|Electro Woman||Curb Upheaval|| |
|The Pink Eminem||Super Cow|| |
|Most Lovely||Yitrowa|| |
|Individual||Curb Upheaval|| |
|That Was Fast||Yitrowa|| |
The three Long Beach musicians who comprised Sublime -- vocalist/guitarist Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson, and drummer Bud Gaugh -- played their first gig on July 4, 1988, at a small Long Beach club (a show that sparked the infamous Peninsula Riot). The group began touring heavily while amassing an increasingly substantial following, especially among the surf/skate beach crowd. After four years of concentrating strictly on live shows, Sublime recorded their first album, 40 Oz. to Freedom, in 1992. The LP was released on Skunk Records -- a label formed by Nowell with Sublime manager Miguel -- and sold at local shows, but it really started to break when local radio station KROQ began playing the single "Date Rape" two years after its initial release.
Mostly due to that radio exposure, Sublime signed to MCA in time for 1994's Robbin' the Hood, which revealed an experimental ethic more in keeping with cut-and-paste dub than the well-tuned rage of the Cali punk revival. The album performed well at college radio and set the stage for the breakout success of their self-titled third album. On May 25, 1996, however, Nowell was found in a San Francisco hotel room, dead of a heroin overdose. The band collapsed, but the eponymous Sublime was still slated for a July release.
On the strength of the chart-topping alternative radio hit "What I Got," the album was certified gold by the end of 1996. "Santeria" and "Wrong Way" also enjoyed heavy airplay, and Sublime eventually sold more than five million copies, making it one of the most popular ska-punk albums in history. Such success spread to the band's earlier albums too, leading 40 Oz. to Freedom to double-platinum sales and Robbin' the Hood to gold certification. As Sublime's legend lived on, Wilson and Gaugh formed a new band called Long Beach Dub Allstars, although the group failed to capture the mainstream accolades that Sublime had briefly enjoyed. There were also a number of posthumous Sublime releases, among them 1997's Second Hand Smoke, 1998's Stand by Your Van and Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends, Greatest Hits in 1999, and Gold in 2005.
John Bush, Rovi
Perhaps unsurprisingly given her flair for grand gestures, Lady Gaga has deep roots in drama. Born Stefani Germanotta on March 28, 1986, the future Gaga played piano as a child and pursued musical theatre in high school, regularly auditioning for New York-based television shows, notably landing a background role for a 2001 episode of "The Sopranos". At the age of 17 she enrolled at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in their Collaborative Arts Project 21. As she studied, she continued to eke her way into show biz, winding up with an appearance on MTV's short-lived post-"Punk'd" reality show "Boiling Points" in 2005. Not long afterward, she left school so she could concentrate on her music, fronting a band called SGBand, which released two EPs prior to splitting. Germanotta then teamed with producer Rob Fusari, a collaboration that produced not only her stage name Lady Gaga, but recordings that led to her signing with Def Jam in the fall of 2006. Her association with Def Jam was short-lived: the label dropped her early in 2007. Gaga rebounded by working with performance artist Lady Starlight, the two developing the Lady Gaga & the Starlight Revue, a tongue-in-cheek neo-burlesque act that gained positive press and proved to be her last stop before signing with Interscope later in 2007. While at Interscope she created a bond with Akon, who convinced Interscope head Jimmy Iovine to have her co-sign with his Kon Live imprint, and then Gaga began working with producer/songwriter RedOne, a union that led to the songs that would bring her fame: "Just Dance," "LoveGame," and "Poker Face." These songs formed the foundation of The Fame, the debut album that appeared in August 2008.
