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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
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!
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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
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
The band consists of four longtime friends: Geoff Weers (Guitar and Vocals), Adam Patterson (Drums and Vocals), Raul Bianchi (Lead Guitar) and Ryan DeMars (Bass). The first seven years of their career was fueled with three full-length, completely independent releases. No Time To Worry (2000), Open Container (2001), and Gettin’ Filthy (2004), would bring in a combined total of over 40,000 units sold with no physical distribution and no record label.
While touring and supporting their album, Gettin’ Filthy, The Expendables would share the stage with Slightly Stoopid and catch the attention of founders and front men Kyle McDonald and Miles Doughty. In 2007 Slightly Stoopid formed their own independent label, Stoopid Records, and signed The Expendables for the label’s first non-Stoopid release, which was The Expendables self-titled. Released in September 2007, the album would be accepted as an instant classic by fans and received rave reviews from critics.
The band continued supporting the album with hundreds of shows over the next two years, gaining fans around the world, and respect from the bands that influenced them. Early 2009 The Expendables toured relentlessly. Within a few short months, they hit the road with NOFX, Less Than Jake, Pennywise, and Pepper. In case that was not enough, The Expendables were honored to join 311 on their Summer Unity amphitheater tour, rocking huge stages, and opening new doors for the band.
The boys decided idle time was not an option after the conclusion of their tour with 311, so they went straight in to the studio to begin recording their next album, Prove It. Paul Leary (producer of Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, Supersuckers, as well as guitar player for Butthole Surfers) and El Hefe (guitar player of NoFX) would split producing duties at Big Fish studios in Encinitas, California.
Prove It was released May 11th 2010 debuting at #158 on the Billboard Top 200, #30 on Billboard’s Independent charts, and #4 on Billboard’s Heatseekers! The album also pushed to #15 on iTunes Top 200 and #5 on iTunes Alternative Charts, jumping The Expendables to a new level in their career. The band’s new release would include guest performances by C-Money, OG, and Dela of Slightly Stoopid throughout the album. Jumping into the mix as well would be long time friend G. Love on the ballad “Wells”.
To support the release of Prove It, The Expendables continued their tenacious touring schedule with their popular yearly Winter Blackout Tour, a headlining Spring Tour, a slot supporting Slightly Stoopid and Steel Pulse on this summers, Cauzin’ Vapors tour and will be in Europe with The Mad Caddies during the fall. The band will close out the year with a national headlining run that will be sure to keep The Expendables strong hype building.
Thirteen years later, five albums down and countless miles covered The Expendables show no signs of slowing down.
Provided by artist representative
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
He was still living in East Palmdale, Los Angeles, when in November 1999 Afroman released his first album, Sell Your Dope, and played parties, sidewalks, and contests. Not finding L.A. to his liking, he moved to Hattiesburg, MS, where he teamed up with drummer Jody Stallone and keyboardist/bassist Daryl Havard. In the spring of 2000 he concocted his second LP, Because I Got High, with producer Tim Ramenofsky. He distributed it at shows and with the help of T-Bone Records in Hattiesburg. The more people he performed for, the more word of mouth spread, with not just a little help from the Internet's controversial music-file swapping service, Napster. Someone who got his hands on his music at a show posted the track "Because I Got High" to Napster and suddenly everything changed for Afroman. Then Howard Stern's radio show boosted "Because I Got High"'s popularity by playing the song on his show. The song "Because I Got High" was based on Afroman's inability to clean up his room. The song lists a number of activities -- cleaning his room, going to court, attending class -- that get derailed because of "reefer madness."
Afroman eventually also gained the attention of Universal Records, which signed him to a six-album deal. His first Universal album, The Good Times, was a compilation of his first two LPs and a few new ones. "Because I Got High" was also included on the soundtrack to Kevin Smith's film "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. "Because I Got High" became a huge hit around the world in the last quarter of 2001. When he returned in 2004, he did so in a big way, with the double-disc Afroholic...The Even Better Times, although he did so independently. Free of Universal, he wrote, produced, and recorded Afroholic on his own, marketed it largely via the Internet (www.afromanmusic.com), and toured with a live band. The holiday album Jobe Bells followed in 2004 and then came Drunk'n'High in 2006. After his second 2006 album, A Colt .45 Christmas, Afroman released Waiting to Inhale in 2008.
