When pressed to think of one word to sum up 2022, one might suggest something along the lines of "messy" or "ridiculous." We did not live our lives in lockdown mode, for the first time in a hot sec, and getting re-acclimated with the world around us proved, well, difficult. Some might even go so far as to call the year "unprecedented."
But some things never change.PAPER's devoted readership was, as always, ready to tune in for the weird, the alternative, the upsetting and, of course, the cool. You tuned in for all the celebrity rollercoaster relationships. You loved poking fun at influencers. You lost your minds when James Charles lost more than 100,000 followers for posting a picture of his tuck. (That one just keeps coming up, for some reason.) You made time for important existential debates, like whether or not Queen Elizabeth would be reincarnated as Trisha Paytas' child. You ate up every single one of the 12 cover stories we published.
Surely your fingers are tired from all the scrolling and sharing — but please, never stop.
Below, we've reviewed and organized the top-performing stories of 2022, from January to December — and, based on this lineup, we can safely say this year was unprecedented. Good luck and here's to hoping 2023 is less of a mess. (We're not holding our breath on that.)
Photo via Getty
If there's any one relationship that defined the new levels of uncanny we hit in 2022, it was surely that of Kanye West and Julia Fox. The couple rang in the New Year by confirming their relationship and, soon after, by making their first Fashion Week appearance together. Meanwhile, in non-relationship news, an Instagram model accused Drake of putting hot sauce in a condom after sex. (The woman said, and we will never forget this, that it felt like "pouring hot lava into her pussy.)
The fashion world saw some big news in January, too, most of it not exactly uplifting. We lost a fashion great when Thierry Mugler died at 73 and read every profile of the icon we could get our hands on. And — because what would fashion be without a little scandal — Kendall Jenner finally responded to critics who called her out for wearing a "blatantly disrespectful" outfit to a friend's wedding. You all really clicked that one a lot, for some reason.
You also really loved reading about the maskless in-flight party that got stuck in Mexico.
Photo via Getty/ Robert Mora
Based on February's statistics, the second month of the year was perhaps the strangest. Case in point: PAPER readers just loved clicking on this story about Hugh Hefner's ex accusing him of bestiality. The same ex-girlfriend called him a "vampire" for sucking the life out of her, btw.
This month's most important relationship to PAPER readers: Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian, who made things official in February. Now we had to deal not only with understanding Ye and Julia but also with Pete and Kim — a truly mind-boggling lineup of celebrity dating.
More niche celebrities topped February's most-read list, too, but not usually for reasons any more savory. You loved reading about Mahek Bukhari, the TikToker charged with murder alongside her mother. Let's leave that one in 2022.
Oh! We did have one genuinely sweet relationship story in February. Just in time for Valentine's Day, Moneybagg Yo and Ari Fletcher shared their love story with us. We're still aww-ing all these months later.
Photo via Getty/ Edward Berthelot
According to our charts, March was all about celebrity regret. (Very relatable!) For example: Bella Hadid opened up about regretting her nose job, saying she should have "kept the nose of [her] ancestors." Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott, meanwhile, regretted naming their son Wolf and announced they would be changing it to... something else. (Spoiler alert from the future: They still have not chosen a new name.) And Grimes moved on from Elon, finally, and ended up dating Chelsea Manning instead.
Celebrity cluelessness brought in plenty of clicks in March, too, especially when it came to Britney Spears having "no idea" who Pete Davidson is. You also loved reading about Anna Delvey — who is not clueless herself but has indeed used cluelessness to her benefit — when she opened her first art show featuring drawings from her time in prison.
Screenshots via Netflix
April was all about living authentically — whatever that means. Shawn Mendes, fresh off a high-profile breakup with Camila Cabello, got real on social media by saying he sometimes struggles to "tell the truth, to be the truth." Bhad Bhabie, meanwhile, lived her truth to such an extent that she netted $50 million from just her OnlyFans in a year's time. (The rest of us suddenly contemplated a change in career.)
PAPER readers were living for the aesthetics of the wealthy in April, too. Rihanna and A$AP Rocky pulled off a genuinely cool rave-themed baby shower, by all accounts, though guests were asked to lock their phones in pouches upon arrival — and we didn't get an invite, either — so it's all hearsay. You also loved reading our ranking of every single outfit Christine Quinn wore on Selling Sunset — foreshadowing, perhaps, for Quinn's iconic Halloween cover.
You also clicked on this article on Chris Rock's first statement about the slap heard around the world way too much. We don't need to talk about that one anymore, right?
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Queer stories were pivotal to PAPER readers in the month leading up to Pride, though the stories themselves were kind of a mixed bag. May gave us the joy of watching Selling Sunset's Crishell Stause discover queerness in her dating life when she publicly revealed her relationship with "Gay 4 Me" singer G Flip. And then we watched you click with reckless abandon on this article about James Charles losing more than 100,000 followers after posting a picture of his tuck.
