Scoop: Predicting winners, losers of 2010

Will these stars — seemingly always surrounded by controversy — melt down, flame out or explode next year? We’re keeping an eye on the celebs most likely to shine even brighter — or crash and burn.

Kanye West
Sure, back in September, Kanye was the most hated man in America after his VMA stage grab became the scandal of 2009. But this year, after doing PR penance with some time out of the spotlight, we believe he’ll rebound with a musical comeback. Why will fans forgive and forget? Simply put, what he lacks in tact he makes up for in talent.

Chris Brown
If Chris wants a chance to salvage his career, he needs to keep his mouth shut — and delete his Twitter account. News flash: Whining about your CDs not being in demand does not make us feel sympathy for you. It just reminds us of the ugly reason why your fan base shriveled up.

Miley Cyrus
The tween icon is now a sweet 17 — and already sports skimpy outfits and even a tattoo under her chest. As she faces the difficult “climb” from Disney pop princess to adult artist, let’s hope she gets guidance to stay on the right path. Otherwise, Miley could turn out to be the next Britney Spears … and in 2019, we’ll be cheering her return from the brink of career suicide.

Taylor Swift
Speaking of teenage performers in transition, country cutie Taylor is getting too old, at 20, for high-school-heartbreak anthems. But there’s no stopping her juggernaut rise to the top: With the upcoming flick “Valentine’s Day” (co-starring presumed beau
Taylor Lautner), the singer will turn into a double threat with clout in Hollywood and Nashville, Tenn.

Jay-Z
It’s not just any rapper who can declare himself the new Sinatra — and inspire The New York Times to pen a piece on whether the comparison is warranted. But Jay has built a cultural empire (no pun intended) that in 2010 will no doubt continue to dominate what we wear, drink and sing along to.

Zach Galifianakis
The breakout star of “The Hangover” was 2009’s answer to Seth Rogen: the dorky, quirky,
deadpan-funny dude who seemed to be the ubiquitous sidekick in every comedy. Now, with a full slate for 2010 that includes three upcoming movies and another season of HBO’s hilarious “Bored to Death,” Zach may well follow in Seth’s footsteps to become an unlikely leading man.

Ashlee Simpson-Wentz
She was let go from the “Melrose Place” remake, and still hasn’t lived down that long-ago “SNL” lip-synch debacle. So, with a role in Broadway’s production of “Chicago” and a rumored part in Nicole Richie’s upcoming sitcom, this year could be Ashlee’s last chance to prove herself as a singer and actress. Can she do it? Let’s just pray acid reflux doesn’t strike again.

Jon and Kate Gosselin
By pulling the plug on their TLC show, Jon effectively killed the goose that had been laying golden eggs for the Gosselins. Now, a court injunction prevents him from making paid appearances (which is like reality-star kryptonite), while Kate seems unlikely to recapture the “Plus 8” magic with her new solo show. Thankfully, we can look forward to these two fading away in 2010.

Lindsay Lohan
We’re actually pretty impressed that LiLo managed to make it through 2009 without an arrest or a stint in rehab — though she did deliver her signature mix of romantic and family drama. But unfortunately, we can’t shake the feeling that at
any moment another meltdown could be right around the corner.

Tiger Woods
If he hadn’t made this mess himself, we’d actually feel really sorry for Tiger. Sponsors and fans are deserting him in droves — and his wife might follow suit. With more and more women coming out of the Woods-work, and no golf championships to remind us why he was a living legend in the first place, there seems to be nowhere for Tiger to go but down.

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