The Last Word: 2008 Edition
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Quite
simply, it was 2008.
From the highs of watching history unfold with a new
President to the lows of wading through an economic cesspool of unemployment
and changing food and gas prices, there was always entertainment. And our stars
did not disappoint.
R. Kelly became a prime example of the benefits and pitfalls
of celebrity in 2008. More than six years after being charged with 14 counts of
child pornography for allegedly having sex with an underage girl on video, the
Grammy-winning hitmaker finally answered for the charges when the case went to
trial in May. And while a widely circulating video and opinions from insiders
and outsiders seemed to lean towards certain jail time from Kells, Chicago
jurors sent shockwaves around the country by acquitting the crooner on all 14
counts. Conversations about the verdict continue to linger as the currently
low-key Kelly plots his next move.
R. Kelly may have weathered his legal storm, but Jennifer
Hudson is still reeling from her own personal black cloud as she deals with the
recent murders of her mother, brother and nephew. With a role in the box office
smash Sex in the City and a hit single
(Spotlight) to build anticipation for her self-titled debut album, the world
looked ready for the taking for the Oscar winner.
That outlook virtually changed overnight as she became
embroiled in the shootings, which took place in October. William Balfour, the
estranged husband of Hudsons sister Julia, was taken into custody the same day
of the shootings and was later charged with three counts of murder in the
Despite talk of coming out of seclusion to shoot the video
for her second single, If It Isnt Love, media sources report that Hudson has
scrapped plans to film the clip as she continues to grieve for her relatives.
Nevertheless, the singers 2008 did end on a high note as she collected four
As Grammy voters give a wink to Jennifer Hudson, a former
award winner continues her descent from potential greatness. Amy Winehouse
started the year off in high fashion with multiple Grammy wins only to have it
come apart amid near daily tabloid stories regarding her erratic behavior and
drug problem. Redemption was almost in sight as the embattled diva headed back
in the studio to record the theme song to the latest James Bond film, Quantum
of Solace with producer Mark Ronson. The
reunion became short-lived as Ronson revealed the singer was not ready to record
any music as he cited the singers legal problems.
Goodbye comeback, hello rehab and hospital life. Winehouse
is currently holed up in a hospital, where she is recovering from a bad
reaction to medication for her health problems. The stay is the latest
development since Winehouse was reportedly showing early signs of emphysema in
June as well as other conditions related to smoking cigarettes and crack
As Amy tries to stay on the road to recovery, a new invasion
of international talent filled her place with their own vocal stylings. British
soulsters Duffy and Adele joined fellow songstress Estelle in establishing
themselves in their native UK homeland as well as the U.S.
Talented overseas artists werent the only ones finding
success. Stateside vocalists such as Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Rihanna and Mariah
Carey were very much alive and well in the eyes of fans. While Bey unveiled her
aggressive alter ego on the double album I Am Sasha Fierce, Mariah broke records with the lead single off her
latest album, E=MC2.
With Touch My Body, Carey replaced Elvis Presley as she
ranked second to the Beatles with the most number-one singles among all artists
in the rock era. The Fab Four have 20 number ones on the Billboard Hot 100 to
Chris Brown made major moves in his own right as 2008
yielded success for the re-release of his latest album Exclusive, a project that featured four new songs that
included the hit Forever. To add to his solo success, Brown became the go-to
guy for many rappers as he lent his voice and talent to songs from Ludacris
(What Them Girls Like), Nas (Make the World Go Round) and David Banner
(Get Like Me). The result of his hard work came in the form of being
Billboards top artist of 2008.
The magic of a re-release also proved golden for Rihanna,
who added to her résumé of hits with new songs from her album Good Girl Gone
Bad: Reloaded. Take a Bow and Disturbia
became radio mainstays as they both achieved number one status. And like Brown,
the young diva took full advantage of her collaborations, whether they were
with Maroon 5 (If I Never See Your Face Again remix), Justin Timberlake
(Rehab) and T.I. (Live Your Life).
The songs as well as a solid opening spot on Kanye Wests
Glow in the Dark tour this summer were enough to put 2008 in the favorable
column for Miss Fenty.
Professional success may be good, but it was personal goings
on that intrigued fans as much this year for Beyoncé and Co. By the end of the
year, Miss Knowles renounced her state of denial on the subject of boyfriend
Jay-Z as she revealed little details regarding their top-secret wedding in New
York City. No self-respecting website or publication was caught not
capitalizing on reports of the nuptials taking place in April. Although she continued
to downplay the event, Bey eventually let the world see what Jay put on her
finger during the Fashion Rocks concert in New York in September.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z coming together in holy matrimony may not
have surprised many, but Careys marriage to Nick Cannon on the same month
shocked fans and non-fans alike. The union, which was the result of a whirlwind
romance between the entertainers, took place in the Bahamas at Mariahs private
estate on Windermere Island.
They may not be headed down the aisle anytime soon, but
Brown and Rihanna took a page out of the Jay-Z/Beyoncé playbook as they denied
talk of them being a couple. Nevertheless, the power of the paparazzi prevailed
with pictures of the singers relaxing together at various locales and even breaking
bread at Kentucky Fried Chicken and sitting next to each other at awards shows.
So much for being low key.
No to be outdone, Akon and T-Pain gave fans something to
dance and sing to with both artists putting out albums and songs that promoted
romance as well as the excess of being so paid. From Kardinal Offishall to
Lil Wayne to Rick Ross and New Kids on the Block, the power of Pain and Kon
were undeniable in making whatever song they collaborated on a hit.
Not even a Smoking Gun story that put his criminal past and
actual time spent behind bars on blast with claims he didnt serve three
straight years in prison could sour fans on Akon, who blasted the web site for
trying to discredit him.
Out of everyone that shared some reasonable amount of good
fortune during 2008, Janet Jackson seemed to catch more than her share of bad
luck with only 415,000 copies for her latest album Discipline sold in the US and a 14-week stint on the Billboard
charts. The singer/actress alluded to a lack of promotion for the project as
the reason behind her parting with her label Island Def Jam.
And with the label split came the early cancellation of her
Rock Witchu tour from migraine-related vertigo and the loss of her opening act,
LL Cool J. Overall, Miss Jackson has seen better days.
Now that the year is over and 2009 is coming on the horizon,
veteran hitmakers are gearing up to make full-fledged returns to music. Whitney
Houston laid the foundation for her imminent return this year as a song called
Like I Never Left leaked on to the internet. DAngelo and Maxwell followed
suit as they spent 08 in the studio composing future classics for their
Maxwell even went so far as to appear on this years BET
Awards and later preview new songs such as Pretty Wings, Bad Habits, Never
Do W/Out You, Help Somebody and Cold on his fall tour.
With less than a few days to go, 2008 is history. Whether it
goes down for being good, bad, or questionable, the fact remains that through
it all, we were entertained. Anybody ready for an encore?