Serious hip-hop fans have had their eyes on her for a few years, sure. But 2010 was the year the rapper broke out, contributing perhaps the most talked-about guest verse on the biggest album of the year, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and then releasing her solo debut. The record didn’t please everyone — especially those of us who just wanted to hear Minaj do what she does best, rap — but it certainly had its moments. And Minaj has already done enough great work to earn a second chance to wow us.
Will she matter in 2011? Absolutely. But if she wants to make it to 2012, she’s going to need to step up her game.
Kicking off the year with her glittery snot-bomb of an album, Animal and ending it with the EP Cannibal, Ke$ha was everywhere in 2010. The woman who wakes up in the morning feelin’ like P. Diddy certainly has a distinct style — call it Girls Gone Wild on crack — and has sold a bunch of albums. Plus, she’s got Dr. Luke on her side. And yet, it’s hard to imagine she has much left to say, considering she’s got drink, dance, oversleep, chase hot guys, and wear weird clothing pretty much covered.
Will she matter in 2011? For a few months, sure. But we can’t see American audiences caring about Ke$ha long enough for her to put together another full-length album.
Although Garfield first drew indie audiences’ notice back in 2007, with a remarkable performance in the British film Boy A. But everything was coming up Andrew in 2010: he kicked off the year as one of a few bright spots in Terry Gilliam’s generally disappointing Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Then, he matched acting chops with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley in Mark Romanek’s ho-hum adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Garfield finally found a film equal to his abilities in The Social Network.
Will he matter in 2011? Um, are you kidding? Of course! He’s the new Spider-Man! And even if he weren’t, an actor of Garfield’s talents isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.
Maybe it tells us something about the declining state of the music industry that, in 1992, every A&R dude in the world was out at rock dives looking for the next Nirvana, while in 2010, the few that still had jobs were combing YouTube for Justin Bieber 2.0. And they’ve found him, or so it seems, in Greyson Chance. At the tender age of 12 (he’s now 13), the Bieber lookalike performed Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” for a sixth-grade function and became one of the year’s biggest viral video sensations. After a slew of TV appearances, Ellen DeGeneres signed him to her new record label, and this fall he put out his first single, “Waiting Outside the Lines.”
Will he matter in 2011? It’s so hard to say with tween idols! Without a proper album release or any real indication that he’s got an interesting personality, he could either be the next JT (an A-list triple threat) or the next Aaron Carter (recording duets with Tila Tequila and turning up on Dancing with the Stars).
When you’re the daughter of Will and Jada, you can pretty much kiss normal childhood goodbye. Good thing the Smiths’ ten-year-old is so goddamn adorable and charismatic. This fall’s “Whip My Hair” pretty much destroyed the internet, and for good reason — that shit is good, clean, catchy fun. Now, she’s signed to none other than Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label.
Will she matter in 2011? Yes. First of all, her debut album will come out, and that will generate some noise. She’ll probably tour, too. The question is, will her career make it through the awkward teenage years? We’re sure that Mama and Papa Smith are driving this bus, at least to a certain extent, and Willow may well decide to rebel.
Boo Boo Stewart
This year’s brand-new heartthrob (remember, Bieber already had a platinum album by this time in 2009) is a pretty strange dude with a totally weird name. (We keep wanting to call him Boo Boo Radley, but no, that’s not right.) The 16-year-old spent several years acting in B movies, guesting on TV shows, and touring with Hannah Montana. He’s also really into professional wrestling! But he got his big, teen idol break in this year’s Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Will he matter in 2011? Yup. He’s no Andrew Garfield, talent wise, but he’s got his foot in the door of the Twilight franchise, and his role is set to expand in both installments of Breaking Dawn.
Perhaps the most polarizing new face in politics this year, O’Donnell was a hero to the Tea Party and a nightmare for liberals. She was hailed by Mama Grizzlies everywhere as the next Sarah Palin. She was very against masturbation and dabbled in witchcraft — but was not, we repeat, not a witch! And then she lost her election to become the junior senator for Delaware.
Will she matter in 2011? Well, O’Donnell does have a book deal. But you know what? No! No, she won’t.
Sometimes, all you have to do to win international fame is very publicly express something many people are thinking. You can do that by writing a zeitgeisty book or magazine article… or, like, former flight attendant Steven Slater, you can say “take this job and shove it” by cursing out your customers and exiting via your airplane’s emergency chute. Although originally hailed as a hero, we were quickly disillusioned by inconsistencies between Slater’s account of the events and passengers’, along with Slater’s pleas to get his job back.
Will he matter in 2011? Emphatically no. In fact, he doesn’t even matter anymore in 2010.
Readers of British tabloids have probably cared about Middleton since the mid-’00s, when and Prince William began dating at the University of St. Andrews. But only this year, when he popped the question and she said yes, did Americans really start to care. Middleton won a place on Barbara Walters’s “Most Fascinating People of 2010” special, and now you basically can’t read any kind of celebrity news site without seeing her name.
Will she matter in 2011? Since the wedding will take place on April 29th, she’ll definitely be ubiquitous until then. And given that she’s going to become a royal, she’ll certainly have British paparazzi on her tail, well, forever. Whether Americans keep paying attention will depend on whether she actually turns out to be interesting and/or controversial.
The Old Spice Guy
The year’s best loved viral ad featured Isaiah Mustafa, a.k.a. The Old Spice Guy, a.k.a. The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. While the campaign’s web-savvy humor and interactivity were thanks to the ad gurus at Wieden + Kennedy, it was Mustafa’s charisma and knowingness that made them so irresistible.
Will he matter in 2011? The Old Spice Guy character? He seems to have run his course. But Mustafa himself is far from over. On the strength of his ads, he’s signed a talent deal with NBC and gotten himself cast in a Jennifer Aniston movie.