United States pop musicians figured in the headlines all year long. From awards shows to the movie screen, even in outer space, they left their stamp on popular culture. VOA's Ray McDonald takes a look at the pop music highlights and lowlights of 2002.
Inspiring, disquieting, and just plain funny, the events that shaped the year in pop music ran the gamut. Take Moby, for instance. The mild-mannered dance musician found himself the object of scorn from the inflammatory rapper Eminem, who threatened him with bodily harm during February's Grammy Award telecast. Moby also had the bad luck to be attacked not once but twice: a cat bit him in January, while three unidentified men beat him after a December performance in Boston.
The Grammys set the artistic tone for 2002 by honoring the previous year's best acts. The February ceremony marked a coming-out party for singer/songwriter Alicia Keys, who took home five trophies, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, and Song Of The Year, for Fallin'.
The month of March saw veteran acts honored, when the 17th annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony took place in New York City. Among the honorees were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Ramones, Talking Heads, soul great Isaac Hayes, and pop singer Brenda Lee.
April brought the first of two jarring deaths, as TLC member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes perished in a car accident in the Central American nation of Honduras. The most-outspoken and flamboyant member of the female trio, "Left Eye" was only 30. The two remaining members of TLC vowed to carry on as a duo, and in November released the album 3D.
That same month, U2 frontman Bono captured worldwide attention through his 10-day African fact-finding tour with then-United States Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Intending to shed light on the devastation wrought on the continent by AIDS, the Irish star frequently sparred with his companion while securing his reputation as a media-savvy advocate for world monetary reform.
Pop's other foray into international relations didn't go so well, as Lance Bass failed in his quest to be the first pop star to blast-off into space. The member of the singing group 'N Sync trained in Russia for an October flight to the International Space Station, but was undone by his sponsors' failure to meet the Russians' $20 million asking price. October also saw the year's second shocking death, that of Jam Master Jay (real name: Jason Mizell). The 37-year-old disc jockey for the rap group Run DMC was gunned down by unknown assailants outside his recording studio in Queens, New York. Run DMC was the first rap act to achieve mainstream success in the United States, with its hit 1986 collaboration with Aerosmith, Walk This Way.
As the year 2002 ends, the big winners span the pop music timeline. Twenty-nine-year-old rapper Eminem broke into cinematic stardom with his debut film 8 Mile, while 60-year-old former Beatle Paul McCartney was the year's top touring act, taking in more than $126 million in concert grosses. For the past two months, Eminem has topped the U.S. pop singles chart with his 8 Mile soundtrack hit, Lose Yourself.