Initially, Lady Gaga had greater success in Europe, thanks in large part to the "Just Dance" single, which earned club play in the U.S. and chart placement in other territories. Gaga's march toward the top of the American chart was slow but "Just Dance" reached the peak position in January 2009, followed swiftly by "Poker Face," the single that firmly pushed her into the mainstream, its popularity growing so large it often functioned as a punch line on TV in addition to winning a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. "LoveGame" and "Paparazzi" also appeared as singles before Gaga released The Fame Monster in time for the holiday season of 2009. The mini-LP, available separately and as a package with The Fame, contained the single "Bad Romance" whose popularity soon rivaled "Poker Face" and helped kickstart a stellar year for Gaga in 2010. That year, the hit singles "Bad Romance," "Alejandro," and the Beyoncé duet "Telephone," along with the successful Monster Ball Tour, put Lady Gaga front and center with the public as she worked on her sophomore album, announcing the May release of Born This Way on New Year's Day 2011. The steady march to its summer unveiling was preceded by the release of three singles --"Born This Way," "Judas," and "The Edge of Glory"-- all leading up to the highly anticipated Born This Way. Arriving to mixed reviews, the album was a hit but didn't quite live up to its high expectations, yet it produced more genuine hits with "Marry the Night." A full remix of the album, naturally called Born This Way: The Remix, appeared at the end of the year, as did a holiday television special called "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving" and an accompanying EP, A Very Gaga Holiday.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
Andy Kellman, Rovi
That stardom came courtesy of a fateful meeting with Evan Rogers. The New Yorker was vacationing in Barbados with his wife, a native of the island, when he was introduced to Rihanna. Rogers had spent years producing pop hits for such superstars as *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Laura Pausini, and Rod Stewart, and he offered the talented Rihanna a chance to record. Along with Rogers' production partner, Carl Sturken (the other half of Syndicated Rhythm Productions), Rihanna recorded several demos that sparked the interest of the Carter Administration -- that is, the newly appointed Def Jam president Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter. This led to an audition, and Rihanna both received and accepted an on-the-spot offer to sign with Def Jam.
Come summer 2005, Def Jam rolled out "Pon de Replay," the lively leadoff single from Music of the Sun. Produced almost entirely by Rogers and Sturken, the song synthesized Caribbean rhythms with urban-pop songwriting. "Pon de Replay" caught fire almost immediately, climbing all the way to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and contesting the half-summer reign of Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" atop the chart. The debut album spawned one other hit, "If It's Lovin' That You Want," which also broke the Top 40. Rihanna's follow-up effort, A Girl Like Me, saw even greater success and spawned three sizable singles: a chart-topper ("S.O.S.") and two Top Ten hits ("Unfaithful," "Break It Off").
Rihanna's third album, 2007's Good Girl Gone Bad, continued her success while signaling a change of direction. Whereas her past two albums had been imbalanced -- often weighed down by faceless balladry and canned Caribbean-isms -- Good Girl Gone Bad was a first-rate dance-pop album, stacked with several chart-topping singles and boasting collaborations with Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Timbaland, and StarGate. The lead single, "Umbrella," shot to number one, as did "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia." Its success turned Rihanna into one of the planet's biggest pop stars.
Rated R was released in 2009 during the wake of a physical altercation with romantic interest Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to felony assault. The album's lead single, "Russian Roulette" -- written with Ne-Yo -- was one of the year's most controversial singles, and it set the tone for the singer's new, dark direction. Rated R peaked within the Top Five of the Billboard 200, while another one of its singles, "Rude Boy," topped the Hot 100. Rated R: Remixed was released in the spring of 2010 and featured ten tracks from the album revamped for the dancefloor by Chew Fu.
Loud, Rihanna's fifth studio album, followed in November and was led by the StarGate-produced "Only Girl (In the World)." That song, as well as the follow-up singles "What's My Name?" and "S&M," all topped the Billboard Hot 100. In November 2011, shortly after Loud's "Cheers (Drink to That)" entered the Top Ten, the singer released Talk That Talk. The single "We Found Love" with Calvin Harris earned the top spot in the Hot 100, and the album peaked at number three. Unapologetic, her seventh studio album, featured some of her brashest material and was led by "Diamonds" -- her 18th Top Ten single.
