11 of the most successful musical comebacks of all time

From 'the cat with nine lives' Cher to a resurrected Jay-Z, here's a look at some of the most notable artists to have returned from career obscurity

Jay-Z, Cher and Miley Cyrus. Getty Images
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With the news news that Destiny's Child could be set to reunite for a 20th anniversary tour next year, we take a look back at 11 of the best-ever musical comebacks…

1. Mariah Carey

It's hard to believe that Mariah Carey ever needed a comeback, after a thriving 1990s career, with hits including Always Be My Baby, Heartbreaker and Honey. However, in 2001 she released Glitter, an album that was not universally liked. Fast forward to 2005 and she released The Emancipation of Mimi, which featured hits like We Belong Together, Shake It Off and Don't Forget About Us. It ultimately became her best-selling album in a decade and went on to win three Grammys.

2. Santana

Santana was a musical phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s, lead by Carlos Santana. However, by the mid-1980s, their albums failed to have commercial success. Regardless, the band stayed together and continued to tour. Things turned around for the band in 1998 when they were welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the following year Supernatural was released, the album that spawned singles synonymous with Santana, Maria Maria and Smooth.

3. Spice Girls

In their 23-year history, there has been a number of Spice Girls reunions. After Geri Halliwell left the band, they went on hiatus in late 2000 and then reformed and toured in 2007. Following the reunion, they went their separate ways once again, before all five members got back together for the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony.

Fast forward another seven years and the band announced a comeback tour late last year, which took place in venues around the UK in May 2019. Victoria Beckham did not join her bandmates, however. There is no talk of new music just yet, but Mel B has hinted that further international tour dates could be scheduled and the band is reportedly working on an animated superhero movie. 

The Spice Girls perform at the London Olympics closing ceremony in 2012. EPA
The Spice Girls perform at the London Olympics closing ceremony in 2012. EPA

4. Craig David

For many millennial Brits, Craig David's 7 Days will have an enduring appeal. However his career stalled somewhat after Avid Merrion's Bo Selecta turned David into a punchline in the early 00s, he has said of the sketch show, "It actually wasn't [the show] itself which was the lowest point for me. It was not being able to put music out in the way I always wanted to."

He then retreated to Miami and focused on working out. In the last five years, however, David has made a comeback. Much of his set leans heavily on hits from the Born To Do It album, which will please a certain selection of crowd members at any gig, but he has also released new music, including I Know You with Bastille, that has been well received.

5. Cher

Today, Cher feels like an enduring part of America's musical landscape, but that wasn't always set to be the case. Her 1998 auto-tuned banger, Believe, was in fact her first US number one since 1974's Dark Lady. Although, she did hit number three in 1989 with If I Could Turn Back Time.

In 1996 the New York Times dubbed her the "queen of the comeback", and when asked the meanest thing written about her, Cher recalled at the time, "That if the world were destroyed in a nuclear holocaust, the only things left alive would be 'cockroaches and Cher'."

Put in a nicer way, her friend David Geffen, who she dated in the 1970s, said, ''Cher is the proverbial cat with nine lives … She's really a very delicate piece of machinery. People think she's tough, but the truth is she's a pussycat who has had to feign toughness in order to keep from being killed.''

6. Green Day

Musically, things weren't looking great for Green Day following the release of their 1994 hit album, Dookie. The following three albums, Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning all had lukewarm responses, until American Idiot came along in 2004. The album saw the band tour for two years straight and win a Best Hard Rock Grammy.

7. Fleetwood Mac

The now six-person band Fleetwood Mac has certainly had its fair share of ups and downs. The fact that they have 12 listed former band members is probably the strongest indicator of that – the most notable former member being, Lindsey Buckingham.

Rumours was the band's first major it in both the UK and the US in 1977, followed by Tusk, Mirage and Tango in the Night, released between 1979 and 1987. Things then went quiet for the band until, the most successful line-up of Stevie Nicks, John and Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, with a newly returned Buckingham, reunited for a gig at Warner Brothers studio in 1997. The live concert was turned into chart-topping live album, The Dance, and sold 5 million copies in the US.

8. Miley Cyrus

She may only be 26 years old, but we have already had Hannah Montana Miley, country Miley, romcom actress Miley, Wrecking Ball Miley (which merges with VMA Miley), humanitarian and activist Miley, Malibu Miley and now, Mother's Daughter Miley – it's exhausting just listing it. Following her bright-eyed Disney days, Cyrus shocked the world with a provocative performance with Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV VMAs. She is still not afraid of shocking a crowd, but 2017's Younger Now was well-received and her upcoming album, She Is Miley Cyrus is a collaboration with Mark Ronson.

US singer Miley Cyrus performs on stage during a concert at the Sunny Hill Festival in Pristina on August 2, 2019. / AFP / Armend NIMANI
An edgier Miley Cyrus performs on stage during a concert at the Sunny Hill Festival in Pristina on August 2, 2019. AFP

9. Take That

Following Robbie Williams 1995 departure, British pop band Take That faded, somewhat, into obscurity in 1996. In 2005 the band reunited, sans Williams, as a four-piece and released Never Forget – The Ultimate Collection. That sprung a number of new singles, albums and international tours, the highlight arguably being 2009's Circus Live tour; Williams has even joined his bandmates for spates along the way. As it stands, only Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen remain – Jason Orange left in 2014.

10. Jay-Z

Yes, stay with us. He is a billionaire hip hop mogul now, but pre-Tidal and Armand de Brignac, 2006's Kingdom Come was considered a "comeback album" for the rapper. His 2003 The Black Album had been promoted as his final release and he was shot down at the end of the video for 99 Problems, the final release from he 2003 album. Retire he did not, however. Kingdom Come received lukewarm reviews, but the 2007 follow up, American Gangster, was well-received and arguably resurrected his career.

FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2017, file photo, Jay-Z performs on the 4:44 Tour at Barclays Center in New York. Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang says if he could go back in time and do things differently regarding the shambolic 50th anniversary concerts, he would. The last six months have been an extremely wild ride for Lang as he tried to make Woodstock 50 work. The first plan, to have an all-star concert with the likes of Jay-Z and more in Watkins Glen, N.Y., was scuttled after the venue pulled out. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)
Jay-Z performs his 4:44 Tour at Barclays Center in New York. AP

11. Elvis Presley

In 1968, Elvis Presley literally staged his Comeback Special, a TV special having not performed live for eight years. It was hailed for re-launching his nose-diving career and his return to live performing. Associated Press described his performance as "caged-animal energy" at the time. The comeback birthed some of his biggest hits, including Suspicious Minds and Burning Love.