13 musicians who scrapped their careers and started again

In honour of the new year, we round up the artists who decided to start over

The new year brings an opportunity to take stock, set new goals and change direction. Whether your new year’s resolutions last a whole week or you keep them all the way to next December (like a liar), this is our annoying annual reminder to start thinking about how we’d like our lives to look.

In the spirit of starting over, we’ve compiled a list of musicians who have had something of a second life, featuring genre shifts, band break-ups and even total career changes. We’re hoping this may offer a little inspiration to anyone whose resolutions have already gone out the window. You’ll get ‘em next year, you say? Sure you will.

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop (Official Video)

The raspy-voiced daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus threw her Hannah Montana wig to the ground and stood on it when she released 2013’s ‘We Can’t Stop’. Gone was the country-pop Disney starlet – Cyrus, in a new bleached pixie cut, was now singing about doing cocaine in bathrooms and hooking up at house parties.

Despite fielding disdain from the media and inciting riots on parenting blogs, Cyrus had the last laugh. Just as she’d predicted, her dramatic image shift allowed her to distance herself from her family-friendly roots and catapulted her to mainstream success.

Billie Piper

Billie - Because We Want To

At fifteen, Piper became the youngest woman ever to enter the charts at No.1 with ‘Because We Want To’, her 1998 debut single. After releasing two top 20 albums, Piper retired from music at the ripe age of 20 in order to focus on her acting career. Following her breakout role as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who, she went on to a hugely successful second life in TV and theatre.

Nadine Coyle

Girls Aloud - Sound Of The Underground (Official Music Video)

Coyle became a major reality TV moment when she auditioned for the Irish version of Popstars. Winning a place in the band Six, she was initially bound for a record deal with Simon Cowell and a mainstream tour – until it was discovered that she had lied about her age. At just 16, she was two years younger than the minimum age requirement for the show. Coyle was disqualified and replaced.

However, the next year saw Coyle return to the Popstars franchise, this time in the British installment. On Popstars: The Rivals she was placed into the soon to be huge Girls Aloud, and the rest is history.

Harry Styles

Harry Styles - As It Was (Official Video)

Styles was just another reality TV hopeful when he auditioned for The X Factor at the age of 16. Initially eliminated, he was later brought back to form one fifth of One Direction, a teenage boy band that would go on to become one of the best-selling groups of all time.

These days, Styles is better known as a solo powerhouse, winning Brits, Grammys and even an Ivor Novello Award. He’s broken chart records, particularly with his third studio album, Harry’s House, and undertaken huge international tours, all of which has cemented him as the most successful solo artist of his former group.

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow - The First Cut Is The Deepest (Official Music Video)

Multi-platinum-selling artist Crow began her career in music as a backup singer for some of the industry’s biggest names, including Belinda Carlisle, Jimmy Buffett and Stevie Wonder. She also toured with Michael Jackson as a backing vocalist, often joining him to perform ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’. Three years and one scrapped album later, Crow had finally debuted her own music and was on the road to international chart-topping success.

Taylor Momsen

The Pretty Reckless - Make Me Wanna Die

Momsen captured hearts everywhere when she lisped her way through ‘Where Are You Christmas?’ at age seven. Nine years on from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and the former child star was fronting a rock band called The Pretty Reckless. They went on to be the first female-fronted rock band to have five number one singles and have released four studio albums to date, with Momsen leading the way on all of them.

Robbie Williams

Robbie Williams - Angels

Williams joined boyband Take That as their youngest member when he was just sixteen, but clashes with management and other bandmates led him to strike out on his own. Although he later reconciled with the group and joined them for their Progress tour, the 2010s and beyond saw Williams largely focused on his solo career. He quickly found huge success as a solo artist and went on to release 12 solo albums.


Kesha - Praying (Official Video)

The world collectively gasped when Kesha removed the dollar sign from her name, but the change marked an important new chapter for the singer. Whilst her early discography was centered on her carefree, unpolished party girl persona, behind the scenes Kesha was facing abuse, mental health struggles and exploitation at the hands of those around her in the music industry.

After years of personal and legal battles, Kesha released ‘Praying’ in 2017. The track was the debut of a new sound, in which Kesha’s vocals took center stage and she spoke eloquently and purposefully about her journey. It signaled the start of a new chapter in the singer-songwriter’s career.

Nick Cope

The Lizard Song | Nick Cope's Popcast | CBeebies

English rock band The Candyskins were considered one of the early landmark groups of the Britpop era. Praised by music critics, the group recorded and released four studio albums over eight years before splitting, briefly reuniting on a few occasions throughout the subsequent decade.

Beginning in 2009, lead singer Nick Cope found a different audience when he began writing and recording songs for children. Cope has released six albums of children’s music and starred in his own CBeebies programme. He also runs regular music sessions for young children and their families in his home country of Oxfordshire.

Brian Cox

Dare - Abandon (hq)

Professor Brian Cox is now best known as the UK’s favourite physicist. But before the scientist and author was teaching the nation on TV, he was the keyboard player for the rock band Dare. Cox appeared on two of the band’s albums before joining and playing for dance act D:Ream. He now refuses to play the band’s biggest hit, ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, because “it contradicts the second law of thermal dynamics…”. 

Camilla Cabello

Camila Cabello - Havana ft. Young Thug

Cuban-American singer Camilla Cabello got her start in girl-group Fifth Harmony, formed on the US X Factor and signed to Simon Cowell’s record label. After three years in the group, Cabello made a somewhat messy exit and released her debut solo single, ‘Crying In The Club’. It wasn’t until the release of breakout track ‘Havana’, however that Camilla truly established herself as a chart-topping artist in her own right. She has released three solo albums to date.

Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani - Rich Girl (Official Music Video) ft. Eve

Stefani was brought into No Doubt by her brother, Eric, who invited her to provide vocals for his new ska-pop group. She was seventeen when she joined the group, but didn’t see huge commercial success until nine years later with the release of the band’s third studio album, Tragic Kingdom.

In 2004, after eighteen years with the band, Stefani released her first solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Enormously successful, it saw the release of singles such as ‘Rich Girl’ and ‘Hollaback Girl’ and confirmed Stefani as one of the most influential pop stars of her time.

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake - Like I Love You (Official Video)

Timberlake is often referenced as the original ‘breakout star’, leaving hugely successful boy band NYSNC only to rise even higher as a solo artist. After six years as a lead singer in the group, Timberlake debuted as a solo artist at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards with a performance of ‘Like I Love You’. He went on to release five successful albums as a solo act.