We know, we know. Outside of the Presidential election, perhaps the most historic thing 2008 is going to be remembered for is that its ending couldn't come fast enough for most people--especially anyone who actually had to work for a living (no, Heather Mills, going to divorce court doesn't count). Still, from where we sit on the observation deck of life here at Yahoo!, all news is good news, because without it, there'd be nothing to dish! And that certainly pertains to the wonderful world of pop music--which, as always, has spent the year making quite the spectacle of itself. And we don't just mean Britney, either.
So, before the ball drops at midnight on December 31 and we can finally put '08 out of its well-earned misery, let's pause to reflect on some of the more memorable music-related moments from the last year, with Stop The Presses' stories of the year for 2008.
JANUARY: At the request of her mother, Dr. Phil goes to see Britney Spears at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in L.A., then is accused of breaking their trust by blabbing to the media about it. This puts the kibosh on what was apparently going to be an all-Britney episode of the relationship guru's TV show--which Brit's own manager admitted was the Spears family's idea! Ranted an unapologetic McGraw after the plug was pulled: "Someone needs to step up and get this woman into some quality care." Yes, but would that include a group discount for the entire Spears clan?
FEBRUARY: While her drug-related woes prevent her from getting a visa so she can attend the ceremonies in L.A. in person, England's Amy Winehouse wins five Grammy Awards, thus effectively upstaging an event that includes everything from the sublime (Tina Turner and Beyonce's twin booty-shake) to the ridiculous (a duet between Keely Smith and Kid Rock). After the show, the loudest complaint about Winehouse getting "rewarded" for bad behavior comes from Natalie Cole, who apparently doesn't think her own past heroin and crack use counts as bad behavior.
MARCH: Before Madonna's entrance into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Justin Timberlake takes up most of his speech inducting her detailing how she'd recently helped him get over the flu while they were in the studio recording together: She ordered him to drop his pants, and then pulled a loaded hypodermic needle out of her purse and proceeded to inject him in the buttocks…with vitamin B-12! Thanks for sharing, Justin.
APRIL: Teen queen Miley Cyrus gets her first taste of controversy because of a "revealing" (as in semi-disrobed) Vanity Fair photoshoot with legendary shutterbug Annie Leibowitz, which the 15-year-old teen queen quickly disowns as not being as "artistic" as she'd been assured it would be. Meanwhile, Bob Dylan receives a Pulitzer Prize for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture," marking the first time that any rock-related artist has been so honored. This event doesn't get five percent of the media coverage of the Cyrus dustup. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
MAY: While David Cook wins the year's American Idol competition, Idol alum Clay Aikens's producer/roommate/"best friend" Jaymes Foster-Levy (sister of famed record producer, and Idol associate, David Foster) is reported to be pregnant with Aiken's baby--by artificial insemination, that is. There's a lesson in there somewhere, too.
JUNE: Rock 'n' roll pioneer Bo Diddley passes away at age 79. Without him, his square-shaped guitar, and his patented bomp-bomp-bomp, bomp-bomp "Bo Diddley beat," there'd be no "Not Fade Away" by Buddy Holly, no "His Latest Flame" by Elvis Presley, no "I Want Candy" by the Strangeloves (or Bow Wow Wow), no "1969" by the Stooges, no "She's The One" by Bruce Springsteen, no "Desire" by U2--and on and on and on. As one obit notes: The riff that keeps on giving.
JULY: From Bill Clinton's saxophone belches to Mike Huckabee's aborted bass lines, it's pretty clear that when it comes to music, politicians should just play the radio--and nothing else. Then again, the poorly received songs that Big & Rich's John Rich and Ludacris respectively unveil in support of Presidential candidates John McCain ("Raising McCain") and Barack Obama ("Obama Is Here") don't do much for the rep of musicians playing politics, either. This rings especially true for Rich, who finds himself on the sue-ee side of a lawsuit filed by the Black Crowes over Gretchen Wilson's Rich-co-authored/produced "Work Hard, Play Hard," which sounds an awful lot like 1991's old Crowes tune "Jealous Again." Little do we know this will start a trend--eh, Coldplay?
AUGUST: Did they or didn't they? L'Oreal denies lightening the Bootylicious Beyonce's skin tone in pics for a new hair color ad campaign. Not quite the same as TV Guide getting busted for putting Ann-Margret's body underneath Oprah Winfrey's head a few years ago, but still enough to raise many a plucked eyebrow. Meanwhile, Gwen Stefani and hubbie Gavin Rossdale welcome the arrival of their second child, whom they fancifully christen Zuma Nesta Rock. Little do we know that Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson will soon steal GwenGav's baby name thunder with the November arrival of (drum roll, please) Bronx Mowgli Wentz.
SEPTEMBER: A South Carolina plane crash kills four people and leaves Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and celeb turntablist Adam Goldstein (DJ AM) severely injured. While they will recover, the here-and-gone realities of life are underscored with several more music-related illness-caused passings: Motown songwriting/producing giant Norman Whitfield and Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright. These two eerily follow the August deaths of another pair of behind-and-in-front-of-the-mic legends: Atlantic exec Jerry Wexler and Soul Man Isaac Hayes. And, oh yes: Clay Aikens announces he's gay. Well, if he insists...
OCTOBER: Dreamgirl's nightmare: Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother are found shot to death in Hudson's mother's home in Chicago. Four days later, her 7-year-old nephew, missing from the home since the shootings, is also found gunned down in a car parked elsewhere in town. The suspect, who will later be arrested and charged, is the estranged husband of Hudson's sister. And yet another Motown mainstay, Four Tops lead singer Levis Stubbs, moves on to higher ground.
NOVEMBER: Fresh off the success of her number one hit "Womanizer," Britney Spears celebrates her 27th B-day by declaring herself "old and boring." As she tells Rolling Stone: "I go to bed at, like, 9:30 every night, and I don't go out or anything, you know what I mean?" Considering she's had a year free of head-shaving and pantyless bar-hopping, can't really argue with her definition of boring. Meanwhile, speaking of old, newly-turned-50 "Manizer" Madonna gives herself a belated present by dumping film director husband Guy Ritchie, while in the on-deck circle, also-getting-divorced baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez waits to justify his love.
DECEMBER: Michael Jackson's famed glove goes on the auction block, along with several thousand other pieces of Jacko "memorabilia" (insert your favorite bad thoughts here). AC/DC hit the top ten. Kiss announce they'll be recording a new CD. As they say, everything old is new again. Which reminds us: You Guns N' Roses fans over at Dr. Pepper--where's our free can of soda?
We leave you with this 2009 New Year's resolution, courtesy of that pillar of humility himself, Kanye West: "I'm going to go and take an internship and just do something that's like completely normal, and just rap at the weekends or something."
Let's hold him to that one, OK?