Here's a look at the top 10 music stories of 2012:
1. Adele Keeps on Rolling in the Deep
After a 2011 that saw her dominate music completely, Adele managed to keep making headlines in 2012, for both her music and her personal life.
After being sidelined by throat problems the previous year, Adele made her big comeback at the Grammy Awards in February, performing a powerful version of "Rolling in the Deep" and sweeping the boards, taking home six trophies, including Album and Record of the Year. She also scored at the Brit Awards, the U.K. version of the Grammys, and made headlines when she gave the camera the finger when her acceptance speech was cut short.
Meanwhile, "Set Fire to the Rain" became Adele's third #1 hit from her album 21, and she also squeezed one more single out of the disc: "Rumor Has It," which peaked at #16. By the end of the year, 21 had sold 10 million copies in the U.S. -- one of only 21 albums to do so in the Soundscan era. New music came in October when Adele's long-rumored James Bond theme, "Skyfall," was released to critical acclaim. It was the first Bond theme to reach the top 10 in the U.S. since Madonna's 2002 theme for Die Another Day.
In the midst of all this, Adele also experienced some major life changes. She began dating charity entrepreneur Simon Konecki in January, and in June, she announced they were expecting their first child together. At the time, it was thought that she had just gotten the news; in fact, she was already five months along.
In October, Adele gave birth to a son, though she has never actually confirmed the birth herself nor released the baby's name -- quite remarkable in these days of 24/7 access to stars' personal lives, but that's just how Adele rolls. As she told Matt Lauer in her NBC special Live from London, which aired in June, "I don't want to be a celebrity. I don't want to be in people's faces."
Adele ended 2012 by being named Billboard's Artist of the Year for the second year in a row. Her album 21 also was the publication's Album of the Year for the second year in a row. There has never before been an artist who's repeated in both categories in two consecutive years.
2. Huge Hits by Unknown Performers
Chances are that this time last year, you had never heard of the four artists who made some of the biggest chart splashes of 2012 -- unless you were Canadian, Australian, South Korean, or an indie rock fan. Carly Rae Jepsen, Gotye, fun. and PSY seemingly came out of nowhere to rule the Billboard Hot 100 and YouTube all year.
Carly Rae Jepsen's story was the most Cinderella-like. After coming in third on Canadian Idol a few years ago, she was toughing it out on the road as a touring musician when a fellow Canadian musician -- his name's Justin Bieber -- happened to hear her song "Call Me Maybe" on the radio during a visit back home. After tweeting about how catchy the tune was, he discovered she didn't have a U.S. record deal, so he and his manager Scooter Braun signed her. Justin and his pals made a viral video of them lip-synching the song, which unleashed a flood of similar videos, by everyone from Katy Perry to Sesame Street's Cookie Monster to the U.S. Women's Olympic Swim Team.
"Call Me Maybe" topped the charts for nine straight weeks, making it the longest-running #1 of the year, along with Maroon 5's "One More Night." Carly then proved she wasn't a one-hit wonder, by scoring a hit duet with Owl City, "Good Time," and releasing her U.S. debut album, Kiss, which debuted in the top 10. She ended the year by winning the American Music Award for Best New Artist, receiving the Billboard Rising Star Award and grabbing two Grammy nominations. She'll ring in 2013 live in New York City's Times Square, on ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Gotye, the stage name of Australian singer-songwriter Wally De Backer, had been making records for years and was already a big star Down Under, but in 2012, the world suddenly became aware of his song "Somebody That I Used to Know." The song's striking video, which features a naked Gotye and his duet partner, New Zealand singer Kimbra, being covered in body paint, was first posted to YouTube in the summer of 2011. After inspiring countless covers and parody videos, radio picked up on the track and it topped the chart for eight weeks. Gotye ended the year with three Grammy nominations, and "Somebody That I Used to Know" was named Billboard's Hot 100 Song of the Year for 2012. He has yet to score a follow-up hit.
