2012, while also being the year of Gotye and Kimye, was also the year of the comeback. The year's 10 best (and sometimes most improbable) are as follows:
10. No Doubt
- No Doubt's reunion album Push and Shove was a worthy addition to its discography, even though the great songs like the title track and "Settle Down" didn't get a lot of airplay. No Doubt proved it was a band that would age well -- all right, most of that statement refers to Gwen Stefani.
9. LeBron James
- It was so satisfying watching LeBron James and the rest of his superteam wilt during the 2011 NBA Finals. But with a possessed, fearless campaign to his first championship this year, James basically lost the villain role he reluctantly acquired, transferring it to whiny, flopping teammate Dwayne Wade. Now everyone adores Lebron -- just look at that commercial of him in the barbershop. He's so friendly and lovable now! Right ...
- Yes, Larry Hagman died in November, but not before reminding everyone why he became famous in the first place. As scheming oil baron J.R. Ewing, Hagman leered and sneered his way back into America's hearts (or at least the hearts of people that watch TNT). For a show that had been off the air for 20 years, Dallas didn't miss a soapy beat.
7. Google Maps
- Apple's decision to develop its own mobile "Maps" application spawned a wave of criticism when it eventually came out: no inclusion of public transportation, missing roads and a voice that wasn't nearly sexy enough. A few frustrating months went by before Google released its own updated app that alleviated at least the first two concerns (the third is a matter of taste).
6. 2 Chainz
- When Tauheed Epps changed his rap moniker from Tity Boi to 2 Chainz, he became a sensation, appearing on one of the biggest rap songs of the year ("Mercy"), guest starring on one of the most popular music videos of the year ("Beez in the Trap") and releasing a successful debut album (Based on a T.R.U. Story) -- all while having the same middling talent he always had.
5. James Bond
- Nobody liked Quantum of Solace. But under the direction of Sam Mendes (who now has three classic films under his belt), Skyfall brought the James Bond series back to its previous level of glory. Daniel Craig was predictably great as the icy, war-weathered Bond, but Javier Bardem stole the show as the vengeful villain Raoul Silva. And they finally cast someone as Q that was young enough to know how to operate a laptop.
4. Peyton Manning and 3. Adrian Peterson
- Catastrophic injuries didn't matter for Manning and Peterson, the likely top-2 finishers for the NFL MVP award. Manning had an unlikely comeback from a dangerous neck injury, but Peterson returned from a devastating knee injury to come within nine yards of the season rushing record on a team going to the playoffs with Christian Ponder as the quarterback. No easy task.
2. Outer Space
- Space is cool again -- and I'm not just talking about Curiosity, our own personal Wall-E that's roving the surface of Mars to find us delicious Mars Bars to eat. Um, a guy hurtled towards Earth in free fall from space at 834 miles per hour -- if that doesn't get you jacked up to battle some Klingons, you're obviously not as big a nerd as you should be.
1. Abraham Lincoln
- Midway through 2012, Abraham Lincoln's legacy was on the brink of being tarnished forever because of two words: "Vampire Hunter." The cheesy, historical-horror mash-up would have been catastrophic to any other hero's reputation, but the Great Emancipator was lucky to have some actual admirers in Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner, Doris Kearns-Goodwin and Daniel Day-Lewis, who combined forces to create one of the most memorable cinematic portraits of a president in film history. Their portrayal is the Lincoln we should want to remember -- even if killing vampires sounds more interesting to you than navigating Congressional politics.
Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter @sweetestpete.