Honestly, 2010 wasn’t such a horrible year in Music.Of course alot of the best stuff went under the radar, but even some of the more successful Pop stuff was surprisingly good and inventive. Here is my fairly positive assessment of the Year in Music for 2010, and hopes for 2011.
> > ARTIST OF THE YEAR
1. Young Money — Drake, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne knew he was going to be gone (till November as he said on Drake’s “Miss Me”), but in order to keep getting his money he formed the Young Money mafia and groomed two of the biggest Hip Hop stars of the Year. Even before Drake and Nicki Minaj took off with impressive numbers for their debut albums, the Young Money clique had the biggest Hip Hop hit of the year with “Bed Rock” (because let’s be real “Love the Way You Lie” is a POP song) and a solid selling and actually surprisingly good self titled album. Drake, who was buzzed about all last year, started things off with two huge summer singles and over 500k in first week sales of his debut “Thank Me Later”. All the while Nicki Minaj was making a big name for herself being featured on most of the bigger releases of the year (Usher, Christina Aguilera, Ludacris). She’s ending the year with her debut album “Pink Friday” selling nearly a million copies in a little over a month and quickly becoming a household name. Once Wayne himself got out of prison, he was already sitting with another #1 by releasing an EP “I Am Not a Human Being”. Proof that when his next full length album comes out he’s going to be a force to reckoned with. Now if only anybody could remember the names of the other Young Money crew members, we’ll see how things works out for them next year, if at all.
2. Katy Perry
4. Lady GaGa
5. Kanye West
> > Artists who Deserves More Shine
The swedish Electro Queen delivers both radio accessible Dance hits, as well as authentic and original Electronic music. There’s no reason why “Hang with Me” or “Stars 4 Ever” couldn’t be huge stateside, but it’s possible that her sound and lyrics are watered down and simple enough, sad really.
2. Janelle Monáe
Her full length debut album “TheArchAndroid” shows an artist who loves music and it’s history and doesn’t so much care for what’s popular, but incorporating different sounds and making interesting music. Of course radio would shun her, but critics (namely those who vote for the Grammys) should be fawning all over her. There’s still a shot she will emerge and be more widely respected for her talents.
3. Mr Hudson
His 2009 UK release “Straight No Chaser” is still one of my favorite albums in recent years, and I was hoping his guest appearance on Jay-Z’s hit single “Young Forever” would amp up his promotion in the US. Somehow he’s been forgotten again, maybe he’ll just have to settle for moderate success though he should be huge.
> > FAIL of the Year Award
When Rihanna first came out it was clear her label was molding her to be the new Beyonce in style, but Beyonce had only glowing things to say about her because obviously she was an inspiration to the than new artist. When Drake came out his style of the non-posing Hip Hop rapper was similar to Kanye’s early work, and Kanye never publicly demanded Drake pay his respects to him, he actually worked with him. Simply because both those artists are established and aren’t threatened by any newbies. Unfortunately Lil Kim obviously felt threatened by up and coming Hip Hop star Nicki Minaj which brings us to the biggest FAIL of the year.
Kim’s first initial argument about Nicki was a FAIL because when she asked her to “pay homage”, Nicki had already done so in interviews and photo shoots. When Nicki said nothing against the Queen Bee, Kim just kept at it doing various radio interviews carrying on the beef in the media but never putting her thoughts on wax, which is how these Rap Beefs usually work. So when Nicki finally responded on “Roman’s Revenge” which was released shortly before her “Pink Friday” album dropped, and a radio interview with Angie Martinez showed Nicki being logical, intelligent and even still paying respects to Kim. Than Kim desperately put together a lackluster response “Black Friday” which showed exactly why Nicki has taken her spot, her flow and delivery were boring and the lyrics weren’t very clever at all. And even worse, most of the things Kim uses to call Nicki out apply to her and her early career (the “buffoon” remarks, and the idea that Nicki slept her way to the top when we all know that’s Kim’s story) or were flat out delusional (“still running the game” — REALLY????). In the end “Pink Friday” is doing better than any Kim album already, and Nicki’s more mature approach to this “beef” will make her the winner in the long run.
