Most anticipated album: Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy.
Most disappointing album: Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy.
Weirdest celebrity project: Scarlett Johansson’s Tom Waits covers collection, Anywhere I Lay My Head.
Best album by nine dudes in weird masks: Slipknot, All Hope Is Gone.
Best album by one dude in a weird mask: Buckethead, Albino Slug.
Best European dance-pop album that took three years to reach the U.S.: Robyn, Robyn.
Best European dance-pop album that will probably take three years to reach the U.S.: Alphabeat, This Is Alphabeat.
Best cameo: Elvis Costello, on Fall Out Boy’s “What a Catch, Donnie.”
Most welcome reunion: My Bloody Valentine.
Most unnecessary reunion: New Kids on the Block.
Most overrated new band: Vampire Weekend.
Most underrated old gal: Emmylou Harris.
Riskiest move: Kanye West ditching rhymes for Auto-Tune.
Stupidest move: Rolling Stone magazine’s downsize.
Best Miley Cyrus song (Miley Cyrus division): Miley Cyrus, “7 Things.”
Best Miley Cyrus song (non-Miley Cyrus division): Demi Lovato, “Get Back.”
Best viral hip-hop video: 50 Cent (holding a mock funeral—and crying real tears—for Fat Joe after the latter’s album debuted with weak sales figures).
Coolest online development: The launch of Pitchfork.tv.
Saddest online development: The death of StylusMagazine.com.
Best live light show: Nine Inch Nails.
Lamest Vegas cancellation: My Morning Jacket.
Most significant venue closure: Jillian’s.
Most distressing development: Vegoose’s pullout.
Best Vegas residency—ever: Prince, Club 3121 at the Rio.
Breakout new local act: Afghan Raiders.
Least welcome local breakup: Sparkler Dims.
Best local EP: Caravels, Hunt Things.
RIP: M.I.A. frontman Mike Conley.