In pop-cultural terms, each year sparks a million cocktail conversations: new faces, unlikely memes, spectacular flameouts, improbable comebacks, and so on, ad infinitum. Some are more compelling than others. That's why, to mark the close of 2012 and the start of 2013, we've created this highly subjective roundup of the most intriguing projects, people, and events of the past year—and the coming one. From the hottest musical genre and the trendiest Hollywood cause to the naughtiest night-table reads and the most smackable lips, here's everything you need to know about the year that was and the year that will be.

 
Buffoons
Pop Stars
 
Books
Artists
 
Comedians
Broadway
 
 
Streaming TV
Stunts
 
 
Erotica
Music Genres