Over a recent holiday weekend, one major news organization's headline read, "Do you remember 2010's top stories?" It was a pretty disingenuous question, we thought. So we strapped on our vodka and Coke helmet, gazed into the vast Martian landscape, and reminisced: No, there wasn't much about 2010 that rang a bell. Sure, there was the time Pamela Anderson accurately forecast the end of the world (something to do with an ecological disaster off the coast of Mexico). We also remember WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's busy August trip to Stockholm. And who could forget Haiti foolishly declining Wyclef Jean's presidential bid? But in all fairness, 2010 was no 3010, or 2089, or even 1793 for that matter (Analog guillotines? Ouch!).
2010 was especially forgettable for its music. 2011, on the other hand? That's when it all began. Care to step inside our capsule and return to the dawn of the Bieber Age? Here's a month-by-month account of 2011, the year everything changed.
Following 2010's more grown-up Speak Now, Taylor Swift continued to exhibit an astounding maturity for a woman in her early 20s. Her 2011 album featured a collection of smooth jazz instrumentals inspired by "that feeling of having devoted your life to raising three children who are now too busy with their careers in middle management to post anything on your Facebook wall." Hot Flashes debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's new Menopause Movers chart.
Vampire Weekend became Vampire Monday when the indie rockers were forced to get day jobs after their Vampire Trust Funds ran out. The fallout was felt throughout Brooklyn's indie-rock circles. Artists as diverse as Grizzly Bear and Panda Bear were faced with the harsh reality of wearing Dockers without irony.
In an effort to make downloading more convenient, Apple introduced an application that allowed the iTunes Store to send songs directly to your brain. Not to be outdone, upstart online music store Masterbeat offered to send songs directly into your dirty sweatsock.
In a cost-cutting measure, the Recording Industry Association of America retired the system by which it awarded top-selling albums gold, platinum, and diamond status. Instead, the industry took to Facebook, where it recognized successful artists with increasingly enthusiastic Superpokes. Rihanna was the first to receive the new system's highest honor when RIAA president Cary Sherman presented her with a SuperLingeringHug.
A Pitchfork reviewer spent his entire word count reminiscing about the '90s and what it was like to be the first person in Mogadore, Ohio, to buy a Slint tape. He finished his review by quoting French semiotician Roland Barthes and, finally, by rating the new Pussycat Dolls album a 5.6. Actually, this happened a lot back then.
A deluxe 20th anniversary reissue of Skid Row's Slave to the Grind — featuring an extra disc of outtakes, expanded cover art, a DVD documentary on the band by Martin Scorsese, and an essay written at Sebastian Bach's request by longtime Skid Row fan Joan Didion — was not released.
Bruce Springsteen completed a trilogy when he followed The Promise with new albums The Awkward Dodge and, finally, (Half of) The Fifty I Owe You. Jon Landau declared, "I have seen the future of debt avoidance, and its name is Bruce Springsteen." Meanwhile, Clarence Clemons' saxophone died of malnutrition.
Katy Perry and Russell Brand gave birth to their first daughter. She eventually grew up to become the second female president of the United States, which by then had become a territory administered by the Republic of Alaska.
Witchcore darlings Salem suddenly found their sound redundant when Color Me Badd reunited for a tour sponsored by Vicks NyQuil. For weeks afterward, staffers who championed Salem at the prestigious "modern music" monthly The Wire avoided eye contact.
Ratings for Glee declined rapidly when producers traded the show's breakout star, Lea Michele, to the New York Yankees for three Double-A prospects. Michele went on to pitch the Yankees to their 28th World Series title, while the prospects barely broke the Top 10 with their cover of the Cardigans' "Lovefool."
George W. Bush offered an olive branch to Kanye West, sending his onetime foil an invitation to the Bush family's annual holiday gala. West regretted attending the event when he was seated under a spotlight at a table for three with Condoleezza Rice and George Hamilton.
Following the success of his best-selling autobiography, Keith Richards began a second career as a writer of young adult fiction. The former Glimmer Twin found instant success with his series of novels about Cassie, an only child who watches her mother suffer at the hands of an abusive father until she finds courage — and herself — through smack and intramural volleyball.