Welcome to the first Music Power Rankings of 2011. The music business comes to a halt over the holidays and it takes a number of weeks for it to ramp back up. Hence, we took a few liberties with this week’s rankings towards the bottom; however, Britney Spears comes by her No. 1 ranking totally honestly.

Excitement around her new single, “Hold It Against Me” had reached fever pitch by the time the song, the first from her upcoming March album, rolled out Monday morning. By the end of the day, it was No. 1 on iTunes and and will likely debut at No. on the Billboard Hot 100 next week.  When we think about where the abyss she was in both musically and, more importantly, personally, only a few years ago, it’s a marvelous and triumphant resurrection.

[More after the jump...]


1. Britney Spears: Not only will we not hold the success of “Hold It Against Me” against her, we’ll welcome her continued return to the top with open arms.

2. Spotify: Yeah, yeah, we know we’ve said it before, but this time it looks like the European music subscription service will finally land the support (and songs) of its first major label, EMI. Could 2011 finally be the year we see Spotify run in the U.S.?

3. Steve Lillywhite: The Grammy-winning producer comes in to help the beleaguered Broadway production of  “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” whose opening has been postponed for the fifth time.  As U2, who penned the songs for the musical, famously wrote years ago, sometimes you can’t make it on your own.

4. Beatles: It’s been almost two months since the Fab Four’s music became available on iTunes. In that short amount of time they hit a milestone this week: Digital singles sales hit 5 million, while album sales surpass 1 million copies. “Abbey Road” is the top album seller and “Here Comes the Sun” is the most downloaded track.

5. Pandora: It wasn’t too long ago that the online personalized radio system seemed down for the count, but over the last several months, it’s had a rousing comeback and now is coming to a Toyota near you.

6. Kanye West and Jay Z The power pair release “H.A.M,” the first single from their forthcoming album, “Watch the Throne,” together. It doesn’t raise the fuss that Britney’s single did and then West has to go make an ass of himself again by tweeting to Britney, “I’mma let you be No. 1, but me and Jay-Z single is one of the best songs of all time,” in a joke that fell flat. How can we love you if you won’t get out of your own way?

7. Plan B: We know you probably haven’t heard of him yet, but you will. The British rapper/soul singer took his native England by storm as his “The Defamation of Strickland Banks” debuted at No. 1 in April and hadn’t left the top 10 since. He brought his act stateside this week, including a sold-out, performance at Los Angeles’ Troubadour before a rabid audience that included Elton John. We don’t think he needs a back-up plan.
Verizon to iPhone

8. Tinie Tempah: Like Plan B, Tinie Tempah’s light has shined brightest in the U.K., culminating in the rapper leading the Brit Award nominations with four nods, including best album. Jay Z has already declared himself a fan. His debut will come out on Capitol Records later this year.

9. Nile Rodgers: The mega producer, who also wrote such modern-day standards as “We Are Family” revealed this week that he has a very aggressive form of cancer and underwent major surgery in hopes of heading toward healing. We wish him many more “Good Times” up ahead.

10. Gucci Mane: The only thing he did this week to make it on the list  was get a giant tattoo of an ice cream cone with lightning bolts on his face. It is massive and supposedly matches a similar chain he wears. Are you going to be the one to tell him that it won’t ever melt?

What do you think of this week's music power rankings? Share your thoughts below.