It certainly wasn’t a stellar year for tunes.

Missteps, misfires and misjudgments mark the year in pop music
When two singers accused of underage sex crimes emerge as two of the music world’s most intriguing figures, you know it’s been a wild and crazy year. Here’s one take on the most memorable 2003 moments in pop music, whether we want to remember them or not …
Biggest Mouth: Proving candour and celebrity don’t mix, the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines caused an uproar when she told a London audience she was ashamed President George W. Bush was from her home state of Texas, with a U.S. war imminent with Iraq. Though she later apologized, it didn’t come quickly enough for some country radio stations, which pulled the popular trio’s music. But they still found a way to milk the controversy, championing themselves as victims of free speech while posing nearly nude on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
Worst Career Move: Once again, the King of Bad Decisions, Michael Jackson, wins by a landslide. At first, the singer’s decision to give British journalist Martin Bashir unprecedented access to his private life for the unflattering documentary Living With Michael Jackson seemed like just another bad publicity move on MJ’s part. But it actually set in motion inquiries and scrutiny which led to child molestation charges.
Best Career Move: When it comes to entertainers, reality TV has been resuscitation TV, and this year was no different. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey went from C-list singers to A-list celebrities simply by inviting MTV to chronicle their vapid yet undeniably entertaining first year of marriage for The Newlyweds. Still, no amount of Chicken of the Sea jokes could make the couple appealing enough to buy their records – both albums tanked on the charts.
Best Comeback: Singing sexually suggestive songs while you’re facing child pornography charges usually isn’t a good career move. Heck, facing child porn charges period usually isn’t a good career move. But R. Kelly, the music world’s own Teflon Don, soared up the charts despite the controversy surrounding him. Surely Michael Jackson must be taking notes right about now.
The NAACP Award: Snoop Dogg embarked on his own bid for racial parity this year, saying he would appear on no more Girls Gone Wild videos because there weren’t enough “hoes” of colour. Equality, indeed.
The Rush Limbaugh Award: The typically unrepentant Eminem was unusually apologetic after his nemesis, The Source magazine, dug up decade-old raps in which the white rapper called black women gold-diggers and stated his preference for white women. What made the incident so shocking is not that Eminem offended another group – but that he actually apologized for it.
Best Way to Downplay a Flop: Madonna’s CD American Life was practically DOA by the time it arrived in record stores in April. It garnered not one hit and barely went gold, making it one of the worst-selling albums of the Material Girl’s career. But with her first kiddie book, The English Roses, she still managed to garner all the media attention and fanfare she’s accustomed to – even though she had to turn into a schoolmarm to do it.
Most Overexposed: The pimp cup. When the gold-encrusted goblet favoured by purveyors of women becomes so ubiquitous that former Nickelodeon star Nick Cannon is rocking it in a video, you know it’s time to retire it.
Afterthought of the Year: Talk about a fallen idol. The mop-headed Justin Guarini, who elicited squeals of delight as last year’s American Idol runner-up, drew only yawns this year when he released his self-titled snoozer. If that indignity wasn’t enough, he also endured another flop in another genre, with the should-have-been-straight-to-video musical, From Justin to Kelly.
Couple of the Year: Britney Spears and … just about anybody. Whether she was stepping out with Fred Durst, mugging for camera time with Colin Farrell or swapping spit with Madonna, just about anyone linked with the pop tart got Bennifer-type attention. Just think what will happen when she actually starts dating.
Hype of the Year: The 50 Cent-Ja Rule feud. Maybe it’s because rap has gotten so complacent that people were salivating over the beef between these two Queens-bred rappers; even Louis Farrakhan inserted himself into the beef. But the so-called feud was decidedly one-sided, as Ja Rule found himself flattened by 50’s verbal pummeling. By the time he released his response, Blood in My Eye, it flopped on the charts.