This article originally appeared on VICE US.
It cannot credibly be argued that 2019 was not a big year for babies. Not only were more babies born in 2019 than any other year in recorded history—including a royal one named Archie—our culture produced a bounty of baby-centric works of art. Three of 2019's breakout rappers called themselves [Modifier] Baby, a certain sci-fi baby is currently enjoying a reign of online terror, and perhaps the meme of the year centers on becoming baby.
Only two years after the large adult son came to power, online culture's regression to a state of pure childlike abandon has advanced to a near-embryonic state. There have certainly been dumber times in recent American cultural history, but this is truly a period of reveling in being a baby. The time has now come to re-live the Year In Babies.
With all due respect to Lil Baby and Sada Baby, DaBaby was not only 2019's Rapper of the Year: Baby Division, but also the Rapper of the Year: All-Ages Division. DaBaby, who dropped his debut studio album in early March, certainly is not shy about iterating off of a well-established and easily parodied formula, which, in lesser hands, would be a real problem, but for DaBaby it is not. He will start rapping about being a cool guy who might beat you up as soon as or even before the beat kicks in, he'll be funny but not to the point of distraction, and he'll get in and out of short songs by rapping densely, always.
DaBaby is also on a song with Atlanta rapper Lil Baby called "Baby," because what else would they call it? The best thing with DaBaby, however, is his videos, which are actively hilarious pretty much always. "Suge," "Walker Texas Ranger," "Baby Sitter," and "Goin' Baby" (off DaBaby's Baby On Baby) all whip ass, and he even brought the same joyful freneticism to the Saturday Night Live stage. He seems to be having more fun during this performance of "Bop" than anyone has had on SNL in decades.
Who Will Be The "Baby Of The Year"?
The skits in Tim Robinson's I Think You Should Leave did not work always or even that often, but when they did, they really did. One of the best skits Robinson wrote for the show, which came to Netflix in April, is "Baby Of The Year," in which two adorable babies and also that piece of crap, that total dingdong Bart Harley Jarvis compete game show-style to be crowned baby of the year.
Only "Focus Group" can match "Baby Of The Year" in the degree to which it embodied ITYSL's unparalleled skill in no-selling absurd nonsense. In less skilled hands, this skit could be bad-dumb, but a sparkled out Sam Richardson plays it completely straight and the show never feels the need to scream at the viewer, "THIS IS A JOKE, OKAY???" It transcends good-dumb simply by carrying the joke past the point of absurdity and never winking at the camera, and it introduced the rather potent phrase, "like so many curled canned shrimp."
I'm baby—which was first introduced in 2017 but rose again this year—is a meme for these anoxic times in which we dingdong twenty-something types have no agency to be anything other than baby in the face of crushing inequality, catastrophic climate change, and the generalized decay of everything. Even if you personally do not identify as baby, you can see the appeal.
This Kirby and this Instagram meme account explain it much more succinctly than anything else:
Earlier this year, every single member of the Deadspin staff quit. That group includes me, which is why I am here making my VICE debut, writing about babies. Ha ha!
One of the most beloved recurring features was "Sports Babies," which really does what it says on the box. The featured babies would usually be the children of famous athletes performing feats of either athleticism or cuteness, which is really something we should all be able to agree on. Here are the best of this year's Sports Babies.
Gerardo Parra's Baby Shark Walkup Music
As you all know, the disgusting Houston Astros lost this year's World Series to the Washington Nationals, a team known to be good and righteous despite having a fanbase made up largely of defense lobbyists. The reason for that is team baby Juan Soto, a Dominican-born ray of light who turned 21 during the World damn Series and popped sparkling grape juice after punching his ticket. Soto has a delightful smile, he crushes big whopping dingers, and most importantly, his teammate Gerardo Parra's walkup music is "Baby Shark."
Fans love Parra, for obvious reason, and as the Nats' playoff run progressed, the power of "Baby Shark" intensified. By the time the series got to Game 7, the Astros were unable to resist any longer. The Nats stadium did the dance and got to enjoy their home team winning "the big one," and it ruled. This makes Boston's "Sweet Caroline" gimmick look extremely pitiful and joyless.
These Extra-Cool One-Day Old Baby Lambs I Got To Bottle Feed
My friends have a big herd of sheep! Aww! The sheep started birthing baby lambs this winter! Awww! I got to meet some on their first day alive! Awwww!
To hell with this puppet, man. The little green raisin is cute, but come on! It should have been blatantly obvious to everyone this side of sycophantic Star Wars lifers that the dreaded muppet was the most cynical possible play for attention and sweet merchandise dollars, and yet, no, here we are, awash in millions of the most mediocre memes and posts imaginable, sourced from a breathlessly embarrassing cash grab of a show that was cooked up by Disney execs for the sole purpose of hawking another streaming service that nobody needs besides nostalgics and children, though that distinction may be redundant.
Frankly, I have not played competitive sports for years but I could punt-pass-kick Baby Yoda 100 yards easy and I pray for the chance to do so.