An A-to-Z Pop Culture Guide of 2016

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An A-to-Z Pop Culture Guide of 2016
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Oh, 2016. We laughed, we cried, we raged. And at this point, we don’t know anyone who’s not ready to say farewell to this long, long, loooong year. But before we do, it’s fun to take a look back at what quite possibly might be the wildest year there ever was, to remember its highlights, worst moments, and everything in between.

MORE: The Top 5 Feminist Moments in Pop Culture This Year

From the rise of Bella and Gigi Hadid (thanks, Yolanda Foster!) to the fall of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s epic love story, we saw more than we could ever have imagined in the past year. And though some of it was particularly difficult—here’s looking at you, Hillary Clinton—some was super inspiring, like Alicia Keys’ decision to go makeup-free for all time. Ahead, find the 26 wackiest, weirdest, most wonderful things about 2016 that aren’t worth forgetting just yet—even if we’re all about ready to move on from such a tumultuous year.

MORE: The 10 Best Dark Lipstick Moments in Pop Culture

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Like it or hate it, athleisure enjoyed its ongoing time in the sun this year. The trend first reared its sporty head a couple of years ago, riding high on the tail of normcore, but it has since blazed its way to the front of the line and has been twirling its track stripes from here to the streets of Europe and Asia and back again. Stars embraced the trend more than ever before, appearing left and right in street-style shots in crop tops, joggers, and sneakers. This is one mode of dress that's going nowhere anytime soon.

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A quick scroll of celebrities’ Instagram feeds will confirm that 2016 was nothing if not the year of the belfie. (Yes, it pains us to write that sentence.) From Emily Ratajkowski to the belfie queen herself (that's Kim Kardashian, of course), celebs let it all hang out on Instagram. And by "it," we mean—their derrieres.

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The year of our lord 2016 was Chrissy Teigen's year to shine. From giving birth to one of the world's cutest babies ever in April to publicly chronicling her post-baby body to finding new and marvelous ways to slam Twitter trolls to having a complete and total wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet, Teigen was always in the news this year. With a new cookbook on the way and having just completed her first post-baby photo shoot, we're sure we'll be seeing plenty from Teigen in 2017 too.

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After years of are-they-or-aren't-they, Rihanna and Drake finally came out and kissed in public this year, to the deep and tremendous delight of Drihanna fans 'round the world. Of course, they didn't do so without teasing us first—the matching shark tattoos! the epic onstage grinding! the admission of love at the VMAs!—and what seemed like minutes after they finally started making out in public, it was all unceremoniously over. For now.

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Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian's engagement was by far the biggest impending-wedding news of the year. But don't forget the ongoing rumors of Kylie Jenner and Tyga's engagement (still not exactly confirmed nor denied), or Ciara and Russell Wilson's engagement and subsequent marriage (they had some impetus for a speedy wedding), or, you know, that weird engagement thing (and subsequent level-five meltdown) that went down with Lindsay Lohan and Egor Tarabasov. Every year sees its share of engagement news, but this year's news was particularly extra.

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So. Many. Feuds. Though this year has a definite winner in terms of explosiveness—Taylor Swift vs. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, obvs—there were an insane number of spats that broke out among the rich and famous this year. There was that weird one that happened with Rebecca Romijn vs. Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, which turned into a showdown between Stephanie Seymour and Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, in which Seymour called the young models "bitches of the moment." And then there was the time Khloé Kardashian attacked Chloë Grace Moretz on Twitter. Don't forget the episode in which Kim Kardashian posted a naked shot to Instagram and got trolled, so then she and Emily Ratajkowski teamed up to post a second naked shot (the best revenge is a naked selfie, according to K.K. and Emrata). We could go on, but we'll leave it here—for now. Don't worry, next year will have some fresh feuds.

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Every year has a fitness sensation, and this year, the trend happened in the ring. Gloves were everywhere this year—of the boxing variety, of course. Gigi and Bella Hadid swear by the high-intensity workout to get their sweat on, and it seemed like everyone followed suit. From Ashley Graham to Elsa Hosk to Georgia Fowler and beyond, models were quick to tout the magical properties of boxing all year long.

