With Eminem and Kid Rock back in the thick of the national conversation, it might as well have been a whirl though 1999 or 2003, when those homegrown artists were on the pop-culture A-list.
But this time there was at least one big difference. With age 40 looming, both artists hit 2010 peddling a newfound theme: maturity.
For Eminem, it was a loud, proud declaration of sobriety. With the critically acclaimed "Recovery," the cleaned-up star found his creative voice and his dignity -- along with his old golden touch. The spring release sold more than 3.2 million copies, finishing as the year's top-selling album -- and its 10-nomination haul makes it the leading contender at February's Grammy Awards.
A pair of September shows with Jay-Z at Comerica Park grabbed global headlines and glowing reviews. It was more than just a hot concert: With a high-end production and a savvy command of the stage, Em and Jay-Z pointed a way forward for hip-hop -- a future where the genre's superstars can age with credibility intact.
Kid Rock brought his own spin on growing up to the album "Born Free," dipping his toes into Bob Seger territory and expanding his lyrical horizons.
The album's fall release had been preceded by another batch of hometown sellouts, a trio of August dates at DTE Energy Music Theatre. They were the latest confirmation of Rock's unique, often staggering hometown appeal, a story that can be illuminated by numbers:
A typical hit album sells 1% to 2% of its total copies in metro Detroit. Take Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now": The Detroit market has purchased 1.3% of that album's total 2.9 million copies -- precisely mirroring the metro area's share of the U.S. population.
But that share grows by several magnitudes when you're talking about Kid Rock: Of the 517,000 total sales for "Born Free," Detroit has been responsible for more than 8%. Pair that with his eye-popping concert stats -- StubHub says Detroit often buys more than a third of his tour tickets -- and it's easy to see the outsized role Detroit plays in his career.
Beyond the Motor City, it was a year of artistic redemption for Kanye West, breakthroughs for Justin Bieber and airwaves domination by Katy Perry. With a grim economy and political upheaval darkening Americans' daily lives, lighthearted fare from the likes of Ke$ha and Bruno Mars shared cultural space with whimsical indie rock.
But it was a pair of young females who seemed best positioned for 2011 momentum.
In this space last December, we told you to watch Lady Gaga commandeer the pop-queen throne in 2010. She moved swiftly: Just weeks into the new year, Detroit became a springboard to the next tier of her career, as hot ticket sales spurred her to replace a Fox Theatre engagement with a pair of nights at Joe Louis Arena. By summertime her high-tech production was a fixture in the nation's arenas, including a sellout visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Gaga's colorful hedonism had a sweet, stable counterbalance in the form of Taylor Swift. The 21-year-old star's "Speak Now" was the fall's touchstone hit, and a 2011 world tour will bring her to Ford Field in June -- one of the youngest acts to cement stadium headlining status.