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SGN PICKS - Hottest artists of the year, 2009
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SGN PICKS - Hottest artists of the year, 2009

by Albert Rodriguez, Jessica Price and Shaun Knittel - SGN Writers

They won awards, played on big stages, became overnight sensations, reached critical highs, or just outshone their competition. Of the many artists that broke through or made a name for themselves in 2009, the following (in order) outdistanced the rest.

1) Lady GaGa
This is the year when Lady GaGa, the closest thing to a second coming of vintage Madonna, became a legitimate star. From her blood-spattering performance on the MTV VMAs to her march for Gays at our nation's capitol to her stitched-from-scratch getups to her fetish-leaning theatrics, no one gave us a show in 2009 better than The Fame Monster. Lady, we loves ya! (A. Rodriguez)

2) Taylor Swift
The 17-year-old country pop singer-songwriter, guitarist and actress Taylor Swift took the music scene by storm in 2009. She was everywhere, winning one award after another, selling out arenas across the country, and making music that you just can't stop singing along to. In the mainstream music biz, Swift is a breath of fresh air. (S. Knittel)

3) Kings of Leon
There are many reasons why Kings of Leon rated so high on this list, one being that they're so damn beautiful to look at - I'll have Jared Followill on a slice of toast, please. Second, these guys are now selling out sports arenas and earning major Grammy nominations, including nods for record and song of the year - baby, that's hot! (A. Rodriguez)

4) Beyoncé
Following her smash hit double album with an equally magnificent tour, Beyoncé had a very good year. It seems we just can't get enough of her. Her movie Obsessed may have been a flop in theory, but people still turned out in droves to see it, making the meandering thriller a commercial success. (J. Price)

5) Depeche Mode
Health problems and shifting popularity can't slow down veteran new-wavers turned arena rockers Depeche Mode. DM's "Tour Of The Universe" was true to form and showed that Dave Gahan and company still have what it takes to connect with a world audience. (J. Price)

6) Phoenix
French quartet Phoenix came up with 2009's cheeriest pop album, the career-topping Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - you couldn't help but turn up the volume when "1901" played in the background of that Cadillac commercial. A well-deserved Grammy nomination, a spot on nearly every major critics year-end list, and the snappiest dressers this side of the Seine equals red hot - vive le Phoenix! (A. Rodriguez)

7) Pink
Pink has got to be the most severely under-appreciated pop artist around. She's no headline-maker like contemporaries Lady GaGa or even Amy Winehouse, and she's not the glamorous type like Beyoncé, but she's a career-driven artist and is gifted with a tremendous voice - not to mention that trapeze act. (J. Price)

8) Neko Case
Neko Case has slowly emerged from cult hero status and turned into a beautiful songwriter that appeals to a very wide audience. She's beloved by classic country fans as much as she is by alternative rock fans, and that's no easy task. The 2009 album Middle Cyclone is truly her best record yet. (J. Price)

9) Green Day
When most punk rockers grow up, they disappear or end up playing on a 12-band "remember us" tour - not Green Day. They grew up, and got better. Admit it, you were thinking "Was American Idiot their finest hour?" The fans asked and Green Day answered with the loud, in-your-face rock and roll fireball of an album 21st Century Breakdown. Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool still got it, and we still want it. (S. Knittel)

10) Whitney Houston
This year, we were all witness to one of music's greatest comeback stories. I Look To You is classic Whitney, the Whitney we know and love, and thankfully, the Whitney we no longer have to miss. Sure, her voice isn't what it used to be, but it's still her voice. Whitney on a bad day is better than most on their best day. (S. Knittel)

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