> > Nicki Minaj Feature Verse of the Year
1. Kanye West “Monster”
2. Diddy Dirty Money “Hello Good Morning Remix”
3. Trey Songz “Bottoms Up”
4. Gyptian “Hold Yuh Remix”
5. Ludacris “My Chick Bad”
6. Lil Wayne “Knockout”
7. Young Money “Roger That”
8. DJ Khaled “All I Do Is Win Remix”
9. Jason Derulo “In My Head
10. Sean Garrett “Get It All”
> > New Artist of the Year
1. Nicki Minaj
2. Surfer Blood
3. Justin Bieber
4. J Cole
5. Bruno Mars
> > Biggest Disappointments of the Year
While none of these three albums are complete garbage, given the caliber of artists behind the releases most have high expectations, and all of these albums just fell short.
1. M.I.A. “/\/\/\Y/\”
2. Daft Punk “Tron”
3. Christina Aguilera“Bionic”
> > ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Picking the #1 album was difficult for me this year, and even as this is posted I’ll probably still have second thoughts about it. It’s definitely between two Hip Hop albums Drake’s “Thank Me Later” and Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”.
Drake “Thank Me Later”
Why it deserves the #1 spot: Drake’s album is perfectly cohesive, the tone and the style of each song blends effortlessly into the next. Even in concept the album tells the story of a man with dreams and watching his dreams come true. The ease at which he transitions from rapping to singing is also new and different and feels totally natural. And it also feels a little more relate-able to the listeners, and another genius thing each and every song has a verse for hardcore Hip Hop fans and one for his female listeners. A clever, complex, carefree album.
Why it should be #2:The drawback to giving this the #1 spot is, even though it takes a few risks with extended verses and the overall ambient feel of the album, it’s still very much a mainstream accessible album (thus the pandering to different sets of fans mentioned above).
Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Fantasy”
Why it deserves the #1 spot: “My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Fantasy” is definitely Kanye’s peak thus far, and he’s been a genius his whole career. The albums strength is that it embodies the different styles Kanye has mastered on his previous four albums, but elevates them and mixes them with classic instrumentation and sounds of rock, alternative, hip hop and R&B. Because of all the mixing the album could have gone terribly wrong, but it manages to never sound forced or overproduced. It just all feels perfect, and is truly a Hip Hop masterpiece because of all the elements working perfectly together.
Why it should be #2:There’s honestly a lot of clever word play here and he tackles some really deep and important issues. However the main selling point of Drake’s album is that it was cohesive in theme, it felt like a story. Kanye’s “Dark and Twisted Fantasy” while very cohesive as far as the musical arrangements and feel, is not so much cohesive in theme, there’s really no story there just random thoughts.Which I suppose is what a “Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” would feel like.
I’m going to give the #1 , pretty predictably since it’s the best reviewed album of the year, to Kanye. Both albums feel really classic, and though I instantly fell in love with “Thank Me Later” and still love it to this day, Kanye feels more like a piece of art, like his short video for “Power”, so much thought and work and creativity went into it feels more like a Masterpiece.
1. Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark and Twisted Fantasy”
2. Drake “Thank Me Later”
3. Broken Bells “Broken Bells”
4. John Legend & The Roots “Wake Up!”
5. Robyn“Body Talk”
6. Surfer Blood “Astro Coast”
7. Rihanna “Loud”
8. Janelle Monáe “TheArchAndroid
9. Erykah Badu“New Amerykah”
10. Toni Braxton“Pulse”
> > SINGLE OF THE YEAR
1. Katy Perry “Teenage Dream”
2. Kanye West featuring Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and Bon Iver “Monster”
3. Rihanna featuring Drake “Whats My Name?”
4. Drake “Find Your Love”
5. B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars “Nothin on You”
6. Toni Braxton “Hands Tied”
7. Robyn “Dancing on my Own”
8. Sade “Soldier of Love”
8. Black Eyed Peas “Imma Be”
9. Neon Trees“Animal”
10. Kelly Rowland “Commander”
> >Guilty Pleasures of the Year
She also gets my > > I Was Wrong Award because last year, when I hadn’t even heard “Tik Tok” in it’s entirety, I predicted the minimal talents of Ke$ha would wear thin once that song had faded out. Dam I was wrong, not that she became a real force to be reckoned with in the industry (her album releases and re-releases continue to flop — and her live performances are sub par to put it nicely), but she was able to get a few more hits using her auto-tuned, generic yet catchy songs. She became my #1 Guilty Pleasure late in the year, even though most of her songs sound the same and talk about the same stuff, who can deny her singles “Take it Off” “Your Love is My Drug” or “We R Who We R”. You hear her songs once and somehow they are stuck in your head. Still, other than catchy hooks and Whiskey references, Ke$ha doesn’t offer much else so we’ll have to see how things turn for her in 2011.
