5. M.I.A. at the Superbowl
Some of us had a good year, some of us had a bad year, and some of us got upstaged at the Super Bowl when M.I.A. flipped the bird in the middle of our set. Madonna falls solidly into that last category. In the endless string of calculations that Madge’s career has become, her secret cadre of Kabbalah oracles couldn’t possibly have predicted that M.I.A. of all people would take the opportunity to make a statement on the world’s largest stage. Except, there she is in the video for the same song flipping the bird at around the same moment. Maybe Madge didn’t miscalculate after all…
4. Gangnam Style Takes Over the World
Although the multi-billion dollar genre known as K-Pop has been a major player in Asian entertainment for more than a decade, it was barely a blip on the Western radar until a video for a little known song called “Gangnam Style” began circulating on the Internet. With the arrival of the enigma known as Psy, the Korean Wave broke on American shores in a big way. Psy overtook teen cult leader Justin Bieber for the most likes on YouTube and ended up landing himself a deal with Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun. Now when “Gangnam Style” comes on at the bar, everyone knows it’s time to ride the invisible horse. When was the last time a Korean pop song did that? Never. Psy deftly side-stepped a recent blow to his reputation over past anti-American comments with enough grace to land on stage in front of the US President. His deeply apologetic and thoughtful statement about the incident revealed a smooth operator who paved the way for the arrival of even weirder music from South Korea.
3. Jay Z and Beyonce Give Birth to Illuminati Love Child
Jay Z and Beyonce kicked off the New Year by bringing the notorious B.I.C. into the house on January 7, 2012 to the chagrin of conspiracy theorists worldwide who saw strange writing on the wall. Despite her parents failed attempt to copyright her name, Blue Ivy Carter immediately got on a Jay Z track becoming the youngest person ever to appear on a Billboard chart. Within five months, Beyonce conquered her baby weight and returned to the stage for four intimate nights of performances in Atlantic City, because she can. She secured herself a spot on stage at the next Super Bowl, directed and produced a film about her life, campaigned for President Obama and landed a $50 million Pepsi endorsement deal. No slouch himself, Hova became the third rapper to perform at Carnegie Hall, curated the Budweiser Made in America Festival, executive produced the video game “NBA 2K13” and opened Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with eight sold out shows. B.I.C. is sure to drop her first album some time next year for which she will likely be nominated for six Grammys.
2. The Death of Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston was Google’s top trending search of 2012 following her death on February 11 at age 48. Loved by millions, Houston was found dead in her Los Angeles hotel room from accidental drowning on the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards. Houston’s struggles with drug abuse and her failed marriage to Bobby Brown were well-documented by the press but didn’t overshadow her attention to craft and trailblazing legacy. Commonly known as “The Voice,” Houston left behind an enduring body of work and set the standard for pop divas for which she will never be forgotten.
1. Frank Ocean Scores Six Grammy Nominations
Six years ago Frank’s name was Chris and he worked at Kinko’s. Two years ago he was involved with an anarchic skateboard collective that took over the music press. Last year he was on a plane to the East coast to record two tracks with Jay Z and Kanye West for their ode to black opulence Watch the Throne. And this year he released Channel Orange to worldwide critical acclaim garnering six Grammy nominations. In the process he posted a cryptic Tumblr message that alluded to relationship with another man at grave risk to his reputation only to find that aside from the usual bottom feeders, the world responded with open arms. Maybe the Mayans were right.