The global economy is on its knees, the war in Iraq is still raging, and global warming is apparently getting worse. Hardly the best way to start off a new year, is it?
But death and destruction has never had too much of an impact on the showbiz world - that is, unless the California wildfires suddenly send the Hollywood Hills up in flames (God forbid).
Nothing would be more shocking than seeing Amy Winehouse ‘do a Britney’ and chop off her trademark beehive in a drink-and-drug fuelled night of disaster. Or squeaky-clean Miley Cyrus getting caught up in a sex tape scandal...
But what does 2009 really hold for our favourite celebrities? We've called on the expertise of our resident psychic Joe Power for his take on all things celebrity for the next 12 months. And we've teamed up with British bookies William Hill to get the odds on a host of potential starry situations in case you decide to take a dive and put your money where our mouth is.
Madonna has had a whirlwind 2008, what with turning 50, launching an extensive world tour and, oh yes, a little matter of divorce.
News of her crumbling marriage to director Guy Ritchie has threatened to overshadow the pop superstar’s return to the charts - even bringing out Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake as guest performers on her Sticky + Sweet world tour failed to bump the divorce from the front pages of the newspapers.
But leaving Ritchie wasn't the most shocking part of the story - after all, even the optimist in us wondered what the Queen of Pop would want with a cockney-speaking indie filmmaker! Instead, it was the rumours of an affair between Madonna and ‘close pal’ Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez - the tall, dark and handsome baseball star who was going through his own marriage problems - which caught the interest of the scandal-loving public.
Denials of a romance between the two, who are both managed by the other Guy in Mage's life, Guy Oseary, have done little to cool the affair claims - especially after A-Rod’s estranged wife, Cynthia, accused the New York Yankees ace of having an “affair of the heart” with the star.
So what does 2009 have in store for Madonna? Well, for starters, a much smoother love life. Having put her failed seven-and-a-half year marriage to Ritchie behind her, Joe Power predicts Madonna will go public with her true feelings for A-Rod - and he sees a big rock in her future.
Power’s not the only one sensing it will be third time lucky in Madonna's quest for true love - William Hill is offering odds of 10/1 that the she and A-Rod will get engaged.
Mariah Carey
R+B diva Mariah Carey stunned the world when she eloped with toyboy lover Nick Cannon and exchanged vows in the Bahamas back in April (08). Having tied the knot after a whirlwind romance lasting just six weeks, many expected the passion to fizzle out by the summer and Cannon to be dumped back on the streets of Los Angeles. But the lovebirds have only grown closer together as the rapper/actor tails his superstar wife around the globe promoting her latest single/perfume/tote bag.
Now, eight months after their shock marriage, rumours of a pregnancy are still abound - and claims of trouble behind the scenes are as rife as ever. Carey even admitted to having had second thoughts about marrying a man 10 years her junior moments before exchanging vows. And it's not as though Cannon has a great track record either - he proposed to previous girlfriend, lingerie model Selita Ebanks, just six weeks into their romance too. The engagement was called off five months later in October 2007.
As much as we'd like to see the hitmaker live happily ever after, something tells Power her second husband is a real Heartbreaker.
William Hill odds: 4/1 that Carey will file for divorce from Cannon.
This autumn, Katie Holmes left her husband Tom Cruise holding the baby as she flew to New York to tread the boards on Broadway.
Her stint in a revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons has garnered mixed reviews - but could her performances be affected by a secret pregnancy? Rumours the former Dawson’s Creek star is expecting a little brother or sister for two-year-old Suri refuse to go away, and her sudden penchant for baggy clothes isn't helping to dampen the claims.
Cruise only recently voiced his desire to have more children - so will the New Year see a new addition to the A-list family? Very possibly. Half the gossip world certainly thinks so - and Power is no different. As Holmes’ Broadway run comes to an end this January (09), he predicts it's likely she will finally confirm the pregnancy reports - and reveal she is having a son.
William Hill odds: 2/1 that Katie Holmes is pregnant with a baby boy.
