From Miley to Robin Thicke, from Lady Gaga to Beyonce, 2013 offered us a plethora of shocking, sad, inspiring and more than entertaining pop culture happenings! But what were the year's top stories that defined pop culture? Welcome to the Pop Campus Blog's Top Pop Culture Stories of 2013, reminding you of the best - and absolute worst - of music, movies, and more!
Harlem Shake Takes World By Storm
2013 began with a new sensation that had crowds of up to thousands of people gathering to dance their hearts out. The original Harlem Shake video, set to Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” grew into a movement almost overnight that had families, athletic teams, soldiers and just about everyone going berserk for a good 30 seconds. By late February, it had also become cool for colleges to film their own Harlem Shake videos, the best of which can be found here and around YouTube.
Angelina Jolie Reveals Her Double Mastectomy
In May, Angelina Jolie revealed that she underwent a preventative double mastectomy to significantly reduce her chances of breast cancer due to a defective BRCA1 gene. Though Jolie’s op-ed did relate her personal story, the actress’ main goal was to encourage women to seek out all possible options for serious health risks. Surgeons reported a noticeable increase in inquiries about BRCA screenings, but critics pointed out that Jolie could mislead patients as her situation is rare and not all women with the gene need or can have the operation.
Kim Kardashian Gives Birth to Baby Girl
Kimye’s made pop culture headlines multiple times this year whether separately or as a couple, but baby North West definitely took the cake. Kim Kardashian gave birth to the healthy baby girl in June, beating everyone but Kate Middleton in the media’s baby hype (because who can beat the Royal Baby?).
Food Network Star Paula Deen Faces Lawsuit Over Racial Discrimination
Celebrity chef Paula Deen made her way from the Food Network to primetime cable news when a former restaurant employee filed racial discrimination and sexual harassment charges against Deen and her brother. The case was eventually dropped, but not before the Food Network put an end to Deen’s contract and her shows. To make matters worse, Smithfield Foods (among other companies) ceased contact with their celebrity endorser while Wal-Mart and Target refused to sell her products.
Boston Marathon Bomber’s Rolling Stone Cover Incites Outrage
April 15’s Boston Marathon bombing was the biggest attack on U.S. civilians since 9/11, which only made Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s appearance on the Rolling Stone’s cover even more appalling in many people’s eyes. The then 19-year-old Tsarnaev was featured on one of the Rolling Stone’s July editions with a cover that seemingly glamorized him and paid tribute to the rock stars of old. The magazine editors defended their decision, stating that the cover followed the Rolling Stone’s “long standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”
Robin Thicke and the “Blurred Lines” of Rape
Robin Thicke’s summer smash hit “Blurred Lines” dominated the music charts, but it also conquered the Internet for reasons that diverged from Thicke’s true intentions. The song set off a wildfire of accusations that “Blurred Lines” over-sexualized women and portrayed rape culture in a positive light. Feminist parodies combined with furious op-eds, blog posts and accounts from victims to question society and pop culture’s approach in addressing all forms of sexual assault.
The debates both for and against Thicke raged on for months even after “Blurred Lines” faded from the Top 10. But unfortunately for Thicke, the song turned out to be only one of TWO controversies involving him that summer.
Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance
The second Thicke controversy came at the VMAs when he took the stage with Miley Cyrus for a performance that made “twerking” part of mainstream vocabulary. Tongue out in a nude leotard, Cyrus strutted all over the VMA stage in her own interpretation of “ratchet” culture that did not go over with, well, pretty much everyone. Enraged columnists and bloggers attacked Cyrus’ notion of “black” pop culture while viewers cringed at the sight of her dancing bears and bent over “twerking” on none other than singer Robin Thicke’s groin.
And then came “Twerk,” a collaboration between Cyrus and Justin Bieber. “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” indeed.
'NSYNC Reunites at VMAs
But for all the awkward moments at this year’s VMAs, ‘NSYNC more than made up for every single one of them. Joining Justin Timberlake onstage were our old crushes Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez and Lance Bass as they hit the stage to perform “Bye, Bye, Bye” for the first time in years. While ‘NSYNC hasn’t brought up the possibility of a reunion tour, one can only hope that maybe the boys will at least be singing together more often.
Daft Punk Stages Comeback with “Random Access Memories”
Years after their last album, years after their Coachella set that made us bow down and years after crushing rumors of possible performances, legendary French electronic music duo Daft Punk returned to show us how the genre is REALLY done. “Random Access Memories” caused a huge stir among electronic music fans and non-fans alike with “Get Lucky” as one of this fall’s biggest hits. Tracks like “Giorgio by Moroder” and “Lose Yourself to Dance” also reminded us that no, that “Tron” soundtrack really did not show the full extent of Daft Punk’s musical skill.
Pop Queens Return: Album Releases by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry
After much anticipation, Katy Perry decided to "Roar" back this year while Lady Gaga sought some "Applause” from her little monsters with two pop albums. But while their own fans devoured each and every tune, critics were mixed about the results. Nevertheless, Perry and Gaga are still embarking on their own respective tours, which both promise to be a blast!
Passing: Roger Ebert, Cory Monteith, Paul Walker, Peter O’Toole
Every year, a few iconic stars pass away and leave us with nostalgic memories of times gone by when we would sit in awe of their talents. Among the deaths this year, none were as discussed as those of film critic Roger Ebert, “Glee” actor Cory Monteith, “Fast and Furious” actor Paul Walker and the one and only Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O’Toole. While Ebert passed away from cancer and O’Toole from an illness, Monteith’s death followed a deadly combination of heroin and alcohol as Walker horrified news audiences with the fiery crash that took his life.
Beyoncé Surprise Album
What better way to top the year off than to have Queen Bey (or, dare we say, Beysus?) drop a surprise visual album that basically interrupted workplace and school productivity. “Beyoncé” sold over 617,000 on iTunes in three days alone, setting album sales records while fans of the Beyhive enjoyed 17 videos and 14 new songs. How Beyoncé managed to keep 17 videos and 14 songs secret, we don’t know, but all that matters is that Queen Bey has swept everyone else off the table and onto the floor.