Jason Birchmeier, Rovi
The big breakthrough for Minaj came when Wayne added his rhymes to her "High as a Kite" single, a mixtape favorite in 2008. The year 2009 would see more guest appearances and mixtapes, including the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape, featuring the street single "I Get Crazy." In 2010, the singles "Your Love" and "Check It Out" preceded the release of her official debut album, Pink Friday, which debuted that November at number two on the Billboard 200 and went platinum. She earned a handful of 2011 Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance. An all-out media blitz followed between albums with extravagant performances at award shows across the globe, an appearance as musical guest on "Saturday Night Live", and joining Madonna -- alongside M.I.A. -- for her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. In early 2012, the Eurodance-influenced single "Starships" signaled the coming of her official sophomore effort, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, an album built around her devil-may-care alter ego "Roman Zolanski." Guest artists included Nas, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, and Beenie Man, while production came from the likes of RedOne, Dr. Luke, and Ke'Noe. The album was re-released in 2012 in a "Re-Up" version with eight new tracks added to the front of the track list.
David Jeffries, Rovi
Slightly Stoopid's dual front-men Miles Doughty (Guitar, Bass, Vocals) and Kyle McDonald (Guitar, Bass, Vocals), created their own label, Stoopid Records, in the early 2000’s to avoid signing a record deal and keep their DIY work ethic and freedom away from music industry politics. The west coast sound pioneers later added musicians Ryan ‘RyMo’ Moran (Drums) and Oguer 'OG' Ocon (Congas, Percussion, Harp, Vocals) from the B Side Players, as well as C-Money (Trumpet, Keyboard) and Dela (Saxophone) from John Browns Body; solidifying their on stage line up. Slightly Stoopid has built a large n’ loyal fan base, and has soared to one of the most successful independent artists of this decade. The buzz surrounding the group continues to increase with each successive release; their album catalog sales have topped the 700,000 mark and the group continues to fill the most prestigious concert venues around the world, and continues to create a legion of "stoopidheads" in the process!
Provided by artist representative
Britney Jean Spears was born December 2, 1981, in the small town of Kentwood, LA, and began performing as a singer and dancer at a young age. With a nationally televised appearance on "Star Search" already under her belt, Spears auditioned for the Disney Channel's "The New Mickey Mouse Club" at age eight. The producers turned her down as too young, but one of them took an interest and introduced her to an agent in New York. Spears spent the next three years studying at the Professional Performing Arts School, and also appeared in several television commercials and off-Broadway plays. At 11, she returned to "The New Mickey Mouse Club" for a second audition, and this time made the cut. Although her fellow Mouseketeers included an impressive array of future stars -- *NSYNC's Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez, Christina Aguilera, and "Felicity" actress Keri Russell -- the show was canceled after Spears' second season. She returned to New York at age 15 and set about auditioning for pop bands and recording demo tapes, one of which eventually landed her a deal with Jive Records.
Spears entered the studio with top writer/producers like Eric Foster White (Boyzone, Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys) and Max Martin (Ace of Base, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC). In late 1998, Jive released her debut single, the Martin-penned "...Baby One More Time." Powered by its video, in which Spears and a troupe of dancers were dressed as Catholic-school jailbait, the single shot to the top of the Billboard charts. When Spears' debut album of the same title was released in early 1999, it entered the charts at number one and stayed there for six weeks. Once the ubiquitous lead single died down, the album kept spinning off hits: the Top Ten "(You Drive Me) Crazy," the near-Top 20 ballad "Sometimes," and the Top 20 "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart." By the end of 1999, ...Baby One More Time had sold ten million copies, and went on to sell a good three million more on top of that. Its success touched off a wave of young pop divas that included Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore. Spears was a superstar, drooled over in countless magazines, including a Rolling Stone cover that prompted immediate speculation about the still 17-year-old having received breast implants.
By the time ...Baby One More Time finally started to lose steam on the singles and album charts, Spears was ready to release her follow-up. Oops!...I Did It Again appeared in the spring of 2000, and the title track was an instant smash, racing into the Top Ten. The album itself entered the charts at number one and sold over a million copies in its first week of release, setting a new record for single-week sales by a female artist. Follow-up singles included "Lucky," the gold-selling "Stronger," and "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know," which was co-written by country diva Shania Twain and her producer Mutt Lange. A year after its release, Oops!...I Did It Again had sold over nine million copies. Rumors that Spears was dating *NSYNC heartthrob (and fellow ex-Mouseketeer) Justin Timberlake were eventually confirmed, which only added to the media attention lavished on her.
