Published Dec 27, 20125. Death Grips
Sacramento doom-rap crew Death Grips made an unexpected move by signing with Epic Records prior to their first album of the year, The Money Store. Scarcely a month later, they cancelled their tour in order to work on the follow-up, No Love Deep Web, which they leaked online as a free download, much to their label's chagrin. Adding to the group's apparent petulance was the fact that the album cover featured a close-up picture of an erect penis. After sharing some angry letters from Epic with the public, the band were unexpectedly dropped from their deal.
4. Lamb of God
Metal titans Lamb of God started their year on the right foot by releasing their album Resolution and landing on the Exclaim! cover. Things went suddenly and shockingly sour, however, when frontman Randy Blythe was arrested on manslaughter charges stemming from an alleged 2010 altercation at a concert in Prague. He remained in Czech prison for five weeks before being released and heading home to await trial. Blythe denies the charges and, despite being indicted, plans to fight them in court.
3. The Beastie Boys
Having battled cancer for a fews years, beloved Beastie Boys rhymer Adam Yauch sadly succumbed to the disease back in the spring. Making matters worse, the group's grieving was interrupted by a lawsuit over allegedly uncleared samples. They subsequently sued Monster Energy Drink for using their music in a promotional video. Meanwhile, the tributes to Yauch poured in, and a Brooklyn park was named after him.
2. Frank Ocean
Odd Future have had an iffy track record as far as homophobia is concerned, with many taking offence to their inflammatory lyrics. It rocked the music world, therefore, when one of the hip-hop collective's own, R&B crooner Frank Ocean, opened up about a previous same-sex relationship. It didn't hurt that his debut album, Channel Orange, earned rave reviews when it was released soon after the revelation. Naturally, the music critics of the world analyzed the album's masculine and feminine pronouns to death. Oh, and to add some icing to that cake, Ocean was nominated for a bunch of Grammys.
1. Pussy Riot
In 2012, no artist generated more debate around the world than Russian punk activists Pussy Riot. After performing a protest song targeted at leader Vladimir Putin at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February, three of the band members were arrested and Amnesty International called for their release. Musicians around the world took up the cause, but the Pussy Riot members were still handed prison sentences. Even Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev spoke out against the sentencing, and one of the members, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released. The group were short-listed for Time Magazine's Person of the Year and a documentary will emerge next year at Sundance Film Festival. It's not often that a band can make their mark on the world of international politics, but Pussy Riot pulled it off.