The Retrospective

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Best of 2009: The Retrospective Staff Pick

December 31st, 2009 by

best of 2009

The new year calls for resolutions, restoration, and revamping, but before we get to that point, The Retrospective staff has taken a jaunt down memory lane to reminisce about the highlights of 2009. There’s no better time of year to be retrospective, so take a look at our list–as eclectic as our staff members–and get ready for a new year of looking forward and staying current.

Best Fashion Trend by Fiona

Studded Fashion Trend

2009 had some lovely trends, including boots, big belts, tights, and more chunky knits than your grandma could whip up by her centennial, but one element in particular stood out to me: studding. I first saw it at Prada in the men’s section (see shoes above. Women’s boots are Gucci) and thought that with all of the bohemian chic we’ve been seeing for the past however-many years, this was a refreshing step away. While the detail may not be for everyone, I think it adds extra oomph to any accessory. Belts, shoes, bags, jeans and even coats are game. With so many options for showing off your edge, you’re bound to find at least one kind of studded style that suits your fashion ethos.

Best Tech by Brent

Brent apps
Photo Credit: Apple

2009 saw the maturation of several nascent technologies ranging from ebooks and social media to mobile broadband. The best technology of 2009 would have to be “apps,” a nickname given to the 100,000+ applications available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apps are driving the adoption of technologies such as mobile e-commerce and location based services, Yelp and Loopt being two of the more popular examples. Apps are now moving far beyond cellphones and into the automotive and consumer electronics markets with conveniences such as Ford’s Sync platform and HP’s Livescribe pen. As apps mature in the coming years, look for disruptions in markets ranging from portable GPS devices, ebook readers, handheld game systems and video cameras as these devices are overtaken and rethought as software.

Best TV show by Yanick


The family-centered TV comedy was pretty much lifeless this decade. When the 90’s ended, so did shows about the hilarity that can surround parents and their kids. That is, until this past September’s debut of ABC’s hit Modern Family. The writing is smart, the scenarios hilarious, and performances by both the adult and child cast are on point. It has resuscitated a genre and become appointment viewing for those seeking a half an hour of above-average programming on the tube.

Best Ad Campaign by Alicia


The Levi’s GO FORTH ad campaign created by the masterminds at Wieden + Kennedy Portland is definitely at the top of my list this year for several reasons. Not only did the campaign give Levi’s a fresh old school look, but it invited curious young adventurers to sojourn into the American wilderness on an online/offline scavenger hunt for clues leading to the grand prize of $100,000. The entire campaign is based around the last will and testament of Grayson Ozias IV (get it…G.O. the 4th? I thought it was pretty clever, too) who buried what is now the equivalent of $100,000 in the hopes that it would inspire young Americans to leave what they know as home, and “go forth and explore a greater America.”

Best Controversial Book of 2009 by Kristin

kristin book

Every year the literary world presents us with a number of books that get us talking about content and style as well as the publishing process. In 2009, one text had us discussing both issues: world-renowned Russian author Vladimir Nabokov’s The Original of Laura. An inveterate perfectionist, the author of Lolita and The Eye requested upon his death in 1977 that all unfinished works be destroyed, including The Original of Laura. Though his wife remained faithful to her husband’s wishes by not actively publishing the work, she failed to destroy it as he’d directed. After many years of deliberation, the couple’s son has brought the late master’s unfinished novel to the public eye and to a chorus of critics. Polemic has abounded since the book hit shelves, but the enthusiasm and interest shown by readers and critics alike over a novel that consists of photocopies of scribbled index cards and translations nearly as vague as the scribbles themselves is a testament to the Russian author’s incontestable place in the literary canon.

Best Female Album by Kristin


Drawing attention in the female artist arena this year was Annie Clark with her May 2009 release, Actor. Annie, a former member of the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ touring ensemble, created an experience for her listener that goes beyond mere sonic aesthetics. The album seems to contain the identities of many women, each exploring a different aspect of the female psyche and using her instruments to take listeners on an overwhelming emotional journey. The most enchanting aspects of Annie’s arrangements are the unique timing and instrumentation that make each song a unique entity, weaving together a web of both eerie and sentimental moments, and the disarming confidence of her vocals throughout the spooky arrangements. Annie’s experiment with voice versus instrumentation invites listeners to consider how the outward serenity of a woman can be at war with the emotional complexity of her inner life. Give a listen to the track “Strangers” for a shining example of this.

Best Sneaker by Nick

nick best sneaker

2009 has brought us some innovative shoe designs as well as new takes on old classics. Sure, there have been some terrible sneakers this year–terrible, terrible, terrible sneakers–but there have been a few gems, too, such as the most hated/loved sneaker of 2009: the Nike Air Yeezy. The Yeezy was, perhaps, the most hyped sneaker of the past 5 years and the most successful non-athlete designed sneaker released by Nike, ever. There was even a video of streetwear favorite Levi Maestro skating them. I’m sure that if I had known about the Hartford release of the Yeezy’s earlier that I definitely would have been there, if only for the incredible resale value of the shoe. While they may look a little like flamboyant space boots, the Air Yeezy shook the sneaker world, for better or worse.

Best Movie by Gitamba


2009 was a very bizarre year for films. Studios left and right were closing and, worse yet, we were given sequels, prequels, and very little original cinematic magic. This was a tough pick but in the sea of mediocrity, one film really stood tall. My pick for best film of 2009 is one I hope you have the chance to see, the feature length directorial debut of Duncan Jones, Moon. The film, written and directed by Jones specifically for Sam Rockwell, is Oscar-caliber, folks. Rockwell gives a glittering performance, running us through the gamut of every possible human emotion in this dark outer space narrative in the vein of such brilliant films as A Space Odyssey. I had the pleasure of meeting Duncan earlier this year and the enthusiasm and excitement he has for this project is evident in almost every frame.

Best Male Album by Jason


My favorite album of 2009 was the Mos Def’s sadly underrated The Ecstatic. It is by far one of the most musically diverse Hip Hop albums released this year. Mos Def does not disappoint with his trade mark drawl, rapid fire flow and diverse musical influences. With Production from Chad Hugo, Oh No, Mad Lib and J Dilla, the album has a bit of discontinuity, but Mos keeps the listener enthralled with his subject matter. The stand-out tracks for me where “Twilite Speedball,” “Quiet Dog Bite Hard,” “Workers Comp.” and “Live in Marvelous Times.”

Best Female Spanish Album by Caitlin


Equally inspired by folk and flamenco, Bebe’s Grammy-nominated July release Y. is my pick for Best Female Spanish Album of 2009. A fan since 2004’s Pafuera Telarañas, I’d been waiting for years for something new from the singer from Spain’s Extremadura region. As an impatient person, there are very few things you could convince me are actually worth waiting for, but I’m pleased to report that Y. is certainly one of them. Armed with her customary clever word play and assertive lyrics backed by strong vocals, Bebe’s approach is, blissfully, not that of the typical Spanish pop star; you won’t find her crying over men to restore her to herself on this album, but you will get to listen to the singer find and grow into her identity as she chronicles her cross-country journey in a van, alone. And truly, the woman needed no company, even without outside influences, Bebe is a woman of many modes: she can come down on the listener like a fury, coax her into teary empathy, or make her laugh out loud at the singer’s audacious sexual antics. She’s the best friend every woman wants, the best lay every man desires and the best artist to come out of Spain in the recent past. Grab Y. and cue up “La Bicha,” a track that reveals every glimmering facet of this Iberian jewel. Spanish fluency, optional.

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