Top 10 Most-Read Articles of 2023

Man, what a year. For being a labor of love, I’ve been more than happy watching this little website grow slowly but surely over the last six-and-a-half years, with the number of page views every year bumping up by about ten to twenty percent from the year before. Even that amount of growth seemed crazy to me, but what we saw this year was nothing short of astounding: page views jumped up by nearly sixty percent in 2023. And for that, I have our new contributors to thank: we saw a slew of new names join our ranks in the final months of 2022 and throughout 2023. As a result, the number of posts skyrocketed from a healthy 256 in 2022 to an unreal 394 last year—more than one a day! I don’t know how I kept up with it! (Sometimes, I didn’t!) As a result, our movie review section has been significantly beefed up and our concert coverage has just exploded with not only concert previews and reviews but also literally thousands of photographs. I’d argue there is nowhere else in St. Louis that has as much amazing concert photography as this site. What a beautiful thing. A huge, heartfelt thank you, thank you, thank you to all our wonderful writers and photographers, and to you, dear reader, for checking out what we have to offer. Please stick around!

Without any further ado, here’s the articles that were read the most in the year that was 2023:

1. It was number one in 2019, and 2020, and 2021, aaaaaand 2022, so in news that will shock absolutely no one, the most-read article for the fifth year in a row is 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. It once again more than doubled its closest competition. I have no idea what kind of magical SEO this article is blessed with, but I hope everyone who stumbles across it when they google “real master and commander” finds what they’re looking for.

2. The Oscars are adding an award for casting and people are begging for one that awards the best in stunt work, but what about the categories like “Unlikeliest successful pairing of director and source material” or “Most unnecessary fictionalization of a subject already well-covered in a documentary”? Luckily, our Film Editor, Sarah Boslaugh, had you covered with her 10 Film Awards That Aren’t Given, But Should Be for 2022. I’m not sure if there was one award-winner in particular who drove the traffic that pushed this one up to the #2 slot, but it certainly earned it as being one of the funnest and funniest articles of the year. And hey, be sure to check out 2023’s list, too!

Nothing More at the Victory Theatre. Photo by Erica Vining.

3. Back in April, our Erica Vining (a member of our 2023 rookie class) took a road trip out to Evansville, Indiana, to capture Nothing More’s headline set at the Victory Theatre with Crown the Empire, Thousand Below, and Dyne Side opening, and while the article was criminally overlooked for the first few weeks, it blew up in June and remained one of the most-read articles every month through fall. Why? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably because Erica did an amazing job capturing Nothing More frontman Jonny Hawkins, who is extremely photogenic, really, really, ridiculously good looking, and performs shirtless. Just a hunch.

4. A perennial favorite, Sarah Boslaugh’s review of Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of Exploitation Pictures went from #9 in 2020 to #3 in 2021 to #4 in 2022 and it stays in that slot for 2023. Titles like Sex Madness and Elysia: Valley of the Nude really capture people’s attention, don’t they?

5. Former River Kitten Mattie Schell is a musician’s musician (even Beth Bombara sang her praises in our recent interview), so it’s no surprise that the local music community rushed to see Schell’s performance Live from the Boom Room. It also helps that this song is, as our friends at Blip Blap Video put it, a real scorcher.

6. Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber, died this past June, which caused a lot of people to explore and reevaluate their thoughts on his philosophies and legacy…which also meant a lot of people checked out Mike McCubbins’ 2021 piece that ties Kaczynski’s manifesto to the “survival wish fulfillment” of Jon Krasinski’s A Quiet Place films. If you haven’t read it, or at least haven’t read it since it first ran two and a half years ago, it’s well worth a look.

7. George Napper joined our movie review crew back in April, and man, he hit the ground running, publishing 50—yes, 50—movie reviews in the span of nine months. His most read review, interestingly, is his first, his look at Dungeon & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Which makes sense, as it’s very much in the same general wheelhouse as last year’s top-tenners Ambulance and The King’s Man: an action-oriented movie where you can’t quite tell from the trailers if it’s a hit or a miss, the exact kind of movie that sends you in search of reviews to find out if it’s worth your time. (Spoiler: George’s answer is a qualified “yes.”)