Rock wildmen Noel and Liam Gallagher have been at the forefront of rock n’ roll for the last decade, but their brotherly love has, at times, torn the Oasis members apart - and it now threatens to do so for good. That is, at least, according to Power’s psychic interpretations.
Noel Gallagher recently revealed his solo compositions are nothing short of “masterpieces” - so could he be preparing to step into the limelight on his own? He even admitted he still blames Liam for the band failing to crack the American market back in 1996 with their hit album (What's The Story) Morning Glory? - grumbling that Oasis missed out on millions in potential earnings because of his brother’s last minute cancellation.
The older Gallagher brother said: “I still blame him for the fact that we never cracked the U.S. When we had one of the biggest selling albums in the world, and were about to begin a crucial U.S. tour, he arrived at the airport, gave some ludicrous excuse that he couldn't get on the plane, and left us stranded."
And after that horrific stage invasion in September (08) which left Noel nursing three broken and dislodged ribs, Power reckons the Gallagher brothers will call it quits after they complete their summer (09) tour.
So, 17 years, seven studio albums and three Grammy nominations later, are the Wonderwall hitmakers ready to leave it all behind? The odds are certainly decent if you fancy a flutter on these Mancunians going their separate ways.
William Hill odds: 8/1 that Oasis will announce their break-up.
Barack Obama
Barack Obama will get his 2009 off to a spectacular start when he is joined by famous faces including superstar couple Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles for his history-making inauguration ceremony on 20 January.
The move into the White House will cap off an eventful 2008 for the politician, having defeated Hillary Clinton to become the Democrat Party's official nomination for the presidency, and going on to win a landslide victory over Republican rival John MCCain when America went to the polls and named him the new President-elect on 4 November.
Obama and Clinton have now joined forces after the President-elect offered the former First Lady the top job as Secretary of State. But while relations between the pair may have thawed for now, Power sees a bust-up heading their way in the next 12 months.
According to our man in the know, Obama will regret bringing Clinton on board his administration, and what may start as a petty argument will soon blow out of proportion - prompting Clinton to step down from her post.
William Hill odds: 6/1 that Barack Obama will clash with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, resulting in her resignation.
Ashley Olsen
Ashley Olsen has built up a reputation as the more business-savvy twin compared to wayward sibling Mary-Kate, and her clean-cut image has been key to her success.
She took legal action against the National Enquirer in 2005 after it published an article with the headline, ‘Ashley Olsen Caught In Drug Scandal’, accompanied with a photo of the star with her eyes half-closed. The $40 million (GBP26 million) lawsuit stated that “freedom of the press is a valuable right, but it is not a license for gossipy tabloids to tar and feather innocent celebrities and destroy their reputations and businesses for the rag's profits”.
That may be the case, but not many celebrities are so scandal-free. Mary-Kate has had her fair share of personal troubles, but something tells Power she won't be the only Olsen twin in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
William Hill odds: 6/1 that Ashley Olsen will be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).
America's sweetheart suffered a massive fall from grace towards the end of 2007 when her life spiralled out of control and she lost custody of her two kids to ex-husband Kevin Federline. But the walking disaster that was Ms. Spears at the start of 2008 has since kicked her stragglers to the curb and launched a successful pop comeback under the watchful eye of her dad Jamie. Her triple MTV Video Music Award win in September (08) signalled a new start for the Toxic hitmaker, and she is currently riding the wave of success with her new album Circus, which soared straight to the top of the U.S. Billboard charts in early December (08).
And now her career is back on track, Power sees a sudden resurgence in her love life too. Could a reunion with Federline be on the horizon? Spears recently admitted she'd like to settle down again in the next few years, insisting two failed unions - the first, to childhood pal Jason Alexander, lasting just 55 hours - hasn't put her off the idea of marriage. She said: "In five years, I would like to be married and have a father figure for my kids (Sean Preston, three, and Jayden James, two); someone who is a provider and can be really stable. It's hard doing it on your own." Federline, meanwhile, has been single and dateless since his split from Spears in 2006. He confesses he's still got love for his ex, and would "never say never" to a renewed romance with the star. And he holds her parenting skills in high regard too: "She's a great mother. Really hands on with the kids. She spends a lot of time with them. She loves to play with them a lot. She really cares about them and I know they're a big piece of her life."
