10 Influential Albums that Flopped

10 Influential Albums that Flopped | I Love Classic Rock Videos

These are the slow burners of the music industry. These albums are known now to be classic and have influenced many artists and audiences through they years. It’s surprising to find out that these big historical records actually flopped upon release.

10. Beastie Boys, ‘Paul’s Boutique’ (1989)

The Beastie Boys’ sophomore slump album “Paul’s Boutique” has totally broken barriers in music and culture. While their debut album License to Ill reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and going nine times platinum in its first year,  their follow-up barely went gold upon its release in 1989, much to the dismay of Capitol Records. It was an initial flop as listeners weren’t open yet to the idea that this group would become pioneers in hip hop and in music in general. Paul’s Boutique is an album that features the most samples in a record of all time. The list of samples goes on and on that 95% of the record was made of samples – and the lawsuits over them are also never ending. Eventually, it gained traction and received the critical acclaim it was denied in its initial release. Today, Paul’s Boutique is perhaps known as the group’s best and most influential record in their discography.

9. The Velvet Underground and Nico, ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ (1967)

Hard to believe that the 13th placer on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time was initially a huge financial and commercial failure. The Velvet Underground and Nico was the band’s self-titled debut album. The group was featured on Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia event tour and the album’s cover was an Andy Warhol original art. The album contained controversial lyrics, with dark topics involving drug abuse and sadomasochism. It was even reported that album sales only reached 30,000 copied in the first five years since its release. However, this commercial flop led to this notorious quote by Brian Eno from the Musician :

“the first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 copies in the first five years. The sales have picked up in the past few years, but I mean, that record was such an important record for so many people. I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”

The adversary the album initially faced became its leverage to becoming one of the most influential albums of all time!

8. Beach Boys, ‘Pet Sounds’ (1966)

This highly influential album was a personal project of Brian Wilson who deviated with the Beach Boys’ usual pop genre in 1966. Wilson produced and arranged the album, and wrote most of the material on it. His complex and bizarre arrangements forever altered the landscape of what we know as pop music. Although today Pet Sounds is known as a classic record of the Beach Boys, it wasn’t met with much appreciation when it was first released. Fans and critics weren’t too welcoming of Wilson’s impressionistic musical arrangements that were a far cry from the band’s usual All-American pop tunes. Although it did peak at number 10 on the Billboard 200 chart, it is the lowest chart place the band had ever held. The buying public of 1966 just weren’t into progressive pop at the time. Over the decades, Pet Sounds has established its place and influence in music history.

7. The Monkees, ‘Head’ (1968)

Head is the soundtrack to the Monkees’ movie parody of their own TV parody show of the same name. The trippy-art film was written by legendary actor Jack Nicholson and directed by Bob Rafelson. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones even requested for private screenings of the film. The movie was a flop and so was the soundtrack. The soundtrack album also served as the swan song for The Monkees; it was their last album ever as a band, with Peter Tork quitting the band even before the album was released. Head is somewhat despised by The Monkees themselves and of audiences alike upon its first release. Throughout the years, it became known as one of the weirdest, most bizarre, and best rock movies ever made. In 2013, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the album at number 25 in their list of “The 25 Greatest Soundtracks of All Time”


6. The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’ (1969)

The self-titled debut album of The Stooges was an album decades ahead of its time.  Upon its release in 1969, it was ill-received by the critics and was “disavowed” across the board. The highest this “The Stooges” peaked in the Billboard charts was at number 106. Though the album is now considered a rock n’ roll classic, with the single “1969” ranking at No. 35 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitar Songs, this proto-punk, proto-grunge record was certainly misunderstood by its own era. A few decades after its initial release, “The Stooges” eventually found its audience, praise, and recognition. The album also made it to Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at No. 185.


5. Marvin Gaye, ‘Here, My Dear’ (1978)

Marvin Gaye was known to be a sex symbol, a singer known for his sultry Motown songs in the 70s. However, when his album Here My Dear was released in early 1979, the music was far from the sexy Motown tunes his audiences were expecting. Here My Dear was a tribute to Gaye’s journey through the fall-out of his marriage with his first wife Anna Gordy. It was filled with heartbreak and bitter hopelessness, something the consumers found weird and unsettling coming from Gaye. The reception was as bitter as his emotional turmoil in his lyrics, and Gaye was reportedly so disappointed with the first round of reviews and weak sales of the album that he refused to promote it any further. Eventually, this confessional album found its way to praise and success and is now considered one of Gaye’s best records in his discography.


4. The Kinks, ‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society’ (1968)

When The Kinks’ sixth studio album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society was released in 1968, it was praised by many critics but did not sell as well as the it was critically reviewed. The folk and baroque songs were about nostalgia, eccentric village characters, and the concept of the changing times. The whole album was  deemed out of place in its era of the late 60s. The era was all about hippies and peace protesters and here is The Kinks singing about looking back to the good old days of a rural setting. The fans did not connect with the album upon its initial release and it was the band’s first album to not chart. Eventually, it became the band’s most respected and bestselling studio album. Front man Ray Davies even refered to The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society as the “most successful flop of all time”.

3. Michael Jackson – Invincible (2001)

Selling 6 million copies and entering the Billboard 200 chart at number one wouldn’t really technically be considered a ‘flop’. Well, in comparison to Michael Jackson’s other successful albums such as Bad and of course, the ever so iconic Thriller which sold almost 70 million copies worldwide, the 6-time platinum album Invincible is a ‘flop’. But what album could really live up to the history Thriller made? Upon initial release, the songs on Invincible were deemed of questionable quality by the critics. Invincible was one of Jackson’s most expensive albums ever made, costing $30 million to make, which makes the blow of mixed critical reviews it received hit even harder. Though Invincible can still be considered a commercial success in terms of sales, his record company Sony was also not happy about it. It was a time when Michael Jackson’s Invincible became invisible.

2. Ramones, ‘Ramones’ (1976)

The self-titled debut album from The Ramones who were already popular acts at CBGB was released in 1973 to raving reviews. One review from Rolling Stone even regarded the album as “one of the funniest rock records ever made and, if punk continues to gain momentum, a historic turning point.” The original songs that were part of the album were about misfits and alienation, and it was the recording quality was definitely not the best (the album was recorded for only $6,000), thus the buying public wasn’t really into putting their money in something they did not appreciate at that time. Sadly, the album only sold 6,000 copies in the US.  It was a critical success but a commercial flop. 38 years after its first release, it was certified gold in 2014. The originals on the album such as “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Beat on the Brat” and “Judy Is a Punk” are still influencing many musicians and bands today.


1. Fleetwood Mac, ‘Tusk’ (1979)

It’s hard to follow up the massive success of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors album which sold about 45 million copies worldwide, becoming the 7th highest-selling album of all time! Tusk is that follow up album that did not quite live up to its predecessor. First off, it was the band’s most expensive album to produce, costing about $1.4 million. That high expense was also translated to its selling price, as it was a double album, it sold for twice the price of a regular album. The record was more experimental than anything the group has ever done, and it sold a mere 4 million copies compared to the giant 45 mil Rumors had sold. The album peaked at number in the Billboard 200 charts. The entire record however was more of an exploration of the emotional dysfunction and inevitable fallout the group was experiencing from the time they were recording Rumors to the influential flop, critical darling that is Tusk.