Ed Nimmervoll, Rovi
Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi
Andy Kellman, Rovi
Andy Kellman, Rovi
Born on Staten Island on December 18, 1980, Aguilera spent her early childhood in Pittsburgh, PA. By age six, she began performing regularly in local talent shows, working her way to an appearance on the nationally televised competition Star Search. This was the true beginning of Aguilera's professional career, leading her to joining Disney Channel's reboot of The Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. Christina joined a cast that also featured future stars Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, and Keri Russell. The New Mickey Mouse Club lasted for two years and after its cancellation, Aguilera began working behind the scenes of the pop machine, cutting a duet with Japanese pop singer Keizo Nakanishi called All I Wanna Do, then representing the U.S. three years later in the Golden Stag International Festival. Her first big break arrived in 1998, when she recorded Reflection for the soundtrack of Disney's Mulan, a performance that lead to a contract with RCA Records.
RCA released Christina Aguilera late in the summer of 1999, several months after Britney's Baby One More Time began the teen pop boom. Christina's debut reached the top of the U.S. charts on the momentum of the number one single Genie in a Bottle, which was followed in short order by another chart-topper in What a Girl Wants, which happened to be the first number one of 2000. Aguilera racked up recognition in a number of ways, playing the Superbowl halftime show and winning the Grammy for Best New Artist, as Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You) gave her a third number one single. Aguilera kept new product flowing, too, releasing the Spanish-language Mi Reflejo -- she didn't speak the language, so she learned lyrics phonetically -- and My Kind of Christmas by the end of the year, while other labels attempted to cash in on her success via an unauthorized collection of old demos called Just Be Free. Christina Aguilera drifted down the charts in 2001 but she stayed in the spotlight via her participation of a remake of Labelle's Lady Marmalade for the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge.
When Aguilera resurfaced with new material in 2002, she began using the appellation Xtina, which was not the only X on her sophomore effort, Stripped. A carnal collection of risqué R&B largely produced by Scott Storch, Stripped was a defiant break from her teenybopper past, and Aguilera promoted it by flashing lots of skin on the covers of her album, "Rolling Stone", and "Maxim". Such striking sexuality earned mixed reviews and the lead single Dirrty failed to replicate her early success, but she straightened the ship with Beautiful, a ballad that turned into an anthem of sorts and peaked at number two on the Top 100.
Aguilera took another left turn for her next album, 2006's Back to Basics. The title suggested something simple but the album was anything but, spilling out over two discs and running the gamut from brassy swing to modern dance. Its lead single, Ain't No Other Man, was another blockbuster and Grammy winner for Christina, and the tour was her most ambitious to date. In 2008, Aguilera released her first hits collection, Keeps Gettin' Better, which was available exclusively via Target in the U.S. After a four-year break, Aguilera returned with her fourth album, Bionic, in the spring of 2010. Bionic proved to be Aguilera's first flop, earning decidedly mixed reviews, generating no hits, and failing to go gold. It was followed by a second stumble in Burlesque, Aguilera's first starring role on the big screen which was greeted to mediocre reviews and lackluster box office.
These were sudden unexpected setbacks, but Aguilera's comeback came just as quickly, arriving in the form of NBC's televised singing competition "The Voice". As one of the four celebrity judges -- the others being Maroon 5's Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton -- Christina found herself on a hit show that elevated her profile and gave her another hit single as Levine's duet partner on Maroon 5's 2011 chart-topper "Moves Like Jagger." "The Voice" retained its popularity in its second season in early 2012, and Aguilera spent much of the year prepping her fifth album, Lotus, which was released in November 2012.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
Born and raised in Fullerton, CA, Stefani had a musical epiphany at the age of 17. She had fallen in love with the Madness and Selecter records her brother, Eric Stefani, was playing constantly. Seeing Fishbone, the Untouchables, and other bands involved in Los Angeles' ska revival scene only reinforced her interest in music, so she was more than ready when her brother asked her to join a ska band he was forming with a friend named John Spence. Gwen originally shared lead vocals with Spence but in December of 1987 he committed suicide, leaving the band -- now called No Doubt -- with an uncertain future. According to numerous interviews with the bandmembers after their breakthrough, Gwen was the glue that held No Doubt together during these hard times, pushing the group to keep trying. She was also romantically involved with the band's bass player, Tony Kanal, by this time.