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Ah, the fake relationship deep love of Hiddleswift. For those of you firmly planted under a rock all year, we're talking about Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston, the greatest romance there ever was. We're still not sure WTF was happening with this intense and short-lived "relationship," but we still think the whole thing was the most elaborate James Bond audition ever.

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Now more than ever, celebrities used Instagram to get their messages across. This year saw stars including Kanye West and Tom Hiddleston firing up accounts for the first time—and also saw the end of other Instagram accounts, namely Justin Bieber's incredibly popular feed. (ICYMI, Bieber deleted his IG after Selena Gomez goaded him about his mini relationship with Sofia Richie.) Other celebs deleted their profiles too, albeit temporarily—when Kendall Jenner did so, she sent the world into a tailspin—and still others just stopped posting for a while (Selena Gomez is making her way back, but Kim Kardashian still hasn't posted anything since October). Gigi Hadid recently announced that she'll be taking an IG cleanse, but don't worry—she'll be back. Even Bieber'll be back someday, we imagine: It seems as though no one can stay away too long.

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Speaking of Justin Bieber, 2016 was once again a year in which he and Selena Gomez made headlines, though this time it wasn't for their undying love (or for their breakup). Though the pair broke up in 2014, Gomez got her feathers ruffled when Bieber's fans started attacking Sofia Richie after Bieber posted a bunch of shots of himself with Richie—and Bieber retaliated by threatening to delete his Instagram. "If you can't handle the hate then stop posting photos of your girlfriend lol," Richie wrote. After some back and forth, Bieber really did delete his IG—and soon after, Gomez canceled the rest of her tour to "focus on maintaining my health and happiness." And then she went to rehab.

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Kylie, Kylie, Kylie. Chrissy Teigen may have made some headlines this year, but Kylie Jenner ruled the roost. Whether she was launching the Kylie Shop, breaking the internet with sexy Instagrams, or just launching yet another soon-to-sell-out Lip Kit, Jenner constantly made waves—and made bank. Though older sister Kim Kardashian was once the most famous in the family, 2016 was officially the year that Jenner surpassed them all and became the hottest commodity in the fam.

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We lost some serious legends in 2016. In January, David Bowie passed away at the age of 69. In April, Prince died at 57. Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 in June, and Zsa Zsa Gabor passed away earlier this week at 99. We could go on, but suffice it to say that we had to say goodbye to way too many icons this year. Regardless of their age, gone too soon.

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The Met Gala always sees its share of over-the-top fashion, and 2016 did not disappoint. Specifically, Madonna showed up in a Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy dress that put her butt on full display. She later wrote that the dress was a political statement: "We have fought and continue to fight for civil rights and gay rights around the world," she said. "When it comes to Women's rights we are still in the dark ages. My dress at the Met Ball was a political statement as well as a fashion statement. The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an age-ist and sexist society." Hey, if she wants to fight for gender equality by wearing the dress equivalent of assless chaps, more power to her. Madge set off more butt-related rumors when a video of her twerking with Ariana Grande led some to speculate that she'd splurged for some implants. Hmm.

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Oh, Hillary Clinton. What a year. We're still processing the fact that we're not about to usher in our first woman president, but we haven't forgotten all of the smart, wonderful things she said, or the hope she instilled in many of us. Hats off, Hillz. We're still with you.

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In August, Selena Gomez went to rehab after feeling overwhelmed with depression, anxiety, and other symptoms related to lupus, canceling her remaining Purpose tour dates. Then Kanye West was hospitalized for a "psychiatric emergency," which ultimately was thanks to "exhaustion," the New York Times reported—hours after he too canceled his remaining tour dates. This year was a year of celebrities running themselves ragged, and though most stars didn't see quite the consequences that Gomez and West dealt with, it wasn't an easy year to be famous.