2. Black Eyed Peas “The Beginning” (Album)
3. Taio Cruz “Dynamite”
4. Trey Songz featuring Nicki Minaj “Bottoms Up”
5. Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris “Baby”
> > YouTube Clip of the Year
1. “Bed Intruder”
I don’t think anybody can watch this clip without having “Hide Ya Kids, Hide Ya Wife” or “run and tell dat Homeboy” stuck in their head afterwards. A shameful news clip is remixed into one of the most viewed videos, you wanna say SMH, but than you find yourself singing along and clapping to “We Gon Find You!”
2. Jay-Z and Beyonce performing “Young Forever”
Just too cute for words
3. Nicki Minaj’s Angie Martinez Interview
Listening to Nicki Minaj logically talk about whole Lil Kim situation, while still showing respect to one of her inspirations, shows just how immature and petty the older Kim is acting.
> > MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
1. M.I.A. “Born Free”
2. Jay-Z “On to the Next One” (tie) Rihanna “Rock Star 101”
3. Lady GaGa “Alejandro”
4. Ciara “Ride” (tie) “Gimme Dat”
5. Beyoncé “Why Don’t You Love Me”
6. Kelis “Acapella”
7. Rihanna “Only Girl (In The World)”
8. Drake featuring Lil Wayne “Miss Me”
9. Lady GaGa and Beyoncé “Telephone”
10. Cee-Lo “F**k You”
> > The PLEASE STFU!!! Award
1. Kanye West
By now, we all know that Kanye West is the most outspoken celebrity of late. And sometimes his outbursts were justified and Needed, but this year coming off his hiatus after the VMA controversy it seems that he didn’t learn a thing. He opened up a Twitter account and spouted random thoughts about clothing, traveling and Justin Bieber all leading up to the release of the best reviewed album of the year. And than things just got out of hand, firstly him feeling sorry for his 2005 comments about President Bush (the commander in chiefs apathy during a crisis and a controversy on a cable Awards show are NOT the same thing at all), than the Matt Lauer bust up. He now just comes off as a man who can never be happy about anything unless things are going 100% his way.
Kanye PLEASE STFU!!!! better yet, just put out music and don’t do any publicity. Let us appreciate the genius of your music without having your dickhead soundbytes to remind us what you’re really like.
> > Most OVERRATED Artist and Album of the Year
1. Eminem “Recovery”
Look, there’s no denying that Eminem can literally give us his worst and it’ll be better than most other rappers. He’s naturally gifted with a great flow and clever lyricism with his music, my only problem is he’s always the SAME Eminem. It never feels like he tries to do anything different, and really why should he when every time he drops an album he gets massive sales. This year, with the help of Rihanna and probably his biggest Pop hit “Love the Way You Lie”, he’s being hailed for an album that is really lackluster and very undeserving.
2. Bruno Mars “Doo Wops and Hooligans”
3. Monica “Still Standing”
> > Most OVERRATED Single of the Year
1. Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are”
2. Eminem featuring Rihanna “Love the Way You Lie”
3. Far East Movement “Like a G6”
> > Most UNDERRATED Single of the Year
1. Kelly Rowland“Commander”
2. Maroon 5 “Misery”
3. Miguel “All I Want Is You”
> > Most UNDERRATED Album of the Year
1. Big Boi“Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty”
2. Toni Braxton“Pulse”
3. Kelis “Flesh Tone”
> > Best Career Move
Jennifer Lopez becoming a judge on “American Idol”
The new judging line up of “American Idol” was a pretty big deal this year, and Jennifer Lopez (who I called out last year) jumped on it. Securing a spot as one of the “esteemed” judging panel for 2011’s “American Idol” should prove well for her, she’s still a big star and much more so than Paula Abdul when she joined the first season of the show. If she plays her cards right, this could help any future film or music projects for her. The jury is still out on if people will watch without Simon, but I’m sure most are at least intrigued by the new judging
> > Worst Career Move
Chris Brown having a Twitter account
Chris has been hustling this year, trying to get his career back on track. Working on mixtapes and releasing singles and videos left and right even though he has no new album to promote. It’s been working, but it seems everytime anybody mentions his “incident” two years ago, he turns into a little child instead of doing the mature thing and not responding. His fans don’t seem to mind, but it’s not doing him any good in the mainstream eye which is who he needs to get back on his team the most.