Muse live at Chaifetz Arena. Photo by Colin WIlliams.

8. Yet another ridiculously talented photographer that joined our ranks this year, Colin Williams got to shoot some huge names in the world of metal and alt-rock last year (Metallica, Pantera, Bush, Collective Soul, Godsmack), but his biggest hit for us was his review and photo galleries of Muse, Evanescence, and One OK Rock, live at Chaifetz Arena this past March. Between Muse’s epic costuming and pyro, Amy Lee’s bewitching stage presence, and ONE OK ROCK’s massive energy, there’s a lot there for your eyeballs to enjoy.

9. Sarah Boslaugh has eclectic, widely varied tastes, which always makes her annual lists of the top narrative films and documentaries worth a read. This year, her 2022 list of notable feature films (which published just a few days into 2023) highlighted everything from crowd-pleasing fare like Glass Onion to critical faves like Women Talking to overlooked gems like EO, a film from the point of view of a donkey.

10. Photographer Erica Vining makes the list again, rounding out the top 10 with her review and photo gallery of alt-rockers Alter Bridge. This article has everything: massive meat-n-potatoes guitar riffs you can hear through the photos, rock n’ roll royalty (Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang’s band Mammoth WVH was the opener), a grandma in the mosh pit—no, really! Check it out!

This year actually had fewer repeat offenders than most, but since the article I was sure would clock in at #1 ended up just barely missing the overall top ten, I may as well share the top ten articles that were first published in 2023:

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once

1. Sarah Boslaugh’s 10 Film Awards That Aren’t Given, But Should Be, 2022 Edition

2. Erica Vining’s review and photo gallery of Nothing More, live in Evansville, Indiana

3. Mattie Schell, Live from the Boom Room

4. George Napper’s review of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

5. Colin Williams’ review and photo gallery of Muse, Evanescence, and ONE OK ROCK, live at Chaifetz Arena this past March

6. Sarah Boslaugh’s 10 Notable Feature Films of 2022

7. Erica Vining’s review and photo gallery of Alter Bridge, Mammoth WVH, and Pistols at Dawn, live at the Factory this past March

8. I was shocked that she was able to score a photo pass, and just as shocked that Erica Vining’s review and photo gallery of the literal Person of the Year, Taylor Swift, live at Arrowhead Statium in Kansas City, just barely missed the overall top 10 for the year (she lost to Alter Bridge by a scant 19 page views). It was the biggest concert to hit the state in the entire year and Erica rose to the occasion with a phenomenal set of pics that really captured Swift’s charisma, energy, and love for her fans.

Experimental hip-hop trio Death Grips performing at The Factory in Chesterfield Missouri July 28th, 2023.

9. The experimental hip hop trio hadn’t been to St. Louis in ten long years, but our David Von Nordheim captured the triumphant return of Death Grips to The Factory this past July, joined by photographer Bryan J. Sutter (a newcomer to The Arts STL but a mainstay at this site’s predecessor, PLAYBACK:stl), who utilized the red-hued stage light to capture the group in eerie, moody, powerful detail.

10. If you were drawn to Luke Combs’ earnest cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” you owe it to yourself to check out Hunter Peebles’ performance Live from the Boom Room for his gently plucked melodies, warm vocals, and evocative storytelling. The spirit of John Prine carries on in this one.

As I write this, we’re six weeks into the new year and the frontrunner is…not Master and Commander! In fact, it’s way down in fifth place! But a year is a long time and, good Lord willing, we’ll have plenty of reviews, previews, interviews, and photo galleries between now and the next big ball drop. We hope you like what you read, that you find plenty more worth reading, and that we’ll still be seeing you when 2025 rolls around. | Jason Green

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