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It seems like just yesterday we were popping bottles of Champagne on December 31, 2013, preparing to toast the year ahead. While 2014 seems to have passed in the blink of an eye, the year was actually packed with some pretty major events in terms of politics, fashion, media, and science.
For those keeping track, 2014 was also a monumental year for pop culture. Between the mysterious, enigmatic elevator fight that forced us to turn a critical eye on one of entertainment’s most powerful families, the ascent of the Kardashian-Jenner clan to—whether you like it or not—the most famous people in the world, to a slew of high-profile celebrity weddings (RIP, bachelor Clooney!), and so much more, the year had enough entertaining events, trends, and headlines to seamlessly fill the below A to Z list.
So, take a few minutes to look back on the year that was—in alphabetical order!— then get excited to see what 2015 brings in the way of pop culture.
A is for Ass
This year, Hollywood was tripping over themselves to prove that they have the biggest, roundest, sexiest ass. And while we’re loathe to give Kim Kardashian all the credit, it didn’t feel like a coincidence that the butt obsession sweeping Hollywood was synonymous with the reality star’s fame hitting a fever pitch.
And it wasn’t just famous women like embracing the trend: The year saw an 80% rise in butt implants from 2000 to 2013, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the social media term “belfie” produces around 3 million results on Google, though both things most experts agree was because of celebrities like Kim, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, and Jennifer Lopez.
B is for Benedict Cumberbatch
This year brought with it a very unlikely heartthrob in Cumberbatch, the 36-year-old British actor who has spawned a cult movement of die-hard mature female followers who formerly referred to themselves as “Cumberbitches” (they now prefer Cumber-community.) The slightly odd-looking “Sherlock Holmes” actor was named “Sexiest Man in the World” two years in a row by British paper The Sun—something he finds amusing.
“I’m still processing this strange misperception,” he said. “I suppose I’ll have to find a way to deal with the strain. I enjoy being considered handsome, even though I think it’s hysterical.”
C is for Celebrity Models
This year, paparazzi It-girls became the new faces of fashion, thanks to Gigi Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, and—of course—Kendall Jenner, who had a banner year that kicked off in February, when Marc Jacobs cast the reality starlet in his runway show during New York Fashion Week. From there, the 18-year-old continued on a path to total fashion domination, walking the runway for other high-profile labels like Chanel and Diane von Furstenberg, bagging a Givenchy print campaign, becoming the face of Estee Lauder, and appearing in Vogue. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
D is for Death of Joan Rivers
The world lost a legend in September, when comedian extraordinaire Joan Rivers died at age 81 after complications during vocal cord surgery. The raspy-voiced Rivers—who rose to comedy fame in the mid-’60s on the New York club circuit—became a national name thanks to her frequent appearances on “The Tonight Show,” eventually becoming the permanent stand-in for Johnny Carson. In 1995, she and daughter Melissa started appearing on E! as red-carpet correspondents before taking their act to the TV Guide channel.
Despite the fact that some stars weren’t a fan of Rivers’ frank, devil-may-care, politically incorrect brand of comedy, she moved back to E! in 2010 to host “Fashion Police” alongside Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne, and George Kotsiopoulos, which she had been doing up until her admission to the hospital a week before her death.
E is for Elevator Fight
Despite the fact that it had no sound, Solange Knowles‘s elevator freak-out was the fight heard ’round the world. In case you’ve forgotten, the year’s most curious scandal occurred when Solange attacked brother-in-law Jay Z in an elevator at New York’s Standard Hotel after the Met Gala, while Beyoncé cooly stood by.
Surveillance video showed Solange getting up in Jay’s face to confront him about something, and he remains calm; then she started to beat him with her fists when the stars’ bodyguard pulls her away, thrashing and kicking.
It was quite shocking to watch, considering all three of maintain seemingly perfect public personas, and the melee was taken to the court of public opinion, whose verdict spawned a number of speculative ideas including infidelity, substance abuse, and mental illness, all culminating in ongoing Bey-Jay divorce rumors. Sadly, it’s a safe bet that we’ll never know what really went on in the lift that night.
F is for Fitness Fanaticism
In 2014, our fitness craze hit an undeniable fever pitch, bringing with it over-exercised bodies (often showcased suggestively on Instagram) athletic apparel, sneakers, and a general obsession with health.
The fitness industry also had a tremendous impact on fashion. Between bloggers switching up their daily outfits from high-end labels to Nike Roshes and sports bras; luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter introducing entire fitness categories, or fashion-savvy girls zipping around town in workout gear, it was obvious people started to take their health more seriously this year—or at least wanted to look as if they did.
