2010 was marked by two duos of classic pop artists that brought all four performers back into the spotlight. However, all comebacks of the year were topped by an early in the year platinum return to the top of the album chart.
Soldier Of Love, released in early February of 2010, was the first album of original material by Sade in more than nine years. The elegant, spare pop and R&B clearly struck a chord. It became Sade's first #1 album in the US opening with sales in excess of 500,000 copies the first week. The album remained at #1 for three weeks and was certified platinum for sales. Soldier of Love was the first Sade album certified platinum since Lovers Rock released in 2000. The title single dominated jazz charts and went to #6 on the R&B singles chart.
Watch "Soldier Of Love"
Enrique Iglesias' most recent studio set, 2007's Insomnia, had only reached #17 on the album chart. The single "Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song)" stalled outside the top 20. It looked like the glory days of Enrique Iglesias were behind. However, with a little boost from Jersey Shore, he came roaring back in the summer of 2010 with the top 5 smash "I Like It." It is the biggest hit from Enrique Iglesias since 2001's "Hero." The album Euphoria roared into the top 10 becoming his first to do so since 2001's Escape. Enrique Iglesias established himself as one of the top party musicians of the year.
Watch "I Like It"
The latter half of the past decade was not kind to Nelly. His 2008 album Brass Knuckles failed to generate any singles climbing higher than #40 on the pop singles chart. This was a major disappointment for an artist who appeared on 12 top 10 hits between 2000 and 2005. With new music on its way in 2010 it was anyone's guess whether Nelly could recover. One listen to "Just a Dream" and it is no surprise the effortless tune is a smash hit. Roaring to #3 the song quickly became Nelly's biggest since "Grillz" topped charts in 2005. A path is cleared for the release of the album Nelly 5.0 in November 2010.
Watch "Just a Dream"
4. Carole King and James Taylor
On paper this looked like a good option for adult fans of pop music. Two 1970s pop icons Carole King and James Taylor got together to play live and help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Los Angeles club The Troubadour in 2007. Releasing those performances as an album would likely generate interest from pop fans of a certain age. It was a good idea indeed and the album went clear to #4 on the album chart and was certified gold. The resulting concert tour in support of the release was the true phenomenon. In a year in which concert ticket sales suffered mightily, Carole King and James Taylor sold over 700,000 tickets and earned 59 million dollars. It looked a bit like 1972 all over again.
Watch "You've Got a Friend"
5. Elton John and Leon Russell
Elton John always was a fan of legendary singer-songwriter and session musician Leon Russell. His earliest albums show the heaviest influence. In 2010 these two musical titans came together to record an album titled The Union. With the wind of critical acclaim at their back, the album went to #3 on the chart and became Elton John's highest charting release since 1976's Blue Moves. It was also the highest charting album for Leon Russell since 1972's Carney went to #2.
Watch "If It Wasn't For Bad" live
6. Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo Green released two critically acclaimed solo albums in the early part of the past decade. Then he hooked up with producer Danger Mouse to form Gnarls Barkley and together they made history with the 2006 hit "Crazy." However, follow up success was elusive. The 2008 album The Odd Couple failed to reach the top 10 or produce any top 40 pop hits. Fast forward to 2010 and suddenly Cee Lo is at the center of a YouTube viral phenomenon. The single "F**k You!" brought Cee Lo Green back to the charts with a vengeance. It landed inside the top 20 and paved the way for the album Lady Killer.
Watch "F**k You!"
7. k.d. lang
Going into 2010 celebrated singer k.d. lang had not appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1992's hit "Constant Craving." Consequently, while widely respected as a vocal stylist, the days of k.d. lang being considered a mainstream pop artist seemed long past. However, for a few brief weeks this past winter she was on the tip of the tongue of millions of pop fans due to a simply stunning performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The performance brought k.d. lang back on to the Hot 100 and into the album chart with a rush released greatest hits collection.
Listen to "Hallelujah"
Led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, Canadian band Heart had two major periods of commercial success in the late 1970s and late 1980s. The last time they entered the top 10 was 20 years ago with 1990's Brigade. Following a series of successful concert dates with Journey in 2009, the band got together to create their first studio album since 1994. The result was a top 10 debut for Red Velvet Car and the adult contemporary hit single "Hey You."
Watch "Hey You" live
9. Phil Collins
Phil Collins' string of top 10 solo albums ended back in 1989 with the #1 smash ...But Seriously. In recent years the gap between albums has gotten longer as well. There had not been a new Phil Collins studio album in eight years until he came back this fall with the collection of classic soul songs titled Going Back.
Watch "(Love Is Like a) Heatwave"
10. Stone Temple Pilots
With group members split among Velvet Revolver and Army of Anyone, it might have looked like Stone Temple Pilots were over as a group. However, original members got back together in 2008 for a tour and a new, self-titled album that was released this past spring. Stone Temple Pilots hit #2, the group's highest chart position since 1994's Purple and included the #1 alternative rock radio hit "Between the Lines."
Watch "Between the Lines"