After playing numerous gigs and parties, No Doubt were signed to Interscope in 1991. The label considered their 1992 debut album a flop and refused to financially support a tour or further recordings, but the band refused to give up. The self-financed Beacon Street Collection appeared in 1994 and did well enough to make things nice with Interscope, but the band was once again going through a traumatic period behind the scenes. Eric Stefani left to become an animator for The Simpsons and Gwen and Tony's relationship had ended. Gwen wrote a collection of songs focused on heartbreak and rebirth that would become No Doubt's third album, Tragic Kingdom, and the rest, as they say, is history.
With the smash singles "Just a Girl," "Spiderwebs," and "Don't Speak," the album reached the number one spot in Billboard and garnered two Grammy nominations. The press began to focus on Stefani's role in the band. Voted one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," video and photo shoots focused on her and rumors spread that the other three members of the band were unhappy with the lack of attention they received. This topic of discussion continued as the band released Return of Saturn in 2000 and Rock Steady a year later, but it was overshadowed during this time by new gossip -- Stefani's romantic relationship with Bush's frontman, Gavin Rossdale. She also started doing some work outside the band, lending her vocals to the remix of electronica artist Moby's "Southside" and rapper Eve's "Let Me Blow Your Mind." In 2002, she arrived 45 minutes late for her wedding with Rossdale in London.
After Rock Steady, No Doubt took a break. Stefani approached Kanal about producing an off-the-cuff solo project that would be influenced by her non-ska favorites. Prince, the Time, Club Nouveau, and Madonna were the names thrown around and the idea was to make the project "fast and easy." Over time, the "fast and easy" record morphed into something much bigger. Old friend, former labelmate, and hit songwriter Linda Perry became involved and the project became much more polished, slick, and dance-oriented. A pile of high-profile collaborators -- Dr. Dre, the Neptunes, Dallas Austin, Andre 3000, Nellee Hooper, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis -- became involved. In September of 2004, the infectious and hyper dance single "What You Waiting For?" appeared with its accompanying video dominating MTV.
The album, Love.Angel.Music.Baby., hit the shelves in November with surreal artwork that introduced Stefani's four-woman "posse," the Harajuku Girls. The all-Asian Harajuku Girls were inspired by Stefani's fascination with the Harajuku girls of Japan, young club kids who have a flippant and fun attitude toward fashion. Appearing with Stefani live, in videos, and in photos, the Girls quickly drew criticism from the Asian community, angry about the rumor that they had to sign a contract to never speak English even though they could, and that Stefani's Girls looked nothing like the "real" Harajuku girls. Based on a dancehall cover of Fiddler on the Roof's "If I Were a Rich Man," "Rich Girl" became the next smash single with the anthem "Hollaback Girl" becoming success number three. While the singles were dominating pop and dance radio, Stefani appeared as Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. With music and movies checked off, Stefani moved into the world of fashion and introduced her clothing line L.A.M.B. Taking her influence to the world of tech, she designed the Harajuku Lovers' 4.1 MP Digital Camera for Hewlett-Packard. The camera was released in a limited edition with a Stefani-designed case and biographical DVD.
Late in 2005, Stefani discovered she was pregnant, but her schedule remained busy in 2006: along with working on L.A.M.B., she released a line of limited-edition Gwen Stefani fashion dolls complete with outfits from her videos and tours, and worked on her second solo album with producers including Akon, Swizz Beatz, and Nellee Hooper, as well as the Neptunes and Tony Kanal. That spring, Stefani gave birth to a boy, Kingston James McGregor Rossdale. The Neptunes-produced "Wind It Up" arrived that fall and heralded the full-length The Sweet Escape, which was released on the same day as the live DVD Harajuku Lovers Live.
David Jeffries, Rovi
John Bush, Rovi
David Jeffries, Rovi