For her next album, Spears looked ahead to a not-so-distant future when both she and much of her audience would be growing up. Released in late 2001, Britney tried to present the singer as a more mature young woman, and was accompanied by mild hints that her personal life wasn't always completely puritanical. It became her third straight album to debut at number one, although this time around the singles weren't as successful; "I'm a Slave 4 U," "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman," and "Overprotected" all missed the Top Ten. In early 2002, Spears' feature-film debut, "Crossroads", hit theaters, but its commercial performance was somewhat disappointing; moreover, her romance with Timberlake fizzled not long after. Spears next made a cameo appearance in Mike Myers' "Austin Powers: Goldmember", and contributed a remix of "Boys" to the soundtrack. Meanwhile, sales of Britney stalled at four million copies, perhaps in part because a new breed of teenage female singer/songwriters, like Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne, was emerging as an alternative to the highly packaged teen queens. Spears took a break from recording and performing for several months, and began work on a new album in early 2003. The results, In the Zone, reflected a wish to be taken seriously as a mature (though still highly sexualized) adult. Predictably, it topped the charts and launched several singles into orbit, including the musically adventurous "Toxic," "Everytime," and "Me Against the Music."
In the Zone hit number one on the Billboard 200, and "Toxic" snagged a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. But by 2004, there were no longer any illusions of Britney's personal life being all wholesome candy canes and kisses. First there was the star's bizarre two-day marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander, followed by the controversial, highly sexualized "Onyx Hotel" tour, which was eventually canceled (allegedly because of a knee injury) despite positive financial numbers. Starbucks and cigarettes were Britney's constant accessories in the endless paparazzi photos, and the revelation of her relationship with former backup dancer Kevin Federline made the tabloids even more ravenous. Spears and Federline married in September and were tabloid regulars in the months after the ceremony. (A photo of a barefoot Britney leaving a dingy gas station bathroom made the Internet rounds.) The couple also starred in "Chaotic", a UPN reality show consisting mostly of their own home videos that was met with howls from the critics and blogs.
The year 2005 was no less eventful for Spears. She released Greatest Hits: My Prerogative that January, but it was the announcement of her pregnancy that really garnered the headlines. Sean Preston Federline was born in September, and a bidding war ensued for first rights to the baby photos. As the hubbub surrounding Sean's birth continued, Britney released a remix album just in time for the holiday season. In 2006, Spears discovered she was pregnant again; shortly after the birth of her second son, Jayden James Federline, she divorced Federline, thus sparking a long string of custody battles that were eventually settled in Federline's favor. Following another headline-grabbing incident in early 2007 (in which Spears spontaneously shaved her head at a salon in Tarzana, California, much to the delight of nearby photographers), Spears sought help at Malibu's Promises Treatment Center. After leaving the center, she began working on her comeback album and performed a few small shows at House of Blues locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Anaheim, and Las Vegas that May. Despite ongoing turmoil in her life that summer and fall -- including a disastrous performance at MTV's Video Music Awards -- Blackout arrived in October 2007. It proved to be her least successful album to date, charting three Top 40 hits but failing to achieve platinum certification within its first year of release.
Spears' public image was dealt more blows in early 2008 when she lost custody of her children, made several court appearances, and was placed on involuntary psychiatric hold two times in one month. Blackout nevertheless won several MTV-sponsored awards, including Album of the Year from the Europe Music Awards in November 2008. That same fall, the lead-off single from Spears' next record, "Womanizer," became her first number one single in nearly a decade. The full-length Circus arrived in December, featuring a mix of syrupy ballads and uptempo dance numbers that were designed to fuel Spears' comeback. In 2009, the single "3" followed "Womanizer" to the top, and appeared on her career-spanning compilation The Singles Collection. In 2011, Spears returned with the studio album Femme Fatale, featuring the single "Hold It Against Me," which became her fourth single to top the Billboard Hot 100. The second single, the Ke$ha co-written "Till the World Ends," didn't top the charts but it was a bigger hit, going double platinum in the US.
