Unreleased and unfinished albums that never saw the light of day

Shelved potential classics the popstars didn't want you to hear!

The usual process for an album is write it, record it, mix it, fiddle with a bit more, present to record label – who LOVE it, obv – release it, tour it.

But not all albums get to enjoy a normal, happy life. Some of the less fortunate ones miss out. Whether they simply come along at the wrong time, don't sound right, aren't good enough or don't make sense, an unfinished or unreleased album is a reminder to us all that perfection can be tough.

In a way, shelved projects become even more loved and precious, as fans clamour to get their hands on these legendary rarities. In celebration of the music industry's unloved, ugly stepchild, we look back at some of the most famous or surprising unreleased gems.

Victoria Beckham

Are these the most notorious unreleased albums of them all? Yes, that's right, not one, but two! Set to follow her double-A side Let Your Head Go/This Groove, Open Your Eyes and Come Together had an enormous buzz around them, thanks in part to Victoria's high profile friendship with hip-hop producer Damon Dash. Sadly, label issues and perhaps a few creative wobbles meant that neither collection were released, although R&B flavoured Come Together did leak online recently and wasn't half-bad, tbh. One lost track that did find its way to success was Resentment, which ended up being recorded by… Beyoncé. For real.

MORE: Baby boy, you can have what I got, get what you want – in Victoria Beckham's solo chart archive

Drake – It's Never Enough

Canadian rapper Drake was pretty pumped about this mixtape, which featured him singing rather than rhyming and was due to drop in 2010. "I'm really excited about It's Never Enough," said Drizzy at the time. "I might pick a beautiful woman and shoot a video. I have some ideas." Sadly, those ideas never came to fruition, because Drake had second thoughts and instead concentrated on his next album-proper Take Care, which went Top 5 in 2011.

MORE: See all the Drake albums that did come out and thus hit the Official Albums Chart

David Bowie – Toy

Originally slated for release in 2001, this album saw the Thin White Duke put together both new songs and reworkings of some of his very earliest tracks from the '60s. Scheduling issues were mooted as a reason for the album's delay, but whatever happened, the album, which was "finished and ready to go" according to Bowie, was never released in its intended form. Some tracks were worked on further and ended up on later releases, and a version of the album itself leaked a whole decade after it was recorded.

MORE: Set aside a couple of hours and go through David Bowie's impressive UK chart history

Amelia Lily – Be A Fighter

It's not uncommon for stars' debut albums to be shelved if singles don't perform too well or they feel the direction isn't quite right. X Factor star Amelia actually scored a couple of Top 10s, but it was decided her debut Be A Fighter needed a bit more work, so it was shelved – fairly late in the day, actually, cover art and tracklistings were widely circulated.

Here's what could've been – the released artwork for Be A Fighter

Nicole Scherzinger – Her Name is Nicole

Way before she was making The X Factor all schermazing, Nicole was, lest we forget, an actual popstar. After scoring global success as Pussycat Dolls' lead vocalist – and background vocalist, let's be real – Nicole decided to take advantage of the group's hiatus to go it alone with debut album Her Name Is Nicole. Things got pretty far along the process, as promo copies were available, but after the lacklustre performance of single Baby Love (which did OK here, Number 14) the project was canned.

MORE: See all Nicole Scherzinger's actual hit albums and singles in her archive

Green Day – Cigarettes and Valentines

One of the very saddest stories linked to an unreleased album, the main issue with this one wasn't that the guys didn't love the material, it was taken from them. Cigarettes and Valentines, slated as the follow-up to 2000's The Warning, was just a whisker away from completion when, in 2003, the master tapes were stolen. 20 songs gone, just like that. Feeling pretty dispirited, Green Day opted not to rerecord the tracks but to start all over again. Imagine! But it wasn't all bad: they regrouped to make American Idiot, which was a worldwide hit, selling 2.1 million copies in the UK alone and spawning a musical.

MORE: See all Green Day's UK hit singles and albums


How do you follow an international smash second album that's spawned two million-selling singles and is already one of the biggest selling albums of all time? Well, if you're Adele, you go back into the studio, write an album, record some songs and, erm, scrap the lot! Adele worked with, along others, Sia and Ryan Tedder on what was meant to be her third album, but her heart wasn't in it. Adele had her doubts confirmed when she played some tracks for super-producer Rick Rubin and got the thumbs-down, so went back to square one. As Adele herself confessed: "I did write an album about being a mum but that's pretty boring, so I scrapped that." We did get a sneaky look at what might've been, however, when Sia rerecorded one of the tracks, Alive.

