Top 10 Most-Read Articles of 2020

Well, dear readers, that was a year, wasn’t it? It was a weird time to be running a website based on reviewing music, movies, comics, concerts, and live theater as album releases got delayed, movies were pushed out or shifted to video on-demand platforms, comic book stores closed their doors for months, and concert and theater venues shut down for nine full months and counting. When I ran down the top viewed articles this time last year, I had hoped we’d break 225 articles for the year 2020; instead, we hit 175, which given all the above, is pretty danged impressive! From all of us at The Arts STL, a hearty thank you to everyone who kept checking us out all year! Here are the articles that caught the most of your eyeballs in the Year of Social Distancing:

1. It was number one last year, it’s number one again this year: Sarah Boslaugh’s look at an edition of the Smithsonian’s The Real Story documentary series about Patrick O’Brian’s historical fiction novel Master and Commander. Last year, this guy had double the closest contender’s view total. This year? It had almost quadruple the nearest comer. Some Google search term is very kind to this article and I have no idea why, but I’m definitely not complaining.

2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. Year-end and decade-end lists always grab attention (that’s why every website you read does them!) and The Arts STL was no exception, with five slots snagged by articles on the year and decade that was:  Film Editor Sarah Boslaugh’s list of notable feature films from 2019 snagged the #2 spot, Sarah’s best feature films of the decade hit #4, Hannah Sophia Lin’s top K-Pop artists of the 2010s danced into the #5 slot (thanks to an unexpected second life when somebody’s WordPress blog linked it in in late October) , and Sarah’s lists of best documentaries of the decade and of 2019 specifically hitting #7 and 8, respectively.

3. It finished third last year, and surprisingly did so again this year: Sarah Boslaugh’s review of Unknown Soldier, a 2017 Finnish film dramatizing the Finnish/Russian war of the 1940s. It’s unexpected, but maybe not that unexpected considering Sarah’s review is the only critic’s review of the film on Rotten Tomatoes.

6. The top comics review of the year was my look at Reiji Miyajima’s surprisingly strong romance manga Rent-A-Girlfriend.

9. It’s always fun to check out movies waaay off the beaten path, as Sarah Boslaugh did when she reviewed three volumes in Kino Lorber’s Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of Exploitation Pictures series, featuring such “classics” from the 1930s and ‘40s as Reefer Madness, Sex Madness, and Elysia: Valley of the Nude.

10. With no new movies in late March, we turned our eyes to older movies available for streaming in our #SocialDistancingCinema series, including Sarah Boslaugh’s look at Frank Darabont’s beloved Stephen King adaptation The Shawshank Redemption.

You may notice that the vast majority of the most read articles of 2020 weren’t even posted in 2020! What the heck? If, like me, you’re wondering what the most popular articles actually from 2020 were, behold:

  1. Hannah Sophia Lin’s aforementioned list of the top K-Pop artists of the 2010s.
  2. My review of Rent-A-Girlfriend Vol. 1
  3. Sarah Boslaugh’s review of three volumes in Kino Lorber’s Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of Exploitation Pictures series
  4. Sarah Boslaugh on The Shawshank Redemption
  5. Sarah Boslaugh’s rave for the beautifully shot lesbian vampire drama Carmilla, which screened at this year’s QFest St. Louis
  6. The best of 2019 and the 2010s may have hit the top of the charts, but given all of the time we spent streaming TV series this year, it’s not surprising that you all wanted to read Sarah Boslaugh’s favorite new streaming series of 2020 as well. Have you seen The Queen’s Gambit yet? So good!
  7. The top music article of the year was Mike Rengel’s look at Remover, the latest solo album from Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jessee.
  8. There have been few artists in the past century,” wrote our Jim Ousley, “who seemed to possess the rare ability to fly to those ethereal heights where their talent transformed them into the very heavenly marvels that Pythagoras spoke of.” Stevie Wonder. Johnny Cash. Sam Cooke. And, according to Jim, Witch Taint. Who, you ask? Better just let Jim explain it himself.
  9. Director Graham Kolbeins and his co-producers conducted over 100 interviews to craft Queer Japan, a complex, intimate, and visually beautiful new documentary that Sarah Boslaugh reviewed in December.
  10. And rounding out the top 10, another entry from this year’s best-of lists: Sarah Boslaugh’s most notable feature films of 2020.

That’s it for 2020. Be sure to check out all of our other lists of the best that 2020 has to offer. And hopefully something in the above list catches your eye, and we continue to catch your eye here on The Arts STL in a hopefully much calmer 2021. | Jason Green

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