10. 'Glee' Beats the Beatles
What started out as a guilty pleasure for musical theater nerds former and present turned into a TV juggernaut this year. "Glee" capped off a smash debut season (complete with Madonna and Lady Gaga tributes!) and came back even bigger in September with a Britney Spears-themed episode, a loving Rocky Horror Picture Show redux, and a "Teenage Dream" cover that left everyone speechless. The cast also cleaned house at every awards show from the Emmys to the Golden Globes and is poised for an equally huge 2011 -- it's bumped "American Idol's" next season to Wednesdays and Thursdays for the first time ever and will feature Michael Jackson's "Thriller" during a historic post-Super Bowl episode in early February. Finally, the
7. Nashville Flood Hits Home for Country Stars
The flood that struck Tennessee over the first two days of May "seemed like it was never going to quit,"
4. Lil Wayne Stays Big Behind Bars
Lil Wayne spent most of 2011 behind bars, but the rapper's public persona was on anything but lockdown during his time away. While serving eight months in jail for his conviction on weapon possession charges, the now-free Lil Wayne became the first artist in 15 years to release a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart while serving a sentence.
2. 'American Idol' Goes Through Changes
"American Idol" met its first challenge of 2010 on Jan. 11, when Simon Cowell announced he'd be leaving the show after nine years to launch its rival "The X Factor," in the U.S. next year. But the task of filling the cantankerous judge's shoes was just one of many reasons why the juggernaut singing competition had its roughest year yet. From plummeting ratings and a lackluster talent pool to new judge Ellen DeGeneres' less than stellar performance on the panel, there wasn't much to get excited about during season nine. Things have gotten far more interesting since then, with DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi leaving the show and -- yes, really -- Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler taking their place. Could 2011 be the year "Idol" reclaims it spot atop the pop culture zeitgeist? Stay tuned. READ MORE: Can 'American Idol' Be Saved?
1. The Great Eminem 'Recovery'
Ten Grammy nominations and 3.1 million albums sold don't lie -- Eminem owned 2010. Does he have another career-defining album in him? That's what many asked when the Detroit rapper dropped "Relapse," his first album in 5 years, and underwhelmed both critically and commercially (on the relative scale of a megastar, anyway). But fans knew that Em had more to give, and he proved it with "Recovery," which spawned two No. 1 hits ("Not Afraid" and "Love the Way You Lie") and has sold more than any other album released in 2010 thus far. Fame and accolades may not matter to him personally -- "Honestly, as long as people enjoy the music, that means the most to me," Eminem told Billboard in June -- but in an industry where longevity is increasingly precious, he's proven himself more than worthy of them. READ MORE: The Eminem Billboard Cover Story
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