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December 31, 2009

A Look back at 2009: The Year in Music


2009 was the year that will probably be known as of "the year of the unlikely female singer". Two women went against the traditional and often very formula oriented music scene and made the year their own. Unless you were living under a rock or in the land of "Avatar" this year, you will know that the two women in question were country singer, Taylor Swift and British reality show and You Tube sensation, Susan Boyle.

Taylor Swift's rise to world wide fame began in 2008 when her album "Fearless" sold more than 2 million copies. She skyrocketed to fame in 2009 when "Fearless" was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Chart for 11 weeks. Swift hosted "Saturday Night Live", was named CMA's Entertainer of The Year and was also named Artist of the Year by Billboard Magazine in 2009.

Maybe even more impressive than Swifts' success was the literal overnight sensation, Susan Boyle. Boyle first gained national attention in April as a contestant on "Britain's Got Talent." Boyle shocked and captured the hearts of the world by having a powerhouse superstar voice, a contrast to her "Plain Jane" stage appearance.


Boyle's first album "I Dreamed a Dream", released in November 2009, has been No. 1, entering it's fourth week on the charts with no signs of slowing down. Boyle's album had stiff competition on the charts from superstars such as Mary J. Blige, Andrea Bocelli and Rhianna who all released albums during the same period. Boyle has set records with sales of her album of covers and hers has become Amazon's best-selling album in pre-sales, ever.

Other top artists in 2009 were known for their antics on and off the stage more than for their album sales and accolades.

American Idol contestant Adam Lambert created a stir when he gave a controversial performance at the American Music Awards in November. The performance, in which the singer kissed another man and simulated oral sex on stage, generated a lot of debate about prime time broadcasting guidelines and whether or not the American television audience was gender bias about same sex male acts vs same sex female acts. Barbara Walters would name him one of her Ten Most Fascinating People of 2009 along with Sarah Palin, First Lady Michelle Obama and singer Lady Gaga.

The Black Eyed Peas dominated the singles charts for most of the year with their hit singles "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling" holding both the top shots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time. Lead singer Fergie continue to branch out, co-hosting Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest and by starring opposite Kate Hudson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Nicole Kidman in the movie musical "NINE."

Lady Gaga topped charts and wowed audiences with her outrageous performances. Her talent more than made up for some of her stage outfits. Although the singer may land on a lot of fashions "Worst Dressed Lists" the New Yorker's song "Bad Romance" was one of the best songs of the year.

Whitney Houston returned with an album entitled "I Look To You" and sat down for an interview about her colorful life with and without Bobby Brown with Oprah Winfrey. The episode was one the high rated shows of the season.

Television had a big influence on music as well. Thanks to the success of the new hit television show "Glee", timeless rock classics such as Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and soulful ballads such as Jasmine Sullivan's "Bust Ya Windows" were introduced to an even broader audience. The show even coined a new phrase for blending two songs together with the word "mashup" being being picked up and added our pop culture language.

Lastly, to look back at music in 2009 is also painful as the music world reflects and continues to morn the loss of Michael Jackson. The music icon and now legend became even more fascinating and intriguing in his death. His music enjoyed continuous radio airplay and album sales skyrocketed again, something that Jackson managed to do in life and in death, a feat that might not ever be matched in music again.

"This Is It", the music documentary/concert film about the preparation for his upcoming concert tour was released and theaters were filled with Jackson fans from around the world. The Grammy Museum has an ongoing Michael Jackson retrospective and a display of his now legendary wardrobe from his stylish Mandarin jackets to his sequenced glove. His music film, "Thriller" was added the the Library of Congress' National Film Registry for preservation, a rare honor for a non-cinematic work. Jackson's memorial service drew more than 31 million television viewers in the US and was streamed live on the internet and movie theaters around the world.

There's no telling what 2010 has in store for the music world, but 2009 will be a tough act to follow.
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