MORE: Take a look at how Adele's singles and albums have done in the charts (spoiler: quite well)

Louise – Lil' Lou

Surely one of the biggest pop travesties, Louise's fourth solo album, and follow-up to Elbow Beach, had a banging lead single in the shape of Pandora's Kiss, but was never released. In the run-up to the expected release, Louise and husband Jamie Redknapp discovered they were expecting a baby and Louise put the project to one side. Maybe Louise is like us: once we put something down we always forget where we left it and can never lay your hands on it when we need it, because that album has yet to appear. After a very long break, Louise has since returned to performing and is recording brand new material – could some Lil' Lou songs finally resurface?

Amy Winehouse

While there was a set of rarities and outtakes released following Amy's sad passing in 2011, it wasn't her proper third album. Such an album did exist, at least in part, in demo form, but we'll never get to hear them, as Amy's record company destroyed them. "It was a moral thing," said David Joseph, CEO of Universal in the UK. "Taking a stem or a vocal is not ­something that would ever happen on my watch. It now can’t happen on anyone else's." 😥

MORE: See all Amy Winehouse's UK hit singles and albums in her archive

Britney Spears – Original Doll

Britney devotees are divided over whether this even exists in any form, but Britney herself confirmed she was working on it back in 2004. Britney rocked up at a radio station with a song called Mona Lisa – which sounded pretty good FYI – and said it was the first single from her next album Original Doll. Her record label backtracked and eventually Mona Lisa was added as a bonus to the DVD release of Britney's reality show Chaotic. So was the album ever recorded? It's rumoured that early versions of preceding album In The Zone featured Britney's most personal, dark lyrics ever and that Original Doll was to carry on that theme. Either way, Britney's turbulent private life took over and Original Doll never happened – her next album wouldn't come until 2007, the incredible Blackout.

Lots of fan art for Mona Lisa out there – including this belter. (via britneymusic.tumblr.com)

MORE: All eyes on Brit in the centre of the ring, just like her archive

Shirley Manson

After she'd scored over a decade of hits as lead singer of Garbage, the world was Ready with a capital R for a solo Shirley Manson album. Well, 10 years on, we're still waiting. Shirley's first attempt, recorded with producer Greg Kurstin, among others, wasn't what her record label were looking for, which led to their relationship ending. Like every breakup, Shirley took her time to get over it, but carried on writing new material and posted some older demos to Facebook. In 2012, however, she confirmed it wasn't happening. 


Madge is famous for changing things up if she gets bored, and once she even gave up on an album halfway through. After working with him on Erotica, Madonna got back in the studio with Vogue mastermind Shep Pettibone to record her sixth studio album. They got quite far along the way, before Madonna decided she'd rather go down an R&B route and so it was buh-bye to Shep and hello to Nellee Hooper and Babyface and the album that would become Bedtime Stories.

MORE: Madonna's UK singles and albums, plus complete chart runs


Much has been made on fansites and messageboards across the universe about the mythical City Games album,whose existence has never been confirmed, but did you know Kylie actually started work on a jazz album? Eager to do an album of covers of songs by US jazz star Blossom Dearie, Kylie recorded a few tracks but the project stalled, with some tracks landing on the soundtrack to behind-the-scenes documentary White Diamond. There was talk of an album's worth of songs recorded with Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters, too, and a few tracks have surfaced, but there's been no confirmation.

MORE: Kylie's been lucky lucky lucky to score so many hits – relive them all


Where do we start with the Purple One? Prince did, of course, have vaults filled with recorded yet unreleased songs, but he also had complete albums that he canned at the last minute, too. One such album was Camille, a kind of concept album with Prince experimenting with a sped-up female-sounding vocal. His eventual hit If I Was Your Girlfriend originally featured, but the project was abandoned, although other tracks from it surfaced eventually. The same year, prolific Prince planned to release Crystal Ball, a triple LP set – so three vinyl albums, basically – but Prince's label thought that was a bit OTT, so he reluctantly caved, with much of it eventually becoming his classic Sign O The Times.

