Fiona Apple, Brandy, No Doubt, Alicia Keys, Pink, and more of our faves called it a comeback this year.
Everyone loves a comeback — and this year, there were a whole lot of them. Whether recovering from shaky album sales and label drama, making their grand TV/film re-debut, or just finally ending their self-imposed hiatus, returning to the studio and getting back into the music scene after years (or even decades — hi, No Doubt!), 2012 was a year of music comebacks by artists we welcomed with open arms — and willing ears.
Check out some of Buzzworthy’s absolute favorite comebacks of 2012 below, from Britney’s transition to TV, to long-awaited records from R&B princesses like Alicia Keys, to a certain girl group reemerging on the stage of the Olympics to bring us a little girl power once again. Viva forever!
+ ALICIA KEYS: 2012 was a huge year for The Girl Who Was On Fire, and by that, I mean Alicia Keys. After popping up on 50 Cent’s “New Day” with Dr. Dre earlier in the year, the multi-talented singer-songwriter performed at the VMAs back in September, and in November, she unveiled her latest studio album, Girl On Fire, which debuted at the top of the charts, continuing her (nearly) nonstop streak of No. 1 albums. Just recently, she premiered the video for “Brand New Me.” Oh, and perhaps most important: She smized all over the place with Tyra Banks during a cameo appearance on “America’s Next Top Model.” Work!
+ BACKSTREET BOYS: This might be too easy, but… Backstreet’s back! Again! After an extended hiatus from the group, original member Kevin Richardson announced that he was officially rejoining the iconic boy band in early 2012. Later in the year, the troupe announced that they would be heading into the studio to lay down vocals as a quintet for their upcoming eighth studio album — their first together since 2005’s Never Gone.The first taste of that reunited Backstreet magic came last month with “It’s Christmas Time Again” (featuring Kevin!), but the true test will come when Backstreet’s new album’s released in early 2013.
+ BRANDY: After seemingly endless delays, setbacks and label struggles, Brandy came roaring back onto the charts in 2012 with her first studio release since 2008’s Human. Packed with smooth, melodic jams — including her Chris Brown collabo “Put It Down,” as well as her Sean Garrett-penned follow-up “Wildest Dreams” — Two Eleven landed Brandy yet another top 10 record and nearly universal critical acclaim. And when she wasn’t too busy dominating the charts, she was busy stirring up drinks and drama on “The Game” as a bartender named Chardonnay.
+ BRITNEY SPEARS: Sure, Britney Spears didn’t actually release any new music this year (although she did briefly find time to walk in the club and turn that s*** up as Britishney with will.i.am on “Scream & Shout”), yet the sensual seductress still managed to utterly dominate pop culture once again in 2012 with her highly publicized new position as a judge alongside Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid on “The X Factor,” her first recurring appearance on a TV series since the good ol’ days of the “Mickey Mouse Club” in the early ’90s. From the very first episode on, The Holy Spearit proved herself a natural for the small screen, inspiring a nation with her endless GIF-worthy faces, constructive criticism, iconic dance moves and a stellar vocab. And proving time and time again each week why the legendary Miss Britney Spears is a true star.
+ CASSIE: We’ve had a Long Way 2 Go since we last heard from Cassie, but it finally happened: Six years after her self-titled debut dropped, the Queen of Icy-R&B dropped her sensual single “King of Hearts” back in February, the thumping, Ibiza-friendly lead single from her oft-delayed follow-up. Her oh-so-scandalous Rico Love-produced “Balcony” came months later in September, as she teamed up with Young Jeezy to get freaky in public on top of a slinky beat. And later on in the year, she teamed up with Miss Nicki Minaj (or to provide the monotone, militant chorus on Pink Friday Roman Reloaded: The Re-Up track, “The Boys.” Now, with a mixtape on the way (Rock-A-Bye Baby), she might just be our Official Girl in 2013 after all.
+ CHRISTINA AGUILERA: What else will 2012 really be known for, if not the almighty return of the great Legendtina? Two years after the “Beautiful” belter unleashed her not-so-warmly received 2010 effort Bionic (don’t worry — it was just ahead of its time), Aguilera rose up against the haters like an unbreakable flower with her brand-new studio album, Lotus. Along with her wildly fun, NSFW Max Martin-produced strip ’n’ strut anthem “Your Body,” the fan-waving, bat-wielding queen of “The Voice” let there be love all around the world in 2012. By the time the year was over, I think we all already knew her name. SAY!