Britney supported Femme Fatale with an international tour that ran until the end of 2011; at the end of the year, the home video Live: The Femme Fatale Tour was released. Spears made a splashy return to television in 2012 when she signed to be one of the celebrity judges on the second season of the U.S. version of Simon Cowell's "The X Factor". The show returned in the fall of 2012.
Steve Huey, Rovi
Two of Pepper's three members started working together in 1996; that was when singer/guitarist Kaleo Wassman first joined forces with bassist/singer Bret Bollinger. After going through quite a few drummers in the '90s, Pepper decided that Yesod Williams was the best man for the job. With the Wassman/Bollinger/Williams lineup in place, Pepper left Hawaii for Los Angeles and went on to be an opening act for shows by Burning Spear, Shaggy, Eek-a-Mouse, Pato Banton, and other major reggae artists. Pepper first entered the studio in 1997 to record a seven-song demo. But by 1999, the trio was signed to the independent, L.A.-based Volcom Entertainment.
Pepper's songs appeared on various Volcom compilations, including 1999 Summer Sampler and The Early Poems Of. The threesome's' first full-length album, Give'n It, was released by Volcom in 2000. The following year, Pepper produced a sophomore album, Kona Town, with Steve Kravac (who has worked with blink-182, Youth Brigade, Guttermouth, Less Than Jake, and other alternative rockers). Volcom released Kona Town in 2002 and In with the Old followed two years later, as Pepper continued touring with the likes of 311 and Snoop Dogg. The band also began its own record label, LAW Records, whose first release was a 2003 reissue of Give'n It. A live DVD was issued in early 2006 before the guys returned that fall with the studio full-length No Shame and a subsequent tour alongside Slightly Stoopid. Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations followed in 2008.
Alex Henderson, Rovi
Born in Bradford in August 1986, Keery-Fisher landed the part of Sima in the popular BBC sitcom "All About Me" while still a teenager. Appearances in "Coronation Street", "The Archers", and "Casualty" followed, as did the release of "Don't Play Nice," which peaked at number 11 on the U.K. charts and seemed to prime Keery-Fisher for a successful singing career. The label went bankrupt after the song's release, though. She bounced back by becoming the number one unsigned artist on MySpace, and her self-produced Wommanequin EP attracted the attention of will.i.am, which led to a deal with will.i.am/Cherrytree Records/Interscope/Dandyville. Showcasing her versatility, she wrote and co-directed a Quentin Tarantino-style web mini-series, "Love Kills xx", and a film, "The Exhibition", both of which were promoted as an extension of her debut album. Produced by Akon, Perfectionist was released in 2011, hitting German-speaking countries in April before receiving a wider release later that year. Natalia also supported Robyn and Kelis on their European tours and appeared on "2 Is Better," a track on Far East Movement's fourth album, Free Wired.
Jon O'Brien, Rovi
Allen began working on her full-length album with producers such as Greg Kurstin, Mark Ronson (with whom she also collaborated on a cover of the Kaiser Chiefs' "Oh My God" that appeared on her second mixtape), and Futurecut, and released a limited-edition 7" of LDN as her debut single in spring 2006. Both LDN and Smile, which followed that summer, were chart successes, with the former reaching number seven on the U.K. chart and the latter hitting number one the week it debuted. Hot on the heels of Smile came Allen's first full-length, Alright, Still, which she supported with a slew of dates stretching out to the end of the year. Despite the speed of her success, Allen continued to update her MySpace page with amusing blog rants, including one about her June 2006 appearance on Top of the Pops that berated the lead singer of the Kooks for "wearing broken straw hats and dark sunglasses" indoors and Dirty Pretty Things for having "organic sliced bread on the rider." Allen rang in 2007 with more tour dates, including gigs in Japan, Australia, and the U.S., and the U.S. release of Alright, Still. She also earned nominations for British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo for that year's Brit Awards, while "Smile" and Alright, Still were nominated for British Single and British Album, respectively.
