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New Young Singers, Veterans Marked Rock & Roll in 2002 - 2003-01-01

2002 saw the rise of a new, young breed of female singers and songwriters, and the continuing popularity of rap combined with rock. Rock and roll veterans proved they could appeal to a younger generation of fans, and the music industry witnessed the resurrection of a heavy metal god. VOA's Bernie Bernard looks at some of the top music stories of the past year.

Heavy metal pioneer Ozzy Osbourne became the unlikely media hero of the year as the star of cable television music video channel MTV's reality show, The Osbournes. The program received the highest ratings in MTV's 21-year history. The camera crew caught Ozzy as a typical family man, trying to balance his home life with his career as a rock star. Ozzy's wife, Sharon, also revealed the fact that she was battling cancer. The show yielded a hit compact disc, The Osbournes Family Album, which featured the singing debut of daughter Kelly. The Osbournes has just started its second season on MTV.

This year, teen pop divas such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera received a challenge from a new crop of young, female rockers such as Vanessa Carlton, Avril Lavigne, Pink and Michelle Branch. Rejecting all the special effects and onstage choreography, these young women play their own instruments, write their own songs, and have a strong voice in the management of their careers. Vanessa Carlton explains her songwriting process. "I just am inspired by life, and what I'm dealing with, and going through, and learning, and how I'm growing," she says. "It just always comes out in my music. It's kind of like a direct link to my spirit. It's really unbelievable to me, because I don't really know how I write or anything like that."

In 2002, Detroit rapper Eminem continued to gain popularity. At one point, his single Lose Yourself, and the soundtrack to his autobiographical film 8 Mile both held the Number One spots on Billboard magazine's Albums and Singles charts. At the same time, 8 Mile was Number One at the box office.

Eminem was his familiar, controversial self during the past year. He was the subject of various lawsuits, including one brought by his own mother, and continued to battle with his estranged wife, Kim. Eminem chronicled all of those events in his rap lyrics. In the past few weeks, however, there have been reports of a possible reconciliation between the rapper and his wife. Eminem says he has no plans for any further film work, and would like to concentrate on developing artists for his new Shady Records label.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney celebrated his triumphant return to the U.S. concert circuit with his first tour in more than a decade. He had the highest-grossing tour of 2002, with more than $126 million in ticket sales. He also released a live album from the tour, called Back In The U.S. Sir Paul compared touring now to his outings with The Beatles in the 1960s.

"When I came out this time, I thought, 'This is just a tour. I'm just coming out. I feel like playing with the band.' But the reception that we started to get, and it kind of snowballs as you go on a tour like this, was ridiculous," says McCartney. "The feeling of the American people was ... actually, I said to a lot of people, and I think I say it in the T.V. show, I said, 'This is like a Beatle audience.' "

Paul McCartney reignited a feud with Yoko Ono, the widow of his former bandmate, John Lennon. After 40 years of the traditional "Lennon-McCartney" songwriting credits, Paul has designated the Beatles' songs on his latest album as being written by "Paul McCartney and John Lennon." Yoko has called it "an attempted act of Beatles revisionism."

There were some other classic rockers who made headlines in 2002: The Rolling Stones opened their Forty Licks 40th anniversary tour, Bruce Springsteen revived his E Street Band and hit the road, while Elton John and Billy Joel toured together. Joel also spent some time in a rehabilitation hospital for an alcohol problem. Fans of classic rock mourned the death of John Entwistle, bass player for The Who, who died on the of eve of a major American tour. And in the last few days of December, Joe Strummer, of the pioneering punk band The Clash, died of a heart attack at age 50.

The number one song of year, according to Billboard magazine, is Canadian band Nickelback's How You Remind Me. They top the year-end chart for the second consecutive time.