When basking in the glory of a breathtaking debut, it can be difficult to imagine that it may ever be otherwise. But what comes up must come down. “Second album syndrome” is a whispered curse in the music industry, born of the theory that artists spend short lifetimes pouring their creative energies into a debut album, only to have to match that success with a second one bashed out in the midst of life-changing fame, touring and great expectation. Famous examples of the sophomore slump include Room on Fire, the rather predictable follow-up to the Strokes’ genre-changing debut, Is This It?, the Stone Roses’ underwhelming Second Coming and the Who’s not-hasty-enough A Quick One. But the same rule applies even to Queen Bey. Beyoncé’s first solo album, Dangerously in Love, remains her best-selling. She followed in the footsteps of Whitney and Britney, whose debuts are still their most commercially successful. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Seven Buy Now Related Stories Music Issue 50 Caroline Polachek The slow burn superstar. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Close Knit Meet the weavers keeping traditional Egyptian tapestrymaking alive. Arts & Culture Issue 50 The Old Gays Inside a Californian TikTok “content house” of a very different stripe. Arts & Culture Issue 50 New Roots The Palestinian art and agriculture collective sowing seeds of community. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Angela Trimbur An all-out tour de force. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Peace & Quiet In the UK, a centuries-old Quaker meeting house encourages quiet reflection.