Allen spent most of 2007 touring, but also collaborated with Dizzee Rascal on Maths and English's duet "Wanna Be" and provided vocals on Basement Jaxx's Crazy Itch Radio. Allen's personal life and side projects were nearly as prominent as her music career, with her relationship with Chemical Brother Ed Simons and her subsequent miscarriage making headlines in late 2007 and early 2008. In February 2008, Allen embarked on a talk show on BBC Three, Lily Allen and Friends, which lasted through that April. That month, Allen posted two new demos on her MySpace page, including "GWB," which was about President George Bush; for her second album, she worked with producer Greg Kurstin of the Bird and the Bee, and co-wrote several songs with him instead of just providing the lyrics. She also worked on songs with Jamie Reynolds of the Klaxons and wrote a song about comedian James Corden for the 2008 Shockwaves Awards. Another new song, "Everyone's at It," debuted that fall, and Allen courted controversy again with an unauthorized cover of Britney Spears' "Womanizer" that December. It's Not Me, It's You, which covered topics like drugs, fame, family, and society, arrived early in 2009, preceded by the single The Fear. Despite the album's success, which included platinum certification in the UK and debuting at the top of the charts in the UK, Canada and Australia (and at number five in the US), in September 2009 Allen did not renew her record contract and took a hiatus from making music.
She remained busy, founding her own label In the Name Of, which included Cults on its roster, writing songs for the musical version of "Bridget Jones' Diary" and starting a family with her boyfriend Sam Cooper, whom she married in June 2011. The following year, she announced she would be professionally known as Lily Rose Cooper and that she was in the studio working on new music with longtime producer Greg Kurstin. Cooper also appeared on Pink's 2012 album, The Truth About Love.
Heather Phares, Rovi
The group's earliest connections go back to the early '90s, when high schoolers will.i.am (William James Adams Jr.) and apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo Jr.) were part of Tribal Nation, a breakdancing crew. Eventually the pair focused more on music and split off on their own as Atban Klann, their esoteric name an acronym for A Tribe Beyond a Nation. Eazy-E's Ruthless Records signed the group in 1992, but many in the Ruthless camp were puzzled by the group and the enthusiasm of Eazy, who had no problem reconciling his own gangsta style with the affable, peace-minded spirit of Atban. Although an album was recorded, Ruthless shelved it, unsure how to market a group whose style wasn't dependent on violent braggadocio like that of N.W.A.
The death of Eazy-E in 1995 signaled the end of any further deals with Ruthless. Undaunted by the experience, will.i.am and apl.de.ap recruited another dancer/MC, Taboo (Jaime Luis Gómez), and reappeared as the Black Eyed Peas. BEP began playing shows around their native L.A., impressing hip-hop fans with their mike skills and dazzling them with their footwork as well. In 1998 their debut, Behind the Front, was released on the Interscope label to critical acclaim -- not only for the trio of MCs, but also for their live band and backing vocalist Kim Hill. It was a modest commercial success, but it did not leave much of an impact, peaking at number 129 on the Billboard 200. BEP's 2000-issued sophomore release, Bridging the Gap, featured guest appearances from Jurassic 5's Chali 2na, De La Soul, and Macy Gray. "Request Line," a single that reached number two on Billboard's rap chart, helped the album perform significantly better than the debut.
A corner was turned soon after the addition of Fergie (Stacy Ann Ferguson). Formerly featured on the television program "Kids Incorporated" and a member of Wild Orchid (a late-'90s all-woman trio pitched somewhere between Lisa Stansfield and En Vogue), she replaced Kim Hill and took on a prominent role with her confident, forthright vocals. BEP's first album with Fergie, 2003's Elephunk, stormed the Top 40 with three singles -- "Where Is the Love?" (a Top Ten hit), "Hey Mama," and "Let's Get It Started." Two years later, the quartet returned with Monkey Business, which pushed BEP into the pop stratosphere courtesy of the hit singles "Don't Phunk with My Heart" and "My Humps." In the U.S., it went triple platinum. Fergie released a solo album, Dutchess, the following year. It was no slouch either, as it racked up three number one singles. The album was executive produced by will.i.am -- by that point an in-demand producer for the likes of Kelis, Diddy, John Legend, Ciara, and Nas -- who reentered the solo game with the 2007 album Songs About Girls. Technically his third solo project, it followed a pair of adventurous, low-key affairs issued on the BBE label earlier in the decade.
