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Kanye's back {thanks, AP}

Now is when the curmudgeons come out in full force, bemoaning the year in music (likely along with everything else — it's a wonderful life they lead!). But what do they know? The year was full of noteworthy, exciting moments. Here are the 10 we'll remember most, in no particular order.KANYE WEST RETURNS

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As if you needed another reminder that 2009's "Taylorgate" was blown way out of proportion, Kanye West (with the help of Pusha T and a lovely ballerina) triumphantly toasted to his like-minded peers (jerkoffs, douchebags, etc.) when he premiered "Runaway" at MTV's annual award show.

TAYLOR SWIFT SELLS A MILLI

Sick of Taylor's "OMG-I-can't-believe-it!" persona? A million of her fans weren't, and they proved it at the cash register. Swift went platinum in a week, proving well-crafted tween diary entries can still sell in an age where nothing else does.

DRAKE MAKES BEING SOFT COOL

Rap's pendulum swung from gritty coke-rap to tender songs of vulnerability in 2010, and Toronto's young heartthrob Drake was responsible. He's never touched a kilo, but thanks to his debut album, Thank Me Later, your girlfriend could be a different story.

BALTIMORE'S STELLAR RELEASES

Our city proved its indie scene is still one of the country's most vital with significant releases from Beach House (Teen Dream), Future Islands (In Evening Air), Lower Dens (Twin-Hand Movement) and a lot more.

NICKI MINAJ ARRIVES

Could the radio have existed without Young Money's 2010 MVP? Probably, but it wouldn't have been much fun. With myriad alter egos and razor-sharp rhymes, Minaj crossed over from mixtape rapper to a pink-wigged showstopper.

LIL WAYNE GOES TO JAIL

The hardest-working man in music served eight months on Rikers Island for a 2007 gun charge. Anyone worried the bid would affect Wayne's ridiculous flow breathed a heavy sigh of relief when he released his blow-your-woofers single, "6 Foot, 7 Foot" in mid-December.

VIRGIN MOBILE FREEFEST GETS IT RIGHT

Props to Virgin for making variety a priority. Even without T.I. (damn you, legal troubles and poor decisions), LCD Soundsystem, Pavement, M.I.A. and a gang of other eclectic acts made this year's FreeFest a wonderfully priced success.

DR. LUKE IS STILL A GENIUS

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Rhode Island's Lukasz Gottwald, aka Dr. Luke, continued his reign over pop music (and our brains) by writing and producing inescapably lovable (or loathsome depending on your tolerance) pop staples such as Ke$ha's "We R Who We R," Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and Taio Cruz's "Dynamite."

NOT EVERYONE HATES CHRIS BROWN

Many had trouble forgiving Chris Brown for his 2009 beating of girlfriend-at-the-time Rihanna … until he landed a hit single ("Deuces") and shed some tears during a Michael Jackson tribute. To quote Don King: "Only in America!"

'AMERICAN IDOL' LOSESTHE LITTLE EDGE IT HAD

Quick quiz: Who won this past year's "American Idol"? If you answered, "I dunno," "Who cares?" or "Crystal Bowersox," you were wrong (and probably in the majority — sorry, Lee DeWyze). "Idol's" relevance in 2011 remains to be seen, but if 2010's lackluster season is any indication, J. Lo and that Aerosmith dude have a lot of work to do.

Wesley Case is presentation architect at b. E-mail him at wesley@bthesite.com or follow him on Twitter, @wesleycase.

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