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The 2009 Red Hot Dozen

They sizzled in 2009. The year's biggest hits were a mix of hip, interesting, and supernatural things. Illustration by Analyn Perez.
Off the top of our heads, we’ve listed all the people and things that have made big impressions and, at times, ruffled global feathers with their in-your-face anti-Establishment antics in 2009. 1. Lady Gaga. This 23-year-old dynamo (real name: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) proves that you should never judge a performer by her outlandish clothes (or lack thereof). The thing is, Gaga's kinulang-sa-tela-na-fashionista look often upstages her whip-smart lyrics. In her hit, “Poker Face," for example, she manages to insert this nihilistic line: “Russian roulette is not the same without a gun." (An airhead will hurt herself if she even tried to come up with that.) Like Madonna, the diva of reinvention who reigned before her, Gaga is Italian and Catholic. But, if we dare say so, her songwriting skills alone make Madonna look like a total lola. Unfortunately, Reverend Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas says she should burn in hell. Well, if hell had a giant disco ball, some buff male dancers, and great acoustics, Gaga would happily burn in it. 2. Adam Lambert. Predictably, this out and proud scene-stealer did not take home the top prize in the eighth season of American Idol. Maybe he was not as "mainstream" as they would have liked. But, to date, he is probably the show’s most memorable controversial runner-up. He put on quite a sexually-charged show at the American Music Awards, which garnered mixed reactions. Conservatives got their undergarments in a twist and banned him. Liberals, of course, cheered him on. Lambert is not the performer you would tap to perform in front of the Pope or your bitter old-maid aunt. However, Lambert’s music has taken a backseat to his larger-than-life, paparazzi-magnet persona. Oh well, it's his showmanship that counts. 3. Glee. Set in the fictional William McKinley High School, this American musical comedy-drama Fox TV series exceeds expectations. This is so not High School Musical. For one, its teen characters aren’t typical—they range from a conflicted jock (Finn Hudson), an overachiever (Rachel Berry), a devil-may-care paraplegic (Artie Abrams), a young fashionable gay teen who fights macho oppression with elegance (Kurt Hummel), an out-of-the-box diva (Mercedes Jones), and an Asian chick with an inner swagger (Tina Cohen-Chang). Teachers Will Schuester (the idealist), Sue Sylvester (the hilariously mean one), and Emma Pillsbury (the earnest one) also provide an added dimension to the series. But the best things about the show are the songs, which include covers and mash-ups of old and new hits like Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life," Usher’s “Confessions," the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want," and even Heart’s “Alone" (a song which is a beer joint staple in these parts). You have got to hear it to believe it. 4. The Twilight Saga. New Moon, the second installment in the film version of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series intensified the hold that shiny pretty vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) has on females all over the world. Alas, his fangs are only for Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who, in turn, is loved by werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Team Edward and Team Jacob members fought over who was the best match for the girl-next-door. Was it the yummy bloodsucker or the fine furry friend with the six-pack? While that all-important question has yet to be answered (at least until the next screen installment is shown), tons of Twilight merchandise—from shirts to action figures—have been sold to its most ardent fans. 5. The Wonder Girls. The South Korean girl group made a splash with the infectious (but annoying to some), “Nobody," a song whose lyrics are mostly in Korean. Still, every Pinoy—from giggly schoolgirls to Cebu prison inmates danced and crooned, “I want nobody, nobody but you." The song might also replace “My Way" as the most lethal videoke selection. Tabloid People’s Tonight reported in August that electrician Leo Santos, 28, got stabbed by Rodolfo Aguas (alias “Joseph") in his Tondo neighborhood after he asked the latter, “Ano ang kinakanta mo?" If videoke freaks are ready to kill for your song, do you take that as a compliment? 6. Plaid Shirts. Fashion-conscious chicks sashayed in plaid boyfriend-inspired shirts in 2009. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Twilight’s Bella Swan seemed to have hooked her vampire sweetheart wearing the getup. Then again, keep in mind that not all things plaid are stylish. There’s a thin line between looking chic and looking like a walking tablecloth. 7. Pinoy Pride Tees. Filipino patriotism was alive and well on T-shirts. Young and old Pinoys gamely wore tees emblazoned with astig pro-Pinoy statements and stylized renditions of well-loved icons. They sported cute carabaos, Jose Rizal in shades, and other offbeat graphics. It’s all good for the T-shirt industry, but it’d be a darn shame if this my-heart-beats-for-the-Philippines attitude is all for show. It takes more than wearing a T-shirt to show that you’re proud to be Pinoy. You don’t have to die for the country, you just have to be a kick-ass citizen. 8. Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses. The last time Ray-Bans were popular, it was in the ’80s. Tom Cruise made them look like the sexiest eyewear on Earth in Top Gun, the movie which reportedly boosted US Navy and US Air Force recruitment. This was way before he jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s couch and became one of the staunchest supporters of The Church of Scientology. Now, Ray-Bans are worn by people who want to look cool while protecting their eyes from dangerous ultraviolet rays. Yes, because you might as well look good while getting fried by global warming. 9. Jumpsuits. Though it’s highly unlikely that this fashion trend was inspired by Elvis Presley’s Las Vegas costumes, jumpsuits were all the rage with the chic set. Perhaps, because it saves them the trouble of mixing and matching their separates. But it has to be said that not every body type is flattered by jumpsuits. You’d probably have to be tall and slim to pull it off. Or else you’d look like, well, Elvis Presley, who was known to have experienced wardrobe malfunctions in them. 10. Corned Tuna. This year, various manufacturers figured that if canned tuna in different flavors no longer excited people’s taste buds, then maybe they needed to come up with tuna that tasted like corned beef. Hence, corned tuna was spawned. Truth is, if it’s eaten straight from the can, the stuff tastes like tuna chunks in corned beef grease. If you want it to really taste like corned beef, sauté the hybrid food, along with some white onion rings, in a little bit of oil. It’s only then that you can pretend that you’re eating corned beef. That is, corned beef from the sea. 11. Michael Jackson. Arguably the world’s most charismatic musician, The Gloved One ceased to be normal when he started to have his face altered every so often. However, the demons that plagued the Moonwalker were all canceled out by his memorable pop hits like “Ben," “Thriller," “Billie Jean," “Bad," the autobiographical “Man in the Mirror," and others. He sang the soundtrack of many generations. Though his death was a nightmare for his fans, we can take comfort in the fact that it signaled the end of his baffling surgeries. He bowed out at 49, before he became an unrecognizable caricature of himself. We’ll always have the “Thriller" video and This Is It, a documentary of what might have been the music industry’s most awaited comeback. 12. Cory Magic. President Corazon “Cory" Aquino, the most unassuming and soft-spoken president we have ever had, possessed some sort of “magic" that made people believe that the Philippines can rise above its obstacles and become a powerhouse of proactive, peace-loving citizens. Cory’s magic, which sparked the EDSA revolution in 1986, again manifested itself when she died in August 1. Thousands came to pay their respects and renew their promise of building a better Philippines. Her son, Senator Noynoy Aquino, has her magic to thank for fueling his bid for the presidency. One can only hope that Cory magic also compels Noynoy to consider wearing more stylish pants. (Your kikay sister Kris was spot on. No more pleats please, Senator.) - with additional research by Analyn Perez, GMANews.TV
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