After the hiatus, the Black Eyed Peas announced their return in March 2009 with "Boom Boom Pow," the first of three number one singles -- which, together, topped the charts for half of the entire year -- featured on The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies), an album released that June. They quickly followed it up, issuing The Beginning the following year. Despite a boost from Oprah, who selected the album as one of "The Oprah Winfrey Show"'s Favorite Things for 2010, as well as a Top Ten debut, The Beginning didn't sell nearly as many copies as the group's previous work.
Andy Kellman & Wade Kergan, Rovi
David Jeffries, Rovi
Born in Houston in September 1981, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles began performing at age seven, winning upwards of 30 local competitions for her dancing and vocal abilities. She also joined her cousin Kelly Rowland and classmates LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett in forming an adolescent vocal group. Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé's father and Rowland's legal guardian, signed on to be the girls' manager, eventually quitting his full-time job to focus on their efforts. This situation would ultimately lead to the creation of one of the most popular female R&B groups of all time -- Destiny's Child.
Destiny's Child gained momentum throughout the '90s, appearing on "Star Search" in 1992 (under the name Girl's Tyme) and weathering several lineup changes before signing to Columbia Records in 1997. Four studio albums later, the group had officially become the best-selling female group of all time, with such smash hits as "Jumpin' Jumpin'," "Bills, Bills, Bills," "Say My Name," and "Survivor" bolstering the girls' momentum despite a continued string of lawsuits from former members Roberson and Luckett (who contested Mathew Knowles' management, claiming he withheld profits and unjustly favored his daughter and niece). In 2001, Beyoncé, Rowland, and replacement member Michelle Williams allowed themselves a break from the group to pursue individual solo careers. Before landing several movie roles, Beyoncé became the first African-American female artist and second woman ever to win the annual ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year Award. An appearance in the MTV drama "Carmen: A Hip Hopera" quickly followed, but it was her role as Foxxy Cleopatra in 2002's "Austin Powers in Goldmember" that established Beyoncé as a true Hollywood star.
While her inclusion on the movie's soundtrack failed to chart nationally, Beyoncé's full-length solo debut, 2003's Dangerously in Love, reached multi-platinum status. Featuring collaborations with Sean Paul, Missy Elliott, OutKast's Big Boi, and romantic interest Jay-Z, the album spawned a total of four Top Ten singles and garnered the singer five Grammys. Destiny's Child reconvened the following year to release Destiny Fulfilled; upon completing the resulting tour, the group issued one final album, a greatest-hits compilation entitled #1's, and subsequently disbanded. Beyoncé turned her full attention to her burgeoning solo career, releasing the sophomore effort B'day in September 2006 and, three months later, turning in an award-winning performance for the movie musical "Dreamgirls". The singer then embarked on the "Beyoncé Experience" concert tour, releasing a live DVD in November 2007.
The following year proved to be another busy one as Beyoncé landed the role of Etta James in "Cadillac Records", a musical biopic that explored the heyday of Chicago's Chess Records. Shooting commenced in February 2008, with Beyoncé also serving as co-executive producer. One month before the film's December release, the singer released her third studio album, I Am...Sasha Fierce. The double-disc effort emphasized her two distinct personalities, allowing Beyoncé to explore both mainstream sounds and traditional R&B. Some live releases followed. Released in 2009, I Am...Yours, a CD/DVD set, documented an August 2009 performance at Wynn Las Vegas, while 2010's I Am...World Tour, available in separate audio and video formats, was recorded at London's significantly larger O2 Arena (a few months after the Vegas program). She followed ten Grammy nominations with 2011's 4. One of her most energetic and empowering tracks, "Run the World (Girls)," was issued as the lead single, followed by "Party" and "Countdown." The album hit the top position on Billboard's Top 200.
