The Splendid State Of Pop In 2009

The state of pop is strong. Very strong. Last year was filled with exciting new music from established artists and massive hits from promising newcomers who ruled the charts around the world.

With such a hot and buzzing pop scene, the GRAMMY voters can't possibly have an easy job making their final picks this year.

One of the standout artists last year was Beyoncé who deservedly received a whopping 10 GRAMMY nominations for her infectious brand of R&B/pop on I Am...Sasha Fierce. The singer received nominations for Album Of The Year ("I Am... Sasha Fierce"), Record Of The Year ("Halo") and Song Of The Year ("Single Ladies [Put A Ring On It]").

Among other established artists who were noted by The Recording Academy were Pink (who had a massive year strutting her girl power), Seal (who teamed with David Foster for a soul standards album) and Stevie Wonder who never ceases to amaze with yet another GRAMMY nod.

A great deal of attention in 2009 was paid to newcomers Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, who energized audiences at home and abroad with their genre-crossing brand of pop.

After being hailed by music bloggers as pop's next big thing, followed by such early TV appearances as MTV's Logo in May 2008, Lady Gaga was catapulted into superstardom with songs like "Poker Face," "Paparazzi" and "Bad Romance." Even Madonna took note of this artist who turned out to be one of the best-selling artists of the year. The fashionista combines a strong point of view with a compelling performance that has fans hungry for more.

Taylor Swift has climbed from Nashville obscurity to global fame at only 20 years old. Very impressive. But it should not come as a big surprise. Her GRAMMY-nominated second album, Fearless, is filled with heartfelt crossover country/pop that people young and old can relate to.

In an environment that is ruled by intricate productions and musical extravaganzas, Swift shows that authenticity and straight-from-the-heart songwriting still rules. Swift is up for eight GRAMMYs, including Best Pop Female Vocal Performance.

When super-producer will.i.am discussed the Black Eyes Peas' much-anticipated new album, The E.N.D., during last year's GRAMMY Awards, he wasn't sure how the group's new album would be received. But he had nothing to worry about. Together with GRAMMY-nominated French club maestro David Guetta, the Black Eyed Peas created a futuristic mesh of pop, hip-hop and electronic music. It's a fresh sound that has opened the door to more European-styled electro in American pop music.

Last year also marked the long-anticipated comeback of pop/soul crooner Maxwell. Refreshed and replenished, the singer delivered the stunning Blacksummers' Night, which showed that after eight years out of the spotlight he still has his signature smooth touch. The Recording Academy agreed and awarded him with six nominations, including nods for Song Of The Year ("Pretty Wings"), Best Male Pop Vocal Performance ("Love You") and Best Pop Instrumental Performance ("Phoenix Rise"). 

Other notable pop artists in 2009 included Kelly Clarkson and Whitney Houston who delivered solid new albums. There were also lots of exciting newcomers who have a firm shot at GRAMMY success in the future. Artists like Chester French, Santigold, Jay Sean, Kid Sister, and Vampire Weekend all provided just the right balance of sweet and crunchy that has put them firmly on the radar.

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