2011 has been a big year in music, and between the Grammys, new babies, viral artists and some great losses, the music world has been rocked over and over again. With only a few days left until we wave goodbye to 2011, we’re reflecting on the 10 biggest stories of the year…
1. Beyoncé’s Pregnancy
Forget actual music — who cares about music when the Queen Of Everything is pregnant? It seemed like all anyone was talking about in 2011 was Beyoncé‘s pregnancy, from the initial, dramatic reveal during her VMAs performance of “Love On Top,” to the controversy surrounding the realness of her baby bump. And now the world waits with baited breath for the chosen one to emerge from the most revered womb on earth.
Just Adele — everything about Adele in 2011 was a story. From cancelling her shows in the second half of the year to undergo throat surgery to cleaning up in Grammy nominations, Adele provided story after story for the music world. Her album, 21 sold 5 million copies and is touted to go into it’s 14th week at number one; “Rolling In The Deep” sold more digital copies than any song ever and she found her way onto just about everyone’s “best of 2011″ lists. Adele really was the shining star of music in 2011.
3. Arcade Fire’s Grammy
Arcade Fire rocked the music world when their album The Suburbs (deservedly) won the Grammy for Album Of The Year. While many critics thought the accolade was an obvious and well-earned choice, the pop-music community retaliated in disbelief and outrage. The win, however, paved the way for other cult/lesser known musicians to rise into the mainstream arena.
4. Lana Del Rey Emerges
The Lana Del Rey conversation has been a loud, pervasive one, and if you haven’t had an opinion or at least read someone else’s opinion on the authenticity of Lana Del Rey then you’ve probably been living under a rock. The controversial star came from virtual oblivion to become an over night superstar, best known for her pastiche-y, found footage videos and surgically enhanced lips. Going viral online was only half of it — Lana Del Rey won a Q Award, went on a sold out tour, and is set to appear as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in mid-January 2012.
5. Katy Perry’s Number Ones
This year Katy Perry went HAM for number ones, and managed to equal Michael Jackson’s record with five number ones from the same album. Teenage Dream was a hit machine, and saw Perry controversially make history, with naysayers questioning whether her music is up to the standard of the legendary Jackson.
6. It’s Friday, Friday
Forget “viral,” Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was the runaway sensation of the year, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. The strangely hypnotic tune and low budget video made for the most talked about song of the year — regardless of whether or not those talking about it thought it was actually any good. With 180 million YouTube views, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was the Internet meme of the year.
7. Lady Gaga’s Militant Marketing
While Katy Perry was scrambling for number ones, Lady Gaga was busy making sure she was everywhere and everything. Mother Monster pulled out all the stops to promote her album Born This Way in an epic campaign that lasted 11 months and included a slew of loaded tweets, ostentatious appearances, strategic leaks, a fashion show, some extremely high budget, conceptual videos and a game of Farmville. It’s little wonder then that Forbes named her the top earning female artist of 2011.
8. The Black Keys Won’t Share
The Black Keys not only found mainstream fame and appreciation in 2011, they also refused to share — their new album, El Camino that is. The Black Keys announced that they wouldn’t be offering El Camino on music file sharing devices like Spotify, and we spoke to them about the decision. Their reasoning was “[Streaming services] are becoming more popular, but it still isn’t at a point where you’re able to replace royalties from record sales with the royalties from streaming… For a band that makes a living selling music, it’s not at a point where it’s feasible for us.” Regardless to say, some fans were fairly peeved by the decision.
9. Amy Winehouse Dead At 27
The world was rocked by the tragic and untimely death of Amy Winehouse in July. At only 27-years-old, the young artist, despite her struggles, was so full of promise, and looking forward to a brighter future. Winehouse has been greatly missed, widely mourned and paid heartfelt tribute, and the release of her posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures allowed fans a glimpse into the raw, unfinished works of the now iconic Amy Winehouse.
10. Bon Iver’s Grammy Nods
As though the year had come to a perfect full circle from Arcade Fire’s Grammy win, Bon Iver, another “alternative,” cult artist, scored nominations in 2012’s Grammy Awards for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist. Again, there’s been controversy surrounding the nominations, not least front man Justin Vernon’s slamming of the Grammy Awards as “unimportant”.
[Photos: Getty Images]