We've taken a look back on the year that was and compiled a list of the year's 10 most notable newsmakers. There are the artists who, for reasons either good or bad, kept popping up in headlines and in discussions around the water cooler. And while there are plenty of noteworthy stars who didn't make our list (Whitney Houston, Amanda Palmer, deadmau5 — we're looking at you), these are the artists who truly came to define 2012.
Exclaim!'s Top 10 Newsmakers of 2012:
10. The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips didn't release gummy skulls or endure stage collapses in 2012, but the Oklahoma psych enthusiasts still had a characteristically crazy year. After recruiting the likes of Bon Iver, Ke$ha, Tame Impala and Coldplay's Chris Martin for a much-publicized collaborations comp, they gave the record a limited-edition, blood-filled reissue. A NSFW video from that album sparked a feud with Erykah Badu, so the Lips replaced her contribution with Amanda Palmer. They broke a world record by playing eight shows in different cities within 24 hours, contributed to a King Crimson covers album, unveiled a radio drama, and prepped their Yoshimi musical. And to cap of their wild year, Wayne Coyne inadvertently shut down the Oklahoma airport by bringing a grenade with him.
9. Against Me!
Here's one we definitely didn't see coming: a decade and a half into Against Me!'s career, frontman Tom Gabel came out as transgender and began living as Laura Jane Grace. The band have since been working on their latest album, the appropriately named Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It was definitely a brave move for Laura Jane Grace, and aside from getting her teeth smashed during a live show, we'd say she had a good year.
8. Kanye West
As usual, Kanye West generated a ton of buzz in 2012, as he embarked upon collaborations, waged court battles, pissed off PETA and plotted a host of possible projects. He also released Cruel Summer, both as a Kid Cudi-featuring film and a star-studded G.O.O.D. Music compilation, and reports have suggested that Cruel Winter will be close behind. But arguably West's most headline-grabbing move happened when he began dating socialite and reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
7. Green Day
Pop-punk lifers Green Day released three albums plus a documentary in 2012, but all of this was overshadowed by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's very public meltdown. When the band's iHeartRadio Music Festival performance was cut short, the singer threw a hissy fit and smashed his guitar before landing in rehab. They cancelled their tour and endured insults, putting a damper on what was meant to be a triumphant year.
6. Chief Keef
Chicago rapper Chief Keef (aka Keith Cozart) emerged as one of rap's biggest new talents in 2012, and his music has now been linked to big names like Pusha T, 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy. He signed with Interscope and released the album Finally Rich. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the 17-year-old phenom; in September, the Chicago police investigated him for a possible role in the drive-by shooting of a rival rapper Joseph "JoJo" Coleman.