Is it just me or was 2011 shadier than usual? It seems like every ho with a record deal was caught doing something underhand this year. Perhaps we're just more observant and unnecessarily criticise artists for playing the game. Or maybe the music business is so cut-throat at the moment that you need sticky fingers and a Teflon conscience just to get ahead. In any case, there were no shortage of examples to choose from when I put together my list of 2011's shadiest moments. I'm sure I forgot some essential acts of thievery and bad behaviour - so feel free to remind me in the comments.
20. Kylie's pop-up book debacle
Kylie announced the $199 "Goddess Edition" of her album way back in June. It's now December and still nowhere to be seen. It can't have been easy for Dannii to cut and paste each copy herself between takes on Australia's Got Talent but this whole debacle is starting to feel shadier than a rain forest.
19. Britney's tweets
And the award for the most obviously ghost-written Twitter belongs to Britney. Who do they think they're kidding? We all know Brit is too high on Xanax and Vicodin to stand without assistance, let alone regularly update her social media platforms with tightly-scripted content. Many artists have admin staff running their Twitter - I met the guy being paid to write Taylor Swift's tweets when I was in New York - but Britney's lack of involvement is so obvious that it crosses into shady territory.
18. Lady Gaga inventing Madonna's support
Now this was awkward. At the height of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" controversy (ie. that it's a blatant "Express Yourself" rip-off), the deluded one went on the Jay Leno Show and proudly announced that Madonna sent her an email declaring her love for the song. Unfortunately, the 97-year-old pop icon's publicist denied the exchanged ever happened. How embarrassing!
17. Madonna's mad YouTube skillz
Madonna is the Queen of shade - probably because she sleeps in a crypt and only comes out at night to feed on male models. In the year's shadiest click of a button, the once popular singer rubbed more salt into Lady Gaga's wounds by uploading "Express Yourself" to her YouTube account - a move that was interpreted as a clear jab at Mother Monster.
16. Lady Gaga thanks Whitney Houston
The not-so-subtle feud between Madonna and Lady Gaga continued at the Grammys when the latter thanked Whitney Houston for inspiring "Born This Way" - despite the fact that it sounds like everything Madge recorded in the '80s thrown into a blender. Acknowledging the pop legend's biggest rival was a particularly shady touch.
15. Kelly Rowland releases a greatest hits album - with no hits
14. Rihanna's bargain bundles
While Katy Perry's price-rigging on iTunes generated loud criticism across the blogosphere, Rihanna's "buy my last album, get my new single for free" deal was inexplicably given a pass. By everyone but me.
13. Beyoncé's "Countdown" choreography
King B stole ten seconds of a dance routine from a random Belgian ballet in her iconic "Countdown" video and faced the wrath of the original choreographer. While I'm usually down with Bey's stunning homages, this particular example was more specific and detailed than usual. It's a clever reference and works brilliantly in the clip but someone could have cleared it with Teresa before the ungrateful bitch went ballistic.
12. Rico Love's beat recycling
It's a common dilemma - a song blows up and everyone wants a piece of the action - but how many times can Rico Love recycle Kelly Rowland's "Motivation"? First came Melanie Fiona's awesome "4am" and now Mary J's equally good "Mr Wrong". Ryan Tedder and RedOne have been doing it for years but this shit is still super shady regardless of the original's quality.
11. Britney's body double
Anyone with eyes can tell that Britney didn't dance in "Hold It Against Me" - I'm convinced her stand-in was actually a man! - but she vehemently denied it. The same accusations were made about Brit's "Til The World Ends" video but this time she was proven to be a shady liar when photos of her body double performing choreography surfaced online. Worst yet is using a body double to make out with her real-life boyfriend in her aptly-titled "Criminal" video. That goes beyond shady into the realm of totally fucked-up.
10. Onika's age
Nicki Minaj is possibly the oldest person nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in the Award's history. Earlier this year, her cover was blown when a police report outed her as being 28 years old. Until then the poor man's Lil Kim had listed her age as 26. Whoops.
