It's a time-honored winter custom: at the end of every year, journalists gather around the hearth to concoct an array of annual "top" lists. They range in length from a few items to a 100 or more, on everything from books to celebrities to kitchen products. This year is a special occasion, as it also marks the close of an unnamed decade, spurring an extra-furious flurry of list-making, leading to some extra-frivolous lists. The Atlantic Wire is here to help, as well as partake, with a list of lists to highlight nine of the most wonderfully absurd rankings of the year (so far). Stoke the fire, pour a hot drink, and revisit some of the more ephemeral, intriguing, appalling or forgettable things from the last decade.
- 'Moments When Life Went Off Script' Newsweek provides perhaps the most comprehensive set of top 10 lists (23 in total!) covering everything from the "History-Altering Decisions" to "Sex Scandal Details." The comprehensiveness does, however, come at a cost of some fuzziness in the concepts. How big is the difference between "Worst Predictions" and "Overblown Fears"? One of the most all-encompassing concepts, "Moments When Life Went Off-Script," turns out to be a collection of YouTube video favorites, ranging from Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch to Miss South Carolina rambling at the pageant. But then you get to #4: "Bush Reads 'The Pet Goat'" on 9/11, and the list veers away from entertainment.
- 'Ten Most Influential Internet Moments of the Decade' The annual Webby Awards are the Internet's version of the Oscars (or perhaps less flatteringly, the Grammys), created in 1996 for honoring excellence on the Internet. To honor the end of 2009, they rolled out a list of "10 Most Influential Internet Moments of the Decade." There's no explanation for what constitutes an "Internet Moment," let alone the "Most Influential" ones. But whatever it means, the list includes such moments as "Google AdWords Launches," and "Google's Initial Public Offering." It's a little difficult to understand why "Facebook opens to non college students and Twitter takes off" is considered a single moment, however, since they occurred over a year apart.
- Ten Brands That Won't Survive the Decade This predictive list compiled by Jon Ogg and Douglas A. McIntyre at the blog 24/7 Wall Street selects those firms the authors believe will be closing shop in 2010. As he writes "The brands on the 24/7 list for 2010 include companies that have been in trouble for years. Some have been in slow decline and others were irreparably damaged by the credit crisis. Most of these companies will be bought and the rest will simply be closed." Newsweek, Motorola, and Blockbuster are perhaps the most familiar to consumers, but are they really headed for the dustbin? Only time will tell...
- 'Top Fashion Scandals of the Decade' Mediaite's Brooke Moreland makes a list that speaks for itself: "Oh, I know you love a good scandal. How do I know this? Because everyone does. A good scandal amuses us, indulges our schadenfreude and distracts us from other more 'real' and depressing news stories. And as someone who studies trends and fashion news all day long, I can tell you the fashion world has some good ones." Notable entry's include Winona Ryder's 2001 arrest for attempting to shoplift some just over 5 grand in designer clothes from a Beverly Hills Salks store, Miley Cyrus's provocative and icky underage Vanity Fair photoshoot, and of course, "Sleevegate," when First Lady Michelle Obama "dared" to wear a sleeveless dress.
- 'One-Hit Wonders' Thanks to the folks at Billboard, we can now recollect the tunes that outlasted their creators. The longstanding music-journalism magazine provides an offbeat 39 "One-Hit Wonders" of the decade, defined as bands that reached the "Hot 100's Top 10 with their very first singles, [but] none of these acts managed to crack the Top 25 for the rest of the decade...hey, four minutes of fame is better than nothing." Controversial entries include Gnarles Barkley's "Crazy" in '06 and Macy Gray's "I Try" from way back '02. It's pretty difficult to argue "Mambo No. 5" doesn't belong on the list, though
- 'Top 10 Peta Protests of the Decade' The 100+ year old United Press International, "a leading provider of critical information to media outlets" focuses on one of the media's favorite antagonists, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal Rights, aka PETA. The list kicks-off with the highly visible "We'd rather go naked than wear fur campaign," but eschews including a sample of the celebrity-filled risqué ad campaign.
- '10 Worst Things About the Worst Decade Ever' Time's Andy Serwer makes a compelling, if admittedly "overwrought" case in his article claiming the "'00s" (as he calls them) was America's worst decade since World War II. What better way to illustrate his point than by blowing it out into a list of "The 10 Worst Things About the Worst Decade Ever." The list does highlight some truly awful tragedies, such as the 2004 tsunami.
- 'Top 10 Moments of the Noughties' Eschewing editorial discernment for crowd-sourcing, the Australian "News Website of the Year," polled its users to determine the moments of the decade, nominating winners in the following 10 categories: "Celebrity, Sport, War/Terror, Fashion/Design, Money, Technology, Pop Culture, Disasters and Accidents, Sex/Life and Heroes and Villains." Unsurprisingly, September 11 "wins" for the "War/Terror" category. Similarly, the "GFC: Global Financial Crisis," secures the top spot in "Money." Overall, the site's users have found the decade to be "Bad!"
- '1, Beckham. 2, Murdoch. 3, Britney's Ex. Will This Do?' The Guardian's Marina Hyde skewers year-end lists by providing a few random entries of her own. "Without wishing to sound unseasonal, reviews of the year are not so much the first draft of history as the first draft of things you might fillet out of the newspaper bundle along with those leaflets enticing you to buy elastic-waisted slacks ... It is perfectly possible that I have contributed to some of these reviewy, listy things in the Guardian, and have thus spent some portion of time fashioning my own unread - and in a roundabout way, rather expensive - firelighters. Thus the circle of ignominy perpetuates itself."