2010: The year in music

Stratford, Ont. native and teen pop sensation Justin Bieber was one of the biggest music sensations of 2010. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

The 3D explosion might be the year’s big story in movies, TV and video games. but in music? Not so much.

Quite the opposite, in fact. If anything, 2010 will go down as the year when the 3D music experience — otherwise known as going to concerts — crashed and burned.

Make that finally crashed and burned. The disaster was looming for a few years. Declining CD sales forced more artists out on the road for longer stretches. The Internet forced fans to compete with scalpers around the world. And simple greed blinded artists and tycoons to a simple truth: You can’t sell an infinite number of $1,000 tickets (or even $100 ones) in a dollar-store world.

Pop stars finally got the message the hard way this year. Ticket sales tumbled. Attendance dwindled. everyone from Christina Aguilera to Limp Bizkit “postponed” tours. Festivals such as Virgin, Edgefest and Pemberton went on hiatus. Sarah McLachlan’s revived Lilith festival slashed prices and shows. Sting tickets went for 75¢ in Denver.

Stadium bands such as the Eagles and Bon Jovi practically (and literally) gave away tickets — and still couldn’t fill seats. The new reality? The show might still go on — as long as it goes on sale.

Of course, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. While many acts were imploding, a few were blowing up bigtime.

Cat-eyed country-popster Taylor Swift solidified her superstar status by winning four Grammy Awards (including album of the year). Granted, she can’t carry a tune in a front-end loader. but that didn’t stop the 20-year-old singer-songwriter from selling more than one million copies of her third album Speak now in its opening week.

Nor did criticism stop Canadian teen Justin Bieber from becoming the imaginary boyfriend of shrieking girls everywhere. Like countless teen idols before him, his global domination was based less on his meagre talents and more on his non-threatening baby face, aw-shucks attitude and sweep of forehead-hiding hair. And like countless idols before him, his best bet is to buckle up, enjoy the ride and save as much cash as he can before his fans outgrow their crushes and his roller-coaster reaches the end of the line.

Some acts already seemed to be there — at least temporarily. Rapper Lil’ Wayne took a time-out in the big house after being sentenced to a year in jail on weapons charges — though he still managed to release a CD while behind bars. Itchy-footed Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler spent most of the year bickering with guitarist Joe Perry via the media, then announced he was becoming an American Idol judge, once again putting the Boston blues-rockers’ future in doubt.

And speaking of celebrity feuds, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards did a number on his bandmate Mick Jagger in the memoir Life, asserting that they haven’t been friends for years — and that the big-lipped singer has a “tiny todger.” no wonder he can’t get satisfaction.

With all those aggravations, what’s a rocker to do? Well, you could just say F— You! it worked for Cee-Lo; the Gnarls Barkley singer’s foul-mouthed single became the viral hit of the year, eventually earning four Grammy noms. You could settle your beef with Apple and put your music on iTunes, which The Beatles finally did — seven years too late to matter to anybody but the bean counters. You could band together for a good cause, as dozens of big names did early in the year at telethons to raise funds for earthquake-devastated Haiti. or you could just wear a meat dress at the MTV VMAs like Lady Gaga.

Pity we didn’t get to see that one in 3D.


STERDAN’S TOP 10 MUSIC STORIES OF 2010 1. Concert Scene Implodes 2. Bieber Blows up 3. Taylor Swift Ascends 4. Aerosmith Hit Turbulence 5. Lil’ Wayne goes to the Big House 6. Keef Tells all 7. Gaga Has a Cow 8. Cee-Lo’s Big F— You 9. The Beatles Log onto iTunes 10. Musicians Sing for Haiti

2010: The year in music

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