TOP TOURS 2012
Madonna: She expressed herself 72 times (all sold out shows, according to Billboard). Nicki Minaj was right: There really is only one queen.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: For his 72 concerts, the Boss outdid Madonna in announced attendance (2.2 million to 1.6 ) but not dollars (Madge grossed $228-million to Springsteen’s $199-mil).
Roger Waters’s The Wall: Also did 72 shows, hauling in $186-million. The tour began in 2010, and never did hit the wall.
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque Du Soleil: Much lower gross ($147-million), but impressive for its pure endurance (183 shows).
Coldplay: The melodic British rockers beat out Lady Gaga, who will continue to do monster business in 2013, beginning Jan. 11-12 at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena.
TOP TOURS 2013
Bon Jovi: A new album (What About Now) and a slew of worldwide dates come from the I’ll Be There For You band.
Bruce Springsteen: Britain, Europe and Australia are all scheduled to fall to the Wrecking Ball Tour.
Rihanna: Her Diamonds World Tour is set to shine, with stops in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Fleetwood Mac: Minus Christine McVie again, and 36 years after releasing Rumours, the band celebrates with an album re-issue and a tour that begins in April.
Taylor Swift: The blondly ambitious serial dater will scour North America, with concerts set for Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver in June.
TOP-SELLING ALBUMS (BASED ON U.S. iTUNES) 2012
21, by Adele: The top-seller of 2011 kept rolling along.
Babel, by Mumford & Sons: The long-awaited follow-up to Sigh No More (No. 13 for the year) did not disappoint.
Up All Night, by One Direction: The English-Irish boy-band got no sleep.
Red, by Taylor Swift: She’s a little bit country; she’s a lotta bit blockbuster pop.
My Head is an Animal, by Of Monsters and Men: The Icelandic troupe is part of the post Mumford & Sons folk-rock wave that includes the Lumineers (No. 11 for its self-titled debut).
MOST ANTICIPATED ALBUMS FOR 2013
Arcade Fire: The Montreal indie-rock heavyweights debuted new material at an ultra-secret hometown gig recently, with an album expected to come late in the year.
My Bloody Valentine: In a Facebook announcement of Mayan proportion, the shoe-gazing icons declared that they had finished mastering a new album on Dec. 21, 2012, which is earth-shattering news for a band yet to follow up its Loveless LP from 1991.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away is set to be unveiled in February, the same month associated with new product from Josh Groban, Ron Sexsmith and the hot-stuff Harlem rapper Azealia Banks.
Gord Downie and the Sadies: Long talked about, the collaboration between the Tragically Hip frontman and the cosmic-country extraordinaires could result in something tangible following the Hip’s Canadian spring tour.
U2: The Dublin do-gooders apparently have three albums in various stages of readiness, including a club record, a rock disc (produced by Danger Mouse) and the intimate Songs of Ascent project.
TOP-SELLING SINGLES (U.S. iTUNES) 2012
Somebody That I Used To Know, by Gotye (featuring Kimbra): The sombre, quirky tune looked back, Sting-like.
Call Me Maybe, by Carly Rae Jepsen: Call the Vancouver popster? Operators are standing by.
We Are Young, by Fun (featuring Janelle Monáe): The anthemic indie-pop tune was the song of the summer.
Whistle, by Flo Rida: Equal parts Lauren Bacall instruction, beach-ready rap and Steve Miller Take the Money and Run strum.
Starships, by Nicki Minaj: The wigged-out rapper proposes to dance and fly – “hands up and touch the sky.”
CHART-TOPPERS’ PROSPECTS FOR 2013
Gotye: While the Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter slides to one-hit-wonder status, the Ontario-based Walk the Earth crew (whose cover of Somebody That I Used To Know was a video-viral phenomenon) is poised to build on its YouTube-built success.
Carly Rae Jepsen: The girly 27-year-old singer tours heavily in the new year, taking breaks for Juno, Grammy and People’s Choice ceremonies.
Fun: With six Grammy nominations, the fun never ends for the New York indie-rockers.
Flo Rida: Sometimes he will wear a shirt and sometimes he will not. And if he keeps on finding hook-singers (Sia on Wild Ones) and hit-ready samples (Etta James on Good Feeling ), the ride for Rida continues.
Nicki Minaj: The professional feudist stirs up the judging panel for the 12th season of American Idol.
ARTISTS WHO SHOOK 2012
Psy: The moon-faced South Korean scored one-billion YouTube views with his horseplay hit Gangnam Style.
Tupac Shakur: The deceased hip-hop visionary was a vision at Coachella, where he appeared on stage holographically.
Neil Young: While continuing to frustrate those hoping for a Buffalo Springfield reunion tour, the man called Shaky penned an autobiography (Waging Heavy Peace), readied the 2013 release of his high-resolution music player (Pono) and saddled up with his grunge-rock cohorts Crazy Horse for two albums and a schedule of fuzzed-out concerts.
Fiona Apple: The enigmatic singer-songwriter delivered a critically adored album (The Idler Wheel…), was busted for weed in West Texas and cancelled a South American tour (citing the terminal illness of her pet pitbull).
Whitney Houston: The Didn’t We Almost Have it All singer passed in a year that saw funerals for Etta James, Dave Brubeck, Ravi Shankar, Levon Helm, Doc Watson, Dick Clark, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Hal David, Davy Jones, Andy Williams, Kitty Wells and Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys.
ARTISTS TO SHAKE 2013
Asian Invasion: Following the galloping lead of Psy, watch out for a new pop star made in Taiwan, Thailand, India or China.
Jimi Hendrix: An album of unreleased material (People, Hell & Angels) is set for a March release. Perhaps the sky-kissing guitarist will be exhumed Tupac-style at Coachella, though it looks like the desert-set festival has already booked one posthumous act (The Rolling Stones).
Barack Obama: The commander in chief, who sang Sweet Home Chicago with B.B. King and rocked the vote with Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder in 2012, looks to harsh Snoop Dogg’s buzz by blunting legal pot-smoking in 2013. Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama is expected to host an invite-only Inaugural Ball concert honouring military families in January.
Shuggie Otis: The cult-figure guitarist continues his comeback. The psyche-soul son of the late R&B bandleader Johnny Otis (1921-2012) will issue an album of unreleased material (Wings of Love), re-issue 1974’s Inspiration Information and perform much-awaited concerts (including a Toronto show April 14).
Blue Ivy: The bouncing baby of Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles celebrates her first birthday in January, and maybe she’ll join her Pepsi-pushing mother at the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show the first weekend in February.