The New York-based indie rock band fun. had been around since 2008, but at the end of of 2011, a wider audience became aware of the group when Glee covered their song "We Are Young." Then, in February, the song was used to soundtrack a commercial for the Chevrolet Sonic, which aired during the Super Bowl. The song's popularity exploded and it ended up topping the charts for six weeks. Headlining tours, festival appearances and a Saturday Night Live slot for the trio followed, and they released another big hit, "Some Nights." fun. capped off the year with a whopping six Grammy nods, becoming the only rock group ever to receive nominations in the four major categories in the same year: Record, Song and Album of the Year, and Best New Artist.
The most unlikely hit of 2012 was a song that wasn't even in English. Thirty-four-year-old South Korean rapper PSY captured the universe's attention with his outrageous, over-the-top video for his dance/rap tune "Gangnam Style." Soon, everyone was doing the video's signature horse-riding dance move and the song shot up the charts, reaching as high as #2. PSY began popping up everywhere, from Saturday Night Live to the American Music Awards, where he danced with MC Hammer. He also performed his song onstage with Madonna. Meanwhile, the "Gangnam Style" video became the most-watched YouTube clip in history, with over 930 million views since July, and climbing.
Unfortunately, PSY's amazing year was marred by an early-December controversy: it was revealed that in 2004, he appeared at a protest concert and performed a song whose lyrics advocated killing U.S. soldiers. This happened just days before the rapper was to appear at a taping of the TNT special Christmas in Washington, before an audience that included President Obama. Psy issued a lengthy apology and was not booted off the show; he taped it as planned, and even received a handshake from Obama afterward. He'll ring in 2013 performing live in Times Square on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Unfortunately, PSY's amazing year was marred by an early-December controversy: it was revealed that in 2004, he appeared at a protest concert and performed a song whose lyrics advocated killing U.S. soldiers. This happened just days before the rapper was to appear at a taping of the TNT special Christmas in Washington, before an audience that included President Obama. He issued a lengthy apology and was not booted off the show; he taped it as planned, and even received a handshake from Obama afterwards. He'll ring in 2013 performing live in Times Square on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
3. Justin Bieber: Music Cred for a New Music Mogul
2012 was the year that Justin Bieber became a man, physically and musically. Not only did he turn 18, but he also released the most mature album of his career. His third full-length studio album, Believe, finally earned The Bieb some musical cred. Moving away from the teen pop stylings of his earlier albums, Believe earned solid reviews, incorporating dance and R&B sounds that had many comparing it to Justin Timberlake's Justified. Believe became Justin's fourth #1 album, but more importantly, it contained hit singles that garnered major radio airplay -- something which had eluded the singer previously. "Boyfriend," "As Long as You Love Me" and "Beauty and a Beat" were all top 10 hits. Believe also featured what Justin called his "Billie Jean" -- a song about Mariah Yeater, the woman who accused him of fathering her child.
2012 also featured Justin's debut as a star-maker. Back home in Canada on a break, he fell in love with a super-catchy song he'd heard on a local radio station. It was "Call Me Maybe," by ex-Canadian Idol finalist Carly Rae Jepsen. After tweeting about how much he liked it, he wondered why Carly didn't have a U.S. record deal, so he and manager Scooter Braun gave her one. A video featuring Justin and his pals lip-synching to the song set off a worldwide craze, and soon, Carly Rae had the biggest hit of the year. When he kicked off his sold out Believe tour, Carly Rae was his opening act.
2012 also saw Justin launch his second fragrance, Girlfriend, win the American Music Award for Artist of the Year, and star in his own NBC special. And let's not forget the headlines he grabbed when he and his girlfriend Selena Gomez broke up -- and then appeared to get back together again. So what if he didn't get nominated for a Grammy, and some crazy dudes in New Mexico planned to murder him? 2013 also looks bright for The Bieb: his tour continues and he plans to release an acoustic album in January.
4. Boy Bands Are Back -- and They're British
That shrieking sound you heard in 2012 was the female population's delirious reaction to the news that, for the first time in over a decade, boy bands were back. And just like that original boy band, The Beatles, these lads were British. Well, O.K., British and Irish.
