[Note: Every Friday on First Thoughts we host a discussion about some aspect of popular culture. Have a suggestion for a topic? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Over 10,000 different magazines will be published this year in the U.S. Of those, approximately 8,372 will have Lady Gaga and/or Barack Obama on the cover.
Despite having an almost unlimited number of options to choose from, magazine publishers tend to recycle the same visual cliches for their cover art. Beautiful celebrities and not-so-pretty politicians stare out at us from every newsstand and supermarket checkout lines. But on rare—very, very rare—occasions, the covers offer something different.
Here are ten examples of the best magazine covers from the past ten years:
10. The New Yorker (November 2000)
A clever snapshot of marital arguments.
9. National Geographic (April 2010)
You can almost feel the water dripping off the page.
8. The New Yorker (July 2007)
Modesty in America.
7. Time (September 2001)
Horror memorialized for the ages.
6. The New Yorker (February 2010)
The story of Obama’s first year in office, told in four panels.
5. Texas Monthly (May 2008)
A legend and his guitar.
4. The New Yorker (March 2000)
What spring fever feels like.
3. Texas Monthly (January 2007)
A brilliant—and at the time, timely—homage to one of the greatest magazine covers of all time: National Lampoon (January 1973)
2. The New Yorker (March 2010)
Although six of these ten covers are from New Yorker, at least two dozen more could have made the cut. Few of them, though, can match the quiet beauty of this visual gem.
1. The New Yorker (September 2001)
Subtle, simple, profound. The best cover of the decade.