PAPER readers also really lost it over Madonna's nude NFTs (for good reason!). Yeah, 2022 was messy, to be sure.
Photography by Moni Haworth for PAPER
Pride 2022 brought so many incredible cover stories to PAPER, but the one that really stuck with you was Ethel Cain, styled by Joanie Del Santo and photographed by Moni Haworth. Little did we know the not-Amish artist would finish out the year on Barack Obama's playlist. (Did we have some hand in that? Who can say.)
PAPER readers really dug into the darker side of celebrity culture in June, too, with stories like this one about Ezra Miller being accused of grooming a teenager with "cult-like" behavior. You read lots about Machine Gun Kelly's mental health struggles, too, when he opened up about being in an extremely dark place after the passing of his father.
And — because what is the beginning of summer without some flings? — you loved reading about how Charli D'Amelio entered the Kardashian dating circle.
Photo by Perrine Mercier
The Kardashians headlined July for PAPER readers, too — we just can't quit them, apparently. It was Kim that captured your attention this time around, after she revealed she'd gotten psoriatic arthritis from wearing that archival Marilyn Monroe dress. No one ever said the lifestyle of the rich and famous would be easy. For further proof, you looked to everyone getting Botox to treat "Hamptons bladder."
In less stressful celebrity news, you loved reading about how Margot Robbie became Hollywood's highest-paid actress thanks to the Barbie movie. (Which we just now, five months later, finally got a trailer for.) And you loved reading about how Alexis Stone transformed into Jocelyn Wildenstein. Us, too.
Photography by Ricardo Gomes for PAPER
In August, we were blessed by one of the all-time pop greats when Madonna graced our cover(s), interviewed by none other than Nile Rodgers. We still haven't recovered. That kind of action is difficult to top, but readers did latch onto some other, erm, gems that month, including the fact that Jameela Jamil injured her asshole while filming She-Hulk. You read up on other butt-related news in August, too, like those rumors about Prince William's alleged love of pegging.
August also brought us some other shocking body-related news, like when Mötley Crue's Tommy Lee posted a full-on dick pic to Instagram. More surprising: how long it took Instagram to remove the post.
Photography by Richie Shazam for PAPER
PAPER readers really loved when we brought Julia Fox to a sex dungeon to talk about her time as a dominatrix. And the shoot that went along with Cat Marnell's story — we're still reeling from it.
We had lots of pressing celebrity questions in September, all of which were, to stay on theme, pretty weird. The question on everyone's lips in early September: Did Harry Styles really spit on Chris Pine? (Jury's still out on that one.) And then, as Queen Elizabeth II lay on her deathbed, the internet posed a very important question about her legacy: Would she be reincarnated as Trisha Paytas' baby? (Again, we don't have a definitive answer here, but the timing ended up being a bit off.)
Photography by Adam Powell for PAPER
October proved to be another great month for reading about celebrities being weird as hell. Tara Reid captivated the internet with her entirely unique brand of TikToks, which are somehow both ominous and encouraging. We still don't really have the right words to describe them. You also loved reading about how Travis Barker asserted he'd invented the entire concept of edging with Kourtney Kardashian. Which is definitely true, by the way.
And, of course, October brought us this illuminating conversation between M.I.A. and Grimes — a pairing of pop iconoclasts so perfect it created something entirely outside the realm of our usual music interviews.
Photo via Getty
November brought Jameela Jamil back to our most-read list, this time not even because of an asshole injury. Instead, the mutli-hyphenate penned an op-ed for us about Hollywood's forced revival of "heroin chic" and it rose quickly to the top of our charts. The controversy around Balenciaga's BDSM teddy bear campaign became basically the only thing anyone in the fashion world wanted to talk about for weeks — well, until Mariah Carey took to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and lip-synced to "All I Want For Christmas Is You."
The one and only Julia Fox brought in lots of clicks in November, too, as she continued her record of openness by telling the world she dated Kanye as a favor to Kim Kardashian. Brutal to hear, but also kind of a fitting way to wrap up the Fox/Ye story that had started a year earlier.
Photography by Maisie Cousins for PAPER
Ah, December: a time of introspection, a liminal space where we can review all the mistakes we made in the last 11 months. And, as this article proves, all the accomplishments we've made in between those mistakes. Like the conversation between Tove Lo and Troye Sivan, which proved to be an insightful meditation on bodies, queerness and independence. PAPER readers also loved reading about Michaela Stark's lingerie that accentuates the grotesque — a theory that served Stark well in creative directing the Tove Lo shoot.
And we couldn't close out the year without talking about PAPER's resident nightlife expert Linux, who wrote her last column of the year on the 36 hours she spent in Berghain.