Every May 19th a select pool of typographers, etymologists, linguists, poets, English professors, scrabble players, and people like me is narrowed down to an elite committee of judges to rank the letters of the American Alphabet according to their stylishness, and award the Most Stylish Letter of the Year Award*. In recent years the Most Stylish Letter of the Year Committee (MSLYC) has only consisted of one judge, due to the lack of responsiveness and heavy scheduling burdens of others chosen to sit on the committee. 2009 was no different for the MSLYC, and I am still the only one judging the Most Stylish Letter of the Year, but that hasn't changed the quality of this year's top contestants.
Cue (Q) and Ef (F) both showed promising early leads in the 1st rounds of judging, and some pundits had projected top five finishes for the Consonants. However, during some negative campaign ads the Q camp really worked hard to paint F as the demoralizing grade of failure in the classroom, and even used phrases such as "That's Effed Up" during rallies, subtly reminding the crowd of what F has stood for in the past. Strangely enough, that phrase increased F's popularity among certain demographics, including teenagers, sailors, and anyone who has seen "The Boondock Saints." Q lost considerable support when an F campaign spokesman spun the ads as "attack ads." The comment that really left Q in a quagmire came at a phonics fundraiser when F said, "What's up with the dependency on 'you' (U)? There's nothing stylish about that [...] the neediness is just pathetic." The slurring ended with less-than-lowercase ratings for both letters.
The vowel campaigns were unsually strong this year across the board, from A, E, I, O, to U, and employing a new slogan this year: "Always Y." Why (Y) fought fiercely to avoid being labeled a "flip-flopper" by either the Vowels or Consonants. Y's campaign also made great use of it's descender, the part of the lowercase letter that extends below the "v" where the two lines meet. O has been the most successful of the vowels, as a six time Top Ten Finisher, consistently campaigning on simplicity and pure curvature. However, this year Cee (C) and Ess (S) borrowed the approach, and left O way behind in almost every poll. Not even the corporate endorsement from Google ("O puts the 'ooooo' in Google") seemed to help. Without any particularly creative ideas to gain attention, O completely floundered this year, which left E and Y as the top contenders for the Vowels.
At the very top, competing for first place, Zee (Z) and Ecks (X) put on the most entertaining of letter duels. The two former-champion Consonants have been trading titles for the last nineteen years of this competition, with twelve wins for Z and seven for X. At the last debate between the two nominees it was no surprise to see the Xylophone and Xena: Warrior Princess jokes again. X responded without missing a beat, pretending to snore, "Zzzzzz... haven't you got any new material?" Z bantered back immediately, "Zilch."
So without any further ado, it's time to announce the The Most Stylish Letter of 2009...
On behalf of the MSLYC, I'd like to thank all twenty-six of our entrees this year, and invite them all to return for next year's competition. Congratulations, Ecks!
*The May 19th contest was first founded to commemorate both the beheading of Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn in 1536, and John Quincy Adam's signing of the Tariff of 1828, protecting US wool manufacturers. You can learn more at the following link: the following link.