Artist of the year: Michael Jackson
On reflection, not the death of the monoculture, but an indication that the monoculture is stronger than ever -- it's just a quarter-century behind the times. What some may have considered worth mourning is the loss, during the span of his career, of any necessary connection between artistic talent and quality of output. MJ was the most gifted young singer and dancer of the rock era, so it's hardly surprising he seems like a peak. And sure, Taylor Swift, the most naturally gifted young songwriter since Stevie Wonder, shows that talent still has its uses. But if you look at the other signature musical artists of the year (reckoning Gaga's impact as only peripherally to do with music), Susan Boyle is, on a fairly basic level, more talented than any combination of the Black Eyed Peas, and this matters not a jot. Meanwhile, will.i.am is more talented than Noah Lennox, and that matters, well, a bit. In conclusion, I am glad creativity is valued more than talent these days, but I wish indie dudes would sing better.