The Decade's Most Brutal Moments That Destroyed These Musicians' Careers

In the music business, there are many ways an artist's recording days can be over in an instant. Fickle trends, plummeting record sales, executives with a bad hair day, increasing "personal difficulties," or just angering someone who's higher up than you in the pecking order — all of these and more can easily tank a career. 

Still, most of those things are gradual processes that don't exactly happen overnight. Sometimes, just sometimes, a musician's downfall can be traced back to a single, catastrophic incident that somehow manages to burn all of their bridges at once. After such an event, there is no return. No publicity stunt or crisis management trick can return your career back in the land of the living, and even the possibility of a nostalgia comeback a few years down the line may be in jeopardy. How can that kind of career suicide happen? Glad you asked! Here's a look at the decade's most brutal moments that destroyed these musicians' careers.

Threatin made up their entire fanbase

Rock band Threatin's first European tour in 2018 had all the makings of a home run. As the Guardian tells us, they had a robust online presence and a hit song called "Living Is Dying." The band leader, Jered Threatin, had informed the UK venues that had booked them that the band had so far toured exclusively in the US, and that plenty of tickets had been pre-sold. However, when Threatin actually turned up, fan attendance (as well as fan existence) turned out to be less than optimal. In London, for instance, they played for three people. 

It soon turned out that Threatin (the man) had completely fabricated the popularity of Threatin (the band). Many suspect that the 38,000 likes on Threatin's Facebook page were paid for, and the artist's totally real Twitter "fan club" account tried to pass off a concert with two people in attendance as the band "rocking a soundcheck before the gig." Metalsucks points out that Threatin also "created a fake record label, fake press outlet, fake award and fake web design company" to pass off his band as the real deal, not to mention a legion of other fake artists his equally fake booking company supposedly promoted. That's actually pretty impressive! 

Less impressive: As Louder notes, Jered Threatin never informed his three touring band members about his antics, and they had to watch in disbelief as their dreams of a cool rock tour crumbled into a fake-out of a century. 

B.o.B. fell right off the rim with his flat earth conspiracy theories

As CNN reports, in 2016 popular rapper B.O.B. announced on Twitter that he believed the Earth was flat, basing his claim on the fact that he couldn't see a curve on the horizon with his naked eye. People — including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson — rushed to correct the rapper, but he remained adamant in his beliefs, and even threw in some moon landing conspiracy theories while he was at it. 

Had this been an isolated incident, B.o.B.'s weird planetary notions might have been forgotten. However, ADL notes with concern that some of B.o.B.'s lyrics also flirt with conspiracy theories of the antisemitism and holocaust denial variety. As the BBC tells us, the artist also went embarrassingly all in with his Flat Earth mania. In 2017, he even attempted to crowd-fund an array of satellites that he believed could either prove his theory or find his precious horizontal curve

The satellites are yet to launch, and his set of beliefs has evidently tarnished his star enough that the most prominent story about him in 2019 appears to be when Hip Hop Wired reported an online death hoax about him. This, incidentally, prompted B.o.B. to launch into a long, expletive-laden tirade against ... uh, the people who expressed their condolences? Classy.

Sticky Fingers decided racial abuse was fun

In late 2016, the Australian band Sticky Fingers ended up in hot water thanks to their frontman Dylan Frost's alleged actions, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Indigenous singer Thelma Plum revealed her account of a hostile encounter with Frost at a pub in Sydney. According to Plum, Frost spat on her, physically threatened her, and even tried to take swings at her, though the Sticky Fingers man's friend stepped between the two and stopped the punches from connecting. What's worse, there were suspicions that the attack was racially motivated, seeing as Frost had also allegedly caused a racist scene at the concert of an Indigenous metal group Dispossessed.

The fallout from the accusations was predictably harsh for Sticky Fingers. Frost admitted that his recent behavior had been "unacceptable," but pinned the blame largely on the reveal that he was bipolar schizophrenic and had problems with alcohol. The band soon decided to go on an indefinite hiatus, citing long-running internal issues. While they did eventually reform in 2018, it appears that people have long memories when it comes to things that easily fall on #meNOmore and #MeToo territory: As Vice and the Guardian tell us, the backlash against the band has been significant. They've had to pull from at least one large festival due to "calls for boycotts," and there are calls to make them truly accountable. 

