Music’s year in review

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From left to right: Amy Winehouse, Brandon Flowers (The Killers), Lil Wayne, T.I., Britney Spears

2008 has been a big year in more ways than one. From a brand new president to an economic downfall worse than Mini-Me’s sex tape, it’s certainly been a year of change. And the music industry has followed suit; torrent sites have replaced record stores and music blogs have nearly wiped out the job title of “music reporter.”

With these changes, artists have been hard at work in coming up with new ideas and innovative approaches to keep listeners entertained. So before we can begin a happy and healthy 2009, we should look back at the biggest news of the past year.

You might hate him more than the kids who chopped up that crocodile on campus, but there are over 2.5 million people who think Lil’ Wayne is the best human being… period. From 15-year-old girls in West Palm Beach to inmates in Baton Rouge, Wayne scored fans from literally every walk of life with Tha Carter III.

Just a year after her multi-platinum selling album Back to Black hit record stores, Amy Winehouse lost her mind. She won four Grammy Awards for the effort, but when she was tapped to sing the James Bond theme for Quantum of Solace she dropped out because her longtime collaborator Mark Ronson apparently couldn’t work with her. She might be cooking up some new music with other producers, but all the drugs and depression might not be the formula that led to the genius of Back to Black.

The most overused and over-written-about sound effect in music, the vocoder, took over the pop charts, the hip-hop charts and Kanye West’s mind.

In short, “Paper Planes” (and Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘N Nite”) was an awesomely catchy and fun song…in March. With their trippy videos and funny, catchy jams, MGMT is quickly becoming the coolest band since The Beatles. Girl Talk released another album…for free. The Killers and John Legend released their third albums – both of which are huge fan disappointments. Travis Barker and DJ AM released a killer mixtape of mash-ups, and were the only two who narrowly escaped death on a plane crash. Britney’s back! T.I. scored two mega-smash singles, even though he said “swagger of a college kid” on a song. And finally, newcomers like Shwayze, Vampire Weekend, James Pants, Estelle and The Black Kids all released solid albums that show promise for future acclaim.

It’s been a wild ride, and 2009 will likely be wilder. From Eminem’s (don’t hold your breath) pending return to the demise of all record stores and the likely capitalization of free Internet music, it’s going to be a good year.

But wait! There’s more! Below is a winter break playlist:

1. Santogold & Jay-Z – “Brooklyn Go Hard”
2. Chester French & Common – “What A World”
3. Jim Jones & MGMT – “Electric Feel Remix”
4. Pase Rock – “Get Money Kids”
5. Shitake Monkey – “The Friend Zone”
6. U-N-I – “Hollywood Hiatus”
7. Colin Munroe & Mickey Factz – “One More Chance”
8. Chromeo – “Bonafide Lovin'”
9. The Knux – “Cappuccino”
10. Blink 182 – “All the Small Things”

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