In the music world, all our rowdy friends were coming over this year. And a few of them, like Hank Williams Jr., got in some trouble with their bad-boy behavior, whether that made them pariahs or pop heroes or both.
So let's commemorate the rude 'n' crude class of 2011 with this rundown of 20 great examples of music stars behaving badly this past year. (Who could have guessed, 12 short months ago, that we could make a list like this and Britney wouldn't even be on it?)
1. Hank Jr. compares Obama to... Netanyahu. Really, it was John Boehner he was thinking of as Hitler when he made that equation, right? How a smart guy like Hank Jr. let himself get tricked into making such damaging statements by those notorious right-wing-baiters on Fox News Channel, we'll never fathom. But what we do know is that, ever since ESPN terminated his "All My Rowdy Friends" theme song, football has been... exactly the same.
2. Chris Brown throws chair through GMA window; goes on shirtless, sulky mid-town rampage. Brown claimed he was blindsided when hard-hitting investigative journalist Robin Roberts asked about the ongoing ramifications of having slugged Rihanna, even though the GMA people insisted Brown knew they'd go there. He then burst out into the March weather without a shirt on, sadly failing to march as far downtown as Christopher Street, where his efforts might have been more appreciated.
3. ?uestlove calls Michelle Bachmann a bad name (instrumentally). The Roots ushered Michele Bachmann onto Jimmy Fallon's late-night show with a wordless cover of Fishbone's 1985 "Lyin' Ass B---," something that surely would've remained a great in-joke if one of the dozen people in the world who recognized it hadn't ratted them out. Oh, yeah: ?uestlove himself was the tattler! Since the incident, ?uestlove has been required to run all his song choices past NBC censors. If he heralds Bachmann's next appearance with a Beatles or BTO song, we'll know he's been lobotomized.
4. The Game gets Twitter followers to do his prank calling for him. The rapper tweeted that he was hiring interns, then gave out the Compton police department's emergency line as his contact number. When the local lawmen protested his stunt, the Game unrepentantly responded, "Y'all can track a tweet down but can't solve murders!" Speaking of cold cases, the Game's latest album took less than two months to go missing from the Billboard 200.
5. Sinead O'Connor advertises for a man, repeatedly and explicitly, on Twitter. O'Connor really what she hadn't gotten lately, which was a dude's touch. So where better for a sex-starved star to go looking for love than her Tweetdeck? Sinead was very specific, in repeated tweets, about what she needed out of a new boyfriend and which body parts he would need to service. Many fans thought: Nothing compares to... ewwwwwwww! Now that O'Connor has announced her engagement, maybe it's safe to re-friend her on social media. But we feel too scarred to go back and check.
6. Christina Aguilera thinks some parts of the National Anthem bear repeating. And that others need to be left out, because—make no mistake—this is a girl who hates ramparts. When you have a Rick Perry moment and go into brain freeze singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," you basically have options, one of which is to trudge ahead, as Aguilera did, with a little lyrical fudging. Or, you do what Lauren Alaina did at a Thanksgiving ballgame: regather your wits during the world's most pregnant pause.
7. Astro is a poor "X Factor" loser. He had a bad day, la la la la... But, unlike most other castoffs from TV singing competitions, this rapper wasn't afraid to show it. Fighting for his life as one of the bottom two, the kid informed the judges, "I really don't want to perform. I feel it's unnecessary." He rapped his way through "Never Can Say Goodbye," anyway—half-heartedly.
8. Kings of Leon singer disappears for a mid-set beer 'n' vomitorium break; forgets to return. You would think nothing but loose pigeons could possibly keep show-biz troupers like Kings of Leon from fulfilling their appointed duties. And yet! At a Dallas show, singer Caleb Followhill—who claimed, not altogether convincingly, not to be drunk—told the crowd they were "one of the best [bleeping] crowds we've ever played for," then added he was going backstage to vomit and drink beer, but would return. Eventually the other members came out to profusely apologize for canceling the show, saying, "[Bleeping] hate us, not Caleb." Soon after, the band's entire tour was called off, due to... you guessed it!... "exhaustion."
9. Self-proclaimed "stoner" Miley Cyrus embraces the accoutrements of reggae and civil unrest. At her 19th birthday party, the former tween queen was filmed saying, "You know you smoke way too much (bleeping) weed" when your friends make you a Bob Marley cake. After controversy broke out over Cyrus' latest flub, BFF Kelly Osbourne came to her defense, tweeting, "U guys if @MileyCyrus is not recording/filming/touring she is works everyday how could she possible do all that if she was a stoner!" (Hey, a simple "She's just bein' Miley" would have sufficed.)
10. Michaele Salahi somehow hypnotizes Neal Schon into making her Journey's band mascot. Salahi, half of the famed White House party-crushing couple, might not have seemed like the world's most eligible bachelorette for any number of reasons, her marriage to Tareq Salahi included. But after an initial "kidnapping" scare brought on by a husband who did not yet know he was estranged, it was time to sing "Oh, Salahi, hold on," as the runaway bride was discovered happily coupled up with Schon on the Journey tour—yet another reason for Steve Perry never to come back.
