Nine of my favorite pop culture moments of the year
Another year has come and gone and as we get ready to bid it farewell, we reflect on the tumultuous year known as 2019.
Ever since a certain election in 2016, I’ve marveled, over and over, at the insanity of life itself during these times. It’s scary and sometimes, it feels like the world is ending - but it’s also entertaining, right?
This year gave us fun pop cultural gems like “Rise and Shine,” The Joker, Baby Yoda, not one, but two Fyre Festival documentaries, Area 51, Disney+, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, The Masked Singer and so much more - too much to recap in this article alone, but I’ll do my best.
So, let’s reflect on how much fun pop culture was in 2019 via my nine favorite pop culture moments.
1. The world (finally) discovers Lizzo
In 2019, it was impossible to escape Lizzo’s perfect domination of the pop charts, awards show stages, red carpets, commercials and more. Lizzo was everywhere, just at the time when we needed her most.
And what’s not to like about Lizzo? She’s bold, sassy and confident, and each of her hit singles slaps harder than the last. Her songs inspire fans to own their self-worth and be proud of who they are.
And while it appeared that she came out of nowhere, Lizzo is no overnight sensation. She’d been hustling in the music business for over a decade, and her breakout album, Cause I Love You, was actually her third released.
Whether it was her passionate flute-playing live performances that spawned a thousand memes or her courtside twerk sessions, her unapologetic attitude coupled with infectious hits like Juice, Truth Hurts and Good as Hell made 2019 Lizzo’s year.
2. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s lusty Oscars performance
I don’t remember much from this year’s Academy Awards, but I do remember a certain performance from two people who allegedly weren’t romantically involved, but maybe should have been?
Queen Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper brought the show to a stand-still during their intimate performance of Shallow, nominated as Best Original Song from A Star is Born. Their chemistry had been palpable in the film and on the press tour to boost its Oscar chances, sparking rumors of an off-screen relationship, even though both were involved with other people: Gaga was engaged to talent agent Christian Carino and Cooper had been in a committed relationship with model (and mother of his child) Irina Shayk. Both relationships have since fizzled, so maybe there’s some truth to this rumor. Or maybe not and it’s called acting, people.
Anyway, the moment these two locked eyes at the piano on the Oscars stage, America collectively had one thought: Are we sure these two aren’t boning? Gaga and Cooper passionately nuzzled their way through the performance, and Gaga later wept tears of joy as she won her first Oscar for the song.
3. Pete Davidson and Kate Beckinsale make out at a hockey game
In 2019, Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson furthered his campaign for “Most Unlikely Hollywood Lothario” by continuing to date gorgeous women who are seemingly out of his league.
Personally, I get his dirtbag appeal. Funny goes a long way, folks. But, I know I’m in the minority.
Or am I? Just this year alone, Pete has romanced Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star Margaret Qualley. He’s also currently dating Kaia Gerber, the model daughter of Cindy Crawford.
Anyway, before Pete and Kaia, and Pete and Margaret, but after Pete and Ariana Grande, there was Pete and Kate Beckinsale. In March, the two made their romance public by making out at a New York Rangers hockey game, in full view of everyone and their cameras.
This make-out sesh was made even better by the presence of Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski, who sat next to the duo and tried intently to focus on the hockey game happening on the ice in front of him and not the tonsil hockey happening next to him.
The pair may have ended their fling about a month later, but the memes inspired by their hockey make out will live forever.
4. Jordyn Woods appears on Red Table Talk
It wouldn’t be a pop culture roundup without some mention of the Kardashian family. Love them or hate them, they are masters at creating moments that leave people talking.
Jordyn Woods had previously been known as a model and Kylie Jenner’s ride-or-die best friend. She lived in Jenner’s house, appeared on episodes of the family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, had a collaboration with Kylie’s famed cosmetics brand and even appeared in ads for Khloe Kardashian’s Good American clothing line.
But, after a supposed hook-up with Khloe’s baby daddy Tristan Thompson was revealed, she was forced to move out of Kylie’s house and suffer the indignity of being unfollowed by the Kardashian-Jenner crew on Instagram. Oh, the humanity.
A few weeks after the scandal broke, Jordyn appeared on Red Table Talk, a Facebook Watch show hosted by Jada Pinkett-Smith. Jordyn’s appearance was billed as a chance to hear her side of the story and to humanize Jordyn, who was dealing with the fallout of suddenly being shunned by America’s most famous tabloid family. The episode broke records as Facebook Watch’s most-watched original episode ever in that time frame.
