Celebrating A Great Year In Pop

  • Fun.'s Nate Ruess
    Photo: JB Lacroix/WireImage.com
  • Taylor Swift
    Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
  • Adele
    Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com
  • Carly Rae Jepsen
    Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage.com
  • Psy
    Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage.com
  • One Direction
    Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The state of pop music in 2012 was strong, dominated by the emergence of talented new artists and record-breaking sales figures.

One of the year's most noteworthy moments was Adele's GRAMMY-winning sophomore album 21 reaching a momentous milestone in November, surpassing 10 million in U.S. albums sales. This achievement earned Adele the distinction as the only British or European artist to receive diamond certification from the RIAA.

Adele's songs were a mainstay on Top 40 radio alongside tracks by two newcomers: Australian singer/songwriter Gotye and pop/rock trio Fun., both of whom rose to prominence in 2012 following the release of their breakout singles "Somebody That I Used To Know" and "We Are Young" featuring Janelle Monáe, respectively.

The music community also mourned the loss of one of its greatest stars. On the eve of the 54th GRAMMY Awards, Whitney Houston passed away leaving fans with a rich and timeless body of work that will forever be an inspiration. On Nov. 16 The Recording Academy aired "We Will Always Love You: A GRAMMY Salute To Whitney Houston," which celebrated the life and music of Houston with moving performances by Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Yolanda Adams, and CeCe Winans.

Pop icon Madonna returned with MDNA featuring songs steeped in dance/electronica influences. Madonna performed a medley of hits during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show with special guests LMFAO, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.

This year boy bands resurfaced in a major way. The UK's One Direction made history on the Billboard 200 as the first UK group to bow at No. 1 with a debut album when their Up All Night emerged atop the chart in March. They followed their success in November with the No. 1 hit Take Me Home.

Following the release of the pop-perfect single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," this year's biggest album seller was GRAMMY winner Taylor Swift's Red, which sold 1.2 million copies and solidified Swift as one of the biggest crossover stars. 

YouTube was instrumental in introducing fans to new music. Carly Rae Jepsen celebrated the song of the summer with her viral video for "Call Me Maybe." Korean pop phenomenon Psy made history with his video for "Gangnam Style," which became the most-watched video ever on YouTube.

Other highlights came from Ellie Goulding ("Lights"), Pink (The Truth About Love), Lana Del Rey ("Video Games"), Justin Bieber (Believe), and Adam Lambert (Trespassing).

Dance music continued to make a strong impact on pop with artists such as Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Zedd, Alesso, and Avicii combining dancefloor sensibilities with radio-friendly hooks.

With so much great music emerging in 2012, the stage is set for another bright year in pop.

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