- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Marilyn Monroe. The Rolling Stones. And Bond _ James Bond. What do they have in common?

Sure, one’s long gone, and one’s fictional. But all three marked a golden anniversary in 2012. And after a half-century in our pop-culture consciousness, they each displayed a surprisingly enduring appeal.

So even though, as a culture, we still worshiped at the fountain of youth this year, marveling at the precocious talents of a Lena Dunham, a Taylor Swift, and a slew of charming young Olympians, let’s also give a shoutout to some of our most enduring icons. Turns out some things never go out of style.

Once again, our highly subjective pop-culture journey through the year:

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JANUARY:

Here begins the incredible ascendance of LENA DUNHAM, as HBO picks up the actress-director-writer’s “Girls,” a meditation on the awkwardness of being female and 20-ish in New York. By year’s end Dunham, at 26, will have gathered so much buzz, she’ll be on her way to becoming what her character, Hannah Horvath, can only dream of being: “The voice of my generation. Or at least, A voice. Of A generation.”

FEBRUARY:

Let’s hear it for the adults! MERYL STREEP, 62, wins her third Oscar for “The Iron Lady.” It’s her 17th nomination, a record. The whole ceremony has a vintage feel: BILLY CRYSTAL is back as host a year after the rocky appearance of the “young and hip” hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway. The best supporting actor, Christopher Plummer, is 82, and the best picture, “The Artist,” is a throwback to silent films. Meanwhile, all hail MADONNA _ at 54, not only does she score at the Super Bowl with her halftime show, but by year’s end, her MDNA global tour will be the highest grossing of any in 2012. (Second place? That goes to BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, age 63.)

MARCH:

Enter springtime, and youth again: Billboard’s top moneymaker for 2011 is TAYLOR SWIFT, less than half Madonna’s age. In 2012, Swift will have the biggest sales week for any album in a decade, for “Red.” She also writes for the soundtrack of one of the year’s hottest movies, THE HUNGER GAMES. Speaking of which, JENNIFER LAWRENCE, 22, becomes a breakout star this year, rocketing to fame as Katniss Everdeen in the first installment of the Suzanne Collins trilogy. In fashion, MARC JACOBS’ Louis Vuitton show in Paris has models in Edwardian hats stepping off a reconstructed retro steam train, with valets carrying vintage-inspired hat boxes.

APRIL:

In technology news, FACEBOOK buys INSTAGRAM for a cool $1 billion, banking on people’s insatiable desire to share photos of their most mundane moments. And oh yes, it’s an election year, and it’s dog eat dog: Talk focuses on SEAMUS, GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s Irish setter. The pooch is long departed, but the image of him strapped to the roof of the family car, suffering gastric distress, is too much for many dog lovers to stomach (sorry) and will continue to dog Romney (sorry) for some time. Romney supporters, meanwhile, point out that Barack Obama sampled dog meat as a child.

MAY:

The weather’s getting warm, and certain phrases are fast becoming ingrained into our consciousness. One of them is “Call Me Maybe”; Carly Rae Jepsen’s dangerously catchy tune hits No. 1 on iTunes. Another is “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The so-called “Mommy Porn” trilogy _ the publishing sensation of the year _ is banned by some public libraries due to its steamy content.

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