+ CIARA: Backbend enthusiast, “Work”-aholic, and professional One Woman Army Ciara might have gotten briefly sidelined in 2011 following poor reception of her last studio effort, Basic Instinct, but that didn’t stop her from hustling even harder in 2012. After shifting over to Epic Records and heading into the studio with just about every pop hitmaker on the planet, the R&B-pop princess began pumping out buzz tracks in the latter half of the year, from the 2 Chainz collaboration, “Sweat” to “Sorry” to her latest single, the freestyle frenzied “Got Me Good,” which saw her dancing across the desert with an aching back and her too-tight bra. Next year, she’ll release her Epic Records debut–but in the meantime, can someone please get her fitted properly?
+ EVE: Plenty’s changed in the female rap game since Eve first entered the scene in the late ’90s, but in 2012, she officially returned to the spotlight. Nearly a decade after her last studio record, the Philly-born rapper is (at last) making a proper comeback in 2013 with her upcoming album, Lip Lock. To start getting those lips moving, she premiered her first teaser track, “She Bad Bad,” back in October. And last month, she sat down with MTV’s RapFix Live. For now, it’s all just a taste of what’s to come.
+ FIONA APPLE: One of music’s most erratic, moody geniuses finally resurfaced this year for the first time since her (well, extraordinary!) Extraordinary Machine in 2005. The result? Her intensely personal, deeply jagged (and now Grammy-nominated!) fourth studio album, The Idler Wheel… (It’s actually 23 words in total, but we’ll save some room), which garnered overwhelmingly positive press and was named the best album of 2012 by Time magazine. The album also saw the singer-songstress traveling cross-country for a tour — which ended abruptly for a sad reason — making this one of Fiona Apple’s most successful years yet.
Check out more of Buzzworthy’s favorite musical comebacks of 2012 after the jump!
+ GARBAGE: After a way, way, way too mentally damaging announcement of an indefinite hiatus back in 2005, Shirley Manson and her brood of synth-rock darklings came roaring back in 2012 for a masterful return to form. Not Your Kind Of People saw the troupe delving into their back catalog and reverting to their classic brand of acid-tongued electro-rock anthems, including “Blood for Poppies,” “Battle In Me” and “Big, Bright World.” Coupled with a massive world tour spanning the entire year, the band didn’t just make a great comeback record — they took over the world.
+ GIRLS ALOUD: Three years after life got cold with their hiatus announcement back in 2009, the Almighty Aloud returned at last to celebrate their 10-year anniversary in the industry with something new — quite literally. “Something New,” the lead single from their latest greatest hits compilation TEN, saw Nadine, Cheryl, Kimberley, Sarah, and Nicola leading the pack in their glittery stilettos and tulip dresses. Added to a few other new slices of disco-pop perfection on the record, including “Every Now And Then” and “On The Metro,” plus performances on the “Royal Variety Show” and “Children In Need” and an upcoming tour in 2013, the girls made certain that no one would ever mistake their biology.
+ MADONNA: How many ways did Madonna reaffirm her status as the queen of everything in 2012? Let us count the ways: The most-watched Super Bowl Halftime show in history? Check. The highest-grossing world tour of the year? Check. Her 38th top 10 hit with “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” continuing her streak with the most top 10 hits in the history of Billboard? Check. An album that debuted at No. 1 in more than 20 countries worldwide? Check. Now, to start splitting hairs over the individual chart positions of her MDNA singles? Why, that’s simply reductive.
+ MISSY ELLIOTT: Though she’s been popping up on features for other artists for years now (including everyone from J. Cole, Katy Perry and Demi Lovato), it’s been a hot minute since we last heard fresh material from Missy Misdemeanor Elliott herself. But in 2012, that changed: While cooking up tunes in the studio for her forthcoming record, Block Party, Missy dropped two singles on iTunes — “9th Inning” and “Triple Threat” — back in September. Although the record’s been delayed for a while now, it’s due to drop anytime in 2013. With any luck, she’ll put her thing down, flip it and reverse it real soon.