G is for Grande, Ariana
Pop radio’s MVP this ear? That’d be Ariana Grande, the pint-sized powerhouse who moved away from the Mariah-esque, slightly adult contemporary-sounding hits her 2013 debut was packed with, and ruled the 2014 charts with pure pop bangers like the sax-tinged “Problem,” “Break Free,” and “Bang Bang.” While the 21-year-old former Nickelodeon star’s music was unavoidable this year, so was her growing reputation as a demanding, bratty, and hard-to-work-with diva—a sure sign of stardom.
H is for Hacking Scandals
In September, over 100 naked photos of female celebrities—including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Vanessa Hudgens, and Kirsten Dunst—were posted by a user of anonymous (and highly shady) image-sharing site and message board 4chan, though the original source of the nude images remain unclear. It was an epic invasion of privacy to be sure, but it was also a criminal invasion—the FBI got involved and released a statement after the photos went viral.
Then, in November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures was hacked, and a flood of personal e-mails, copies of unreleased Sony films, and other private information was released to the public by a group who call themselves “Guardians of Peace.”
In what sounds like a movie plot itself, the FBI believe the cyber-attack was the work of the North Korean government and tied to the planned release of the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy film “The Interview,” which depicts an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea has denied any involvement, leading some experts to think the hack occurred from within Sony.
I is for Ice Bucket Challenge
You’re probably still sick of seeing every single person you know—and many you don’t—dump freezing buckets of ice over their heads. In 2014, the #IceBucketChallenge ruled our social media feeds with the idea that you either donate money to charity that benefits fatal neurodegenerative disease ALS—also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease—or pour a bucket of ice over yourself. One you’ve made your choice, you nominated up to three friends to do the same within a 24-hour period, and so the cycle continued.
And while its novelty got old pretty quickly (even the original ice queen Anna Wintour took part, for goodness sakes!), there’s no denying the viral initiative was pretty amazing: The ALS Association received just over $13 million in donations from July 29 to August 17—a huge testament to the effect of the campaign.
J is for Jen Atkin Haircuts
While you might not know her name, celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin was responsible for making some of the year’s biggest stars look increasingly more modern this year. Case in point: She’s responsible for yanking Khloe and Kim Kardashian out of their dated too-long extensions stupor with her signature chest-length, layered, sexy cuts (she also did Kim’s hair for her May wedding to Kanye West.) You also might not have realized it throughout the year, but Jen’s the reason the Kardashian girls, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, and Emma Stone had such good hair this year.
K is for Kylie’s Lips
In early February, 16-year-old Kylie Jenner was rushed to the hospital after a “trampoline accident,” which some say was staged as an excuse for the massive amounts of plastic surgery she may or may not have had. Indeed, Getty Images and Instagram showed that the typically social teen was absent from public view from late January to the end of February—and resurfaced with lips that were were absolutely massive.
Since then, they’ve become something of a pop-cultiure point of contention, with critics saying she’s too young to have had lip injections, and fans shrieking that it’s nothing but makeup. Ever sister Kim weighed in, telling UK beauty blog Pixiewoo that Kylie is a fan of lipliner. As the year comes to a close, we’d like to get real for a hot second: There’s no lipliner on earth—unless it was filled with industrial-grade helium—that can turn a girl who used to have no top lip into what she is today.
L is for Lupita Nyong’o
She arrived at the Golden Globes in an amazing Ralph Lauren red caped gown, and a star was born. The 31-year-old went from unknown to A-list immediately, snagging this year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “12 Years a Slave” (her first movie ever), campaigns for both Miu Miu and Lancome, a role in the upcoming “Star Wars” flick, and the title of People’s Most Beautiful Person.
M is for McConaissance
Before 2014, Matthew McConaughey was mostly affiliated with words and phases like “oddball” “bongo playing” “shirtless” and “drawl,” which had, for the most part, synched up with the many roles he played. Then, this year, the actor underwent a meteoric metamorphoses, tackling interesting, creative projects that effectively have altered his reputation as a quirky golden boy to serious actor.
For his role in “Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey lost almost 50 pounds to play HIV-infected Ron Woodroof, the part that won him a Best Actor Oscar this year, and stunned as Rust Cohle in HBO’s slow-burning southern crime drama “True Detective.”
N is for Normcore
The term “normcore”—coined earlier this year by New York-based collective K-Hole as part of the forecasting report “Youth Mode: A Report Freedom”—has sparked mixed emotions since it burst into the fashion lexicon. Essentially a word to describe the non-descript style made popular by suburban dads, ’90s-era Jerry Seinfeld, and stereotypical tourists, The New York Times questioned whether it was a “fashion movement or massive in-joke” while over at Elle, a writer called the trend a “fraud.”
One look at the way fashion insiders were dressing in 2014, though, and it’s clear their choices have been veering towards overtly “normal” rather than trendsetting. In fact, during the most recent round of fashion shows, it was hard not to notice the overwhelming amount of street style that favored baggy jeans, sneakers, and plain T-shirts, with very few designer dresses and stilettos to be seen.
