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Top 10 Album Leaks

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Nathan Sharp They've become a product of the 21st century music industry. Join as we count down our picks for the top ten album leaks. For this list, we're looking at those albums that were unintentionally leaked to the internet before they were scheduled to be released. Special thanks to our user kenn1987 for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest Special thanks to our user kenn1987 for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Album Leaks

They've become a product of the 21st century music industry. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the top ten album leaks.

For this list, we're looking at those albums that were unintentionally leaked to the internet before they were scheduled to be released. We're basing our picks on a combination of the album’s hype, the resulting fallout, and the way in which the leak was handled by the artists. Only unintentional leaks are welcomed here, so intentionally faked leaks like Ben Folds’ Way to Normal will not be included.

#10: “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (2001)

The production of Wilco’s fourth studio album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was fraught with difficulties, which resulted in the firing of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett. The difficulties continued after recording, as the band tried buying out of their contract with Reprise Records before songs from the album began appearing on file sharing networks. To compensate, Wilco courteously streamed the entire album on their website for free, a move which quadrupled the website’s traffic and helped boost tour ticket sales. Ironically, the album is their biggest seller to this day.

#9: “The Last Meal” (2000)
Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg’s final album on No Limit Records, The Last Meal proved to be an appropriate title, but even a cool name can't prevent an album from leaking. Well, it wouldn't have, if it wasn't for the always troublesome Suge Knight. Knight was up to his usual sort of behaviour when he uploaded the entire album to Death Row Records’ website, asking fans to compare it to Dead Man Walkin’, an album composed of unreleased Snoop tracks from his Death Row days. Regardless, Snoop got the last laugh, as the album has since sold over two million copies in the U.S. alone.

#8: “Thank Me Later” (2010)

You wouldn't think that a debut studio album from a Toronto-based rapper would be cause for excitement, but Thank Me Later was widely anticipated. The album was leaked two weeks in advance, but rather than be butt hurt about it, Drake took to Twitter and issued a friendly and thankful response, telling fans that he and them were “good” and to “enjoy!” And enjoy they did, as the album debuted at number one and went platinum in Canada in just one week. It proves that if the music is good, people WILL buy it.

#7: “4” (2011)

After Beyoncé took an extended hiatus in order to gather her creativity, anticipation was high for her fourth album, appropriately titled 4. Sony became worried when 4 was leaked almost three weeks early and sued a Swedish man for $233,000 for leaking the album while her legal team went after the leaked tracks. Beyoncé herself had mixed feelings about the release, stating disappointment about the leak itself but showing enthusiasm for the album’s positive response from her fanbase. However, she probably wanted a little more than appreciation, as 4’s opening week sales proved disappointing.

#6: “St. Anger” (2003)

As if Metallica wasn't mad enough already at the prospect of Napster and peer-to-peer file sharing, their first album in six years, the tin-sounding St. Anger, was released early to the very same programs the band was attacking at the time. Metallica’s label decided to move the release date ahead by five days to combat what they called “sub-standard versions” of songs that were making their rounds on the web. In retrospect, those “sub-standard” leaks may have actually been high quality files given the album's... unpolished sound.

#5: “The Eminem Show” (2002)

In the early 2000s, Eminem was on top of the world, as his albums were flying off shelves and his controversial subject matter was making him a media star. As such, it's only natural that fans wanted their hands on his fourth studio album as soon as possible. So it was that The Eminem Show surfaced online while bootlegged copies hit the street nearly a month before the real deal. On top of that, stores began selling the album earlier than intended resulting from the mass confusion surrounding the release date. However, this being Eminem, it has still sold a gazillion copies.

#4: “To Pimp A Butterfly” (2015)
Kendrick Lamar

Another rap superstar, Kendrick Lamar has come out of nowhere (well, technically he came from Compton) to surprise critics and the public alike with his masterful flow and politically charged lyrics. His third album, To Pimp a Butterfly, is heralded as a modern day masterpiece, but it had to suffer through a leak before it received the acclaim. The album was accidentally released eight days early on iTunes and Spotify by Interscope Records, giving expectant listeners an early and entirely welcomed surprise. Rabid fans aren't ALWAYS to blame for these kinds of things!

#3: “Songs of Faith and Devotion” (1993)
Depeche Mode

As with Wilco, recording their eighth studio album wore down the members of Depeche Mode, resulting in Alan Wilder quitting the band after the subsequent tour. And, like Wilco, the album's release was also difficult, but this was on an unprecedented scale that was rarely seen at the time. In 1993, online piracy wasn't exactly a well-known concept, yet this album was a victim. The files were shared in online chat rooms as bulky MPEG and wav files. With download speeds of about 30 minutes per song it proved that Depeche Mode has some truly devoted fans.

#2: “Tha Carter III” (2008)
Lil’ Wayne

While most albums will leak a week or two in advance, Lil’ Wayne beat that by a long shot, as songs from Tha Carter III leaked early by nearly a year! It was so early in the album process that Wayne actually took the released songs and created a new EP appropriately titled The Leak, which was revealed six months before the actual album. Even then, Tha Carter III was leaked early by DJ Chuck T in retaliation for comments made by Wayne. These problems didn't hurt Wayne’s project, as the albumsold over one million copies in its first week alone.

Before we leak our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Vulnicura” (2015)

“Artpop” (2013)
Lady Gaga

Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003)
50 Cent

Human After All (2005)
Daft Punk

#1: “Kid A” (2000)

Radiohead are generally known for being non-givers of craps, so when they're highly anticipated Kid A was leaked they...didn't give one. In fact, they encouraged it! After being burned out on touring and expectations, Radiohead didn't want to promote Kid A, forcing the studio to send advance copies to websites, which naturally led to its appearance on Napster. When asked about the leak, singer Thom Yorke said that it encouraged the music rather than the business. A later album, Hail to the Thief, was also leaked, although as it was unfinished at the time of the leak they weren’t too happy about that one.

Do you agree with our list? Can you remember any leaked albums? For more secure top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to


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