What a year it’s been for the list! After 2013’s profusion of great list-format output, the 14 Points and Santa’s Naughty List will be hard-pressed to find their way onto a list of the greatest lists of all time. Admittedly, they were never a shoo-in.
This list only reviews Best of 2013 Lists, with a couple of exceptions that I shoehorned in out of love.
10. Top 10 Miley Moments of 2013 (Time). This list seems appropriate, given Miley’s almost uncanny ubiquity this year. It narrowly beat out Buzzfeed’s list of the 23 Most YOLO Moments in Politics in 2013, which was nice but went on a little too long.
9. Top 10 Memes of 2013 (Time). This list is accurate, although I quibbled a little with its rankings. Was the Harlem Shake really as big as everyone seems to insist, in retrospect, that it was? If so, where was I when this was happening?
8. This Google list of Top 10 “What Is” searches:
Google knows what it’s talking about, and it really comes through this year with its top 10 lists. I know Buzzfeed is the home of the Listicle, and I did love their “Top 32 Nerdy Jokes of 2013,” but, well, Google nails What We Were Wondering About in a way that only Google can. Its fixation on detail, even to the point of redundancy, and clever use of white space brought to mind — some director — I forget whom. Maybe Wes Anderson? But also perhaps not.
7. 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person (Cracked). Hear me out, here. It’s not technically a year-end list, and the language is not of the kind to be found in a family newspaper, but this list is 2013 in a nutshell. It captures the year in a way that even the most incisive list of Five Things You Didn’t Realize Were Wrong With Love Actually can never hope to accomplish.
6. Things Carrie Bradshaw Couldn’t Help But Wonder (Vulture). This was sort of a dark horse candidate, but I think it held up far better than all those anticipatory 25 Best Things About Arrested Development, A Show Whose Return Will In No Way Disappoint Us Because That Is Not How Hype Works lists failed to do. Through the keen wire-rimmed spectacles of hindsight, all that anticipation is somewhat shy-making, even though the lists were excellent.
5. The Best Local Newspaper Stories of 2013 (Buzzfeed). Buzzfeed is justly famed for bringing the Listicle into the 21st century and showed what the format that gave us the Ten Commandments, 95 Theses and 14 Points would look like with GIFs of cats and Jennifer Lawrence making appealing faces interspersed throughout. This one, even without GIFs, shows why it’s a master of the genre.
4. Not this list of the Most 2013 Things That Ever Happened because — BOO! — it’s a video, not a list, as its headline failed to warn us. Instead, I submit this list, also from Buzzfeed, which is less a list than it is 19 pictures or videos of bacon, presented without commentary. Mmm, bacon.
3. The Six Worst Attacks On Reproductive Freedom in 2013 (ThinkProgress). Sorry to bring the list down, but these events brought the year down. Boo, 2013. At least you gave us Wendy Davis.
2. Best Movies of 2013 (A.V. Club). A great list, especially given its exceptionally high ratio of movies I haven’t seen or, for that matter, heard of to movies I actually saw. I always like a high ratio here because it makes the reviewer seem more authoritative. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for the A.V. Club. I love their detailed and erudite take on pop culture. And one of my great joys in life is reading lists that rank things I have never read or seen, adopting the reviewer’s opinion wholeheartedly, and then trying to work them in at parties. “Wasn’t Julie Delpy revelatory?” I shout, over the music. “I mean, as always!” What I am saying is, I think I have a problem. But it’s a remarkable list.
1. 20 Best Lists of 2013 (Rolling Stone). This list had everything: lists, lists and more lists. This is the kind of listicle we come to the Internet for — a list of lists. This is the Lady Gaga of lists — a list that is at the same time a performance and a commentary. I know I’ll be thinking about this list for a long time after the browser window closes, and I bet each time it will reveal something different.
Of course, good as 2013 was, nothing beats the Otters Who Look Like Benjamin Cumberbatch or McSweeney’s list of Suggested Buzzfeed Articles that was subsequently transformed into actual lists by Buzzfeed. But such magical list lightning seldom strikes twice.