With December upon us, media outlets have begun to release their "Best of" lists, magazine covers and other articles that showcase the most popular of the year. While these lists can cover everything from sports to baby names, it is specifically popular in the entertainment industry. Editors (with sometimes input from the general public) look at who had a stand-out or "breakthrough" year in all avenues of the entertainment world as well as the releases (like albums/movies) and moments that helped shape the year.
Looking specifically at individual entertainers or groups, it is usually pretty apparent who has had a banner year in their career. Did they have a career resurgence or major-change? Did they have a breakout performance that attributed to awards and other accolades? Did they go from "virtual unknowns" to on the tip of everyone's tongues? These factors (along with others) all come into play.
When it comes to deciding the "Best of" (album releases, movies and so-on), it is typically based either on opinion or performance. It is common for some to disagree with what the critics/editors consider to be the "best of the year" (if it is based on opinion). If it is based purely on performance (sales, box office etc.), then it is harder to dispute. Regardless, all this could be changed if a "December Surprise" occurs.
This event occurs at the end of the year (usually December), after the many covers have been shot, articles have been written, and lists have been formed. The actual surprise is sometimes based on performance. The date of an album or movie release was already known, but how well it did either critically or sales-wise went well above expectations.
Other times it is a complete surprise to everyone and sends the entertainment world into a tailspin. One major example of this was Beyoncé's surprise album in 2013. The self-titled album caught many in-and-out of the industry completely off guard and with only a few weeks left in the year, was a massive success. In a nutshell, it most likely messed up a few lists.
While I enjoy many of the end-of-the-year articles, it is fun to see these entertainment events occur at the last minute. It keeps things interesting as the year comes to an end. While I understand there are deadlines (especially in the publishing world), I began to see these articles pop-up even earlier this year with the first one occurring towards the end of October. Considering in the ever-changing viral world we live in (where things change in a matter of seconds), this is too early.
The "December Surprise" is also a reminder that the year is not over yet. Yes, in a few weeks, the ball will drop and 2014 will officially come to a close. However until then, the final chapter of the year is still being written. There is still time to make an impact or accomplish ones 2014 goals (whatever those may be). Even if the goals aren't completely accomplished, it hopefully helps end 2014 on a good note and start 2015 off strong.