Unicode's New Emoji Finalists, Ranked

The list of emojis slated for potential release is out. Here's your guide to which candidates deserve to live or die.

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A new cast of draft emojis stands for final approval by the Unicode Consortium Emoji Subcommittee, the America’s Next Top Model panel of emoji judgment. If you, an emoji, think you’re going to cruise to the top on a nice smile and a dance move, think again. For you who dare approach the world stage, the Consortium expects you to be relatable and easy to work with but also a multi-faceted personality, the likes of which the world has never seen. It’s a pretty thin tightrope, but that’s how success works.

In its applicant guidelines, the Consortium suggests that emojis consider the following:

Mass appeal. The Unicode Consortium is looking for a “high frequency of use” here, so you’re not scoring any points with your alienating edginess.

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Multiple looks. Does the emoji have notable metaphorical references or symbolism?” the Unicode Consortium asks. “This does not include puns.” One of the examples given is that a pig popularly doubles for a cop.

Team👏work👏. Nobody competes to make friends, but you do have to take your places, people. “Can the emoji be used in sequences?” the Unicode Consortium asks. It cites the flexibility of the splash, which it claims is used to help signify, uh, “handwashing.”

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Fresh, natch. The Consortium demands “something that is new and different.” This is probably the highest hoop: you can’t be a vacuum cleaner if there’s already a broom. You can’t be a rare bird if there’s already a bird. You are here to represent a “species.” Go fly.

That said, fuck the Consortium with its $21,000 voting membership. I’m here to rank the top ten for the people, who can vote for the winner of the Most Anticipated Emoji Award, which may have no bearing on the Consortium’s final picks, but you can feel heard. My sole criterion is pizzazz. The most obviously utilitarian (such as more pregnant gendered people, more skin tones for hands shaking, and a troll) have been omitted, but here’s a nod to their necessity.

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All of the candidates can be found here. The winners will be announced in September.

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WINNER: Dotted line face

H-e-l-l-o dotted line face! This captures the entire spectrum of adult moods: tired, exhausted, faded, depressed, anesthetized, dead inside, and drunk. 10000/10

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Runner-up: Low battery

Low battery presents a paradox: she’s telling us that time is of the essence, and yet she asks us to take time to pull up the emoji menu and type “b-a-t-t-” Low battery is a nihilist. She embodies futility, undermining all of the emojis around her. I love that she’s coming here with that attitude.

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Third place: Hand cupping

Do you ever see something and think I’ve been waiting my whole adult life for this? The palm down variant, not so much.

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Fourth: Horny lips

Less hardcore than the usual innuendo, but perk: huge time-saver in sexting foreplay (probably). Can be used either as a titillating morsel or in a lengthy sequence for emphasis and then boom, drop a nasty bangin’ 💋, and everybody goes to bed happy. Absolutely filthy.

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And here are losers, in order of sucking least to most:

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Melting face

Among the mystifying keywords that melting face brought: “disappear, dissolve, liquid, melt.”

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Dude, why is your face melting? Are you hot? Are you okay? Are you listening to face-melting beats? Are you trying to say “hello, my face is literally melting because you are texting with Freddy Krueger”? This is the only context in which case smiling mid-face-melting makes sense. Points for weirdness.

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Face with diagonal mouth

Slightly slanted frown guy got there first. Stop trying to half-frown me into a pity ranking. The same goes for you, eyes-watering face, face covering mouth, and peeking eye.

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Chonky equals sign

“We are EQUALS” [emphasis on the EQUALS] is a possible scenario for ALL CAPS =, but more likely it winds up in a friendship-ending argument over the check, and one party will think less of the other for relying on the EMPHASIS. EQUALS equals a path of destruction. Let’s find out where it leads.

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Beans, generic kidney

“Beans” takes maybe 1.2 seconds to type, and we don’t pull from the limited emoji produce section, anyway. In a real use case, “beans” is serving a non sequitur at best and a fart joke at worst. Prove me wrong.

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Emojis that ran out of ideas: slide, tire, ring buoy, driver’s license, cup pouring liquid...

...there are more, but I won’t bore you.

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J’accuse finger

The witness-IDing-a-murderer-in-a-courtroom-finger seems to be intended for people who ritually accuse their friends of crimes, which is oddly specific. It also depends on that creepy shading which looks like what happens if Gumby birthed a Simpson, and so, I hate it.

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Saluting face

Only two groups of people salute: cops and the other one. You know this guy’s up to some shit on Telegram. Whatever demon lurks behind those eyeholes, I never want to meet.