This past year, pop culture has been studded with historic farewells and debuts, stained with scandals and marked by great successes.
For many artists, such as Adele and Justin Bieber, the year was defined by their comeback. Others, however, saw their careers fizzle out, like Miley Cyrus when Nicki Minaj called her out for cultural appropriation and racism at the Video Music Awards. This year was unprecedented in pop culture, from the popular dance “The Whip” to Caitlyn Jenner’s debut to gay marriage finally being legalized throughout the United States.
2015 will forever be remembered as the year Adele uttered a single word, Hello, and dominated the charts. Her record-breaking album sold nearly 7.44 million copies in just six weeks. In fact, the music history books will remember the whole of 2015 as being ruled by the United Kingdom. British artists Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and James Bay all saw tremendous success.
This year also witnessed some of the biggest musical rivalries. On November 13, two of the biggest names in pop released a major album. Justin Bieber made a huge comeback that day with his album Purpose, while One Direction released Made In The A.M., the first album since the departure of former band member Zayn Malik. Later in the year, frenemies Drake and Meek Mill settled their disputes with a rap battle wherein Drake released “Charged Up,” followed by the Grammy-nominated single “Back To Back” released a mere three days later. Drake and Meek were friends, even collaborating on songs featured in Meek’s album Dreams Are Worth More Than Money. A few months later, Meek Mill became angry with the constant comparisons between him and Drake, as Drake “didn’t write his own raps!”. Drake won their feud by a landslide after Meek’s weak rebuttal “Untitled.” Despite Drake winning the battle, the real winner here was everyone who witnessed his famous dance moves in the “Hotline Bling” music video.
This year was spent not only breaking records in music but in the box office as well. Highlights of the early year include Jurassic World, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and Inside Out. Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t even released until December 18 but still came in as the biggest movie of 2015, earning well over $100 million in advance tickets and becoming the fastest film to gross $1 billion in just 12 days. What seemed to be the film’s biggest pull is the story of new and relatable characters in addition to the return of everyone’s old favorites. When fans meet “FN-2187” or Finn, played by John Boyega, and Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, the characters are facing moments of life-defining moral crisis, and the way fate sets the two of them into orbit around one another is what drives people to the theaters.
One of the biggest nights of the year was the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards (VMA’s), which had its fair share of shocking moments; for instance, Miley’s hosting abilities (did we really think she would succeed?) However, the biggest moment of the night was Kanye West’s mind-blowing acceptance speech for the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award, in which he announced his prospect for candidacy in the next presidential election (#Kanye2020). People often poke fun at Kanye because his words can be easily twisted. He speaks his mind despite not knowing how to explain himself. Yes, Kanye can seem crazy, but he made some valid points during his eleven-minute speech that night.
“We’re not going to teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We’re going to teach our kids that they can be something. We’re going to teach our kids that they can stand up for themselves! We’re going to teach our kids to believe in themselves!” said West.
Some adults tend to brush off the opinions of young people, which is discouraging and makes them nervous about expressing any views in the future. However, Kanye’s speech was uplifting and empowering; something is not often seen from the rapper. Hopefully, however, as he stated at the end of his speech, he will be running for President of the United States in 2020.
The world of pop culture certainly shifted in 2015. That’s not even mentioning major television moments like a certain man’s death on “Game of Thrones,” the reveal of A on “Pretty Little Liars,” and Lady Gaga’s venture into acting on “American Horror Story: Hotel.” This year was definitely one to remember, and it will be interesting to see what 2016 brings.