Shortly after the episode was available to watch, it prompted backlash from Khloe herself, who tweeted, “Why are you lying @jordynwoods ?? If you’re going to try and save yourself by going public, INSTEAD OF CALLING ME PRIVATELY TO APOLOGIZE FIRST, at least be HONEST about your story. BTW, You ARE the reason my family broke up!”
5. Operation Varsity Blues, aka the College Admissions Scandal
It’s an open secret that the rich have been buying their way into college for years (by doing things like donating obscene amounts of money), but this year saw some of the most unlikely rich people (seemingly wholesome celebrities) embroiled in a bribery scandal of epic proportions.
Who can forget the morning of March 12 when we were awakened by a TMZ news alert (or is that just me?) with the most confusing news ever: Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman had both been arrested and charged with bribing their kids’ way into college.
Huh? It was a lot to process.
As this juicy scandal unfolded, the hits kept coming. Felicity was taken from her home at gunpoint by federal agents! Lori was fired from her lucrative gigs at the Hallmark Channel and Netflix! Olivia Jade (Laughlin’s YouTube star daughter) was dropped from her endorsement deals with Amazon and Herbal Essences, to name a few! Lori smiled and signed autographs outside the courthouse! Felicity took a plea deal and served 11 days in prison!
The fascination with this scandal will surely continue into 2020, as Loughlin and her husband go to trial. Stay tuned, folks.
6. The series finale of Game of Thrones
Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a full episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. I might not be a fan, but I know cultural significance when I see it and both the show and its much-hyped ending were culturally significant.
Game of Thrones was a movement, a show so popular, it propelled the careers of people like Jason Momoa, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner and Kit Harrington, to name a few. Plus, it brought Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi, the Red Wedding and the White Walkers into the cultural lexicon.
The final season (accidental Starbucks cup obviously included) and the finale itself weren’t as beloved by fans as the entire series, but still, any time people are gathering at a bar to watch a TV show and drink themed cocktails, there’s something to be said for the impact of the show and the depth of the fans’ devotion.
7. Prince Archie is born
I love the Royals and am obsessed with every scandal, marriage, divorce, baby and feud they’ve given us. And ever since Megan Markle stepped onto the world’s stage, the world has been fascinated by her every move – not unusual for a member of the world’s most high-profile family.
From her fairy tale wedding to Prince Harry to their pregnancy announcement last year, the world waited for word on the newest member of the Royal Family.
Prince Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor made his debut in May of 2019. His name was revealed on the Royal couples’ Instagram account (very modern for the traditional family) and he made his debut in his mother’s arms a few days after his birth.
Prince Archie’s birth is definitely a bright spot in an otherwise tough year for the Royal Family, with rumors of in-fighting between the Royal brothers and their wives, not to mention a very ugly scandal involving Prince Andrew and his involvement with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
8. Katie Holmes hails a cab – and starts a cashmere bra movement
So many questions about this viral photo of Katie Holmes hailing a cab on the streets in New York City: What was it about this photo that was so compelling, it caused the photo to go viral and the matching beige cashmere bralette and cardigan from Khaite she was wearing to sell out instantly? Is it the casual way her chic, unbuttoned sweater offers a peak at said bra? Is it her delicate jewelry and perfect tan?
And was it all intentional? She was, of course, going through a public breakup with Jamie Foxx at the time. Was this bralette and cardigan her understated version of Princess Diana’s black “revenge” dress, intended to publicly shame her ex into realizing the mistake he’d made?
We may never know, but the photo was instantly iconic and made women everywhere suddenly want a cashmere bra.
9. Teigen vs. Trump
In 2019, we got to find out the answer to the question, “What’s it like being in a Twitter war with the Commander in Chief of the United States, even after he’s blocked you?” via our resident queen of clapbacks, Chrissy Teigen.
It all started back in 2017, when the President of the United States blocked the model after she tweeted at him, “Lolllllll no one likes you” in response to his complaints about a lack of Republican support. Classic Teigen, but apparently, too much for our president to take.
He may have blocked her, but that hasn’t stopped him from talking about her.
In 2019, the President picked a fight with both Teigen and her husband, John Legend, for not giving him enough credit for signing the First Step Act, a bipartisan effort towards prison reform. Trump tweeted, “Guys like boring musician @johnlegend, and his filthy mouthed wife, are talking now about how great it is—but I didn’t see them around when we needed help getting it passed.”
Teigen’s masterful response? “Lol what a pussy ass bitch. tagged everyone but me. an honor, mister president.”
Teigen later appeared on Ellen and summed up the experience this way: “He went in; he called John a boring musician—and his filthy-mouthed wife! Which, those two things are true. John is boring, I do have a filthy mouth.”