The year 2012 had its share of triumphs in 2012, including the return of Anita Baker to the recording studio, the continued staying power of new-school British Soul and emergence of the highly creative Frank Ocean. But although there were plenty of good things that occurred in 2012 musically, there were also some sour notes, including the death of music icon Whitney Houston and the latest solo album by her former husband, bad boy Bobby Brown. Here's the About R&B/Soul look at the five worst things to take place in 2012.
1. Worst Surprise: The Death of Whitney Houston
On Feb. 11, 2012, Whitney Houston died at the age of 48, shocking the entire music world. The singer was found unresponsive in a hotel room in Los Angeles and was pronounced dead by paramedics just before 4 pm. From the mid-1980s to mid-'90s, Whitney was one of the biggest stars in all of music, and had a long streak of No. 1 hit songs, including "Saving All My Love for You," "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," Heartbreak Hotel" (with Faith Evans and Kelly Price) and "How Will I Know." Although her career got off track due to substance abuse problems during her nearly 15-year marriage to Bobby Brown, she launched a successful comeback in 2009 with the album I Look to You. Despite her personal woes, she was a highly talented and revered icon who influenced many of the artists who came after her.
2. Worst Album: Bobby Brown's 'The Masterpiece'
Since Bobby Brown titled his fifth studio album The Masterpiece, and since he's previously said this is the best work of his career, you'd expect it to be a pretty good comeback for him, at the very least. But unfortunately the album -- which was released June 5, 2012 and was his first studio release since 1997's Forever -- not only doesn't live up to its name or the hype, it's one of the most poorly sung R&B releases of the year. And that's a shame, because his producers give him some pretty good melodies to work with; it's just that Bob's voice obviously isn't up to carrying a full load at this stage of his career.
3. Worst Album Cover: Rihanna's 'Unapologetic'
Whoever thought it was a good idea to take a photo of a gorgeous young woman and then digitally scrawl words all over it, making it look like a poster that's been struck by graffiti artists has a thing or two to learn about what art is. This isn't art: it's a messy eyesore. Even the pouty look on Rihanna's face adds to the visual sourness.
4. Worst Mixtape: Lloyd's 'The Playboy Diaries Vol. 1'
Formerly romantic singer Lloyd Polite has decided to not live up to his last name and instead take the low road here by singing about mackin,' pimpin' and playin' women. When he's not sleeping with someone else's female, he's schooling her man on how a "bitch" should be treated or bragging about how he'll cook for a woman after he's done wearing her out in the bedroom: "I don't give a f_ck, only like them ghetto sluts," he sings on "The Question." But although he gives his best effort, his high-pitched, nearly-feminine vocals aren't quite convincing.
5. Worst Trend: Monetizing Free Music
There were a few occasions during 2012 when record labels took material that had been released free online by R&B artists and then turned around and repackaged it for sale. The most notable of these occurred when three mixtapes that Canadian singer The Weeknd put out were converted into a CD package and re-released as The Trilogy (it sold 90,000 copies in the U.S. its first week out). There was also the re-release of The-Dream's free digital album 1977 as a non-free physical CD.