The Top 10 Things That Ended in 2010
As another year draws to a close, it's a perfect time to reflect on all the triumphs and new beginnings that the last 12 months has brought. But where's the fun in that? Instead, let's take some time to say goodbye to some of the things that crapped out, gave up, fell apart, called it quits, or just plain failed in 2010.
10. Microsoft Kin
Microsoft may be the biggest computer company in history and Bill Gates may have enough money to buy every single thing in the world and still have enough left over to get a cab home, but you have to feel a little sorry for them this year. Not satisfied with being behind the curve with their underwhelming Zune media player, Microsoft tried this year to join the smartphone party after the fact with their youth-targeted Kin phones. After pouring close to a billion dollars and many years into the phone, Microsoft released the Kin to middling reviews and consumer shrugs. Then, after only 48 days on the market, they discontinued all production and focused on their Windows 7 model. Like the Zune before it, the Kin proved that Microsoft may have an unbeatable stranglehold on the PC market, but they really, really suck at making cool gadgets.
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For years, philosophers, theologians, and scientists have labored to answer the eternal question of exactly how long a pop group can ride the wave of a single hit. In 2010, Norwegian pop group a-ha has settled the issue once and for all and provided the world with a definitive answer. 25 years. After briefly conquering the music world with their synth-pop ode to bad grammar "Take On Me," a-ha was able to squeeze out 25 more years of a career until finally packing it in for good in 2010. It's perhaps a little unfair to say that they rode that one single for 15 years, but outside of their native Norway and a few other places around the world, nobody was buying their greatest hits albums or going to see them to hear their new stuff. Farewell a-ha, and may all your future endeavors be lovably grammatically incorrect!
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When Saturn first joined the crowded car company market in 1990, it heavily marketed itself as something different in the automotive game. Although it was always a part of GM, it rose to national prominence as an individual brand unlike the traditional guys. In a series of heavily-run commercials, Saturn promised low pressure sales from friendly, golf-shirted staff in clean, relaxing showrooms. Unlike regular car salesmen, Saturn staff made a solemn vow never to run over their own grandmothers or drown a sack of kittens in order to make a sale. This radical, non-grandmother-killing, non-kitten-drowning strategy to selling cars made Saturn a household name. Unfortunately, a lot more people enjoyed their philosophy and business practices than actually bought their cars. After several attempts to offload the brand on another company, GM shuttered Saturn for good in October.
7. Air America
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Tired of being crowded out of the talk radio landscape for years by right wing nutjobs, a group of left wing nutjobs decided in 2000 that their brand of partisan lunacy deserved a home on the airwaves. That home was Air America, the last bastion of commies, socialists, and everyone else who doesn't agree with Sean Hannity. Debuting with a splash, Air America had shows with big lefty stars like Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and Ron Reagan. For the first few years, Air America was a success, coming narrowly close to challenging the right's dominance of the airwaves. Unfortunately (if you're on the left) or awesomely (if you're on the right) the network had a string of bad luck. Popular hosts like Al Franken bolted to save the nation, upper management had more turnover than a badly run Burger King, and the network wracked up debts in fine liberal tax-and-spend fashion. It all came to a head at the beginning of this year when the station folded for good.
6. The Hummer
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Back in 1992, before it became the symbol of everything horrible and misguided about the United States' role in the world, Iraq was a slam dunk. In a riveting display of technical superiority and precise military planning, the U.S.A. kicked ass all over the desert. Back at home, people saw the cool jets, missiles, and ships and felt proud of their country. But most of all, they wanted one of those wicked Humvees. Designed and built as a military vehicle that could go anywhere and do anything, it was only a matter of time before AM General (and later GM) marketed a civilian version called the Hummer. Taking advantage of the booming SUV market, Hummers gained popularity despite their massive size, terrible fuel economy, and spotty safety records. Eventually, bad press and poor sales caught up with the giant gas guzzlers and the cars became a symbol for America's reliance on foreign oil and lack of environmental awareness. Isn't it ironic that the vehicle that helped America in its war for oil became a symbol for its problematic relationship to the very same substance? Ironic, or totally fitting.