5. Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta: Some will boo and hiss at this choice, but that’s what their remote control is for. Meanwhile, I loved every single second of VH1 and the trap’s answer to soap operas and telenovelas and I am not the only one. Please, please hurry back with the second season. Monday’s aren’t the same without my stories.
6. The return of R&B: For a good while now, EDM (electronic dance music) had placed a chokehold on R&B—with many of the genre’s stars abandoning more soulful sounds in favor of music meant to serve as a backdrop for bar hopping in Belgium. However, this year has featured a number of solidly R&B works from artists like Miguel, Brandy, Keyshia Cole, Frank Ocean, SWV, and more. Thank God.
9. More women in hip-hop: Some may not enjoy Nicki Minaj’s rhymes, alter egos, or Judy Jetson-at-the-swap meet fashions, but her success has helped pave the way for newcomers like Azealia Banks and Angel Haze. Rap has long needed this big boost of estrogen, so yes, thank you Nicki, Roman, Martha, and whoever else takes space in your head.
10. Rihanna: Britney Spears may have found a bit of sanity, but you’re only still politely applauding her career choices in recent years. Christina Aguilera has gone from would-be Mariah Carey sequel to Ursula the Sea Witch’s latest victim. Then there are the other newer girls, only you don’t care that much about them, now do you? Enter Rihanna, the best pop act we have—at least until Beyoncé comes back. People may not approve of Rihanna’s choices, but her making them in the public eye has driven thoughtful conversations. She’s the most interesting pop star we have…and she didn’t even need to rock a rump roast on her chest achieve such a feat. Plus, her new album will have most of your folks twirking well into Spring. If for no other reason, can’t we all be thankful for that?