The most difficult thing to do in the music world is to score success with your second album, especially after your debut has made it extra big. The reasons are obvious, as artists tend to have less time and way more pressure to produce the second album than they did they debut, which is why they often sound strained, forced and otherwise tuneless. But in 2010, it seemed like everybody was giving the sophomore slump the finger. Last year, Lady Gaga proved that the second album can be just as big (if not bigger) than the first, and this year, Katy Perry lead a class of artists who took the success of their debut albums and kicked it up a notch.
In addition to Perry, a number of other artists scored big with their second albums. Justin Bieber’sMy World 2.0 was a gigantic success, taking the pop groundwork laid on the first My World and expanding it in a dozen different directions that lead to his biggest hits yet (including “Baby” and “U Smile”). Ke$ha also saw her debut album Animal blow up on the back of some big singles (including “Tik Tok” and “Blah Blah Blah”), but her recently-released Cannibal promises to be even bigger (its first single “We R Who We R” has already been to number one and isn’t going anywhere any time soon). And yes, even Susan Boyle managed to transcend the novelty quality of her rise to fame to produce another chart-topping album in The Gift.
Of course, there were also artists who weren’t releasing true second albums but were following up smash hits with even bigger releases. Though Taylor Swift’s Speak Now is actually her third album, it should probably be considered a release that beat the sophomore slump considering that her second record Fearless was an absolute commercial juggernaut. How do you follow up an album that was the biggest-selling piece of music in 2009? You sell a million copies in your opening week.