Top 20 Music Moments of 2012: Whitney, PSY, Pussy Riot & More

Top 20 Music Moments of 2012: Whitney, PSY, Pussy Riot & More

20 TOP MUSIC MOMENTS OF 2012

 

It was the best of times - Taylor Swift, One Direction and PSY had their best year ever. It was the worst of times - the world lost Whitney Houston, Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, and Jenni Rivera. But 2012 was anything but a slow news year. These are the 20 biggest music moments in a 12 month span that was crammed with milestones.

 

Best of 2012: Billboard's Year-End Charts & More

 

 

20Tupac Turns Into a Hologram

TUPAC HOLOGRAM It's crazy that the one artist that took everyone by surprise at this year's Coachella festival wasn't actually on the bill. Or alive. The late Tupac Shakur made an appearance during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's set on Sunday, April 15 as a "hologram." Tupac appeared on stage through the West Coast rapper's set and performed "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" before disappearing into thin air. Whether it made people nostalgic for the '90s or simply creeped them out, the Tupac appearance caused a frenzy that spread far beyond the hip-hop world. Rumors of tours with holograms of late singers spread, including one with TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and its remaining members. Digital Domain Media Group, which created the hologram with the blessing of the late rapper's family, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sold its business in September. READ FULL STORY
 
19Randy's Naked Arrest

RANDY TRAVIS MUGSHOT Randy Travis was a mess in 2012. The country star was arrested in February, charged with public intoxication after he was found in his car at a Baptist church in Texas. He was then arrested again in August, looking angry and bloody with a black eye in his mugshot, having allegedly threatened a police officer after crashing his car while under the influence of alcohol. But the worst part: Travis was reportedly found naked at the scene in North Texas. On top of his two arrests, Travis was also involved in an altercation with a woman he was possibly dating and her estranged husband. The disturbance occurred outside a Texas church at the end of August, three weeks after his second arrest. READ FULL STORY
 
18Lana Del Rey's SNL Fail

After the video for "Video Games" made Lana Del Rey a rising, controversial online star, her first big step into the real world was a disaster. Her wobbly "Saturday Night Live" performance was roundly criticized by tweeters from actress Juliette Lewis to NBC's "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, with even the comedy show's Kristen Wiig lampooning the singer the following week ( watch below). She made a stronger trip to TV with a "Late Show" performance weeks later, but the damage was done: her "SNL" debut became a meme that lasted all the way through October, when she wound up spinning endlessly in a presidential debate .gif image that went viral. READ FULL STORY

 
17EDM Goes Pop

If 2011 was the year that EDM started to breach the mainstream, 2012 further erased the line between traditional pop vocalists and bass drop engineers. At the Grammy Awards, Skrillex took home multiple pieces of hardware while deadmau5 got to perform with Lil Wayne and Chris Brown. Avicii was joined onstage by Madonna at Ultra Music Festival, and then opened for the superstar on her "MDNA" tour; one month after Ultra, Calvin Harris brought out his "We Found Love" collaborator Rihanna at Coachella. Meanwhile, pop mainstays like Usher and Nicki Minaj worked with producers like Diplo and David Guetta, as EDM stars Swedish House Mafia brought massive audiences to their farewell shows. This year, the Dance Dance Revolution was indeed in full effect. READ FULL STORY

 
16Jenni Rivera's Tragic Death

Although Jenni Rivera was already a mega-star, and by far the top-selling regional Mexican female star in the market, media and her fans were as unprepared for the singer's unexpected death as for the explosive reaction to it. Rivera was officially declared dead 48 hours after the private plane she was traveling in crashed in Mexico. But the media frenzy was unleashed from the onset, with the singer/reality show star/talk show host/entrepreneur fast becoming a Twitter trending topic and the subject of stories around the globe as her music sales skyrocketed. Most telling to the world, reaction highlighted the presence of a big and avid U.S. Latin fan base that is still untapped by the mainstream. READ FULL STORY

