A look back at the decade
From various election scandals, to fashion mistakes, to music that was integral in our lives, the past decade has been filled with many defining moments for pop culture history. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights:
In 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton were married at London’s Westminster Abbey. Roughly 100 million people tuned in on TV and online to watch the royal wedding. British singer Adele’s first album, titled “21,” was released and instantly hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts in America. New to the celebrity spotlight, Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from Kris Humphries after 72 days of marriage. It was also the year that marked the end of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” after 25 years on air.
The year 2012 kicked off the first Avengers movie, as Marvel fans swarmed the theaters in droves. K-pop’s global influence began as “Gangnam Style” became the first video on YouTube to reach 1 billion views. The literary scene was highlighted by the publication of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
This year sadly saw two of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history at the time: a devastating event in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people were shot and killed at a movie theater during a midnight screening of the “Dark Knight Rises,” and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut later that year. These events prompted the debate about violence and gun reform.
Lastly, the night before the Grammy Awards, 48-year-old R&B singer Whitney Houston died of an accidental drowning. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.
In 2013, young adult novel enthusiasts were rewarded with the launch of “The Hunger Games” franchise. Prince William and Middleton welcomed their first baby, Prince George. Miley Cyrus twerked at the Video Music Awards and prompted people worldwide to start questioning her behavior after she shed her Disney Channel alter ego.
In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was the most popular post on social media sites. Kardashian and Kanye West threw the wedding of the year in Italy. Around the same time, George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin tied the knot.
The year of 2015 was a great success for the LGBTQ+ community when Caitlyn Jenner was introduced to the world on the cover of Vanity Fair. Former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner went through a public transition and hadn’t disclosed any photos of herself until the magazine cover. Towards the end of the year, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and paved the way for legal same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Next came one of the most surprising years yet. In January and April 2016, respectively, the world was shaken by the deaths of David Bowie and Prince. Beyoncé surprised fans with her second album, which dove deep into the experiences of black women, trust, infidelity, and strength. After this, several songs from her album “Lemonade” appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Several months later, Pokémon Go was released on the iTunes and Google Play stores. Millions of people downloaded the game, making Pokémon Go the number one downloaded app of 2016. At the Summer Olympics, Simone Biles led the U.S. women’s gymnastics team , dubbed the “Final Five,” to gold and received three for herself. And, of course, because 2016 was an election year, after many celebrity endorsements, Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump.
To start 2017, Trump took his seat in the Oval Office. The Fyre Festival was a complete failure. Attendees, some of whom paid thousands of dollars after seeing the festival advertised on Instagram, arrived in the Bahamas only to find that there was no concert. Concert-goers had to stay in waterlogged tents and suffer through food shortages until all flight and reimbursement methods could be figured out.
The biggest news of 2017 was the #MeToo movement. The New York Times and The New Yorker published articles in October detailing the harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Half a dozen of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities came forward to speak against him and shed light on the dark side of fame.
“Black Panther” hit box offices worldwide and made $1.3 billion, becoming the top-grossing movie of the year. This had a huge impact on the Black community because of the culture depicted in the film and because the film was created by a Black director.
Yet another royal wedding graced the British royal family in 2018. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle broadcast their wedding, making it the social event of the year. Four years in the making, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s version of “A Star is Born” was released in theaters. Their single “Shallow“ was the hit song of the year.
In 2019, Taylor Swift was named the artist of the decade at the American Music Awards after winning album of the year twice in a row. Marvel fans cried and bid farewell to Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man in the last Avengers film, “Avengers: Endgame.” The film made $2.8 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing movie of all time. A college admission scandal took the U.S. by storm. After news that Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman paid William Singer to guarantee their children’s admission into the top colleges in America, the debate on whether fame constitutes special privileges was a hot topic.
While there are a few weeks remaining in 2020, it is safe to say that this year has been full of major events, including: raging wildfires in Australia and across California; the deaths of NBA star Kobe Bryant, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and rock legend Eddie Van Halen; Black Lives Matter protests; the rise of the coronavirus pandemic; the impeachment of President Donald Trump; and the election of former Vice President Joe Biden as the 46th president.
Hopefully the next year and the new decade is welcoming to all of us and, above all, finally an end to the coronavirus. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!