Michelle Shocked let her homophobia shine

Few musicians have managed to alienate as many fans during a single concert as Michelle Shocked. As the Guardian tells us, Shocked's early albums The Texas Campfire Tapes and Short Sharp Shocked made her a left-wing darling. However, after her initial years of "anarchist skateboard punk" radicalism, she became a born-again Christian and developed certain ... views

In 2013, Shocked was playing a concert in San Francisco, when she suddenly decided to make her feelings known about gay marriage and California's Proposition 8. According to Shocked's shocked audience members, she was on full hate-speech mode, and claimed that gay marriage would basically be a sign of the end times. "When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization, and Jesus will come back," she ranted. "You are going to leave here and tell people, 'Michelle Shocked said God hates f*gg*ts.'" Shockingly enough, Shocked's fandom didn't particularly enjoy this heaping helping of outspoken bigotry. Much of the "stunned" audience walked out, and the venue staff ended up literally pulling the plug on her mid-concert. Multiple venues soon announced they'd cancelled Shocked's upcoming gigs. 

Oddly enough, a few years before her meltdown Shocked was a little cooler about the subject of homosexuality, though she still considered it a sin. In an otherwise fairly tense 2008 interview with the Dallas Voice, she even said that she would be "honored" if someone called her an "honorary lesbian."

CeeLo Green had some strange ideas about sexual assault

You may remember CeeLo Green from his stint as a judge and coach on The Voice, or his work with Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley, or possibly from his solo hit "F**k You." Then again, you might also remember him from his well-publicized sexual assault case in 2014, which the Guardian tells us involved one of the least thought-out attempts to defend oneself in history. 

The case revolved around a woman who woke up naked in Green's bed, with zero memories of how their restaurant dinner had taken such a turn. While no rape charges were brought "due to lack of evidence," Green pleaded no contest to giving her ecstasy and later vented on Twitter: "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!" This and other tweets implying that sexual assault doesn't count if the victim is unconscious were soon deleted and Green delivered an apology, but the incident left a mark. As ABC News tells us, Green parted ways with The Voice around the time of his legal battles, and the word on the street was that he departed to avoid the embarrassment of being fired. However, the singer insists that he merely wanted a change: "I think I ran my course there just naturally." 

Be that as it may, Rolling Stone notes that judging by his only album since then, Heart Blanche, the magic has gone missing from Green's music as well. 

Ryan Adams meets the #MeToo movement

In February 2019, #MeToo hit musician Ryan Adams right in the face in the form of a massive New York Times report detailing a great many allegations of sexual misconduct in his history. Over a dozen sources close to Adams spoke to the paper, and as Vanity Fair tells us, even the FBI got in on the action by stating they plan to interview one of his alleged victims. 

As is often the case with allegations of that nature, this is a case that will possibly drag well into the next decade. As the 2010s wind down, fans and others are still waiting for Adams to address the assorted accusations. Initially, he responded to the rumors by tweeting that the NY Times piece was "upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false." Then, he put his upcoming album on hold because of the situation. 

However, he has shown some signs that he's gearing up to tell his side of the story. In the summer of 2019, he released a lengthy, poetic Instagram statement that admitted he was flawed and said, among many other things: "I know who I am. What I am. It's time people know. Past time," and "Believe Women. Believe Truth. But never give up on being part of solutions, and healing." It remains to be seen where all of this will lead, but it certainly doesn't seem to bode too well for his career.

Sonic Youth and the messy divorce

According to Spin and Billboard, revered alt-rock group Sonic Youth had sailed fairly smoothly since 1981, but in 2011 the ship unexpectedly ran aground when the band's driving forces, bassist-vocalist Kim Gordon and guitarist-vocalist Thurston Moore ended their marriage. The reason for their divorce was Moore's infidelity, as it turned out he was having an affair with his longtime collaborator, editor Eva Prinz.

Gordon was not particularly happy about the situation, and as one would expect, it ultimately ended with Sonic Youth breaking up after a 2011 show in São Paulo. This has led to many people (up to and very much including Kim Gordon) blaming the break-up on Moore. However, the man himself thinks it's "really strange" that people think he's the reason Sonic Youth disbanded. According to Moore, he merely assumed that the band would have taken some time off after the São Paulo concert to work out all the personal stuff. He does understand the realities of the situation, though — after all, he says "everyone has to be on the same page" in a band, and a messy divorce between two chief members of said band is not exactly a "being on the same page" scenario. 