 
15Rolling Stones: Grrr-eat at 50

THE ROLLING STONES To mark 50 years as the "World's Greatest Rock n' Roll Band," the Rolling Stones lined up a busy 2012 that included a greatest hits album, two new songs, two films and a book. But something was missing, and after months of speculation and unconfirmed reports the band announced in October a series of live dates, dubbed the "50 and Counting" tour. Paris, London, Brooklyn and New Jersey were all treated to star-studded (guests at various dates included Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Bruce Springsteen) sets of all of Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ron's greatest gems. "Hope to see you again soon," Jagger said at their final date. Ditto. Other icons of the 1960s to hit the road included The Who, for another go at "Quadrophenia," and a reformed Beach Boys, complete with long-absent Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. The latter tour ended in awkwardness, however, when Mike Love returned to the state fair circuit with his other lineup of the Boys that does not include other original members.
 
14Adam Yauch, 1964-2012

ADAM YAUCH MCA OF THE BEASTIE BOYS The hip-hop world and indeed the whole music community was thrown into a state of mourning when word that Adam Yauch, the Beastie Boys' MCA, had died on May 4 at age 47 after a three-year battle with cancer. The veteran, gruff-voiced rapper, musician and video auteur had co-founded the groundbreaking Beastie Boys in 1983 -- whose nine albums released in the SoundScan era sold 10.2 million copies, according to Nielsen Soundscan, up to the time of Yauch's death -- and he counted the creation of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts and directing three full length films (including the Beasties' "Awesome I Fuckin' Shot That" concert film) among his many accomplishments. Just three weeks before his passing, Yauch was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with fellow Beasties Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D'" Diamond. An outpouring of admiration for Yauch's life and work followed news of his death. "I'm glad to know that all the love that Yauch has put out into the world is coming right back at him," Horovitz said in a web message at the time. READ FULL STORY
 
13Pussy Riot's 'Prayer'

When three members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot were arrested for performing an anti-Vladimir Putin "punk prayer" in a Moscow church, the band became the center of a hurricane of free speech and human rights debates. The group drew support from Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork and more Western artists, as well as Amnesty International -- but after a five-month trial, the trio of women were nevertheless found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred." Yekaterina Samutsevich was freed on probation after appealing the sentence, but fellow members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova remain imprisoned, set to serve out their respective two-year sentences at prison camps in Siberia and Mordovia. READ FULL STORY

 
12Jay-Z and Beyoncé Reign

JAY-Z AND BEYONCE Jay-Z and Beyoncé buzzed in our ears throughout 2012, and that's without officially releasing music aside from Jay's "Glory," an ode to a new girl in his life. The pair's year started off with the birth of Blue Ivy Carter on Jan. 7. Jay-Z stepped away from the studio to not only take care of his wife and child, but to organize and perform at the first "Budweiser Made in America" festival, then followed up with an eight-day stint to open Brooklyn's Barclays Center, where he'll play again later this month with Coldplay. As for Bey', she stayed busy behind the scenes with motherhood and working on her fifth studio album -- she's been collaborating with notable singer-songwriters such as The-Dream, Ne-Yo, Miguel and Ryan Tedder. The Carters were also vocal supporters of Obama's re-election; they they raised millions at an NYC fundraiser and Jay performed at a rally in Ohio (Bruce Springsteen was his opening act).
 
11Lionel Richie's Country Comeback


Reinvention is often a young pop star's game, but leave it to Lionel Richie to make one of the year's most successful shifts. With studio set "Tuskegee," he turned to country superstars from Shania Twain to Willie Nelson to transform past hits such as "Hello" and "Dancing on the Ceiling" into Nashville anthems. The move to country worked wonders: "Tuskegee" bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, his best outing since 1986, and has sold 1,057,000 copies this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. READ FULL STORY

 

text by Marc Schneider, Jason Lipshutz, Sarah Maloy, Jessica Letkemann, Erika Ramirez, Leila Cobo, Gail Mitchell

 

 

20 TOp MUSIC MOMENTS OF 2012

 

