It is that time of year again! It’s time for an annual list of “Best of 2023” lists. This year’s selection includes picks from Wikipedia, Columbia Journalism Review, NPR, Merriam-Webster, Longreads, Time, Rolling Stone, The Verge, and Huff Post, featuring the year’s best podcasts, albums, articles, memes, inventions, TikToks, personal essays, but also – what I found to be missing from these lists.
In all of my years writing this list of lists, I’ve never looked at Wikipedia to see how it remembers the year. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most comprehensive “Year in Review” lists I’ve seen, containing predictable things such as global economic trends and conflicts, yet also noting “Danish cyclist Jonas Vingegaard wins the Tour de France for the second consecutive time.”
Pick of the list: I was not expecting to see a “predicted and scheduled” events section, and perhaps that is the reason it is my pick of the list. Adding to the curiosity of its presences, is the fact that only two events are listed: the Serbian parliamentary election and the Democratic Republic of the Congo general election.
What’s missing: Of course there is a lot missing from a list as general as the whole year—even Wikipedia cannot be that comprehensive. However, I don’t know if I can point to one thing that is missing. This list covers many international events and natural disasters I hadn’t heard of until now. And for that, I am thankful.
Pick of the list: The introduction paragraph listing things that took place this year in the style of The Twelve Days of Christmas both made me smile, and really encapsulated what an absolute mess of a year we’ve had.
What’s missing: A little more joy. This might sound naive given everything that has, and continues to take place this year, but finding little moments of joy is so important. Yes, a lot of bad things happened, but it is still important to celebrate what we can.
Pick of the list: There are so many good songs here, so my pick of the list is the album I listened to the most: Victoria Monét’s ‘Jaguar II’. The whole album is so warm and such a vibe! “On My Momma,” the albums lead single, was also one of the most popular songs this year and I could hardly go a few days without hearing at least a clip from the song since it was released in June
What’s missing: Jamila Woods’ ‘Water Made Us’ has been one of my go-to’s this fall. Perfect for its fall release, Woods is sweet, tender, reflective, and perfect for cuffing season.
Pick of the list: Hanif Abdurraqib constructs spaces for the words we don’t know using the words we have. In ‘We’re More Ghosts Than People’ Abdurraqib reflects on his experience playing Red Dead Redemption 2, using the video game as a way grief, loss, religion, and salvation writing, “If there is a place of judgment where I must stand and plead my case for a glorious and abundant afterlife, I hope that whoever hears me out is interested in nuances, but who’s to say. I don’t think about it, until I do.”
What’s missing: I read far fewer personal essays this year than I normally do. However, I keep returning to Amari Grey’s essay Digital Semiotics & Pandemic Intimacy II. A friend and colleague, Grey shift’s between personal reflections and deep theorizations throughout the essay, asking “what do we do in the dark?”
Pick of the list: While the word of the year is “authentic” with its increase in searches due to “driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media,” my pick is going to have to be “rizz.” As someone who works with Gen Z on a regular basis they use rizz quite frequently. Initially a shortened version of “charisma” the noun has come to mean “romantic appeal or charm.”
What’s missing: Another word that has been co-opted by the internet is popularized is “bruh.” The Youths™ say “bruh” way too much, often without consideration of its origins.
Pick of the list: Angela Bassett did the thing because I totally forgot it ever happened??? I don’t know if it is my favorite, but upon hearing the phrase I immediately heard Ariana DeBose perform her infamous BAFTA performance. This year has been a few decades!
What’s missing: Meghann Cuniff, aka Meghann Thee Reporter, aka The Bob rose to internet fame at the end of last year for her coverage of Tory Lanez’s trial for shooting Megan Thee Stallion in the foot. Since then, whenever some celebrity legal news is afoot, the internet searches for Cuniff’s coverage in a humorous, yet serious way.
Pick of the list: Although these might be TikTok’s most watched videos, they are certainly not the most interesting. Unlike Mia Sato, I had seen many of this years top 10, but I honestly didn’t remember them until now. Skip the TikToks on this list but not Sato’s analysis on why “we need to figure out how to talk about and contextualize this ‘viral’ content.” Some of it just does not make sense.
What’s missing: One of the funniest Twitter sagas of the year was Fannita and Amber’s fight over pyrex. I’m sorry Amber, you got got. If someone gives them pyrex to take leftovers home they most certainly will never see it again.
Pick of the list: In all honesty, I don’t listen to a lot of commercially produced podcasts, and I hadn’t listened to many of these. For myself, as a child who did not learn to read until I was in sixth grade, “Sold a Story,” is a deep dive into “the way children learn to read in America, how this has shifted over the past two decades, and how good intentions ended up creating a lot of headaches for elementary educators and their students.” This is a fascinating and insightful podcast by education reporter Emily Hanford.
What’s missing: I was surprised that Out of the Pods did not make it to this list! Hosted by Love is Blind season 2 cast members “Deepti Vempati and Natalie Lee, Out of the Pods is a weekly deep-dive into the reality TV world of Love is Blind. Each week, Deepti and Natalie share their unfiltered thoughts, hot takes, and insider tea on the latest episodes.” This podcast is particularly interesting to listen to as Netflix and Kinetic Content, which produces LIB, face more and more allegations about the working conditions of the show.
Pick of the list: I absolutely adore The Righteous Gemstones. The dark comedy about the Gemstone family and their megachurch always finds a way to remain one of the most absurd shows on TV.
What’s missing: I loved Survival of the Thickest, co-created by Michelle Buteau and Danielle Sanchez Witzel, starring the former. The dramedy follows Buteau who plays Mavis Beaumont, a plus-sized stylist living in New York trying to find herself after ending a long term relationship. The show is sweet, funny, entertaining, and very easy to watch.
Pick of the list: While I do love my Owala water bottle, my pick of this list would have to be one of the products from the AI section. The AI software I use most frequently is OpenAI GPT-4. I’ve never used it to write full drafts of something, but it has been incredibly helpful when I have a writing block or am applying for jobs.
What’s missing: Many of the things here I would characterize as new versions of existing things more so than new inventions. Taking that into account, and considering Adobe Photoshop has already made this list once, I would add Adobe Express. Based on 2016’s Adobe Post, and relaunched in 2021 as Adobe Express, I’ve noticed more and more people using it this year (which is probably due to its aggressive ad campaign).