So could the former couple play happy families again? Power thinks there's a chance, albeit a slim one.
William Hill odds: 80/1 that Britney Spears regains custody of her two sons and is crowned Celebrity Mum of the Year; 100/1 Britney Spears regains custody of kids, crowned Celebrity Mum of the Year AND remarries Kevin Federline.
Led Zeppelin
Rock supergroup Led Zeppelin have been teasing fans about a world tour ever since they reunited for a one-off tribute show in December 2007. Tickets to that concert, in memory of late Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun, were highly sought after and sparked rumours the legendary band would soon hit the road for a full blown roadshow. Fans' wishes are close to coming true - well, almost. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham are gearing up to return to the live circuit - but frontman Robert Plant will be a notable absentee after turning down the opportunity to rejoin his bandmates one more time. The remaining Led Zep rockers have been auditioning for Plant's replacement since confirming the tour news in November (08) - and the rumour mill is buzzing that Myles Kennedy, singer of Creed offshoot Alter Bridge, is the one poised to sign on the dotted line. But Power senses Led Zep devotees won't see the back of Plant just yet - another reunion is written in the stars and it will take place in the British capital once again.
William Hill odds: 16/1 that Robert Plant joins Led Zeppelin in a surprise show at Wembley, London.
Sean Combs
Rap entrepreneur Diddy has transformed his image numerous times throughout his 20 year career in the music industry, not to mention his various name-changes. He's steered the careers of artists like Mary J. Blige, Jodeci and the late Notorious B.I.G., and even jumped behind the mic to forge a name for himself as a rapper, before trying his hand at acting in movies like 2001's Monster's Ball. But Power sees a whole new future for the artist former known as Puffy, Puff Daddy and P. Diddy - he envisions the multi-talented mogul donning a white collar and joining the brotherhood. Yes, that's right. According to Power, Diddy will quit showbiz altogether in 2009 when he realises his true calling. He gave us a hint at his plans on Halloween (31Oct08) when he dressed up as the Pope, and, believe it or not, the star is already making preparations to leave his glitzy life in the spotlight behind - he's ditched his trademark bling and vowed to tone down his fashion.
William Hill odds: 100/1 that Sean 'Diddy' Combs turns his back on the music industry to become a priest.
One of London's brightest talents, Amy Winehouse, has had yet another rollercoaster year. First, she gets hooked on drugs, then her husband Blake Fielder-Civil found himself behind bars, and now her marriage looks set for the divorce courts. All that in between winning a clutch of accolades, including five Grammy Awards. The Rehab singer has been struggling with bout after bout of ill health over the last few months as she tries to battle her narcotics addiction, but she doesn't seem to be getting any better. She's meant to be hitting the studio in a bid to wrap up her third album for release in 2009, but instead we see her hitting the bottle - hard. Never fear though, Power is adamant Winehouse will get her act together soon - with the help of the controversial Church of Scientology. The religion that boasts Tom Cruise and John Travolta as followers will welcome a new member to their congregation - in the shape of Winehouse, if Power can be believed.
William Hill odds: 250/1 that Amy Winehouse kicks drink and drugs and converts to Scientology.
Of course, these aren't the only celebrities Power sees having an eventful few months - and William Hill gamblers are also making their own predictions. So, if you're unconvinced by the above celeb happenings, maybe one of these will take your fancy:
12/1 Justin Timberlake gets married
3/1 Ricky Martin 'comes out’
3/1 Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt adopt again; 5/1 they have another biological child
33/1 Leona Lewis ditches her electrician boyfriend for rap superstar Kanye West
16/1 Miley Cyrus gets caught up in a sex tape scandal
6/1 Newlywed Beyonce Knowles becomes pregnant
25/1 Victoria Beckham adopts a baby girl from Africa
16/1 Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith separate
50/1 Nick Jonas gets busted in U.S.