Miguel accidentally drop-kicks a fan

In 2013, Miguel was an up-and-coming young star with a hit song under his belt, but as TMZ tells us, fame is a fickle lover and a rise to superstardom can be halted by a single wrong step. In Miguel's case, said wrong step happened at the Billboard Awards, where he was set to sing his hit, "Adorn." His performance involved a daring leap over the audience from the stage to a separate platform. Unfortunately, he misjudged the jump, his legs and crotch area grazed several fans, and the leap ended in an accidental, yet WWE-worthy leg drop on a lady standing closest to the platform. 

The catastrophic leap went on to haunt Miguel in a multitude of ways. According to Pitchfork, the "leg drop" became an instant meme, and several of its recipients returned to remind the artist of what he'd done. One of the women claimed the kick gave her brain damage. Two years after the incident, another one sued the singer over "injuries from the accident." And while it's not fair to say Miguel has faded into complete obscurity since the incident, his output doesn't seem to have quite reached the heights of the Grammy-winning "Adorn" since then.

Mary J Blige was 'crushed' by a Burger King commercial

As Rolling Stone tells us, Mary J Blige freely admits herself that she was pretty much "crushed" by one particular incident in her career: A Burger King advertisement, of all things. To be fair, this wasn't entirely Blige's fault. As Today reports, in 2012 the singer agreed to be a part of a "fun and creative" campaign that would feature a "dream sequence" where she sang at a customer purchasing Burger King's new crispy chicken wrap. Unfortunately, the fast food chain ended up leaking what they said was an early cut of the ad, which featured Blige standing on a restaurant table and singing the passionate praises of what was essentially fried chicken. This was a particularly bad look because it invoked the old, offensive stereotype about African-Americans and fried chicken, and the backlash on both Burger King and Blige herself was immediate, heavy, and drawn-out.  

Blige took her time before she addressed her role in the advertisement, quoting the chaos surrounding it. However, she did eventually make it clear that the released version of the clip was not what she had in mind. "My heart dropped down to my stomach," she says about seeing it for the first time. She delivered a heartfelt apology to any and all people offended by the ad, and Burger King, in turn, apologized to her. 

Robin Thicke's lines get blurred

There are many reasons you don't hear from Robin Thicke anymore (in a artistic sense, being a judge on The Masked Singer doesn't count), but if you had to track down a single major no-no on his career, it's "Blurred Lines" — both the song itself and that whole Thicke/Miley Cyrus twerking debacle at the 2013 MTV VMA Awards. While Cyrus ultimately came through the scandal like a "Wrecking Ball," Thicke was busy laying all the blame on her. On OWN's Oprah's Next Chapter (via the Grio), Thicke stated: "Listen, I'm the twerkee. I'm twerked upon." Lisa Robinson of Vanity Fair framed the situation as Cyrus "practically molesting" Thicke, who happily played the role of a nice guy who had barely noticed the whole thing because he was too busy singing. This was odd, because as Cyrus herself told the New York Times, Thicke "acted like he didn't know that was going to happen" ... despite being very much present at the rehearsals, and reportedly being the one who ultimately approved Cyrus' skimpy outfit.  

Even without the VMA Awards "incident," non-consensual lyrics like "I know you want it" made "Blurred Lines" a highly controversial song that the Guardian tells us was banned from multiple places and thoroughly embarrasses co-writer Pharrell Williams today. Oh, and as CNN notes, it also cost Thicke and Williams almost $5 million because it was too similar to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up." Ouch.

Assault allegations tore down the Orwells

The Orwells, a punk rock band from Chicago, came to a nasty end in 2018. According to the Independent, their troubles started with a long Reddit post, which accused several band members (namely, vocalist Mario Cuomo, drummer Henry Brinner and his brother Grant Brinner) of multiple instances of sexual misconduct towards their female fans. As NME tells us, the allegations soon started gaining traction, and the band addressed the situation by "emphatically" denying all the "baseless allegations brought as a personal attack." They also asked anyone who felt they had been treated badly by band members to contact them privately, instead of posting about it on social media. Some might think this was hardly sufficient damage control, and apparently, the Orwells agreed: The very next day, their official account tweeted: "The Orwells have disbanded." 

However, this wasn't the end of their story: As Consequence of Sound tells us, they stealthily released a new, "self recorded, self titled, self released" album in 2019. Still, it appears that their straits are significantly more dire than they used to be: Since they got dropped by their record label, they couldn't even afford to use the artwork they originally wanted, and had to use a "blank square" instead.