The Wanted -- four English guys and one Irish dude who'd been put together via a casting call -- got things rolling with their cheeky double-entendre single "Glad You Came." It was covered on Glee, and eventually reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100: the highest a British boy band has ever gotten on the U.S. chart with a debut single. "Chasing the Sun," which was used in the movie Ice Age: Continental Drift, followed. The group -- Max, Jay, Tom, Nathan and Siva -- went on a relentless U.S. promo tour, appearing on every conceivable TV show, and got a big boost when they started working with Justin Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, and opened some shows for The Bieb. They were nominated for an MTV VMA, several Teen Choice Awards and an American Music Award.
However, their year ended in a tangle of tabloid headlines, when they struck up a friendship with Lindsay Lohan, and had the bad luck to be at a New York City club with her when she allegedly got into a fistfight with another patron. Lohan then became a Wanted groupie, traveling on the group's bus from show to show, and the group called her a "sweetheart" and an "angel;" cynics wondered, though, if The Wanted was simply using the starlet's notoriety to up their profile in the U.S. The Wanted's biggest challenge, however, was spending the latter half of 2012 being compared to another boy band that would become, at least in the press, their arch-rivals: One Direction.
Also comprised of four English guys and an Irish dude, 1D's members were younger and prettier and, having gotten their start on The X Factor, they had Simon Cowell's promotional know-how behind them. Thanks to their super-catchy hit "What Makes You Beautiful" -- highly reminiscent of "Summer Nights" from Grease -- One Direction mania soon swept the U.S. The band's first U.S. album, Up All Night, entered the chart at #1: something no British group, including The Beatles, had ever done with a debut release. Soon, Beatles comparisons were flying thick and fast, as girls screamed, shows sold out -- including their entire 2013 tour, a year in advance -- and deals were signed for dolls, games and other merchandise. More hits, including "Live While We're Young" -- which deliberately copied the intro of "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by the Clash -- followed.
Liam, Louis, Harry, Zayn and Niall didn't appear on quite as many TV shows as The Wanted, but the ones they did do had a big impact, including two hugely-attended concerts on NBC's Today show and a feature on Barbara Walters' annual Most Fascinating People special. They headlined at New York's Madison Square Garden, won three MTV VMAs, appeared at the Summer Olympics and performed for Queen Elizabeth II. They announced a fragrance deal, and scheduled a 3D movie, directed by Morgan Spurlock, for release in summer of 2013. In November, 1D's second album, Take Me Home, also entered the chart at #1. And just when it seemed as though the group couldn't grab any more headlines, 1D member Zayn Malik got into a nasty Twitter war with Max George of The Wanted, and 1D member Harry Styles, the "bad boy" of the group, started dating Taylor Swift. Stay tuned for more One Direction mania in 2013.
5. Taylor Swift Will Never Ever Stop Making Headlines
Taylor Swift had an incredible 2012 even before she broke new records in October with the global release of her fourth album, Red. The set moved 1.2 million copies in its first week in the U.S., making it Taylor's second consecutive album to break the million sales mark in that time frame. She's the only female artist ever to have two albums accomplish this feat. By year's end, Red was second only to Adele's 21 as the bestselling album of the year, with nearly three million copies sold.
The lead single from Red, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," also became Taylor's first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The song earned her a Grammy nod for Record of the Year.
Prior to Red hitting stores, Taylor had accomplished quite a bit, including closing out her Speak Now World Tour in Australia in the spring. According to Billboard, the tour made more than $123 million and played to 1.6 million fans around the world over 110 shows. She recorded the track "Safe and Sound" with The Civil Wars from The Hunger Games soundtrack, which would later earn her a Golden Globe nod for Best Original Song, as well as two Grammy nominations. Taylor also voiced the character of Audrey in the animated film Dr. Seuss's The Lorax.
In addition to launching her second perfume, Enchanted Wonderstruck, Taylor also kept the gossip blogs in business this year with her never-boring love life. First, her alleged former boyfriend John Mayer complained to Rolling Stone that it was not cool of Taylor to write the song "Dear John" about him, which caused her to label him "presumptuous" for daring to assume that he was the topic of said tune.
