Top 10 Lists In Pop Culture and Media


People like lists. You came to this website, didn’t you? Or perhaps you stumbled upon it. Either way, there’s an intangibly simple quality about a list. Ever since the beginning of time we have been prioritizing events, items and just about anything else you can think of on lists. Cavemen were believed to have created some of the first shopping lists and, yes, they also forgot the milk sometimes.

Just about every mode of media publishes some sort of a list at least once a year, whether to sum up the events of the year or just to provide entertainment for its audiences.  Here is a list of the top 10 most popular lists in pop culture and media:

10. Parade Magazine’s What People Earn

Parade What People Earn

Parade’s annual “What People Earn” issue provides an in-depth, and often disturbing, look into how much money both ordinary and extraordinary people make. The publication profiles everyone from high school janitors to high income billionaires, and showcases capitalism at its very finest.

2010’s issue shows high profile celebrities such as Tiger Woods and Taylor Swift. It also profiles more down to earth lives such as that of Kathleen Garret of Kreamer, Pennsylvania who works 20 hours a week at a department store and earns a wage of $7.61 per hour.

This publication serves as a useful barometer of the economic forecast in real world terms; not stock options or 401Ks but the amount of money people earn. This annual list provides an uncompromising look into one of the most intimate issues in our daily lives- how much money we make. It satisfies the question that people have been wondering since the beginning of time: ‘how much do they get paid to do that?’

9. Maxim Magazine’s Hot 100

Image result for Maxim Magazine’s Hot 100

Maxim’s Hot 100 features one hundred of the hottest honeys clad in bikinis or otherwise revealing outfits, showing off their private-fitness-club sculpted bods. This may seem chauvinistic- because it is! Yet it is hard to dispute a magazine that has 2.5 million subscribers and dominates the men’s magazine category outselling GQ and Esquire, and you can bet that the male subscribers don’t read exclusively for the articles. The Hot 100 issue is the equivalent to Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue; it is a parade of swimsuits, sand, smiles and glitter. The only difference between Maxim’s Top 100 and Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue is that dad won’t try to beat the kids home so he can hide the SI issue from them. He’ll be too busy ogling the Maxim ladies online. Year by year the swimsuits get more revealing and the faces change, but the same creepy guy with the orange plaid horsehair jacket and spare tire gut will always buy this issue from your local gas station. 2010’s winner? Pop music diva Katy Perry.

8. Sports Illustrated’s Top Male/Female Athletes (Yearly and Decade)

Sport Illustrated Lists Top Athletes

In the sporting world, everything is about rankings. Rosters, lineups, team standings, first, second or third place, the lists go on and on. Sports Illustrated takes it a step further by amassing a list of the top male and female athletes of the year. Every ten years they also compile the greatest athletes of the decade. The top three male athletes of the 2000 decade are the unstoppable Tiger Woods, the lightning quick Roger Federer and the amphibian-like Michael Phelps. On the women’s side are the legendary Serena Williams, the machine-like Annika Sorenstam, and the great Yelena Isenbayeva. For those addicted to the world of sports, nothing is a more satisfying dose of sport than to see the greatest athletes of the year, or of the decade, coalesced onto a nice, neat page of awesomeness. The images and the faces of the prolific stars conjure up images of championships, amazing comebacks, and legendary performances. And this publication isn’t dedicated to showcasing monthly images of aphrodisiacal debutantes corrupting the youth of America with their vivacious curves.

7. The Hollywood A-list

A list celebrities

The Hollywood “A-list” is a compilation of the best actors and actresses as judged by how much money they make per film. The highest paid entertainers are higher on the list and the lowest paid are on the “B” list or even “C” list. These actors and actresses have huge star power and name recognition. In the Guinness Book of World Records, Harrison Ford is listed as the actor that has accrued the most money from acting in films. For an actor or actress to have their name high on this list, the price of starring in a movie usually carries a hefty price tag. They can negotiate for millions of dollars for a starring role because of their notoriety. Will Smith and Johnny Depp are two of Hollywood’s highest paid actors and have settled in comfortably and cozily on the “A-list.”