> > COLOSSAL Flop of the Year
1. Christina Aguilera“Bionic”
Wow! From every angle you look at it, Christina Aguilera’s “Bionic” has to be the biggest flop the pop world has seen in years. And really who is to blame, well let’s start with the label RCA. The album feels like one half what Christina actually wanted the sound to be (experimental Indie/Electro on “Elastic Love” and the title track among a few others) and what the label wanted it to be for chart dominance (the dated sounding single “Not Myself Tonight” and annoying pop fodder “I Hate Boys” for example). Those two different directions made the album uneven, but there are a lot of successful albums that are even worse. A lot of her fans blame Perez Hilton for constantly saying her new look was similar to Lady GaGa’s, which in a lot of aspects (especially the “Not Myself Tonight” music video) was true — but acts like Beyonce, Usher and Nicki Minaj get called out for copying other artists and it didn’t hurt their sales. Who’s next to blame, well the artist herself. From her icy and impersonal interviews, to her classless, over-sung (and partially lipped) MTV Movie Award performance she just didn’t seem to make any smart decisions in the promotion. The final result was an album that fell out of the Billboard 200 within months, and a first single that couldn’t even pass the Top 20 mark with her follow up singles lingering in the bottom half of the Hot 100 (if at all).
Christina did end the year on a bit of a high note. Her acting debut “Burlesque” wasn’t a box office smash, but wasn’t a complete Flop and it ended up getting a few Golden Globe nominations, including one for a song she wrote for the soundtrack. Here’s hoping Christina follows up quickly and makes some new and unique decisions
about her music and promotion.
Ciara also gets the > >You Poor Thing Award because she was the Flop of the Year last year. When she released her new “promo single” “You Got Me (Basic Instincts)” it seemed like she was on the right track because she was singing about what she did wrong in the previous era. Trying to be someone she’s not, and she promised to go back to her roots with the next album. Her single and video “Ride” were a step in the right direction, but than things started taking a down turn. BET banned her video (more on that later), and her album was pushed back several times while her songs were being leaked left and right (just like with the Fantasy Ride album). By the time her album did come out of nowhere in December with no promotion, it debuted at #43 with only around 30, 000 copies sold. OUCH!!!!
Her problem is the people behind her, to me it feels like somebody at her label is really out to ruin her career and are sabotaging her at every point. She needs to get away from those people and keep on grinding because she’s really capable of being a long lasting R&B artist, but after a while she might just stop trying. Poor Thing.
> > Trends that need to END!
1. The Dance Pop trend.
Please, it’s been the popular sound for too many years and now it’s just allowing people to be lazy. In both Production, and Lyrics. Compared to true dance music, the tracks are normally a diluted and repetitive generic version of Dance. And lyrically we’ve gotten to a place where we accept a song titled “Blah Blah Blah”. We need something new, and I have a feeling a more Island style is set to take over.
What used to be a clever marketing tool, is now clearly the proof that we are in a Singles oriented industry and the label heads don’t really care about whole albums. Artists might as well just follow Robyn’s idea of putting out short EP’s every few months, because aside from a few exceptions a Re-Release sort of cheapens the idea of putting together a cohesive full album, when in a few months your just going to scrap together some filler for a Re-Release only intended to promote 1 or 2 new songs.
3. Product Placement in Music Videos.
I understand artists nowadays have to get their money in unique ways, but too many Pop stars this year took the fun out of their videos by making them look too much like commercials. Ke$ha’s “We R Wo We R”, Lady GaGa’s “Telephone” and “Bad Romance” videos, and Christina Aguilera’s “Not Myself Tonight” stand out as big abusers of this crime. Hopefully in 2011 artists can at least find more clever ways of incorporating the products in their videos.