Success is a fickle thing that can disappear in the blink of an eye. These aspiring mega-stars were really going places — before one flip comment, brash action, or untimely revelation stopped their careers in their tracks. Maybe it’s just a little mistake, but add live TV to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Record skips German R&B and dance pop duo Milli Vanilli rose to prominence at the end of the eighties with crossover hits such as “Girl You Know It’s True” and “Blame it on the Rain,” selling millions of records, and earning the duo the trophy for best new artist at the 1990 Grammys.
“Milli Vanilli.” But to anyone paying close attention, the group’s musical chops didn’t hold up. First, the guys’ voices didn’t quite sound like their recordings, prompting questions from the press. But the moment that destroyed their careers happened live, well, live on tape. The duo was performing “Girl You Know It’s True” when the backing track began to skip — revealing Milli Vanilli wasn’t actually singing at all. MTV recorded the entire concert live with the intention of playing it back at a later date. but the record skipping altered that plan slightly. “Girl you know it” “Girl you know it” “Girl you know it” “Girl you know it” “Girl you know it” In a media blitz, the duo were labeled as frauds, lawsuits were filed, and fans demanded refunds for albums.
Their Grammy was revoked, and they never performed again. Technical issues Ashlee Simpson, the punk rock little sister of singer Jessica Simpson, was on her way up when she booked a spot on SNL in October 2004. Her first album, Autobiography, had recently debuted to commercial success, with significant radio play for her singles “Shadow” and “Pieces of Me.” But when her SNL performance experienced a technical hiccup, it exposed a fatal flaw in Ashlee’s act. “On a Monday I am waiting, on a Tuesday, I am fading…” She wasn’t actually singing. And the backlash hit hard. During her performance at the 2005 Orange Bowl, her live vocals were drowned out by a thunderous roar of boos.
Her followup album, I Am Me, sold roughly a third of the copies in the United States that her debut did. Immediately after the lip-sync incident, which garnered national news coverage, her fans turned on her, and her music career never recovered. And naturally, SNL has played host to plenty of other disastrous, career-ending moments on live television. Hot topic Irish singer Sinead O’Connor used her spot as musical guest on a 1992 episode of SNL to make a political statement — and a rather provocative one at that. Concluding an a cappella performance of the Bob Marley song “War,” O’Connor sang her last lines while reaching for a photograph of John Paul II — and then she tore it to pieces. “Fight the real enemy.” The move torpedoed the singer’s burgeoning career in the U.S., and turned many people off her music, branding her as a high-risk, controversial act — a reputation she’s maintained to this day. But that wasn’t even the worst career ender on SNL — for that, we have to go all the way back to the early 1980’s…
Network take-down With an untested cast under the guidance of new producer Jean Doumanian , the 1980 to 81 season of SNL started badly and got worse. The show dragged on throughout the winter as a national joke — its own sketches displaying a sharp awareness of its declining quality. An historic low was reached in the 11th episode of the season, when cast member Charles Rocket dropped the F-bomb. “It’s the first time I’ve been shot in my life. I’d like to know who the f— did it.” It was the last straw for the studio, which began cleaning house promptly after the episode aired. But Rocket actually came dangerously close to sinking the entire show. NBC also fired Doumanian, and SNL went off the air for a month. By the time it returned, the show had replaced most of its writing staff and was in the process of purging every single one of its cast members, except Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy — the sole survivors of a disastrous era.
Too harsh On New Zealand’s version of The X Factor, one singer-turned-judge definitely crossed the line. British singer Natalia Kills lit into contestant Joe Irvine in 2015. “Ladies and gentlemen I’m just going to state the obvious we have a doppelgänger in our midst” Kills essentially accused him of copying his act and persona from her own husband, singer Willy Moon, who was also sitting on the panel as a judge. The intensity of Kills’ disgust turned off viewers in droves, and both Kills and Moon were soon removed from the judging panel. For his troubles, Irvine reportedly received consolations and cupcakes from fellow singer Lorde, but he told the New Zealand Herald in 2016 that he’s still traumatized.
Roasted Comic Doug Williams found himself in the hot seat at Shaq’s All Star Comedy Roast of football player Emmitt Smith. Following an introduction by host Jamie Foxx, Williams’ set started slowly, but about three jokes in, Foxx began sniping at the comic, mocking Williams’ punchlines and all but telling him to get off of the stage. “where is he right now?” We’re here for Emmitt Smith. Do you have any jokes for him tonight?” Foxx later defended his actions, calling his barrage, quote, “very dark liquor-induced.” While the production wasn’t broadcast live, there were no second takes for Williams. His bomb of a set lives forever online.
Two words The first day on a new job is always stressful, especially if your job subjects you to the scrutiny of everyone who might be tuned into the Bismarck local news. Aspiring young broadcaster, AJ, let his anxiety get the best of him, right off the bat. “F—— s—.” Clemente was promptly fired from the station and supposedly hasn’t helmed a broadcast since. “Did you think your life was finished when it happened?” “Extremely. I went home, crawled in bed, and called my parents.” The scream During the 2004 presidential election, Democratic contenders lined up for the chance to contest Republican incumbent George W. Bush for the White House. Vermont governor Howad Dean had an impressive lead over opponents Dennis Kucinich and John Kerry in early polls. But as the race went on and Kerry closed the gap, the margin for error got smaller and smaller. Chastened by a rough showing at the Iowa caucuses, Dean addressed a crowd with a rousing speech, making big promises to supporters.
And then this happened: “(the scream)” The media destroyed him. “(the scream)” Any chances his campaign even had of coming back, were terminally derailed. “(the scream)” But at least it gave us this classic Dave Chappelle moment: “then I’m coming to Washington DC to take back the White House…” “BYEOOAAAHWWWW” Thanks for watching! Click the Nicki Swift icon to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Plus check out all this cool stuff we know you’ll love, too!.