What a difference a year
makes. Within the confines of 365 days, a couples personal drama
dominated headlines, a former group member became the target of child
molestation allegations, three singing legends reintroduced themselves to music
fans and a pop king took a permanent leave of absence.
The year: 2009. Incredible highs.
Devastating lows. All under a soundtrack of memorable tunes from various
sources. And while we are all guilty of being starstruck, it was
09 that reminded us that even our favorite celebrities could experience
the same types of problems we go through. Thus making them, as John Legend
says, ordinary people. The higher your star is in the Hollywood universe, the harder you fall back into the
reality of being among the millions of folks who inhabit Planet Earth.
The Young and the
No one knew this any better than
Chris Brown. In 2008, the crooner was riding a wave of popularity with a
successful re-release of his hit album, Exclusive,
collaborations with a whos who of rap heavyweights and a quietly
fledging relationship with one Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Fast forward to now and
Brown and Rihanna have split under surprising circumstances that involved a
violent incident on the night before the Grammy Awards in February.
That incident would have a definite
impact on Brown, who ultimately turned himself in to the Los Angeles Police
Department for beating his then-girlfriend in an anger-filled rage. The public
would discover just how severe the assault was in the weeks following as a
photo of Rihannas battered and bruised face turned up on TMZ.com.
August saw Brown being sentenced
to five years of probation, one year of domestic violence counseling and six
months of community service after pleading guilty in June to felony assault. In
addition, he was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Rihanna. For public
events, the ruling was modified to have Brown stay 10 yards away from his ex.
In an effort to rebuild his image,
the singer/actor issued repeated apologies and appeared on CNNs Larry King Live in September and
ABCs 20/20 in December.
Prior to this, Browns relationship with Wrigley Chewing Gum
disintegrated as the company expressed concerned over the singers
serious allegations and suspended an ad campaign that
wouldve featured him prominently in February. That same month, the
people behind the popular Got Milk? ads dropped Brown from its Body by Milk
With his personal life was in
shambles, the entertainer fell back on his music with work on his album Graffiti. Despite a Lil Wayne assist on
the song I Can Transform Ya, radio stations were cautious in
playing Browns music as the public backlash continued. Nevertheless, Graffiti debuted at number seven on the
Billboard 200, selling 102,000 copies, a sign that Browns faithful fans
were standing with him.
Rihanna, on the other hand,
maintained her relationship with CoverGirl, as she remained silent while
seeking solace from family and friends. The songbird, who reappeared musically
with Jay-Z and Kanye West on Jiggas hit single Run This
Town, broke her silence in as
she gave her side of the story to ABCs Robin Roberts.
Although the revelations were painful to disclose, Rihanna cited a desire to
prevent young girls from experiencing similar physical abuse as the motivation
for coming forward.
Nevertheless, the beatings
impact could be felt and heard on the entertainers latest offering, Rated R. From the cover of her single
Russian Roulette to the albums
darker tone, it was clear that RiRis sunny persona from
the days of SOS. and Pon de Replay was gone. Still,
Rated R netted a number four spot on Billboard,
selling 181,000 in its first week of release.
Despite twitter support from fans
criticizing Rihanna, Brown deleted his Twitter account in December after
sounding off on retailers and the music industry for being
“blackballed” by stores that aren’t displaying or carrying Graffiti. While Brown and Rihannas ordeal made major
news, it was second only to the death of one of musics most influential
The Return of Old
While fans mourned the loss of one
music icon, two trendsetters returned with new material to enjoy. Armed with
the single Pretty Wings, Maxwell resurrected his relationship
with listeners, who had no trouble welcoming the song stylist back with open
arms. No further proof can be found than on Maxwells latest album, BLACKsummersnight, which scored a
number one debut with 316,000 copies sold in its first week. Couple that with
another hit tune (Bad Habits) and six Grammy nominations and its
clear that Maxwell hasnt missed a step.
Neither has Sade, who gave
followers a pleasant treat with the December release of her first single in
almost 10 years, Soldier of Love. The track is the first taste of
whats to come on the songstress forthcoming album, which shares
the same name as the new tune.
To say that having Sade back is
welcome is a real understatement. The Soldier of Love single,
which premiered on December 8, made radio history by becoming the highest debut
of the decade with a number 11 debut on the Urban Adult Contemporary chart as
well as the third highest all-time debut on the same chart. In addition, the
tracks number five debut on the Smooth Jazz airplay chart resulted in it
becoming the first ever vocal to hit number one on the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown.
Needless to say, 2010 will be a great
year for Sade. With the Soldier of Love
album coming on February 8 and anticipation running high, its safe to
say that fans will have surefire way to bring the romance for Valentines
Say Hello to the
Singing Class of 09
If not with Sade, then with
newcomers such as Jeremih, Keri Hilson, Ryan Leslie and Melanie Fiona. Hilson
especially showed out this year with hits such as the Kanye West and
Ne-Yo-assisted Knock You Down and collaborations with R. Kelly (Number
One), Plies (Medicine), Fabolous Everything,
Everyday, Everywhere), Asher Roth (She Dont Wanna
Man) and the
Clipse (All Eyes on Me). All that and a couple of Grammy
nomination for Best New Artist and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (Knock
You Down”). Keep driving Miss. Keri. Keep driving. 09 was yours for
After years of producing tunes for
other artists, Ryan Leslie came out of the shadows to release his self-titled
debut album and follow-up, Transition,
in 2009. Armed with the hit song “Diamond Girl” from the first
offering and “You’re Not My Girl,” the lead single from the second
album, Leslie made sure listeners had more than enough to take in.
With Fiona, there came a
comeuppance that finally came to the surface with a growing buzz and radio
airplay for the songs Give It to Me Right and It
Kills Me. And Jeremih well lets just say birthdays are a
little more freaky now thanks to his hit song, Birthday Sex. The
lead single, along with its follow-up “Imma Star (Everywhere We
Are),” marked the arrival of a new face with the potential to bring more
hits for the coming new year. Part 2 deep dives into Michael Jackson’s death, R&B group turmoil and what 2010 holds.