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Posted at 02:01 PM ET, 08/31/2011

Jay-Z, Kanye West, Adele, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga: Summer’s musical winners and losers


Kanye West and Jay-Z win the summer. Which is nice because it’s about time something good happened for them. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Summer 2011 has given us many things, some of them good. Three months ago, only the earliest adopters had heard of Kreayshawn, the Weeknd, Fall Creek Boys Choir, or countless other current iPod staples. Foster the People are famous now. So are LMFAO (like we said, it’s not all good).

Fall will bring its own pleasures, most specifically the births of pop culture's Twin Titans of Awesome, Loutallica (November 1) and continuing updates on Babyonce (look for a star in the east).

Until then, let's take a last look at who ruled, and who, um, drooled this past season:

Winners

The Throne: It hardly seemed possible, but Ye + Hova is >>>> or at least famous-er, than either of them separately.

Lil Wayne: His summer hit "How to Love" was one of those rare things — a good song that can change the way we look at an artist. "Tha Carter IV" is on track to sell more copies than "Watch the Throne" did in its first week — more copies, in fact, than any hip-hop album since "Tha Carter III."


Adele’s success has maintained throughout the entire year. ( Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)
The ladies of hip-hop and pop: Adele is classy and awesome. Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" was one of the inescapable, and great, Songs of the Summer. Katy Perry continued her merciless march to world domination, setting the record for most Number One hits by a female.

Grunge, etc: Pearl Jam, on the verge of the release of their Cameron Crowe-helmed doc "Pearl Jam 20," are respected elder statesmen. Nirvana’s "Nevermind" was newly consecrated on its 20th anniversary. Soundgarden's comeback has gone well. The Foo Fighters continue to make quality albums that sell bucketloads, with a minimum of fuss.

Odd Future: Tyler, the Creator's breakout album, "Goblin," is a success, and Sunday's VMA awards made it official: He's a mainstream star. But it's still not clear whether he can give a leg up to OF's lesser-known acts. MellowHype's new album (admittedly a much less commercial endeavor) hasn't crossed over, though we're betting OF will one day be known as the outfit Frank Ocean came from.

(Who was summer not so kind to? Find out after the jump.)


Album sales aren’t everything... (Photo by Nabil/courtesy of Universal Music Group)
Losers

Lil Wayne: We know. He sold a lot of albums. But the drop off in quality between "Carter"s "III" and "IV" is pronounced. He's always been one of hip-hop's court jesters, but he's in danger of becoming someone we laugh at, not with. When you're a rapper who wears leopard print jeggings onstage, it's a bad sign. When your leopard print jeggings have their own Twitter account, it's a really bad sign. And though he surely couldn't have known, his diss of Chosen One parents Jay and Beyonce means he'll never get to be Uncle Weezy.

Lady Gaga: We know. She sold a lot of albums. But "Born This Way" was a good album that needed to be amazing. And her continued insistence on costumes, stunts and shtick is getting in the way. It's beginning to seem less like good marketing and more like insecurity. The last straw: Jo Calderone, the VMA alter ego who came complete with a prosthetic penis: Say what you will about Lady Gaga, she's not afraid to commit. But still, we'd rather not have known about that.

The women of country music: They’re around here somewhere. Sure, Taylor Swift continues to dominate, but she belongs to everyone, not just country fans, now. The sole bright spot: Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies' late season rally.

Greyson Chance: Did you know he has an album out? He does! The 14-year-old was supposed to be the second coming of Justin Bieber, but his album took longer to be released than it probably should have, and its adult contemporary feel (emphasis on "adult") didn't help with his target audience-other 14 year-olds.

The Missing In Action: The roll call of artists whose albums either keep getting delayed or are taking so long to make that they're missing their opportunity window includes Pusha T, Rye Rye, Freddie Gibbs and Mac Miller. Don't let this happen to you, Kreayshawn. You're already on Minute Twelve.  

By Allison Stewart  |  02:01 PM ET, 08/31/2011

Categories:  Riffs | Tags:  Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Adele, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Odd Future, Pistol Annies

 
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