The top title on the Billboard 200 for a second week belongs to a singer who first made his name as a member of group. Justin Timberlake, formerly of ‘N Sync, reigns again with “The 20/20 Experience.” As previously reported, the set becomes the first album this year to reach a million in sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Timberlake is following a rich rock-era tradition of group frontmen (and women) stepping out on their own and achieving solo success. From all four Beatles, Michael Jackson (the Jackson 5) and Diana Ross (the Supremes) to Beyonce (Destiny’s Child), Fergie (the Black Eyed Peas) and Timberlake, among so many others, faces (and voices) of groups have long scored solo hits both while on break from their bands or following their breakups.
What noteworthy singers, however, haven’t?
With Timberlake reigning with his new album, and with all due respect to their bandmates, here are 10 lead singers of groups who could also offer solo sets (with some having already released solo singles) and surely vault to high Billboard 200 entrances.
With he and the band having attained household-name status long ago, a Bono-billed album would seem to be made for the Billboard 200’s top perch. However: “I’m a lousy guitar player and an even lousier piano player,” he said in 2005. “Had I not had Edge, Larry (Clayton) and Adam (Mullen) close by, I would be hopeless.”
Equally, if not even more, sure of his convictions to remain with his group is Coldplay’s Martin. He “can’t think of anything worse” than a solo album, he revealed in 2009. Releasing such a set “would probably mean that I’ve been dumped by my wife and I desperately need the money.”
His two-season stint as a judge on Fox’s “American Idol” has marked his most prolific project outside Aerosmith. Still, he’s hinted at releasing his first solo album. “It (would) mean I’ll divert a little and have some fun with other people,” he said last fall.
Maroon 5’s lead singer, meanwhile, has said that his role as coach on NBC’s “The Voice” is solo work enough for him. “I don’t have any desire (to do a solo album). I put too much time, love and care into Maroon 5 and I don’t think it would be very cool to abandon my comrades.” Plus, “(‘The Voice’) makes going back to the band that much more special.”
Armstrong has discussed a potential album of his own outside Green Day … but only mockingly to Paul Rudd in a deleted scene from the film “This Is 40.” As for how it would likely sound? “Have you heard of Norwegian death metal? It’s the sort of music you can cry to, but also burn a church down at the same time.”
The OneRepublic frontman told Billboard last year that writing hits recorded by such other acts as Adele, Beyonce, Leona Lewis, as well as making occasional vocal cameos, satisfies him enough not to feel the need to record a full solo album. “I’m not a solo artist. The handful of features I do, like Gym Class Heroes’ (‘The Fighter’), are as close as I’ll get to doing a solo project.”
Considering that Mumford & Sons have become the face of the past year’s folk explosion, with “Babel” having sold 2,156,000 albums, according to SoundScan, could the band’s lead voice repeat such success solo? (Plus, who would perform the band’s trademark intricate folk arrangements?) For now, his recent work with Timberlake might mark his lone notable solo project. “There’s a Coen brothers film coming out soon. I worked with Marcus Mumford on the soundtrack,” Timberlake revealed in February. “It was so much fun.”
With R.E.M. having broken up in 2011, a Stipe solo album could be a next logical step. Or not. “It’s unfathomable to me right now,” Stipe said after the split. “What would it sound like? Watered-down R.E.M.?” And, “Who says I (even) have to be a songwriter? I’m in a place right now where I don’t know what the future holds for me.”
Rascal Flatts has been one of country’s few consistent hit-making groups since its 2000 debut. The trio, however, might sooner add Justin Bieber as a member before LeVox goes solo: it sings on the 2011 remix of his ballad “That Should Be Me.” “I love @RascalFlatts and I’m honored that they are making music with me,” Bieber beamed on Twitter at the time.
Directioners, take note: one direction Styles apparently isn’t going is solo, despite recent rumors. “Harry is not recording solo material,” according to a One Direction spokesperson. “All the band (members) are working on tracks for (its) third album. The boys sometimes work up ideas separately, as well as working together.”
And, a few honorable-mention possibilities: Lars Ulrich (of Metallica), Chad Kroeger (Nickelback), Simon LeBon (Duran Duran), Hillary Scott (Lady Antebellum), Kimberly Perry (the Band Perry), Robert Smith (the Cure), Dexter Holland (the Offspring) and Brad Arnold (3 Doors Down).
Any we missed? Please feel free to add to the list in the comments section below. Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org or continue the conversation on Twitter: @gthot20
‘IDOL’ THOUGHTS: Two former “American Idol” runners-up debut new albums on the Billboard 200.
Crystal Bowersox, the show’s 2010 second-place finalist, bows at No. 71 with “All That for This,” while 2008 runner-up David Archuleta begins at No. 110 with “No Matter How Far.” The latter singer is currently amid two-year-mission for his church in South America.
Next up for Bowersox: Playing country icon Patsy Cline in the upcoming Broadway production of “Always Patsy.” “I got big boots to fill,” she recently told Billboard. “I’m honored to play such a legend.”
NEW ‘GIRL’: After a four-year absence from the Billboard 200, British singer/songwriter Dido returns with “Girl Who Got Away,” which debuts at No. 32.
All four of her studio albums have reached the chart’s top 40. Her first two sets, “No Angel” (2001) and “Life for Rent” (2003), each peaked at No. 4. 2008’s “Safe Trip Home” began at No. 13.
A NEW CHART KING: Singer/guitarist Joe Bonamassa becomes the first artist to tally 10 No. 1s on Billboard’s Blues Albums chart, as “An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House” starts atop the chart. He’d last led in October with another live set, “Beacon Theatre: Live From New York.” He first reigned in 2002 with “So It’s Like That.”
Dating to the Blues Albums chart’s Sept. 2, 1995, launch, Bonamassa passes B.B. King (nine) for the most No. 1s. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble boast seven leading sets, followed by Eric Clapton (six).
BIG ‘WHEEL’: As Darius Rucker rolls “Wagon Wheel” to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs, Bob Dylan achieves his latest chart leader, as well.
Dylan is credited as a co-writer of “Wheel,” as Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor reworked it from a Dylan bootleg. Dylan’s version has commonly been referred to as “Rock Me Mama.”
With the coronation, Dylan logs his first Hot Country Songs No. 1 as a writer since 1998, when Garth Brooks’ cover of Dylan’s 1997 song “To Make You Feel My Love” reigned for a frame. Billy Joel and Adele have also recorded the ballad.
ALL ABOUT ‘TONIGHT’: Much of the week’s entertainment buzz has centered on Jimmy Fallon’s now confirmed takeover, from Jay Leno, of NBC’s “Tonight Show” in 2014. (“Don’t worry,” Fallon said following the announcement in his current job as host of the network’s “Late Night.” “Until (then), our focus is right here on … whatever this show is called.”)
While “Tonight” has been a late night institution since its original incarnation in 1954, songs titled “Tonight” have been fairly regular visitors to the Hot 100 since the chart’s 1958 launch, too. Nine such hits have graced the list, with New Kids on the Block’s 1990 single rising the highest (No. 7). Fellow boy band Jonas Brothers sent a song called “Tonight” to No. 8 in 2008, as did Ferrante & Teicher in 1961.
New Kids on the Block and Jonas Brothers share more than their genres and hit song titles. Both acts are set to make chart impacts next week. The former is expected to storm the Billboard 200 top 10 with its new album “10,” while the latter could bow on multiple song charts with its new single “Pom Poms.”