s Child released both their third album Survivor and a Christmas record in 2001, the girls pursued their own projects as suggested by their manager. The first to do so was Michelle Williams, who dropped her first of four solo albums in 2002, which featured gospel-style tracks and peaked at No. 2 on the Top Christian Albums chart.
Kelly Rowland – Simply Deep, 2002
Six months later, Kelly Rowland followed Williams’ footsteps and tried out the solo route. Kicking off her solo career with the Nelly-featuring single, “Dilemma,” the song showed promise for Rowland: It hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 29 weeks on the chart, becoming one of the biggest tracks of the year. Her debut also featured former bandmate Beyonce’s sister Solange and Joe Budden.
Beyonce – Dangerously in Love, 2003
After her Destiny’s Child bandmates released solo albums, Beyonce hopped on the trend and blessed the world with her own solo album, Dangerously In Love, in 2003 — only to become the most successful pop group breakout aside from Justin Timberlake. The R&B album was a critical and commercial success, even earning Beyonce five Grammy wins and a nomination for record of the year for the JAY-Z-featuring single “Crazy In Love.” The album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, also spawned two No. 1s and two top 10 hits on the Hot 100… just the beginning of a still booming, Grammy and hit-filled career from Queen B.
Joe Jonas – Fastlife, 2011
In the time between the Jonas Brothers’ fourth studio album, 2009’s Lines, Vines and Trying Times, and their to-no-avail release of their fifth in 2013, Joe decided to give a solo career a try with this funky LP. The album saw its lead single “See No More” break into the Hot 100 and a feature from Lil Wayne on “Just In Love,” but never really took off beyond that. Clearly he was meant to front a band rather than going on his own, though: Jonas formed the funky pop group DNCE in summer 2015, which saw their first single “Cake By the Ocean” hit the top 10 of the Hot 100.
Nick Jonas – Self Titled, 2015
After an underwhelming fourth album, the Jonas Brothers took an unofficial hiatus (before it became official in 2013) and each started working on separate projects. Nick had hinted at a solo career in 2010 with his side project Nick Jonas and The Administration — a nod to his desire to become president as a kid — while JB was still together. But once the brothers were done, Jonas traded guitar riffs for synths when he released his full pop album in 2015, which included the Hot 100 top 10 single “Jealous.” The sexually charged lyrics were quite a step away from the wholesome JoBro lyrics that many were familiar with, but Jonas grew up — and so did his fans, who helped the album make it to the Billboard 200 year-end charts.
Nathan Sykes – Unfinished Business, 2016
When The Wanted announced their hiatus in January 2014, the British boy band cited the desire to pursue solo careers as the main cause for their break. The following year, Sykes was the first to unveil solo material, releasing three different songs: “More Than You’ll Ever Know,” “Kiss Me Quick” and “Over and Over Again” in 2015. Sykes ended up releasing his debut LP, Unfinished Business, in November 2016, which landed him at No. 2 on the Heatseekers Albums chart. Despite the initial action-packed beginning, Sykes hasn’t done much musically since — and is still the only Wanted member to release any solo material.
Zayn Malik – Mind of Mine, 2016
Exactly one year after making a shocking departure from One Direction citing anxiety and a desire to live like a normal 22-year-old, Malik took the shock factor to another level by releasing his own album, Mind of Mine on March 25, 2016. Aside from the anxiety One Direction caused for Malik, apparently their sound wasn’t up to his liking as well — Mind of Mine presented a more R&B-driven, much more scandalous sound from Malik than he ever showed in 1D. And while they’re may have been plenty of One Direction fans feeling bitter about the rather shady move, Malik’s new venture apparently had more lovers than haters: The album and it’s lead single, “Pillowtalk” topped the Billboard 200 and Hot 100, respectively.
Harry Styles – Harry Styles, 2017
After making it big as a pop boy group heartthrob, Styles made a drastic change and released a classic-rock inspired solo album. He cited influences such as Fleetwood Mac when writing this album, and even covered them on his 2017 tour. His first single, “Sign Of The Times” peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100. His solo album was a completely different take compared to other 1D member Zayn, who released a heavily pop-infused album in 2016 — but was just as popular with fans, as it also topped the Billboard 200 in its debut week.
Niall Horan – Flicker, 2017
As the first One Direction member to kick off his solo career after their hiatus began in December 2015, Horan surprise-dropped his acoustic debut single “This Town” in September 2016. Although that song was very similar to the more innocent vibes he brought to 1D, his follow-up single “Slow Hands” showed a much sexier side to Horan’s musicianship — and once his full album was released six months later in October, the Irishman further displayed his vocal and guitar-playing abilities with a mix of heartfelt acoustics and folky flair. And fans clearly loved it, as the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Camila Cabello – Camila, 2018
Shortly after leaving Fifth Harmony in Dec 2016, Camila Cabello set out to release her own music on her own terms. First releasing the single “Crying In The Club” to mixed reviews, Cabello decided to refocus her music style to incorporate her Latin heritage. This new direction resulted in her mega-hit “Havana,” which earned Cabello her first solo Pop Songs No. 1 (and is the longest solo female song to hold that spot for seven weeks). Similar to the transformation with her singles, Cabello’s album title also underwent a significant change, going from the somewhat complex The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving to a simpler, yet more personal Camila — a title that also, in turn, signifies her post-Fifth Harmony solo endeavor.