The funny thing about year-end lists is that they’re supposed to help you sort through the insane amount of material produced every year — only, at this point, by being so bountiful, they’ve become yet one more thing you feel stressed out about keeping up with. Which means it’s time for — oh yes — a year-end list of the year’s best year-end lists. Here are ten Vulture enjoyed, listed in no particular order. (In the name of feigned impartiality, none of the lists from New York’s “The Year in Culture 2010” made the cut, although those were all pretty great as well.) Let us know what we missed, although we may be too busy hastily listening/reading/watching things we’re embarrassed we haven’t already listened to/read/watched to check them out.
Longform’s “Best of 2010”
Longform.org collects notable magazine features. Their “Best of 2010” highlights pieces on a guy who outsmarted The Price Is Right, oral histories of Goodfellas and NWA’s extended entourage, and R. Crumb. There’s also a bunch of fascinating non-culture pieces, which, if you think of them like very short books, instantly become Vulture-relevant.
Cover Me’s “The Best Cover Songs of 2010”
Can you think of, like, three great cover songs you heard this year? Cover Me came up with 50, including Local H doing TV on the Radio, Peter Gabriel doing Magnetic Fields, and Jamey Johnson doing Meat Loaf. A great way to instantly spruce up your cocktail-party playlist.
The Million’s “A Year In Reading”
As they have done every year since 2005, the Millions got their “favorite writers, thinkers, and readers” to talk about the books that affected them in 2010 “regardless of publication date.” And even if he wasn’t New York’s book critic, the list provided by Sam Anderson — consisting of the notes he jotted down in the book margins while reading this year, including “i’m going to punch this book in the face if it makes this point again” and “CD [Charles Dickens] is crazy [double underline]” — would probably still be our favorite.
Cocaine Blunts’ “Best Rap, 2010”
A consciously alternate take on the year’s best hip-hop singles, where mainstream staples share space with regional rap stars and aggressively weird mixtape-circuit whiz-kids. Which means that, whatever your personal tastes are geared to, you’re almost guaranteed to find something great you’d never heard of before. Also, without necessarily endorsing its air of mean-spirited exclusion, we’d like to quote at length from the intro: “There is no Drake. Other notable omissions include, but are not limited to … bloggers turned rappers; child actors turned rappers; children of rappers turned rappers; 40 year old rappers who talk about Gucci; children who act like 40 year old rappers who talk about Gucci; 40 year old rappers who hate both children and Gucci; children who act like 40 year old rappers who hate children and Gucci; Juggalos; Canadians; South Africans and J. Cole.”
Sports Illustrated’s “Best Basketball Books”
Amusing for two primary reasons: (1) It’s delivered within a college basketball power rankings (in the No. 13 Missouri Tigers’ spot, specifically). (2) It still, somehow, includes Freedom!
Mark Lisanti’s “The Ten Best Films of 2010”
It’s a best-of list and a fun quiz rolled into one: “The Sweet-Hearted-But-Poignant Animated One We’re Supposed To Take More Seriously,” “The Super-Loony One, Holy Shit, Was That Fucking Nutballs Or What?” etc. See if you can get all ten.
Gorilla vs. Bear’s “Favorite Videos of 2010”
Short and sweet at just twelve, and gets the right balance of the well-deserved-but-obvious (Erykah Badu’s controversial nudity in “Window Seat,” Arcade Fire’s interactive, Google Chrome–boosting “The Wilderness Downtown”) with the unexpected (Bruce Haack). Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt had not only the best rap name of the year, but also a video in which he and his teen cohorts put unidentified pills in a blender, drank the results, and then walked around town bleeding from their mouths. In a good way!
The Awl’s “Nearly 100 People Choose Their #1 Album of 2010”
That near-100 includes a bunch of well-informed music writers, but also some people who don’t usually get asked what their favorite album was (did New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica really pick Citay?). Also on here, thanks to the particular format: a whole lot of worthy albums you won’t see on many other lists (Lil B, Kylesa, Triptykon, Skream …)
Buzzfeed’s “The 60 Best New Tumblr Blogs of 2010”
Things Organized Neatly, Hungover Awls, Cheese People, Time of the Month Tiger, Smile Like You’re Dead Inside, Uncomfortable Moments With Putin: undisputed classics, all. Warning: clicking through will mean a significant, probably unintended time commitment.
NME’s “35 Funniest Quotes of 2010”
Including such gems as “I was at a club, and thinking which slag would be the right one for me to take home. Don’t write ‘slags’. Put ‘hotties’” (Giggs) and “I fucking loathe bands for just existing because they like what they do. Go fuck yourself! That’s not a good enough reason to exist” (James Murphy).