There may be no “I” in team but some singers may disagree with this saying. We’ve seen many musical groups reach record-breaking fame and we can’t help but pick out that one standout performer of the gang. It’s that one wolf in the pack that we just can’t seem to keep our eyes off of and often forget that they in fact share the spotlight with other group members. Groups break-up, get back together, break-up again and reunite for tours time and time again. For some, leaving the band was a much anticipated and predictable move. Some have been very successful, while others… not so much.
Thankfully, the original group members (usually) welcome them back with open arms. The Jonas brothers and One Direction are the latest boy bands that have or are rumored to be pursuing solo projects. Many others will for sure follow in their footsteps. Here’s hoping that they will have as much success as these artists have after they leave their groups.
10. Gwen Stefani
Even when she was the lead singer of the immensely popular band No Doubt, the spotlight always seemed to shine on Gwen Stefani. Her good looks and unique style made her stand out from the rest of her male counterparts. Their album Tragic Kingdom was a big hit for the ska music scene thanks to the singles “Just A Girl” and “Don’t Speak”. Their follow up albums Return of Saturn and Rock Steady sold equally well thanks to Stefani’s distinct voice and deeply personal lyrics.
To no ones surprise, Stefani successfully released her fist solo album Love.Angel.Music.Baby with infectious songs “Rich Girl” and “Hollaback Girl”. Her second album Sweet Escape did not disappoint and if Stefani wasn’t thriving enough, she also made the time to start her own clothing line L.A.M.B. Stefani has still made time to reunite with No Doubt and release their much anticipated comeback album Push and Shove in 2012. Stefani is working on her next solo project and can be seen as a judge and mentor on the hit television series The Voice.
Born Stacy Ferguson, Fergie has had a hit solo career after leaving not one but two groups. She was first part of the female trio Wild Orchid from 1992-2001. The group released modest hits like “At Night I Pray” and “Talk to Me”, but overall failed to achieve commercial success. Drug abuse and hard partying were key factors in her leaving Wild Orchid.
Once Fergie got back on track, she joined popular hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas. With the addition of Fergie, the Black Eyed Peas went to on have hits like “Hey Mama”, “Where Is The Love” and “My Humps”. In 2006 with the support of her group members, Fergie branched out on her own with chart topping hits “London Bridge”, “Glamorous” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” from the album The Duchess. Her much awaited second album is set to be released sometime this year.
8. George Michael
An oldie but a goodie, George Michael revived the music scene when he first started out in the 80s as the duo Wham!Who can forget their catchy hit “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. Though they continued to perform as a duo, Michael often branched away on his own with hits “Careless Whisper” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”.
Wham! officially broke up in 1986 and George Michael’s career only got hotter after that. His first solo album Faith reached number one on the charts thanks to singles “Faith”, “I Want Your Sex, and “Father Figure”. Though there have been times his personal life have overshadowed his success, Michael’s fans continue to have faith in him.
Many people may not know this, but superstar Pink was once part of a female group called Choice. Born Alecia Moore, she was only a teenager when she formed Choice with two other girls. After the gang scored an audition with famed producer L.A Reid, they were signed to a record deal but sadly, an album would never be produced.
In the end, Reid was only interested in Pink and sent the other two ladies packing. Pink went on to immense solo success with her debut album Can’t Take Me Home. Pink showed her true colors with her follow up album M!ssundaztood, which only increased her popularity. Pink has a unique voice and isn’t afraid to sing versatile songs.
6. Robbie Williams
Former bad boy Robbie Williams knows a thing or two about second chances. One of the original members of British boy band Take That, Williams’ heavy partying and drug abuse caused conflict within the group and he was forced to exit in 1995. Though it is unclear if he left on his own or was fired, Williams was determined to make a name for himself.
After a stint in rehab and a mediocre first album, he got everyone’s attention with the song “Angels”. His first solo to hit number one was “Millennium” from his second album The Ego Has Landed. His third album, Sing When You’re Winning featured the hit “Rock DJ” which gathered much attention for the controversial music video. The video didn’t stop Williams from gathering a nice collection of awards and still producing hits. His duet “Shame” with Take That member Gary Barlow proved that Williams made peace with the band and has made multiple appearances with them onstage. Time really does heal all wounds.
