Roundup: Top 10 Things of 2011

Most yearly roundup lists focus on a particular topic: newsmakers, albums, events, and so on. My list is going to attempt to round up things about 2011 that stand out to me as defining for the year as a whole. I'm staying away from politics and world issues because you know, I care about that stuff, but it isn't what I blog about.

#10 Bacon
Bacon has been building in popularity for the past few years but it truly reached a new level in the mainstream market in 2011. I got bacon marmalade for Christmas, and the guys from Epic Meal Time took bacon strips (& bacon strips) to new levels of gluttony.  

#9 Girls Kicking Ass
The past couple of years have been dominated by the Twilight female, one who waits around for her stalker to love her enough for marriage. She's helpless. Right now the feeling is a little different. The Hunger Games  is the hot teen trilogy, with an ass-kicking female lead who needs no man (even though she has two to choose from) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is on best-sellers lists internationally, while being made into a film for the second time.

#8 Dubstep
Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music. It isn't new in 2011, but it hit critical mass in 2011 and went from being an underground sound to so common in the mainstream that Britney Spears used a dubstep breakdown in a single. She'd been dabbling in the sound since 2007, and of course the roots of the sound can be traced back to at least the late nineties, arguably farther than that. As the sound began to hit pop charts around the world in 2010, it was really 2011 that the trend hit hard and suddenly everyone you know is posting dubstep tracks on social media channels, nightclubs began hosting dubstep nights, and dubstep artists are performing in arenas. While I personally think there is a lot of really bad dubstep out there, I will admit that I love the Zeds Dead remix of Paradise Circus by Massive Attack. 

#7 Hashtags
Even people who aren't on twitter (where the hashtag originated as a tool to help users find interesting tweets) are now using hashtags. The National Post does a hashtag feature, rounding up tweets on a particular subject using them, creating an article. But the use moves beyond trends or sorting ideas as originally intended. Long has the idea of a sarcasm grammar tool been discussed, but the hashtag is fast becoming a way to denote a joke, self depricate or poke fun at something. I laughed so hard I cried at a stream of tweets using #failedchildrensbooktitle. An example? The Little Engine that said Screw It.

#6 Your Mom Joining Facebook
Social media has been a buzz phrase for a few years and now your mom knows what it is, and how to use it. Use of social media tools like facebook among baby boomers and seniors jumped from 18% to 65% across various platforms on the web between 2008 and 2011, with 73% of those users maintaining a facebook profile.

#5 Swag
"Swag" became the new "bling" in 2011, and hold onto your hats folks, but I'm pretty sure the phrase will be as tired as the phrase "bling bling" is within a few short months. The slang has been around since at least 2008, when Soulja Boy released Turn my Swag onor maybe earlier in 2007 when M.I.A. said in her song Paper Planes "No one on the corner got swagger like us."
Swag, or Swagger is a way of defining how you present yourself, and either you have it, or you don't. You swagger when you're feeling stylish, powerful, looking your best. Therefore, you have swag.  It's more than mojo, it's more than style. It's a blend of style, attitude and freshness. You don't necessarily need to wear certain brands or expensive things to have swag, but you have to have an attitude to carry it off. It's harder to define than a simple trend or idea, in the same way that defining what "cool" is, and is not, is almost impossible. Again: either you have swag, or you don't. In 2011, having swag was a big thing.

#4 Liking Things because they're Terrible
One of the top-ten viewed videos on Youtube this year was Rebecca Black's so-terrible-it's-funny Friday.
Personally this is a trend I'd like to see go away in 2012, instead can we focus on sharing things we seriously like? I'd rather give my time and attention to talent, instead of "epic fails".

#3 Ryan Gosling Hey Girl Meme
Memes are defined by Richard Dawkins as a tool for spreading cultural ideas. Two examples he provides are melodies or catch-phrases. Internet memes are jokes that travel, with various contributors. The themes are able to be related to by a number of different people, but usually they fall within a cultural group. The Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl" meme started with the blog Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling!  which had pictures of the actor with phrases entered across them that always start with, "Hey Girl..." and continued with some sort of phrase that would make him the perfect boyfriend. The meme has grown to include new sites on regular basis this year. It makes me wonder when the actor is going to make his own meme, dedicated to those who make the memes. Now, we're getting meta.

#2 Adele
I assume that almost all year-end lists from music publications will list Adele. She's a talent and crosses all sorts of boundaries. A soulful, honest songwriter that had a lot of success with her first album, Adele became accessible across every musical genre in 2011. The first single Rolling in the deep appealed to almost any music fan: country, punk, rap, soul, pop. Adele, though an incredible talent, owes huge thanks to her producer Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam. He oversaw the production of the album and acted as lead producer on 5 of the tracks. Rubin started out as an alt-punk rocker but then became really interested in New York's hip hop scene. Def Jam is the label that signed Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, so there's that, but Rubin went on to produce many of your favourite bands and songs, even making things you didn't think were going to be cool extremely cool. He was the one who suggested Johnny Cash cover Nine Inch Nails. He produced Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik. When I read he was going to produce the new Adele album, I knew it would be something special. He brought an edge, an American country flavour and a deep soulful rhythm to her sound.

#1 Smartphones
Smartphones are now the highest-selling electronic device. Estimates put sales at 95 million units in 2011. 43% of mobile phone users had a smartphone by October of 2011, and it is now the majority of users that have one. People don't bother to take books or magazines on train rides, they watch movies on their phones. Remembering where something is, or getting directions? Pointless, there's a smartphone app for that. An interesting statistic to emerge from 2011 is that the Android platform is now the dominant brand in the market, controlling 53% of the market share, with Apple's iOS at only 15% and RIM's blackberry system at 11%. This puts Google in a powerful position to control the smartphone mobile market, and they are now emerging as the true competitor to the iphone market, overshadowing RIM and other players with incredible momentum. Smartphones are on track to completely redefine how we communicate, express ourselves, compartmentalize information, network and more. Sure to have far reaching impact in the coming years, it is hard to predict all the ways in which smartphones will change our lives. Looking back at this time in history, we are certain to remember our first smartphone, and how our habits changed as a result. Without question, I have to put smartphones as the biggest "thing" of 2011.

Happy New Year, readers! See you in 2012.

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