+ MONICA: It only took about 14 years or so, but Monica and Brandy finally patched things up once and for all this year! That’s right, no more bickering over a boy: After releasing her classic duet “The Boy is Mine” back in 1998, Monica returned with her longstanding duet partner Brandy for “It All Belongs to Me,” the Facebook name-checking empowerment anthem released earlier this year. The collaboration also served as the lead track from Monica’s seventh studio album, New Life, which dropped back in April and spawned several more singles, keeping the R&B songstress on the charts for nearly two decades running.
+ NO DOUBT: By the sound of their punchy 2012 record, Push And Shove, you’d never know that it’s been more than a full decade since No Doubt last put out a record together (2001’s Rock Steady, to be exact). Luckily, not too much has changed: More killer hooks, reggae/ska influences, and loads of classic yelps and riffs along the way by frontwoman Gwen Stefani. The troupe also set off on tour this year, as well as delivering some sizzling comeback performances on the “Teen Choice Awards” and “The X Factor” U.K. Oh, and one thing’s definitely for sure: Gwen didn’t age a day since their debut. Like, truly. Ageless wonder! Wonder what she’s using in her bathwater?
+ PINK: So, now that P!nk’s officially entered the realm of mommyhood, did she tone down her image for her 2012 studio record, The Truth About Love? Uh, based on tracks like “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” which she performed at the 2012 MTV VMAs, and “Slut Like You,” it’s safe to say she’s still the same rowdy pop rebel as always. In fact, she came out swinging. Who could forget the incredible acrobatics in her “Try” video? Oh, that jaw-dropping American Music Awards step-by-step re-enactment? If anything, she’s never been better… or bendier.
+ SOLANGE: Years after releasing the drastically underrated Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, über-talented songstress Solange Knowles (and yes, sister of Beyonce) teamed up with super-producer Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) to craft one of the year’s greatest singles, “Losing You.” Along with the critically acclaimed track, she also snuck in an entire EP at the end of November called True, a complete collection of spaced-out nu-soul and disco-tinged melancholy. It’s her best work yet, and certainly one of the year’s most welcome surprises.
+ SOUNDGARDEN: The prolific, Seattle-bred grunge rockers made a slow, steady comeback in 2012, beginning, of all places, with a track on the soundtrack of “The Avengers.” After some assorted concert and festival appearances during the summer, the seminal MTV ’90s band pumped out their first cut from their upcoming collection, the rather appropriately titled “Been Away Too Long.” And by November, the group released their sixth studio record: King Animal, garnering widespread critical praise and stretching Soundgarden’s nearly 25-year legacy well into the 21st century.
+ SPICE GIRLS: This summer, people of the world huddled together by the billions in front of television screens, computers and inside a massive stadium in London to watch the most important event of the decade: the Spice Girls reunion at the Olympics! Sure, there were also athletes or whatever, but once the closing ceremonies rolled around, all eyes were on Baby, Ginger, Mel B, Mel C and the ferociously frigid Posh as they reunited once more to slam it to the left and shake it to the left around the arena in their customized taxicabs while belting out their most cherished tunes from their ’90s reign. It was electric, it was nostalgic, it was the perfect touch of Spice.
+ T.I.: had a very, very busy return in 2012, to say the absolute least: Not only did he release a new book (Trouble & Triumph) and team up with Sean Kingston (“Back 2 Life (Live It Up)”) and Trey Songz (“2 Reasons”) for some collaborations, but he’s been churning out singles of his own like “Ball (feat. Lil Wayne)” and “Sorry (feat. Andre 3000)” all year long in addition to starring in VH1’s ” T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.” And to top it all off, T.I. closed out 2012 by releasing his eighth (!) studio record, Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head.
+ 50 CENT: 50’s ambitions for his upcoming studio album were stunted by a fair share of setbacks in the past few years since 2009’s Before I Self Destruct. But in 2012, he was finally able to achieve liftoff. The campaign officially began with his summertime single “New Day,” featuring Alicia Keys and Dr. Dre. Most recently, he’s been rapidly climbing the charts with his superstar-loaded new single “My Life,” featuring Eminem and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. His fifth studio record, Street King Immortal, was originally due out at the end of this year as well, but endless setbacks and guest spots caused a pushback into 2013. We’re done with WAITING, 50!