Published Dec 19, 20135. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus had long been a pop mega-star among teens, but the former Hannah Montana took pop culture by storm when she got naked, straddled a concrete ball, and licked a sledgehammer in her Terry Richardson-directed music video for "Wrecking Ball." Adding fuel to the fire, she did a whole lot of televised twerking, and she even stirred up a debate about mental health when she mocked Sinéad O'Connor. Plus, we were all sort of weirded out by the way Miley's tongue seems to constantly be sticking out of the side of her mouth.
4. Lou Reed
In 2013, no death rocked the music world quite as much as when Lou Reed passed away this fall due to liver disease. Since then, the Velvet Underground frontman has been honoured with heartfelt statements, a seemingly endless string of cover tunes (including ones by Macaulay Culkin's pizza-themed band the Pizza Underground), a documentary and more. He was one the most influential and groundbreaking music figure of the last 50 years, so it's only right that he's been justly honoured in death. Interestingly, he was making headlines even before his death, sticking up for Kanye West's controversial lyrics in a very positive review of Yeezus for The Talkhouse.
3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Post-rock lifers Godspeed You! Black Emperor weren't on hand when they won the 2013 Polaris Music Prize, but they stirred up a heated debate the next day when they issued a statement condemning the award and its corporate sponsors. According to the group, "asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise." While the group have since been fairly quiet on the issue, this was Canada's mostly widely-discussed music controversy in 2013.
2. Daft Punk
Legendary French electronic duo Daft Punk didn't have as crazy a year as some of the other artists on this list; their year didn't include any murder plots, gratuitous nudity, or prison sentences. But with Random Access Memories, they took their promotional efforts to the next level. Propelled by the mind-blowingly catchy "Get Lucky" and a high-profile cast of contributors including Julian Casablancas, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers and Panda Bear, Daft Punk were all we could talk about for weeks. Throw in a widely publicized talk show cancellation, condoms of indeterminate origin, race cars, action figures and an Exclaim! cover story and you've got a banner year for one of electronic music's biggest acts.
1. Kanye West
Just in case Kanye West hadn't already earned the official title of music's most aggravating egomaniac, then 2013 was definitely the year in which he sealed the deal. He cancelled shows at the last minute, flew into a rage at Jimmy Kimmel, issued Confederate-themed merch items, had a baby named North West with his fiancée Kim Kardashian, faced an assault case from a paparazzo, shared grotesquely gory promotional videos, asked fans to pay $120 for plain T-shirts, and made interview comments like "I am a Christian revolutionary visionary. I'm also a creative genius by default." Oh, and did we mention that he named his album Yeezus? Thing is, he's at the top of his game, so it's hard to scoff at his behaviour when he's got the output to back it up.