10Madonna's MDNA Tour Juggernaut

MADONNA Ironically, the Queen of Pop enjoyed one of her biggest years ever despite failing to produce a single as beloved as her past hits. Kicking off 2012 with an over-the-top performance at the Super Bowl halftime show, where she performed "Give Me All Your Luvin'" alongside Nicki Minaj and a bird-flipping M.I.A. for the first time. That single led "MDNA," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 upon its March release, and later to the biggest tour of the year. Madonna's MDNA trek grossed a staggering $228 million over 72 sold-out shows according to Billboard Boxscore, proving that, at 54 years old, Madonna still knows what it takes to dominate a calendar year. READ FULL STORY
 
9Revolving Door at Reality Singing Shows

THE X FACTOR 2012 was the year of shake-ups in the reality TV world, starting in January, when judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones were all ousted from Simon Cowell's "X Factor." In May, the Fox series later upped their celeb status when Britney Spears and Demi Lovato were put on the panel alongside Cowell and Epic Records chairman L.A. Reid. The show underwent yet another change this month, as Reid announced that he would not be returning for a third season. Other judges not returning to their judges' chairs next season are "American Idol's" Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, who both left that Fox series in July. The two stars were replaced by a very different set of judges -- adding Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban to the panel alongside Randy Jackson. The show's twelfth season doesn't premiere until Jan. 16, but there have already been reports of turmoil between the two ladies on the panel. Even at NBC, the judges are changing (at least temporarily), with Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green both out for season 4 of "The Voice." Usher and Shakira will be keeping their red chairs warm.
 
8Taylor Swift Sells a Million

TAYLOR SWIFT Never mind the sold-out arena tours, Album of the Year Grammy and half-decade of superstardom before 2012 -- this year, Taylor Swift somehow became an even bigger superstar with the release of fourth album "Red" and the infectious lead single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." The break-up anthem notched Swift her first No. 1 song of the Hot 100 chart, while other "Red" tracks like "I Knew You Were Trouble," "Begin Again" and the title track crashed the Top 10 upon their release. And in October, her most complex album to date, "Red," moved an incredible 1.2 million copies in its first week, easily earning the biggest debut of any album this year as well as surpassing the first-week sales of 2010's "Speak Now." With a Song of the Year Grammy nod and a massive tour coming soon, Swift was able to take songwriting risks while still appealing to… pretty much everyone. READ FULL STORY
 
7One Direction: Up

ONE DIRECTION At this point last year, the names Zayn, Niall, Louis, Harry and Liam were a bunch of vaguely British boys' monikers with little connection to one another. Twelve months later, those five names taught us what made us beautiful, showed us the one thing, and advised us to live while we're young -- all while selling out stadiums worldwide and inspiring comparisons to Beatlemania. With a pair of No. 1 albums, "Up All Night" and "Take Me Home," the former of which became the first debut LP by a U.K. group to start at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the only direction One Direction went this year was up. This week the group was named Billboard's Top New Artist of 2012. READ FULL STORY
 
6Frank Ocean Writes a Letter

FRANK OCEAN On July 4, Frank Ocean took to Tumblr to open up about his sexuality, confessing to once falling in love with a man. Ocean's statement was honored and admired by many -- from fellow Odd Future member Tyler, the Creator to Beyonce -- and set off a much-needed conversation about homophobia in the R&B and Hip-Hop community. Although Frank never explicitly admitted to being gay or bi-sexual, his words opened many minds. "There's just some magic in truth and honesty and openness," he told GQ this month. Released six days after his open letter, Ocean's debut album, "Channel Orange" bowed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and has gone on to sell 396,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. READ FULL STORY
 
5[Insert 'Call Me Maybe' Pun Here]

Hey, we just met you, Carly Rae Jepsen, but your first song on the Hot 100 chart spent nine weeks at No. 1 and immediately established you as a rising pop star. And this is crazy: the single has inspired covers from Colin Powell, the Harvard men's baseball team, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, as well as earned a Grammy nod for Song of the Year. But here's a number -- 361 million, the YouTube views for your song's official music video (add that to the 67 million for follow-up hit "Good Time"), which effectively inspired the year's biggest meme and most ubiquitous song. So "Call Me Maybe"? Yes, call us definitely. READ FULL STORY

