I was surprised by how good Linkin Park's "Hybrid Theory" is. I HATED their songs for the longest, but their music grew on me. I bought the CD and love the whole thing. It's in constant rotation in my CD payer along with "Beautiful Garbage" and Stainds "Break the Cycle".
From an actual band that I like: No Doubt RockSteady
I loved Tragic Kingdom and Return of Saturn kind of grew on me, but when I bought Rocksteady, I played it once and hated it. "Hey Baby" is a pretty good song, but I really don't like techno or dance music, so this departure was really unwelcome to me. But after hearing it a few more times, it's grown on me.
From a Band that Everyone I know Loves/Hates:
Linkin' Park Hybrid Theory
I literally bought this ONLY because I'd heard "One Step Closer" in ECW, and thought that it was a neat song. It's actually one of my favorite CDs now.
Favorite CD that I Burned (Oh! I'm a intellectual property theif!!):
Joss Whedon Buffy The Vampire Slayer Musical
Don't laugh. Seriously. Everyone who I know, love or hate the series, loves this CD. Mostly they bitch when I put it in, but after the first few songs, they really get into it. It's funny, it's composed and written excellently (by a guy who's never written a music piece before), and it really is alot of fun to listen to. Now that I've heard it a bazillion times, I even know all the words.
Biggest Surprise of the Year:
Alicia Keys Songs in A Minor
Now, I work at a radio station, and I pride myself in being very critical of the acts played on our station. Mostly, we play indie bands, and EVERYBODY at the stations love indie bands because they're doing it for the music and not for the money. But, it's my theory that, while that may be true, most of these bands also really suck. Which really kind of tells me something, because I'll listen to most anything and enjoy it to some extent. What does this have to do with Alicia Keys? Well, this is my example of good things that have come out of the "Popular" music industry in the last year. I don't own the CD, but I play it on my show once in a blue moon, and I have a hard time picking out one song on the CD that I could say that I wouldn't play and enjoy. For every time I have to listen to some start-up garage band play for the sake of gaining street cred, I'm glad that there's a few good artists out there that are actually both good and making money.