9. Lana Del Ray's entire career
I love Lana Del Slay. She is my new obsession and I still play "Video Games" on repeat. But all this crap about making her own videos and being discovered on YouTube is hard to swallow. This has been a carefully orchestrated exercise in record label shadiness from the beginning. And you know what? It worked. So now she can stop pretending that she does everything from catering to injecting her lips with filler between takes on her self-funded, self-directed and self-styled videos. Something in the tea ain't clean!
8. Flo Rida and Leona Lewis rip off Avicii
Avicii really needs to get a copyright lawyer on retainer. First Leona Lewis steals the Swede's hit instrumental "Penguin" for her gigantic flop "Collide" and then Flo Rida pilfers "Levels" for "Good Feeling". If nothing else all this shadiness has raised the DJ's profile and made him the go-to producer for singers that can't afford David Guetta
7. Jeff Bhasker trashing "Motivation"
Everyone should be able to express their own opinion on Twitter but there was something distinctly shady about the producer behind some of the hottest cuts on Beyoncé's "4" trashing Kelly Rowland's "Motivation" - particularly when Rico Love's production was riding high at #1 on the R&B chart at the time and Bhasker's efforts were getting a lot less love.
6. Kelly Rowland's recycled videos
Sarah Chatfield proved to be the music industry's greenest director when she recycled two videos for Ms Kelly. "Lay It On Me" was a scene-by-scene remake of Livvi Franc's "Now I'm That Bitch", while "Down For Whatever" re-visited Wynter Gordon's "Believer". I'm not sure where the blame lies but this is seriously shady. It's one thing to take an idea and make it better but this was just lazy.
5. Beyoncé's BBMA performance
I have never seen anything like King B's 2011 Billboard Music Award performance. That was next level shit that made your tired fave look like a dusty typewriter in comparison to Bey's shiny, new laptop. But it doesn't change the fact that elements were taken from a previous performance by Lorella Cuccarini. As it turns out the Queen of soul, pop and probably country (if she put her mind to it), hired the Italian singer's producers to re-create the technology - so she can hardly be accused of stealingit. The shadiness results from tarnishing such an iconic moment by using an old idea - regardless of whether she improved on it (she did) or not.
4. Lady Gaga's "Judas" debacle
Mother Monster's sticky fingers worked over time this year. Not only did she blatantly steal "WannaBE" from Loli Lux - using the sexy DJ's exact beats on "Judas" - but she then stole the video concept from Brandy! The similarities to that diva's "Afrodisiac" clip - also choreographed by Laurieann Gibson, funnily enough - are uncanny.
3. Rihanna rapes David LaChappelle's artistic legacy
In a bid to spread her creative wings Rihanna decided to co-direct her "S&M" video. So the Barbadian bonehead flipped through a book of David LaChappelle's photos and basically stole his entire aesthetic. He had the last laugh when she had to cough up the big dollars to keep it out of court. You would have thought Rih-cycle would have learned from stealing M.I.A.'s "Boyz" video concept for "Rude Boy". Shady lady.
2. Katy Perry's price-rigging
I kind of love Katy Perry's creative antics (iTunes discounts, celebrity videos and completely unnecessary remixes) to rack up number one hits in America but it is shady. Can't she just be proud of landing six top 10 hits from the one album? That's an insane achievement! I'm not sure if losing all credibility to squeeze out another couple of chart-toppers is really worth it. Having said all that, I really hope "The One That Got Away" makes it to number one just to annoy everyone!
1. Lady Gaga's 99 cent album deal
The majority of these entries have been tongue-in-cheek. I don't care that Nicki Minaj is a couple of weeks away from menopause and Bey can copy as many Belgian flops as she likes. However, Mother Monster's 99 cent album deal crossed all kinds of lines. At a time when illegal downloading has all but killed the music industry, Lady Gaga gave the year's most highly-anticipated album away for free. Or near enough. If people didn't think mp3s were worthless before, they sure do now. And for what? To get a bogus first week sales record? So lame, so shady, so Gaga.