The Culture Roundup to End All Roundups


You may have noticed a profusion of year-end and decade-end lists floating around this here blog and the across the internet landscape. The Aughts brought us many things: social media, terrorism, the death of print media, Google dominance, design for the masses, locavore eating, and Barack Obama. We’ve already shown you a handy visual diagram of the years 2000-2009, but now it’s time to expand the focus with a meta roundup to end all roundups: our ten favorite lists that encapsulate the best and worst of our present age. Prost!

In no particular order:

1. Top Ten New York Art World Stories of 2009 / Edward Winkleman

A voice of measured reason in the often hysterical art blogging scene, Winkleman succinctly lays out (and links to) the trends and cocktail party fodder from the New York art scene of 2009. We’ve got Glenn Beck, White House art, Performa 09, the death of Dash Snow, and — of course — the latest drama at the New Museum.

2. The Catchphrases of the Decade / Slate

From gamechanger and epic fail to anything located outside the box, we’re ready to put these phrases to bed. To wit:

Fifteen minutes of fame has had its 15 minutes of fame. Way more than 15 years of fame, actually. And its original meaning has been subtly but ineradicably distorted. When Andy Warhol uttered it in his faux-naive way (or real-naive—I could never really tell; I’m not sure even he could), he meant it, at least in part, as a celebratory observation, not an anti-celebrity thing. When he said “in the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” he was pointing out how much fun that would be. Fame, in other words, would be as widely accessible a popular commodity as Campbell’s soup. And, he implied, that’s a good thing.

3. The Decade in Web Videos / GOOD Magazine

Nothing describes the age of the internet better than a good viral video. Among all the kitties, precocious children, and injuries, are some gorgeous ones, like the time-lapse sequence of forest fire smoke pictured below.

4. Best Music of the Decade / Metacritic

Pitchfork it ain’t; instead, Metacritic’s meta list of the best bands of the decade combines mathematical rankings culled from a set of criteria that includes at least three albums produced between 2000 and 2009, plus an average “metascore” of 81 or higher. Some surprising outfits make the cut — including Drive-By Truckers, Super Furry Animals, and Lightning Bolt in the top ten — but Spoon as #1 pick aligns with our own tendency to drink shitty beer without ironic intentions.

5. The End of the 00s / The Awl

Smartypants media site (motto: Be Less Stupid) rounded up its cartel of contributors for a series of columns tipping a collective hat to the last decade. From Joel Johnson‘s tender, funny paean to making it in New York and Maura Johnston’s love of chain stores to the “unswerving embodiment of the American dream,” Lauren Conrad.

6. The Ten Worst Predictions for 2009 / Foreign Policy

“While the precise impact of the fall resurgence of 2009-H1N1 influenza is impossible to predict, a plausible scenario is that the epidemic could: produce infection of 30-50% of the U.S. population this fall and winter, … lead to as many as 1.8 million U.S. hospital admissions during the epidemic, … [and] cause between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths in the United States.” — Right on, President’s Council of Advisors!

7. Obsessions Small and Mega: The Best Books of 2009 / New York Magazine

We had to take issue with this year’s edition of the usually-dead-on New York Times Year in Books — we heart Lorrie Moore, but A Gate at the Stairs is like The Departed to her Raging Bull, nahmean? This list includes some dark horses (creepy short stories by Russian author Ludmilla Petrushevskaya), a sports book by Bill Simmons, a natural history of New York City, and the crisply perfect writings of Lydia Davis.

8. 23 Shows That Changed Television / The Daily Beast

Is television become more cinematic and intelligent (Mad Men, an HBO stable that includes Six Feet Under and The Wire) or completely and utterly insipid (MTV’s Jersey Shore, The Simple Life, anything on E! besides chronic meta-enabler The Soup)? Love ’em or hate ’em, these 23 series had an undeniable effect on the landscape of American television viewing habits.

See also: the ten best television shows of the decade, interpreted by minimalist art posters.

9. Decade in Review / The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

What’s a decade without Jon Stewart? One devoid of tragicomedy and intelligent political critique, that’s what. The Daily Show’s Decade in Review reel highlights Elian Gonzalez, the South Carolina primary, hanging chads, and a slew of other potent potables from the Aughts.

10. The Mistresses of the Decade / Vanity Fair

We gotta hand it to Vanity Fair — the gossip rag masquerading as a highbrow periodical has been eating up Conde Nast’s budget since 1981 and it shows no sign of stopping. Voila, a list of exemplary women (and one man) who made their paramours into media laughingstock.

BONUS: The Ten Worst Muppets / Gunaxin Media

Because some things, like brightly-colored handpuppets singing borderline annoying songs, are timeless. Even the ones who got axed, like Kermit’s nephew Robin, or the (still going strong!) Mick Jagger-Janis Joplin creature named Janice.