Sometimes it's hard to separate the winners from the losers in popular music. If you have the No. 1 album in America, but you're locked up in a federal penitentiary, which category do we mark you off in? And sometimes it's difficult to keep track of who's on whose side without a score card, too. Does Kanye West like Taylor Swift and George Bush right now, or was that 10 minutes ago?
You may have already blocked out the year in music news, but we're here to remind you of every anger-management scandal, every parole violation, and every canceled tour...along with the occasional bits of good news, too. (Which, for 2010, can pretty much be summed up in six words: Lady Gaga Justin Bieber Taylor Swift.)
THE YEAR IN DISNEY
It was not a swell time to be a singer-actor with a show on the Disney Channel. Unless you were Selena Gomez, who somehow avoided the Final Destination-like inevitability of the fates befalling her colleagues (and who even finished up the year being repeatedly photographed in the company of Justin Bieber).
The Jonas Brothers' Disney series, Jonas L.A., was canceled. Nick Jonas's solo album sold fewer than 200,000 copies. The bros rebounded with Camp Rock 2, then saw a number of dates on their summer amphitheatre tour get axed amid reportedly underwhelming sales. After the tour moved to Europe, opening act Demi Lovato punched out a female dancer and left to come back and receive psychological help. Lovato also gave a black eye to her Disney Channel series, which was set to resume filming without her.
THE YEAR IN BEEFS
Meanwhile, West spoke sympathetically of George W. Bush, while making Matt Lauer his new nemesis--canceling his "Today Show" appearance via Twitter (naturally), then making good with NBC long enough to keep his date with the Thanksgiving parade.
Susan Boyle supposedly cried after supposedly being prohibited by Lou Reed from singing his "Perfect Day" on "America's Got Talent." Simon Cowell called Reed's nix "so petty, so pathetic." Reed later called it a misunderstanding and, to make up, co-directed a video for Boyle's recording of the song--apparently not minding that she is the only person in history ever to mistake "Perfect Day" for an inspirational song, much less one that belongs on a Christmas album.
In 2010's most unexepectedly delightful beef, Aimee Mann tweeted that "there is no reason in the world anyone should have ever cast Ice T in a TV show," which resulted in the rapper calling her the B-word and suggesting that she "eat a hot bowl" of substances that cannot be mentioned on a family website. Mann was contrite...sort of. "I forget that Twitter is not just me and four other dorky friends," Mann wrote. "I am sorry, Mr. T! You get out there and DO IT!"
And then there was the run-in between Kings Of Leon and a pigeon in the rafters of a St. Louis amphitheatre, the excretions of which caused the band to quit the show without explanation or apology after just a few numbers. Fan sympathy in St. Louis seemed to be running 9-to-1 in favor of the pigeon after the walk-off.
THE YEAR IN JAIL
March 26: T.I. is released from prison.
May 12: Gucci Mane is released from prison. So far, so good. Then...
June 17: Lil Boosie, already in prison on a lesser offense, is indicted on new murder charges.
August 16: Erykah Badu gets six months of probation for filming a nude music video in public.
October 11: George Michael is released from prison.
November 1: T.I. is readmitted to prison. (His CD No Mercy came out in December and debuted at No. 4.)
November 2: Gucci Mane is taken back to jail, but released without charges the following day.
November 4: Lil Wayne is released from prison. (While he was in Rikers, his I Am Not a Human Being was released and hit No. 1.)
December 14: Jim Morrison is pardoned on an indecent exposure charge, after 41 years, by outgoing Florida governor Charlie Crist.
BUT FELONS MAKE GOOD SAMARITANS, TOO!
Shortly before reentering prison, T.I. helped talk a man down who was threatening to jump off a high-rise building in Atlanta--via video. Seeing the incident on the news, T.I. drove down to the 22-story building and made a video of himself pleading with the man, which was forwarded to the would-be jumper.
GONE TOO SOON: R.I.P.
Jennifer Lopez's recording contract
John Mayer's Twitter account
Joaquin Phoneix's rapper ruse
The original lineup of Paramore
Whitney Houston's voice
Also, in an "in memoriam" of special merit: The Canadian indie-rock band Women broke up onstage, throwing punches at one another at a gig in Victoria, British Columbia before declaring this their last show.
THE YEAR IN STUMBLES
Every time a superstar tripped onstage, it became a YouTube viral video phenomenon. Rihanna fell during a performance in France in April. The same fate befell Mariah Carey in Singapore and Pink in Germany.
Fortunately, there were no fan cameras rolling when cast members of the Bono/Edge-cowritten Spiderman musical on Broadway kept falling victim to accidents in rehearsals and previews.
THE YEAR IN EXTREME YOUTH
Ten-year-old "America's Got Talent" alum Jackie Evancho became the youngest artist ever to have an album reach the top 10 in America, coming out of the box at No. 2 with a Christmas album, which surely made Taylor Swift feel like a very late bloomer.
WINNERS OF THE YEAR
Taylor Swift sold a million copies of Speak Now its first week, the highest tally for a debut in five years. The album is currently up to 2.5 million units and--if we-a let her finish--it may ultimately overtake Eminem's Recovery, which is currently the bestselling 2010 release with 3.2 million units.
DUDS OF THE YEAR
Some of the hottest artists on the radio couldn't sell albums to save their lives. Bruno Mars's "Just the Way You Are" sold more than 2 million singles. But his album couldn't muster even 150,000 sales.
Taio Cruz met a similarly mixed fate. His "Dynamite" single moved upwards of 3 million. The subsequent album, though, sold only about 135,000.
THE YEAR IN MICHAEL
The Grammys rounded up stars to participate in a Michael Jackson tribute-in 3D, which left the vast majority of viewers who didn't have special glasses seeing one fuzzy memorial. It wasn't a good omen. Jackson's posthumous year might have actually peaked with the reopening of the Captain EO ride at Disneyland (also in 3D, but this time with glasses for everybody).
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