Prince & Michael Jackson Were Friends?
By that logic everyone had a hit after Thriller is a better artist than MJ and everyone who had a huge hit after Purple Rain is better than Prince. Obviously neither is true. Also, both MJ and Prince hit a height with a single album they never again reached. None of MJ’s other albums sold as much as Thriller and none of Prince’s other albums sold as much as Purple Rain. That doesn’t mean their albums after those albums were inferior, I think all their albums after their monster hits suffered from “sequel-itis” in the public mind. Nothing they ever could do or did would ever top those albums in the public mind for the same reason a sequel almost never equals the original film in critical review. People are blown away by the original because they weren’t expecting it. They aren’t as blown away by sequels because they’ve become accustomed to the sequel and hold up everything in perspective to how blown away they were by the original. Nothing ever quite compares. Unless the original was fairly sucky or had major flaws.
In MJ’s case his “Dangerous” album did sell more than his “Bad” album and was his second-highest selling album. His “HIStory” album didn’t sell as much as the Dangerous album because of executive meddling (Sony selling it as a 2-disc album that required you to buy an anthology of his previous albums on top of the new album) and the damage done to his reputation in the US by the way the media covered the 1993 trial and the tabloid banter afterward. However, his HIStory World Tour sold more than any of his previous tours and remained his biggest-selling tour until the This Is It Tour which likely would have surpassed the HIStory Tour.
In Prince’s case his albums were relatively “hit and miss” in terms of which ones were big sellers after Purple Rain. His “Lovesexy” album sold weak like “Parade” (which was after Purple Rain) despite a successful Lovesexy World Tour while his “Sign O’ The Times” album sold big, but never as big as “Purple Rain” and had a weak Sign O’ The Times World Tour. Partially due to audiences expecting him to stick to his old style and not being able to adapt to his changing styles. MJ actually suffered from similar problems with the Invincible album aside from lack of promotion due to his messy breakup with Sony. Like MJ Prince’s sales became bigger overseas than in the US which was getting more into grunge and post-grunge rock, hardcore gangsta rap and more New Jack Swing-y R&B (and later harder-edge sexualized Jodeci and R. Kelly-style R&B).
Personally even though their earlier albums are my favorites too because it’s what I heard first from them I think both Jackson and Prince’s successive albums were more inventive and experimental than their old stuff from the 70s and early 80s. They played with new and radically different sounds from their original albums and pioneered mixing several genres into single songs, something most artists never dare to do. Despite some of the plebian-minded and fickle American public not appreciating it.