6. People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People

The celebrity obsessed People magazine releases a once yearly publication of the ‘Most Beautiful People.’ This magazine is filled with human interest stories and the weekly sludge of what celebrities are wearing, what their hair looks like and what kind of deodorant they use.  Ironically this magazine overwhelmingly publishes their ‘most beautiful people’ within the confines of that narrow corner of the world known as Hollywood. People living vicariously through these celebrities flock to newsstands when this publication is released to see where their favorites rank. Readers then soak up the faces of these famous people and argue about who should have been crowned most beautiful etc. Some names that never seem to escape the list are Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney, who are often ranked near the top of this frivolous yet attention grabbing issue.

5. Billboard’s Hot 100 Music

The Billboard Hot 100 is the Mecca for mainstream music maniacs. The list takes into account such things as audio airplay, audience impressions and sales to create the list. When DJs say a song is “a number one song in the country!” they are usually referring to this list. The list has been around since 1958 and evidently it is here to stay. The list inadvertently chronicles the shifting paradigm of popular music as it has changed from jazz, to rock, to alternative and hip hop over the decades. The Billboard Top 100 caters to big time artists and easy-to-listen-to gutless mainstream music. Independent musicians and labels have a difficult time breaking into this elite club of music makers. Some prominent reoccurring figures that have been featured on the chart in the last few years have been powerhouse popular music providers Usher, Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna and Kanye West.  At the time this article was written, the top song is California Gurls by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg.

4. Rolling Stone’s Best Songs and Albums of the Year

Rolling Stone’s annual publication lists the top albums and songs of the year. Rolling Stone has long been one of the foremost publications regarding music and media. Rolling Stone has undergone quite an evolution since the Hunter S. Thompson days of the 1970s when Rolling Stone was primarily a political and current events magazine. But they have never lost their touch with their fervently dedicated hippie-turned-real-estate-agent fan base.  Their annual rankings of songs and albums gives an often highly controversial but definitive look at all types of music, not just mainstream sludge spewed out on lifelessly redundant pop stations. Many mainstream types have read the list and shouted “Bah! This is rubbish! Where is Rihanna!” while emphatically throwing it into a trashcan filled with Nickelback ticket stubs.  No matter who Rolling Stone puts on their list, it is sure to get people talking year after year. (Note: Video is for their ‘Top 25 Albums of All Time’ list – unable to find image/video for 2009’s Best Albums of the Year.)

3. Time Magazine’s Most Influential People

Time Magazine’s ‘Most Influential People’ are decided by none other than the general public. Anyone can cast a vote to elect who they think is changing the world with their skill, power, notoriety, or otherwise equally important adjective. The list, first published in 1999 is a fledgling among the more long standing lists in popular media but has quickly grown to be one of the most anticipated. Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Steve Jobs have all been listed five times since the issue’s inception. The comprehensive list journals the shifting paradigm of a culture, one person at a time. The people listed in the pages of their annual issue often represent a radical, world changing idea. Some notable ones: the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates. All have changed the world with their ideas. The person listed the most times? Oprah Winfrey.

2. NY Times Bestseller List


The New York Times Bestseller List is the list of the top selling books in the United States and is published weekly by the New York Times. The list has been around since 1942 and continues to be the most powerful source for categorizing and ranking book sales. Bestseller books will often bear stamps shouting that their story is indeed a New York Times bestseller. This gimmick usually attracts the attention of shoppers and can exponentially boost sales once the book makes the NYT list. The books are categorized into eight genres: Fiction, Paperback Fiction, Nonfiction, Sunday Book Review, Paperback Nonfiction, Business Best Sellers, Children’s Books and Advice. At one point in the history of the bestseller list, authors began complaining about J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series and requested it’s removal because of its unconquerable stranglehold on the top spots of the bestseller list.

1. Forbes World’s Richest People List

This list includes the 500 wealthiest magnates and tycoons in the world, listed by continent and country, as well as lists like: ‘the world’s billionaires’, ‘comebacks,’ and ‘newcomers.’  Some names that frequent the apex of this elitist list are investor Warren Buffett, Mexican telephone tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. It is every aspiring business person’s dream to see his or her name gracing the pages of this issue. This issue attracts people that normally don’t subscribe to Forbes but are drawn into the freak power of seeing people that have salaries larger than the GDP of Zimbabwe. In the future, Forbes magazine might have to make the issue a few pages longer to incorporate the hundreds of zeroes it takes to describe the salaries of these rich and wealthy individuals.

By Jake McHugh

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