Every time Madonna hits the road she makes history, and her "Sticky & Sweet" tour was no different. The epic run kicked off Aug. 23, 2008, in Cardiff, Wales, and by the time it wrapped in London this September, it had grossed about $408 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. What's more, 3.5 million fans saw the pop legend perform across her 85 shows in 32 countries. Madonna now owns the record for the top-grossing tour ever by a solo artist and the second-highest grossing tour of all time, after the Rolling Stones' "Bigger Bang" run in 2005-2007. Sweet, indeed.
The British bad-boy brothers who famously sang about "Cigarettes and Alcohol" and wanting to be a "Rock and Roll Star" while battling each other across continents finally imploded not with a bang but a whisper -- or more specifically, a blog post on the band's website. While famous for onstage sneers and frequent feuds, as well as a string of rock anthems for the ages, this year's split has an air of permanence that seems more definitely than maybe. The memories will, naturally, live forever.
Beastie Adam Yauch Has Cancer
When the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch took to YouTube this summer and announced the group's immediate hiatus due to a cancerous tumor doctors had discovered in his salivary glands, it was as if a longtime best friend had delivered the sobering news in person. While 2009 was supposed to be a triumphant celebration of all things Beasties -- a new album, summer headlining tour and deluxe reissues of the band's catalogue -- was put on hold. But with recovery looking likely and the new record on track for an early 2010 release, fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Mackenzie Accuses Papa John of Incest
For sheer shock value, no story in 2009 could top actress Mackenzie Phillips' detailed revelations on Oprah's couch (and in a tell-all book) about an alleged incestuous relationship with her father, Mamas and the Papas singer John Philips. And while her step-mother disputed the stories, accusing former addict Mackenzie of California dreamin', the one-time child star insisted she was just taking things one day at a time.
The Susan Boyle Juggernaut
"I'm gonna make that audience rock." That's what 48-year-old Susan Boyle told "Britain's Got Talent" cameras during her April 11 audition segment. Boyle was met with snickers until she began to sing: a tearjerking rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" that has since been watched by over 120 million viewers on YouTube. In November, Boyle released her debut album, topped the Billboard 200 for three weeks (and counting), and is threatening to top Taylor Swift and take the title for the best-selling album of '09. "No one is laughing now," a judge remarked after Boyle's audition. How right he was.
Beatles Rock Band Launches
Though the Beatles split up in 1970, the band has managed to have one of the world's most enduring -- and highest selling -- catalogs of all time, even without fully embracing the age of digital downloads. And while yet another year has passed without the Beatles music appearing for sale on iTunes, they gave every album a long overdue sonic upgrade. But it was the Beatles' video game, its own edition of the extremely popular "Rock Band," that may do the most to insure that a whole new generation of fans will fall in love with those rare, timeless tunes.
Allen Beats Lambert To 'Idol' Crown
The epic "American Idol" Season 8 showdown between the clean-cut Arkansas everyman Kris Allen and the glamorous, L.A.-based openly-gay phenom Adam Lambert captured the attention of the country, climaxing with more than 100 million votes cast. While Allen triumphed in the final tally, it was already clear that in Lambert, a new star had been born in front of everyone's eyes. Months later, Lambert's sexually-charged performance at the American Music Awards, and unapologetic attitude in the face of the puffed-up controversy it spawned
, proved his place among his fellow superstars.
We're going to let Soy Bomb and Ol' Dirty Bastard finish, but Kanye West definitely had the best awards show outburst of all time. The rapper met with the wrath of tweens and, let's be honest, good-hearted people everywhere ( including President Obama
) when he bumrushed Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the MTV VMAs. To Beyonce's surprise, West protested that her "Single Ladies" video was more deserving. That was probably true, since it won "Video of the Year" not two hours later, but the damage was done. Now all West can do is hope his next album is as good as the rest.
Chris Brown Assaults Rihanna
At the beginning of 2009, Rihanna and Chris Brown were the country's young, hot R&B star-crossed lovers. But after an argument turned violent on the night before the Grammy Awards left Rihanna battered and humiliated -- and ultimately saw Brown plead guilty to an assault charge -- the dream was forever shattered. Both ended the year with new albums: Rihanna's "Rated R" revealed a wiser, matured singer while Brown's "Grafitti" had the singer looking to retouch his reputation.
Michael Jackson's sudden and unexpected death on June 25, on the eve of his much-heralded return to the concert stage for a sold-out run of 50 London concerts, put the King of Pop firmly back on his throne. In the weeks and months following his death -- which the L.A. police ruled a homicide -- Jackson's memorial service, unprecedented record sales, his will, the battle over his estate, his massive debts and the posthumous concert film of the ill-fated tour rehearsals made Jackson more present than he'd been in years.
Text by Monica Herrera and David J. Prince