Pop Culture: No surprises left in countdowns
Imagine a “Top 100 Countdown” of Most-Unfairly Treated Product Mascots.
The top two slots would probably go to Sonny of Cocoa Puffs and the Trix Rabbit. They’re the face of their respective products but are continually denied the chance to get a piece of the action.
They’re the college athletes of breakfast cereal.
Top 100 countdowns have become predictable. Need proof? I just proved it. I made up a Top 100 countdown that doesn’t even exist (yet) and already figured out the winners.
The key to any pop culture “countdown” is surprise. If you have a “best of” list and you remove the element of surprise, there’s no surprise.
Case in point. Last weekend, I watched a little of “Top 100 Songs of the ‘90s” on VH1. You’re probably not surprised.
“Top 100 Songs”?was a little misleading. It should have been titled “List of Almost All Pop Songs From the Decade That Also Had Music Videos That Were Played With Any Frequency, Sorted From 1 to 100, With ‘Smells Like Teen?Spirit’?at No. 1.”
The only surprise remaining in such countdowns is this:?There are no surprises. No matter how the lists are devised, we can pretty much count on the following:
Top song of the ‘90s: “Smells Like Teen?Spirit.”
Top music video of the ‘90s: “Smells Like Teen?Spirit.”
Top band of the ‘90s:?Nirvana.
Top video of the ‘80s:?“Thriller.”
Top movie of all time:?“Citizen Kane”
Top rock album of all time:?“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
Top TV sitcom: “I Love Lucy”
And the list goes on, even though there’s no reason to make the list because we already know the result. That should come as no surprise.
This can mean only one thing: It’s time to branch out. First, by saying “that can mean only one thing,” then by starting the next paragraph with “perhaps.”
Perhaps the only suspense-filled countdown left is the “Top 100 Least Surprising Outcomes for a Top 100 Countdown.”
Here’s how it works: Put all those examples I mentioned — top movie, top song of a particular decade, breakfast cereal mascots, etc. — then count it all down, from 100 down to 1.
Think of the suspense as we watch and try to guess who’ll come out on top.
Who would be No. 1 in that countdown? Probably “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
That solution didn’t work. Silly rabbit.
Dennis Volkert is features editor at the Sturgis Journal. Contact him at