 
4Chris Brown and Rihanna

CHRIS BROWN AND RIHANNA Love it or hate it, the year's most controversial couple is back at it. Talk of reconciliation heated up at the end of February when Rihanna released a remix of "Birthday Cake" featuring Chris Brown, while he dropped a remix of "Turn Up the Music," featuring Rih Rih. Were they back together? It's "Nobody's Business," as Rihanna would say. After Chris Brown broke it off with his girlfriend, Karrueche Tran, photos of ChRihanna started popping up, the most talked about one being on Nov. 29 showing them embracing after one of his German "Carpe Diem" shows. Individually, both stars were active and successful on the charts -- Chris Brown's "Fortune" and Rihanna's "Unapologetic" each bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 when released. READ FULL STORY
 
3Another Big Year for Adele

Released 23 months ago, Adele's sophomore album "21" refused to let up this entire year, selling 4.3 million copies in 2012 alone as of December 18 (bringing it to 10,080,000 overall), according to Nielsen Soundscan. It's hard to believe she began her 2012 recovering from vocal cord surgery, but her inspired comeback performance of "Rolling in the Deep" at the Feb. 12 Grammy Awards (along with those six wins) resulted in one of those career-elevating moments only a special artist can provide. The Grammys resulted in another surge for "21" and she went on to achieve a 24th nonconsecutive week atop the Billboard 200. In the second half of the year she recorded "Skyfall," the title track for the new Bond movie (selling 1.1 million copies). In October she became a mom with the birth of baby boy -- true to her independent streak, she has not revealed his name. READ FULL STORY

 
2PSY Leads Year of K-Pop

If there's one meme, song and face that has been truly inescapable in the second half of 2012, it's South Korean rapper PSY and his outrageous "Gangnam Style." The K-pop hit swept through America in July and is now the most-watched video on YouTube, poised to pass 1 billion views by the new year. The song spent seven weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100 this year, held back from No. 1 by Maroon 5's "One More Night." It found itself atop the On-Demand Songs, Digital Songs and Rap Songs charts, however, and PSY spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Social 50 chart. PSY made the biggest impact, but he wasn't the only K-pop star to make a splash within the states -- the Wonder Girls starred in their own TEENick movie and released a collaboration with Akon this year, BIGBANG and 2NE1 both kicked off U.S. arena tours, and IU's "You and I" spent five weeks at No. 1 on the K-pop Hot 100 -- a record matched only by PSY's "Gangnam Style." READ FULL STORY

 
1Losing Whitney Houston

WHITNEY HOUSTON The industry and fans alike are still coming to grips with Whitney Houston's tragic death last Feb. 11 at Los Angeles' Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Clive Davis protégé and six-time Grammy winner, 48, soared her way to a still-unmatched run of seven consecutive No. 1s on the Hot 100 in the '80s. Her influential legacy of ballads and dance tracks include her iconic cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" (14 consecutive weeks atop the Hot 100) and the joyous "How Will I Know" -- featuring backing vocals by Houston's mom, celebrated singer Cissy Houston. Houston's gospel training and musical lineage -- Dionne Warwick was also a cousin -- resonate throughout the singer's latest release, "The Best of Whitney Houston." And in ongoing posthumous tributes and accolades: Houston's 1985 self-titled debut album is among the 27 recordings that will be inducted into the legendary Grammy Hall of Fame in 2013. READ MORE
 

 

 
• Q&As: One Direction, 5 Interviews
• COVER STORY: One Direction
• OVERVIEW The Year in Pop
• YEAR-END ISSUE: Order It Here

• HUB: The Year In Music 2012
• 2012 CHARTS: Hot 100 Songs
• 2012 CHARTS: Billboard 200
• 2012 CHARTS: Top Artists
 

2012: The Year In Music - Main Page