Andrew Leahey, Rovi
At age 17, she began working with hitmaker Glen Ballard, who had produced and co-written Alanis Morissette's chart-topping Jagged Little Pill in 1995. Several years later, she teamed up with the Matrix, a Grammy-nominated production/songwriting team whose résumé included collaborations with Avril Lavigne, Shakira, and Korn. Tired of producing music for other artists, the Matrix had plans to record an album of their own, with Perry serving as one of the group's two singers. The project was ultimately shelved, but not before Perry appeared in a 2004 write-up by Blender magazine, who hailed her as "the Next Big Thing!"
With the Matrix's unreleased album sitting in the vaults at Sony Records, Perry went back to the drawing board and began working on a solo album for Columbia. The project was eventually canceled, although two of its songs were later given to Kelly Clarkson, who scored a Top 40 hit with "I Do Not Hook Up" several years later. Perry (who, by this point, had shed her original surname due to its similarity to actress Kate Hudson) then signed with Capitol, who encouraged their new client to write her own music and helped establish her image as a boisterous, tongue-in-cheek pop star. Perry's debut single, "UR So Gay," generated a small buzz with its mischievous lyrics and clever music video, but it was "I Kissed a Girl" that proved to be her breakthrough hit, topping the charts in 20 countries and pushing its accompanying album, 2008's One of the Boys, into the Top Ten in America. Perry supported her debut by joining the Warped Tour that summer, where she toured alongside her boyfriend at the time, Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes. Meanwhile, "Hot N Cold" became her second multi-platinum hit, "Thinking of You" (one of the album's three songs written solely by Perry) cracked the Top 40, and "Waking Up in Vegas" cracked the Top Ten.
Such success meant that Katy Perry had officially become one of the industry's biggest pop stars, celebrated as much for her outsized behavior and outrageous fashion choices as the music itself. She continued touring through the summer of 2009 (albeit without McCoy, whose boyfriend status had been revoked earlier that year) and found time to tape an installment of "MTV Unplugged", which was released in November. Meanwhile, she worked on a new album and started up a whirlwind romance with comedian Russell Brand, eventually becoming his fiancé. Recording sessions for her album wrapped up in early 2010, and Perry scored her second number one single with "California Gurls," which was released that May. The accompanying album, Teenage Dream, followed in August. The album would be reissued in 2012 as Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, with the bonus track "Wide Awake" earning Perry a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.
Andrew Leahey, Rovi
Her piano/keyboard-driven songs vary from melancholic ballads to out-and-out glam-pop, but her unique voice and melodic style are omnipresent in her music. Essentially a solo artist, Marina wrote the bulk of her early material alone, arranging it for a band to ensure her live shows carried the full energy of her studio recordings. Quick to distance herself from comparisons to the rest of the female solo artists who broke through in 2009, Marina was also open about voicing her opinions on more established musical peers including Lily Allen and Kate Nash. In interviews she often showed a dislike of being grouped together with other emerging artists, especially when she had nothing in common with them except gender. The variety in her music made it hard to classify or pigeonhole, and comparisons were made with artists as diverse as Regina Spektor and Elvis Costello. The startling "cuckoo!" refrain of "Mowgli's Road" and the introspective balladry of "Obsessions" could not be more different, but it was the ever-present charm in Marina's music that brought her cult success in the early part of her career.
Her first single, "Obsessions/Mowgli's Road" was issued by indie label Neon Gold in the U.S., also home to electro-indie Americans Passion Pit, and was followed later in 2009 by The Crown Jewels EP, which contained three new songs, including an electronic remix of fan favorite "I Am Not a Robot." After playing the exhausting British festival circuit in the summer of 2009, Marina briefly retired to the studio to polish off her debut album, 2010's The Family Jewels, before quickly hitting the road again. The group's second, full-length studio outing, Electra Heart, was preceded by the singles " Primadonna" and "Radioactive", the latter of which appeared only on the deluxe version of the album.
Jack Semmence, Rovi