MORE: Look back at Prince's impressive UK chart history

Katy Perry

Katy Kat has supposedly not one but two unreleased albums floating around somewhere. One of them went on to make up part of her proper pop debut One Of The Boys, while the other, known to fans as (A) Katy Perry simply wasn't quite right to launch her on the worldwide stage, and got chucked unceremoniously in the bin. Some songs did make it elsewhere, however; most notably Hook Up, which became I Do Not Hook Up and a hit for… Kelly Clarkson, of course. 

George Michael – Trojan Souls

Back in the '90s, George planned an album of duets with a host of stars including Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, Anita Baker, Sade and Elton John. Although he got part of the way through, with some tracks completed, the project was put to one side when George had some personal stuff to sort out. How much would you have loved to hear George and Janet?! Sadly, their collaboration only reached instrumental stage, and with George sadly passing away in 2016, we may never get to hear these lost tracks.

MORE: Look back over all George Michael's British hit singles and albums

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Nsabasi Ette


Donna Summer's Giorgio Moroder-produced 1981 album "I'm A Rainbow" was unreleased till 1996, though a few songs from it popped up on some soundtracks, like "Romeo" on the "Flashdance" soundtrack.




cher- "not.com.mercial" was leaked
natalie imbruglia's 2009 work scrapped
and mini viva's album sapler was very good but they shelved




Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes from TLC also suffered from the unreleased album curse. She originally began work on her solo album in 1998 she wanted to name Fantasy1.com. It was scrapped when she negotiated a new deal with TLC for the amazing Fanmail album.

Lisa recorded her Supernova album in 2000, but her record label were unhappy with the spiritual direction she went in and cancelled the album release in the US. The album got released overseas and the single The Block Party was a top 20 hit in the UK.

Because Arista records broke her contract terms by not supporting Supernova, Lisa was free to negotiate a new deal elsewhere for her next album venture. She signed with Tha Row records, formerly Death Row records, in 2002, and changed her name to NINA (New Identity Non Applicable). Lisa sadly died that year before she could complete the album.




but some of NINA tracks were leaked. Also she has alot of "featuring". they could make an album with these




Kelle Bryan from Eternal began work on her solo album Breakfast In Bed in 1998 after being kicked out of the group. The first single Higher Than Heaven charted at No14. The second single I Wanna Know got the video treatment but the release was scrapped, and so was the album. Kelle stated she had her contract terminated because she had been diagnosed with Lupus and couldn't commit to her promotion schedule.




why did she kick out of? and why other members didnt go solo ?




Disputes with the sisters in the group.


Simon G


Good to see Prince mentioned, but why miss out what would've been his fourth album billed with The Revolution that got partially reworked with the "Crystal Ball" tracks as "Sign O' The Times" - "Dream Factory" never mind their (potential 5th) "Roadhouse Garden"?
There's also Adam Ant's "Persuation" (I think that's what it was called)


John Ramirez


Duran Duran wrote and recorded the "Reportage" album as the intended follow-up to their 2004 reunion album "Astronaut". After the 2006 departure of original guitarist Andy Taylor, the band decided to start over with a new batch of songs that became 2007's "Red Carpet Massacre".


D.m. Wilson


Wasn't there also a Album from ABBA, not so much shelved but more never finished. I believe it had the tenative title "Opus 10" and "I am the city" was to be the lead single


Iain Gowers


Madonna gave one of her unreleased 6th album shep tracks to Gary Barlow "Love Won't Wait".

Dannii Minogue, recorded a third album, promoted it at live events and then shelved it when issues over which country it would be released in (rumoured that it would not be released in oz). It eventually got released as "The 1995 Sessions"


Paul Anderson


Shirley Manson's record company didn't think Greg Kurstin would amount to anything. Cut to a decade later and he has produced Sia, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Lily Allen, and Adele amongst others. "Hello", literally.




Supergrass "Release The Drones" was going to be their 7th album, but it was neither finished nor released and they then split up. Although Mick Quinn did post some clips from it on youtube.


Edward Howard


Other examples: The Beach Boys' Smile, Weezer's Songs From The Black Hole & (potentially) Peter Gabriel's I/O.


Mark Smith


Scandalous that "Love You More Than Football", Space's unreleased third album from 2000 isn't mentioned :P


David Hodgson


Nicole S binned another album before her last (failed) release; and more recently Rita Ora's 2nd album was shelved after her break - up from Calvin Harris




Samantha mumba and janet jaxon's rodney jerkins produced work .+ geri halliwell's 4th solo




Random, but I have Geri's 4th album if you want it.




how did you find :)




I learned from this article that Green Day sold 2.1 copies of American Idiot