5. Michael Jackson
No doubt one of the biggest names in music, even after his tragic passing in 2009, Michael Jackson’s legendary status has and will never slow down. The King of Pop got his early start as the lead singer of the Motown group the Jackson 5 (later called the Jacksons). The group consisted of Jackson’s brothers and was managed by his father Joe who at times, was quite controlling and event violent towards his children. The group went on to have number one hits such as “I’ll Be There” and “I Want You Back”.
Jackson got his first taste of solo success with the number one selling album Ben in 1972. His next solo album Off The Wall, which featured hits “Rock With You” and “She’s Out Of My Life”, proved that Jackson could continue to sell albums on his own. His 1982 smash album Thriller, went on to be the best selling album in history. The record breaking didn’t stop there. Jackson became the first artist to have five number 1 hits songs from the same album (Bad), and was a double inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only known for his music, Jackson was also known for his infamous “Moonwalk” and memorable music videos. The ultimate solo success story, his legacy continues on and fans still remain loyal and devoted.
4. Diana Ross
The lady who changed the world of music and discovered the musical gift that was Michael Jackson, has had quite a career herself. Ross got her early success as a member of the trio The Supremes in the 1960’s. With 12 number one hits, they broke records and have more number one hits than any other American Group: “Where Did Our Love Go?”, “Baby Love”, “Stop! In The Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love” are just a few of their legendary hits.
Ross left the Supremes in 1969 and continued to produce successes such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and go on to win multiple awards as a solo artist. She’s also tackled movies and has stared in blockbusters The Wiz (with Michael Jackson) and Lady Sings the Blue– which got her an Academy Award nomination. Despite personal struggles, such as an arrest after a conflict with a security guard at London Heathrow Airport and failed attempt at a Supremes reunion in 2000, Ross’s career is still one of legends.
Following in the trend of one name artists, Beyoncé is one powerful woman in the music industry. Alongside Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, she scored early success with the group Destiny’s Child. Belting out empowering songs such as “Independent Women” and “Survivor”, Beyoncé showed signs of stage presence and strong vocal chops.
Her first solo album Dangerously In Love, hit number 1 on the charts thanks the infectious hits “Crazy In Love” and “Baby Boy”. Her next albums: B’Day, I Am Sasha Fierce, 4 and Beyoncé all shot at number 1. As if she wasn’t busy enough with her music career, Beyoncé has also appeared in movies, is a spokeswoman for L’Oreal cosmetics and is part of one of music’s power-couples (with husband Jay-Z). Her destiny was no doubt fulfilled.
2. John Lennon
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard of a little band called the Beatles! John Lennon along with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, began the boy band craze and the phenomenon’s of Beatlemania and the British Invasion. One of the best selling and most popular groups of all time, Lennon also became part of the successful songwriting duos in musical history (with Paul McCartney). Known as the wise member of the Beatles, Lennon was never afraid to voice his views. After stating that the band was “more popular than Jesus now”, it was apparent that Lennon can get people’s attention.
After growing tensions which were rumored to be contributed to Lennon’s second wife Yoko Ono, he left the Beatles to pursue a solo career. His solo album and title track Imagine, was very successful. Along with his music, Lennon became famous as a political and social activist. Constantly fighting for peace and love, Lennon developed an even larger fan base but at the same time, made a few enemies with the US government and barely escaped deportation. After taking a break from music to focus on being a full time husband and father to his son Sean, Lennon was tragically shot and killed by obsessed fan Mark David Chapman in 1980. The world mourned at this passing, but his influence on music and peace hasn’t died down.
1. Justin Timberlake
We cried a river when NSYNC broke up but quickly recovered once we got a glimpse of Justin Timberlake in action. His first single the catchy “Like I Love You” proved that Timberlake can dance, perform and command the screen without the help of his fellow band mates: Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone.
His first solo-album Justified, sold a half a million copies in its first week. His second album FutureSex/LoveSounds went straight to number one on the charts thanks to smash singles like “Sexy Back” and “What Goes Around Comes Around”. Timberlake has even made appearances in feature films such as The Social Network and Bad Teacher. With multiple award wins and successful collaborations, Timberlake still remains humble and hasn’t forgotten his boy band roots. In 2013 he received the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Music Video Awards and was reunited briefly onstage with his former NSYNC members where he kindly thanked them in his speech.