On Thursday, MTV unveiled our picks for the Best Artists of 2011 ... a list fittingly topped by none other than Katy Perry, who bested big-name stars like Nicki Minaj, Adele, the Throne and Lil Wayne to take home the honor.
It wasn't an easy choice, but we'd like to think we got it right. After all, Katy had three #1 singles — with a possible fourth looming on the horizon — this year, took her massive California Dreams Tour to arenas around the world, won Video of the Year at the 2011 VMAs and frequently posed for photo-ops like this. It was a pretty impressive 12 months, to say the very least.
Still, it took a whole lot of back-and-forth from our panel of experts — a brain trust made up of folks from MTV News, MTV Music and Talent and MTV.com — before we could declare Katy our #1 choice ... and needless to say, as we've been unveiling our picks, not all of you agree with our decision. But it seems that most fans don't have a problem with who made our list ... they're taking issue with who didn't.
And for all of the names bandied about by MTV.com readers, it seems that three keep coming up time and time again: Britney Spears, Bruno Mars and Pitbull, artists who each have a legitimate claim at being included in the conversation, if not placing in the top 10. So why didn't they? Let's try to explain.
Before our brain trust met, each department gathered and created a list of their top 12 picks for Best Artist of 2011. Those lists were then compiled, and we used some good old-fashioned arithmetic to determine an overall top 12 (everyone's #1 pick was awarded 12 points, each #12 pick got 1). From there, we debated, eventually settling on the top 10. And here's where the snubs begin: It seems that, while Brit, Bruno and Pit made everyone's top 12, none of them placed high enough to accumulate enough points ... though all three were in the discussion, they each finished toward the bottom of the overall top 12 and, really, we couldn't move them up far enough to make the final 10. And, more specifically, we couldn't find anyone in the top 10 we felt could be taken out.
Why? OK, let's break it down. Though Britney had a big year, our brain trust couldn't get past the fact that the story of her year hadn't changed all that much from previous years. She seemed to still be the princess of pop at the peak of her career, but she didn't necessarily gain any new ground this year. And though her chart-topping "Hold It Against Me" made tons of noise, Adele, Katy and Rihanna had lengthy Billboard reigns that were too difficult to overlook. Still Britney didn't finish entirely empty-handed. Her (really excellent) "Till the World Ends" placed at #10 on Bigger Than the Sound's 25 Best Songs of 2011 list.
As far as Bruno is concerned, he came quite close to cracking the top 10, but the brain trust took issue with the fact that his Doo-Wops & Hooligans album came out last year, not to mention that, outside the success of "Grenade" in early 2011, his subsequent singles didn't reach #1 (though "The Lazy Song" did make it to #4). And if all of that seems like nit-picking, well, some of us on the brain trust would agree with you, but sadly we were out-voted. And when it came to Pitbull, let's just say that while he had a monster hit with "Give Me Everything" (which came in at #6 on the brain trust's Best Songs list), most of the panelists couldn't get past the fact that he never quite got around to matching that song's success ... ubiquitous Dr. Pepper ad campaign aside.
So, there you go. Like we said, putting together a top 10 wasn't easy, and fans of Britney, Bruno and Pitbull probably have some legitimate gripes. Hopefully, explaining the madness behind our methods will help assuage some of their anger. Then again, probably not.