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1. Rihanna: It took seven albums in seven years to get there, but Rihanna finally grabs the brass ring: “Unapologetic” is her first album to land at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
2. Michael Jackson: “Thriller” turns 30. The best-selling U.S. studio album of all time has aged remarkably gracefully. The way it makes us feel? Still thrilling after all these years.
3. Dr. Dre: He tops Forbes list of the highest-paid musicians in 2012 with $110 million. Did he achieve this feat by putting out an album or touring this year? No, he did not. He did it from selling his Beats headphone line. There’s a lesson to be learned there.
4. Adele: “21,” the British singer’s sophomore set, hits Diamond status in the U.S. for sales of more than 10 million. In a lovely bit of synchronicity, it is the 21st album to achieve that milestone since the launch of SoundScan in 1991.
5. Psy: The S. Korean rapper ponies his way to the top of YouTube as “Gangnam Style” becomes the most watched video ever on the internet channel, surpassing 830 million. Dropping to second place? Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Oh baby, baby, baby.
6. Pussy Riot: The jailed Russian trio are up for Time’s Person of the Year. We don’t think they should win, but we certainly hope they beat fellow nominee “Shades of Grey” author E.L. James.
7. Gotye: In addition to sweeping the Australian ARIA Awards, his breakthrough hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” is Spotify’s top song of the year. Somebody just make an extra .95 cents in streaming royalties.
8. Rolling Stones: The Glimmer Twins, plus some Stones old and new, kick off their very limited 50th anniversary tour in London and they all are still standing...even Keef.
9. Rod Stewart: His “Merry Christmas Baby” is looking like the holiday album of the season for 60+ crowd. Now get off my lawn and pass the eggnog.
10. Swizz Beatz: The producer/recording artist announces that he will just release singles from now on instead of albums. Wait, he’s released albums before?