Madonna's 12th studio album is released, entitled MDNA. It tops the charts across the globe including the United Kingdom where she becomes the solo artist with the most number one albums and the UK breaks the iTunes pre-order record. To support the album she embarks on The MDNA Tour which grosses over $305 million and becomes the second highest grossing female tour, behind her own Sticky and Sweet Tour.
Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" becomes her 18th U.S. chart-topper, setting the record for most U.S. number ones singles by a solo artist – only behind The Beatles with 20 – and most weeks at number one on the Hot 100 chart with a total of 79.
Lil Wayne released Tha Carter III and sold 1 million copies in the first week, becoming the best selling album of 2008.
Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour becomes the highest grossing female tour of all-time (surpassing her own record) and then the highest grossing solo tour of all time. It promotes her 11th studio album Hard Candy which sells 4 million copies and includes the international hit song "4 Minutes".
Madonna releases Confessions on a Dance Floor, her 10th studio album. It wins a Grammy award, Brit award, sells in excess of 12 million copies and has the worldwide hit "Hung Up" which tops the charts in a record-breaking 41 countries.
Madonna's sexually-provocative book Sex, which was accompanied by the double-platinum album Erotica. It becomes one of the most controversial books and albums ever released, but enjoys commercial success. From it, Madonna made $500 million for her label.
Aerosmith re-records "Walk This Way" with rap group Run-D.M.C. which blends rock and rap music, introduces rap music to a mainstream audience for the first time, and marks the beginning of the resurrection of Aerosmith's career, one of rock's most remarkable comebacks.
Metallica makes its debut on record, appearing on the first Metal Massacre compilation album. "Hit the Lights", the track recorded for this compilation album, would be re-recorded a year later for their debut album Kill 'Em All.
1530 in music – Madrigali de diversi musici: libro primo de la Serena is published, the first book of madrigals to use the word 'madrigal' to describe them. The majority of the pieces in it are by Philippe Verdelot.
1520 in music – Musica di messer Bernardo Pisano sopra le canzone del Petrarcha is published, the first printed book of secular music dedicated to a single composer. It contains the first madrigals, though they are not called by that name.