Next came her headline-grabbing summer romance with 18-year-old Conor Kennedy. Taylor's friend, Kennedy matriarch Ethel Kennedy, told reporters that she'd be thrilled if the two married, and Taylor reportedly purchased a home right next to the Kennedy compound. But soon that romance was over, and Taylor had taken up with One Direction's Harry Styles. There was also the endless speculation over which of Taylor's former boyfriends had inspired the songs on Red, with most agreeing that Jake Gyllenhaal was definitely one of the culprits.
6. The Reality of Music Competition Shows
In 2012, music competition shows grabbed headlines more for their changing lineups, and less because of the stars they produced.
American Idol, once a ratings juggernaut, lost its traditional spot as TV's #1 show to Sunday Night Football, while The Voice's strong ratings helped propel NBC to its first November sweeps victor in nine years. The second season of The X Factor was a ratings disappointment, despite the much-hyped presence of new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. And ABC's entry into the music competition race, Duets, was a flop, despite the involvement of A-list mentors such as Kelly Clarkson and John Legend.
Still, American Idol continued to be the only music competition show to produce hit artists. Phillip Phillips, the winner of Idol season 11, scored a massive hit with his coronation single, "Home," partly due to its use in NBC's coverage of the women's gymnastics competition during the Summer Olympics. It was the first American Idol coronation song to reach the top 10 in four years, and eventually became the best-selling coronation song ever. Phillip's debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon, reached #4 on the chart. By comparison, the winners of The Voice and The X Factor have so far failed to produce anything approaching a hit.
The announcement that Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green would take a break for season four of The Voice and be replaced by Shakira and Usher didn't cause much concern. However, the announcement of the departure of American Idol judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler set off a firestorm of speculation as to who would replace them. The answer itself caused controversy: Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and country star Keith Urban were announced as the unlikely new faces on the judging panel, with Randy Jackson the only holdover from the old days.
A leaked TMZ video of an on-set feud between Mariah and Nicki during auditions provided headlines for days; Mariah allegedly claimed Nicki threatened to kill her, while Nicki accused Mariah of playing into black rapper stereotypes. Some accused Idol producers of leaking the tape themselves to create hype for the new season, but that was denied. Weeks later, Nicki said that she and Mariah had been "fine" on the set of the show, and told ABC's Good Morning America, "[Mariah's] been one of my favorite artists of all time since I can remember. So it's weird that everything was blown up like that. It didn't make me happy at all because she knows how much I adore her." However, in December, Mariah refused to answer a reporter's question about what Nicki brings to the show. Stay tuned for the fireworks when the new season debuts in January.
7. Maroon 5 and Adam Levine Continue Their Overexposure
If 2011 was the year that Maroon 5 revived its career, 2012 was the year that they kept the ball rolling. Thanks to frontman Adam Levine's weekly trip into America's living rooms as a coach on the second and third seasons of The Voice, the band was top of mind all year. In February, they performed on the Grammy Awards with the Beach Boys, and in March, they had a new song on the soundtrack of one of the hottest films of the year, The Hunger Games.
Also in March, it was announced that keyboard player Jesse Carmichael would be taking a leave of absence from Maroon 5; he was temporarily replaced by PJ Morton, their touring keyboardist. But Jesse's absence didn't seem to hurt the band: their new album Overexposed -- title courtesy of Adam -- produced two massive hits. "Payphone" debuted at #3 on the charts and scored the best digital sales week ever for a group. It peaked at #2 in the U.S., but became their first U.K. #1 hit, despite being written about a technology that few people use anymore. The follow-up, the reggae-inflected "One More Night," was even bigger, staying at #1 for an astonishing nine weeks, Maroon 5's longest-running chart-topper ever. They scored two Grammy nominations in December.
In 2012, Maroon 5 also toured South America, Asia and Australia, and announced a huge headlining tour for 2013. Meanwhile, Adam appeared in numerous magazine features, split with his Victoria's Secret model girlfriend Anne V and took up with another Victoria's Secret stunner, Behati Prinsloo. He landed a role on the acclaimed AMC series American Horror Story, and filmed his big-screen debut opposite Keira Knightley in the upcoming film Can a Song Save Your Life?
