It’s hard enough making it big in the music business once, but doing it twice is something of a miracle. Nevertheless, numerous artists who first found stardom as members of groups have gone on to outreach their earlier heights as solo artists.
For some performers, the transition from group member to solo star may have seemed preordained. Indeed, it almost goes without saying that unique talents like Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, or Michael Jackson were poised for stardom when they were still in their respective groups of Destiny’s Child, NSYNC, and The Jackson 5. (These are the 50 most popular rock stars of all time.)
On the flip side of that coin, though, are people like Joan Jett and Tina Turner, who struggled for years before getting their solo careers off the ground. (These are the most popular girl bands of all time.)
Then we have artists such as Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, both of whom enjoyed more success as solo act than with their bands – though it can’t be said that either Reed or Pop are more important to the development of music than The Velvet Underground or The Stooges, respectively.
To determine the solo artists who were more successful than their bands, 24/7 Tempo reviewed chart performance data from Billboard. Artists were ranked based on a custom score comparing their time on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts as a solo artist versus their time spent on the charts with their group. The score is an aggregate of time spent on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts, wherein a week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 is worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth 1 point.
Artists whose scores as solo artists exceed their scores as a musical group by the largest amount are ranked the highest. Data is current through Jan. 15, 2022. Data on number of Billboard entries as solo artist and group refer to entries in the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts.
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