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Usually we think of Paris as the City of Light—the most romantic and wonderful place in the world—but this year Paris made pop culture headlines for other reasons. First, Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in her tony Paris hotel, after which she went into hiding and basically hasn't come back out. Then, Victoria's Secret held their annual blowout fashion show there for the first time ever, but drew some criticism for only featuring thin models. Pop culture–wise, Paris didn't get the high marks of previous years—but don't worry, we're sure it'll be back to normal soon.

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Rooney Mara dyed her hair platinum for about five minutes, and Lucy Hale went blonde for about the same length of time. Rihanna showed off dreadlocks for a short while. And then there was Kylie Jenner's various hair changes—from dark brown to platinum, rose gold, and back to platinum before heading back to her usual dark brown territory. Indeed, it seemed like everyone wanted to try new hair this year—but only for a short while.

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Selena Gomez may have gone to rehab, but she did so in the most inspiring and refreshing way. First, she canceled her tour dates to focus on some much-needed emotional health for a few months at a rehab in Tennessee; then she made her first appearance after rehab at the American Music Awards, giving a beautiful speech. “I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here,” she said, pointing to her heart. “I’m so grateful to be able to share what I love with people that I love. You guys are so damn loyal but if you are broken you do not have to stay broken." Yes!

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Snapchat took over this year in a major way, and its status was cemented when Kim Kardashian used it as a vehicle to show the receipts in Kanye West's feud with Taylor Swift. Though Swift may have tried to play like West never told her about that infamous "Famous" lyric, Kardashian was able to prove that West and Swift spoke about the song long before it came out. Though there were still some gray areas as to details, Swift was definitely served.

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Television continued to dominate, with oodles of incredible shows at the ready. Whatever your poison—Easy, Fleabag, Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, Younger, Stranger Things, the list goes on and on—2016 was a year in which you could actually sit around streaming quality shows in pretty much every free hour. Not recommended, but definitely doable.

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Though Photoshop is still very much alive and well, this year some stars—and brands—fought back against all the retouching. For example, Jasmine Tookes appeared in a Victoria's Secret shot with visible stretch marks, and women around the world cheered. Go, Tookes! Yay for body positivity and more realistic body image.

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When Beyoncé's visual album Lemonade dropped in April, the world gasped. At turns heartbreaking, stunning, and totally unexpected, Bey's tunes—and vids—changed the definition of an album. Then Frank Ocean released Endless and cemented the rise of the visual album. Once upon a time, the best you could do was to make an album and a few accompanying music videos; in 2016, the visual album became the gold standard.

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We've been watching The Weeknd since he was but an anonymous musician, releasing his three albums (later rereleased as Trilogy) for free on his website. We downloaded those albums and listened to them on repeat in the summer of 2011. But in the past five years, The Weekend—Abel Tesfaye—has caught a rising star and completely exploded this year. Perhaps his high-profile relationship with Bella Hadid was part of it, or maybe it was just his time. Whatever the case may be, he rounded out 2016 by performing onstage at the Victoria's Secret show in Paris. Yep: We'd say it was a good year for Mr. Tesfaye.

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We saw the end of love the end of an era when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie said farewell to each other, but they certainly weren't the only megastar couple to call it quits this yearAmber Heard and Johnny DeppRihanna and DrakeBella Hadid and The WeekndTaylor Swift and Calvin Harris (and also Tom Hiddleston, whatever that was), Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney—the list, sadly, goes on. Not a good year for celebrity romance.

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Yes, it was Gigi and Bella Hadid who grew ever more famous this year, along with their younger brother, Anwar Hadid, who started modeling a lot more this year. But all three have their mom, Yolanda Foster, to thank for their burgeoning success. Without her, it's unlikely that any of them would have shot to fame the way they have.

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Once upon a time, #NoMakeupMonday was a thing. But Alicia Keys inspired a whole new movement this year with her May Lenny Letter that detailed her journey toward ultimately eschewing makeup altogether—year in, year out, not just on Mondays. "I don't want to cover up anymore," Keys wrote. "Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing." Same, Alicia. Same.

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