While his fellow Voice coaches Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green announced they'd be sitting out the show's fourth season, Adam intends to remain on the show, along with Blake Shelton. He told TV Guide, "I'd started to become cynical and jaded about the music industry and all the things that I had loved. This show kind of reinvigorated me. It's led to a renaissance, not just in my career but in my life." 2012 was certainly proof of that.
8. Katy Perry Bounces Back
On the next-to-last day of 2011, Katy Perry's world came crashing down when her husband, Russell Brand, filed for divorce after 14 months of marriage. But Katy spent 2012 bouncing back, big time.
Even though technically 2011 was Katy's big career year, she never went away in 2012, appearing everywhere to promote two projects: the re-release of her album Teenage Dream with extra tracks -- a package called The Complete Confection -- and her 3D concert film, Katy Perry: Part of Me. The Complete Confection spun off two massive hits: "Part of Me," which she performed on the Grammys in February, and "Wide Awake."
"Part of Me" became only the 20th song ever to debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Its message of post-breakup self-empowerment had many thinking it was written in response to Katy's split with Brand, but she denied it, saying it had been written in early 2010. "Wide Awake," meanwhile, was specifically written for Katy's movie, and is generally assumed to be about her split with Brand. It reached #2. Both songs came complete with big-budget, high-concept videos, which Katy promoted with MTV sit-down interviews.
In May, Katy received the Spotlight Award at the Billboard Music Awards; in November, the magazine presented her with its Woman of the Year award. She was also named Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist at the American Music Awards in November and received a Grammy nod for "Wide Awake." Meanwhile, her movie Part of Me grossed over $32 million worldwide and was generally well-reviewed. A scene in which Katy is shown backstage breaking down emotionally after what appears to be a communication from Brand, and then then putting on her game face and hitting the stage for a concert, was a standout. Katy also took her second foray into TV scripted comedy by guest-starring on her best friend Shannon Woodward's sitcom, Raising Hope.
Katy's divorce from Brand was granted in February but it didn't become official until July. By then, there were already reports that she'd become involved with John Mayer. After a few weeks of the two being spotted together, they reportedly broke up, and then got back together again. They've since been spotted together numerous times -- at parties, at concerts, at restaurants, at a clubs and even at a tourist attraction in Katy's hometown of Santa Barbara, California -- but they really took their romance public in December. That's when the two, along with John's dad, went out on the town in New York City, happily posing for photographers at a Broadway musical. They were also photographed cuddling at a Rolling Stones concert. Let's hope this apparent romance doesn't end in tears.
9. Rihanna Courts Controversy -- and Chris Brown
Rihanna couldn't seem to stay out of the headlines in 2012 and she fed the fire, providing constant updates on Twitter and Instagram to her loyal and fanatical fan base, which she'd dubbed her "Navy."
The singer's complicated relationship with her ex Chris Brown got even more complicated in late December 2011, when he tweeted -- to no one in particular -- "Love U more than u know!" and Rihanna wrote, just moments later, "I'll always love u #1LOVE." That hint that the two still had something between them became more clear in February, when Chris appeared on Rihanna's "Birthday Cake" remix. Some fans and critics welcomed the track, while others questioned Rihanna's decision to collaborate with a man who had, just two years prior, admitted in court to physically beating her.
On Oprah's Next Chapter, Rihanna acknowledged that she had forgiven Chris, and revealed that she still loved him and was working on her friendship with him. Complicating matters was the fact that, at the time of the Oprah interview, Chris was dating aspiring model Karrueche Tran. In early October, though, Chris was seen hanging out with Rihanna in New York City, and just days after the pair were spotted cuddling at a Jay-Z concert, Chris officially announced his split from Karrueche. Not long after, he released a video in which he wondered aloud whether someone can be in love with two people.
