The most extraordinary pop music comeback of 2012 came via reworking classic hits by the artists. Elsewhere on the list classic rock bands found their way back into the consciousness of current pop fans.
The massive hit album of 2012 that no one, except perhaps Lionel Richie himself, saw coming was Tuskegee. The former Commodores lead vocalist's popularity had never completely gone away. His 2006 album Coming Home reached the top 10 and was certified gold. However, a new #1 hit album by the man who last reached the top more than 25 years ago in 1986 seemed unlikely. Tuskegee is a collection of country re-recordings of some of Lionel Richie's most memorable hits in the past. The ace in the hole is he assembled a collection of some of the biggest country stars to duet with him on the songs. With no major hit singles but strong targeted advertising Tuskegee debuted at #2 on the album chart with nearly 200,000 copies sold and rose to #1 two weeks later. Heading to the end of 2012 Tuskegee is one of the top 5 best selling albums of the year in the US, has been certified platinum, and hit #1 in Canada as well as the US.
Watch "Endless Love" featuring Shania Twain
2. Owl City
Adam Young, aka Owl City, stormed the pop charts in 2009 with the massive #1 pop single "Fireflies." It was certified four times platinum, and pulled the album Ocean Eyes into the top 10 and to a platinum certification. However, efforts at a significant follow up hit failed. The follow up album All Things Bright and Beautiful opened in the top 10, but faded quickly without any hit singles. That is why it felt like "Good Time" seemed like such a surprise in the summer of 2012. The instantly catchy summer pop anthem with Carly Rae Jepsen was like a bracing summer breeze on a hot day and seemed to pick up right where "Fireflies" had left off three years ago.
Watch "Good Time" with Carly Rae Jepsen
As we headed into the fall of 2012, not only had it been four years since the last James Bond film and its accompanying theme song, but also a decade since one of the themes had climbed into the pop top 10. The choice of Adele, arguably the world's biggest pop star of the moment, to perform the theme to the 50th anniversary James Bond film Skyfall generated significant excitement among fans of the series. Adele did not disappoint. "Skyfall," the song, debuted at #2 on the UK pop singles chart which is the biggest opening for a James Bond theme there since Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill" more than 25 years ago. In the US the song has thus far matched Madonna's 2002 peak at #8 with "Die Another Day." However, the most exciting element for long term James Bond fans is that "Skyfall" brings back all of the glory of series classics like "Goldfinger" and "Live and Let Die."
4. No Doubt
A decade ago No Doubt were one of the biggest pop acts on the planet. Their double platinum album Rock Steady generated three big pop hit singles. Then the group made room for a solo career by lead vocalist Gwen Stefani. She began with a bang and her first album was a major success, but that began to fade with the second. Fast forward to 2012 and the band No Doubt returns at last with the new collection Push and Shove. The sound is faithful to the band's past classics. The album opened at #3 and included the moderate hit single "Settle Down." No Doubt is back, perhaps not as commercially powerful as before, but with the sound intact that made them superstars.
Watch "Settle Down"
5. Beach Boys
50 years ago the Beach Boys signed their first recording contract with Capitol Records. That began a storied career as one of the most American of US pop bands. They invented the genre known as surf rock and then, with the leadership and genius of Brian Wilson, explored entirely new territory for pop music and vocal harmonies. Through the years the group has experienced its fair share of ups and downs. To honor the 50th anniversary they released a new studio album That's Why God Made the Radio. It debuted at #3 on the album chart becoming the group's highest charting album in 37 years. The Beach Boys then set out on a concert tour to celebrate the comeback.
Watch "That's Why God Made the Radio"
6. Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones also celebrated a 50th anniversary in 2012. They played their first live gig in July 1962. To celebrate their anniversary, the group released GRRRR!, a massive 50 track greatest hits collection. It also includes two new songs. The single "Doom and Gloom" climbed into the top 30 on the mainstream rock chart, the group's best performance on the chart since 2005.
Watch "Doom and Gloom"
7. 50 Cent
Back in 2005 rapper 50 Cent was one of the most successful of all recording artists with two consecutive multi-platinum albums and a string of seven top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. However, an inevitable fade in success occurred. While he has maintained chart appearances through turns as a featured vocalist, 50 Cent has not reached the top 10 as a lead vocalist in five years. It now looks like that fortune has changed with the release of the single "My Life" assisted by Eminem and Maroon 5's Adam Levine. The song has quickly climbed to #1 on the iTunes sales chart and may be looking at a top 10 debut. A new album Street King Immortal is expected in 2013.
Watch "My Life"
8. Fiona Apple
Singer-songwriter Fiona Apple made a major impact on the pop music world with the release of her debut album Tidal in 1996. It was a triple platinum success and included the contemporary classic hit "Criminal." Two successive albums were critically acclaimed, but until this year no new studio sets had been released since 2005. Accompanied by one of the longest album titles of all time The Idler Wheel... appeared in June and opened at #3 on the album chart, the best chart performance of Fiona Apple's career. It includes the beguiling single "Every Single Night."
Watch "Every Single Night"
9. Van Halen
It is hard to believe that vocalist David Lee Roth first left legendary rock band Van Halen over 25 years ago. In 2007 he rejoined the group for a well received concert tour. However, it took nearly five more years to hear the first new studio music by Van Halen. The top 20 rock hit "Tattoo" was followed by the first new Van Halen studio album in 14 years, A Different Kind Of Truth. It debuted at #2 on the album chart, the band's best showing since 1995.
Alanis Morissette's album Jagged Little Pill remains one of the biggest hits of all time. Her commercial clout has faded somewhat through the years, but the first new album from the singer-songwriter in four years was still a significant event. Now that she is happily married and a mother, the tone of her music has changed. Havoc and Bright Lights climbed to #5 on the album chart, her best performance on the chart since 2004. The single "Guardian" climbed into the top 30 at adult pop radio.