- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 28, 2002

R. Kelly and Christina Aguilera without clothes, Michael Jackson's dwindling nose and Axl Rose's no-shows. Surely we didn't wait a lifetime for the moments we endured in 2002.
Here is a sampling of the people and events in music that had us buzzing, for all the wrong reasons:
Best career move: Until this year, Paula Abdul seemed permanently ensconced in the "Where Are They Now" files. With her decision to appear as a judge on "American Idol," she became a born-again star and fortunately for us, she did not have to sing a note.
Worst career move: Admitting to taking cocaine, pills and marijuana while your profusely sweating husband admits to smoking pot isn't usually the way to promote a comeback. Yet Whitney Houston bravely and unwisely went that route in a chat with ABC's Diane Sawyer. The interview with the confrontational, unrepentant Miss Houston was an instant classic, up there with Michael and Lisa Marie and Mike Tyson and Robin Givens.
Worst career move, Part II: Usually, Mr. Jackson makes just one a year, but 2002 provided us with a plethora of Jackson missteps: holding his baby over a balcony, charging racism against his boss without offering proof, making goofy faces in court and, of course, continuing to mutilate his face, which has been studied so much it may become part of a college curriculum some day.
Overhype of the year: The breakup of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears had all the drama of a very special "Saved by the Bell," yet the media inexplicably went into overdrive when teen pop's first couple went kaput. You would have thought the relationship was something really substantial like J.Lo and Cris Judd's romance.
Overexposed star of the year: R. Kelly didn't want to own up to the year's most-sought-after video, and for good reason. The apparently self-made sex tape led to child-pornography charges against the rhythm-and-blues king.
Skankiest performance: With her hood-rat look and one of the year's raunchiest songs, Khia sure to be remembered as a one-hit wonder seemed a shoo-in to win this category for "My Neck, My Back." Then Miss Aguilera stepped to the plate with "Dirrty," one of the most hilariously bad videos of the year, complete with over-the-top booty shots, same-sex grinding, girl boxing, wet T-shirts and everything else in the kitchen sink.
Best feud: It's hard to know where to begin. Michael vs. Tommy Mottola, Eminem vs. Mariah, Eminem vs. Moby, Nas vs. Jay-Z, and Kelly Osbourne vs. Brandy, Christina et al. were entertaining. The juiciest might have been 3LW, however. The former trio suddenly became a duo when Naturi Naughton was ousted. Instead of going quietly, she filed suit and levied a barrage of accusations including a claim that she was let go because she wasn't "ghetto enough" and that her former group mates pummeled her with fried chicken in a food fight.
Biggest meltdown: Talk about the miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The woman who once represented hip-hop's bright, sexy, feminist force dissolved into a sanctimonious killjoy with the release of "MTV Unplugged No. 2.0," which featured Miss Hill as an incomprehensible, rambling, emotional wreck.
Transformation of the year: Potheads mourned the loss of their most potent spokesman when rapper Snoop Dogg announced he was giving up cannabis. Hey, if Snoop Dogg can give it up, perhaps there's hope for Bobby and Whitney.

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