The Rihanna/Chris Brown saga was almost enough to make people forget about Rih's record-breaking year in music. Thanks to "Diamonds," the lead single from Rihanna's latest album Unapologetic, the singer landed her 23rd top-10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while Unapologetic became her first-ever #1 album. Even the bad publicity surrounding her "777" tour -- in which she packed journalists and fans into a jet and flew them around the world in an exhausting, unsatisfying whirlwind tour -- didn't hurt album sales. The disc included a full-fledged duet with Chris Brown titled, appropriately, "Nobody's Business."
Rihanna closed 2012 by scoring three Grammy nominations. Her only professional disappointment of the year seemed to be her big-screen debut in the movie Battleship, which was panned by critics and is considered a box office flop.
Rihanna is up for three Grammy nominations: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Talk That Talk" with Jay-Z, "Where Have You Been" for Best Pop Solo Performance and "We Found Love," featuring Calvin Harris for Best Short Form Music Video.
10. One 1980s Pop Queen Falls, Another Reclaims the Crown
2012 saw one female music icon of the '80s fall, in one of music's most tragic losses, while another proved that she truly is, now and forever, the Queen of Pop...and controversy.
It seemed that 2012 was going to be Whitney Houston's comeback year. The Grammy Award-winning singer, whose struggles with substance abuse often overshadowed her musical accomplishments, had been gearing up to promote Sparkle, the movie remake in which she'd starred alongside Jordin Sparks. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
In February, Houston traveled to Los Angeles, where she was scheduled to perform at her mentor Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party. But hours before the event, news came that Whitney had been discovered unresponsive in the water-filled bathtub of her Beverly Hilton hotel room. The most-awarded female music artist of all time was dead at the age of 48. A coroner's report later would reveal the singer's official cause of death as drowning aggravated by a pre-existing heart condition called atherosclerotic heart disease. Cocaine and other drugs were found in her system, but they were not found to have contributed to her death.
At the Grammy Awards show, the loss of Whitney loomed large. Show host LL Cool J shared a heartfelt prayer in memory of the singer at the top of the awards broadcast, and Jennifer Hudson delivered a stirring performance of "I Will Always Love You" late in the show, working hard to maintain her composure as she sang. The outpouring of love continued with Whitney's funeral -- a "home going celebration" at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., where Whitney sang in the choir as a youngster. Whitney's The Bodyguard co-star Kevin Costner spoke of their long friendship, and Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly and more performed musical tributes to their dear friend. Whitney's songs and albums re-entered the charts, becoming hits all over again.
Meanwhile, Madonna kicked off one of her busiest years ever. 2012 got underway with the icon scoring a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Masterpiece," the song she'd co-written for W.E., a movie she directed. Next came one of the most high-profile appearances of her entire career: playing halftime at the Super Bowl. Her brief set was the most-watched Super Bowl halftime show in history, drawing 114 million viewers, more than watched the game itself. She scored her 38th top 10 hit with "Give Me All Your Luvin'," and the new album that followed, MDNA, debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart.
While she did take time off to launch her first-ever fragrance, Truth or Dare, as well as a designer shoe collection, most of Madonna's year was taken up by her MDNA world tour. The tour itself was rife with controversy, as the star made headlines for everything from her on-stage speechifying -- on topics ranging from the election, to gay rights, to support for the Russian punk band Pussy Riot -- to her penchant for flashing various parts of her body, including her nipple, onstage. Despite the fuss, the MDNA tour was #1 tour of the year, according to Billboard, raking in over $228 million over 72 sold-out shows.
Madonna also found herself embroiled in a few feuds in 2012, one involving her frenemy, Sir Elton John, who dissed her prior to the Golden Globes and later announced that her tour was "a disaster," her career was "over," and she looked like a "fairground stripper." He also complained that she'd been "horrible" to his friend Lady Gaga. He may have had a point there: early in the year, Madonna gave several interviews in which she appeared to be less than enthusiastic about Gaga's hit "Born This Way," implying that it was a little bit too similar to her own hit, "Express Yourself." She then hammered the point home by performing a mash-up of the two songs on the MDNA tour; each night after the mashup, she'd repeat the title of one of her other songs: "She's Not Me." During an October appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, when Ellen demanded to know what Madonna thought of Gaga, she would only admit, "Nice voice."
Provided by ABC News Radio © 2012
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