11. Mindy McCready makes sure she will never, ever get child custody again. While Michaele Salahi was found hiding on a classic-rock tour, former country star McCready was found hiding in a closet, Saddam-style, after having absconded with her son from a supervised custody visit. Later she claimed she'd taken off with him because her mother was abusing the child.
12. KISS tries to pay tribute to Michael Jackson, after calling him a child molester. The organizers of October's Michael Jackson concert found out the hard way that, when booking tribute acts, it's good to do some Googling to make sure the bands you're hiring never said anything like: "There's no question in my mind he molested those kids. Not a doubt," as Gene Simmons had. Pressure from Jacko's fans got KISS kicked off the already celebrity-light bill.
13. Lady Gaga tries to sneak obscene high heels past American Idol censors. You could argue that all high heels are phallic, in some way. But Gaga made the connection explicit with a pair of $4500 heels she wore to an Idol taping, which had to be electronically blurred so as not to inspire a whole generation of foot fetishists to sing karaoke.
14. Avril Lavigne is her usual cussy self in front of tens of thousands of sports fans. Hard to believe Lavigne would ever be anything less than a class act, but after some microphone problems, she let loose with the F-word several times at a family-filled Tampa Bay Rays post-game gig, precipitating apologies both from the team and the possibly Asbergers-stricken singer herself.
15. Simon Cowell goes berserk over L.A. Reid's ignorance of the Demi Lovato catalog. After judge (and top record exec) L.A. Reid criticized Drew on X Factor for singing too mature a song for her age, Cowell went out of his way to suggest that Reid was an ignoramus for not knowing that "Skyscraper" had actually originated as a hit for the not-so-over-the-hill Lovato. "I am sick to death of your pointless, stupid criticism," snarled Cowell, tearing Reid a new appreciation for teen/tween balladry. "This is a young girl's song. You are talking complete and utter rubbish."
16. Tyler, the Creator builds entire career around homophobia and rape fantasies. The duo Tegan & Sera finally had enough of the "vile anti-gay slurs" and violent misogyny tht are the Odd Future frontman's schtick-in-trade. They composed a blog: "As journalists and colleagues defend, excuse, and congratulate 'Tyler, the Creator,' I find it impossible not to comment. In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook and find deeper meaning in this kid's sickening rhetoric?" Tyler had a response for the offended duo: "If Tegan and Sera need some [of his manhood], hit me up!" he tweeted.
17. Nicki Minaj is not taking any guff from Cher! Isn't this kind of like how World War I started? First, Cher tweeted something dismissive but fairly innocuous about Minaj. A fan had tweeted to the superstar, mistakenly, that Minaj had dissed Cher in a song. Chaz's mom tweeted back: "I've seen lots of people come and go! No biggie!" Then Minaj's combative boyfriend, Safaree, went ballistic, tweeting: "yo @cher listen to the words b4 you say dumb s--- on twitter… do you know what a rap metaphore is???" Cher got apologetic, gingerly saying she'd gotten it wrong and "should know better," adding, "Give me a F-in' break! Said I was dumb!" But it only escalated, as Minaj and her b.f. misunderstood Cher's mea culpa for misunderstanding and continued to get in her grill: "@cher "#stopit5." Somehow, we suspect this all had to do with Bob Mackie envy.
18. Courtney Love tries to get attention; succeeds. At a Brazilian concert, Love doffed her top, though it was her words at the show that got the most attention.When someone held up a photo of Kurt Cobain, she erupted: ""I don't need to see a picture of Kurt, a------, and I'm going to have you f------ removed... I'll beat the f--- out of you if you do it again." She also insulted Dave Grohl—saying Cobain "got kicked out of a band" by Grohl—and a fellow band member led the crowd to chant, "The Foo Fighters are gay." Soon after, Love told a reporter she was Lindsay Lohan's sobriety coach, something quickly denied by the apparently deeply puzzled Lohan camp.
19. Kanye West again proves that it just isn't wise to say the word "Hitler" in any context outside of the History Channel, and maybe not even there. The poor hip-hop titan didn't mean to pull a Lars Von Trier. But playing the Big Chill Festival, West got defensive, saying, "I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I'm [bleeping] insane ... like I'm Hitler." That, inevitably, led to "West Compares Self to Hitler" headlines.
20. Jennifer Lopez hawks cars at the American Music Awards. It just might have been the rudest and crudest moment of the year: J.Lo "driving" a Fiat onto the stage and "singing" from it, mid-"Papi." Even fellow stars couldn't keep from speaking up about the crass salesmanship. Questlove of the Roots tweeted, ""Yo. I know I didn't just see that dumb Fiat. I KNOW I didn't just see that friggin' Fiat." John Legend tweeted back: "That had to be the most shameless thing I've ever seen in a performance. I was genuinely shocked." That's saying something, given the near-equal shamelessness of Lopez simulating sex with Pitbull in the same number, minutes before the rapper moved on to duet with her ex-husband, Marc Anthony.