O is for Oscar Selfie
At the 2014 Oscars, host Ellen DeGeneres set out to go for the most retweeted picture ever—and she did it, crashing Twitter at the same time. The shot includes Ellen, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o and her brother, and Bradley Cooper–who snapped the pic.
Why we retweeted a photo filled with people we’ve never met isn’t the issue—we did it over 3.5 million times, making that Samsung-snapped selfie reportedly worth somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion, and the most retweeted tweet of all time.
P is for Pink Hair
Pastel hair moved from fringe to mainstream this year, with a staggering number of celebrities going pink. Kate Hudson, Rita Ora, Demi Lovato, even straight-arrow poster girl Lauren Conrad used 2014 as an excuse to debut cotton-candy- colored hair, inspiring a real girls all over the world to follow suit.
Q is for Queen Bey
If any one person owned 2014, it was Beyoncé. After secretly dropping her self-titled mega-album at midnight on December 13 2013, we all were Drunk in Love for months to come. Not only was the album visual—one video for every song—but it was also sultry, ushering in a powerful new Beyoncé who not only preached female sexuality, but owned it.
Despite an alarming blip on her flawless public persona in May (see: E is for Elevator), Bey managed to use 2014 to telegraph her feminist awakening, topped off by an epic 17-minute performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards during which the word “feminist” appeared behind her in shining lights.
R is for Royal Baby Number 2
During the summer of 2013, the world was in a Royal Baby frenzy, after the palace announced the Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William were expecting their first child. A little more than a year after little George was born, the couple announced they were expecting another tot, plunging us back into baby fever.
S is for Serial
It’s safe to assume that nobody expected a podcast to become a water-cooler pop sensation, but that’s exactly what happened. Narrated by reporter Sarah Koenig, the 12-episode podcast re-examined the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a Baltimore teenager whose former boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted and is currently spending life in prison.
Not only has the podcast found new facts and evidence, and raised debate as to whether Syed truly is guilty or not, but it’s spawned furious debate all over the web—some Reddit users have even created elaborate maps outlining the case—recaps on Slate, and even a spot-on “Saturday Night Live” parody.
T is for Taylor Swift Mania
Obliterating all traces of her country roots with the release of “1989”—the 25-year-old’s first foray into pure, unadulterated pop served Swift well. Her fifth studio album was a critical and commercial success, breaking several Billboard records, and giving us hits like “Shake it Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Welcome to New York,” which caused city’s tourism board to appoint Swift its Global Welcome Ambassador.
Throughout the latter part of the year, Swift also became an advisor on NBC’s “The Voice,” made headlines for looking very cozy with her BFF, supermodel Karlie Kloss, pulling her catalog from Spotify, and looking unrecognizable on the cover of “Wonderland” magazine. We have a feeling there’s a whole new Taylor about to emerge in 2015 and, frankly, we’re more than ready.
U is for Uncoupling (Consciously)
By now, you’ve probably cracked a few “conscious uncoupling” jokes yourself, after Gwyneth Paltrow used the term to announce her split with hubby Chris Martin in March. In true Gwyneth form, the actress took to her eye-roll-inducing lifestyle blog GOOP to announce the news, and—unbeknownst to her at the time, probably—sealed her fate as one of the most pretentious celebrities in history.
V is for ‘View’ Drama
When Barbara Walters retired from the daytime stalwart in May, it seemed the 17-year-old show lost its footing. The panel was shaken up—Whoopi Goldberg stayed, but Jenny McCarthy was let go, while Rosie Perez, Republican talking head Nicolle Wallace and former host/pot-stirrer Rosie O’Donnell were brought back, it seems every day there’s a new report in the media about catfights and behind-the-scenes drama.
W is for Wedding Fever
In some circles, 2014 could be considered the year hell froze over: The world’s most infamous bachelor, George Clooney, tied the knot with attorney Amal Alamuddin in Venice.
This year, a swath of other high-profile couples tied the knot too, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl, and—of course—Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in an wildly understated European affair.
X is for X-Rated Instagrams
Is it just us, or does it seem like almost every day there’s a new public photo to gawk at that shows a star in various forms of undress? Translation: Celebrities loved posting naked photos on Instagram in 2014. Starlets including Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Chelsea Handler, Lea Michele, Rumer Willis, Aubrey O’Day all have, at some point this year, made headlines with their porn-style pics.
We understand that, these days, a shocking Instagram is a surefire way to garner web headlines, but it’s starting to read more desperate and and less spontaneous when social media imagery is overtly sexual.
Y is for YA
The much-buzzed-about movie version of cult young adult book “The Fault In Our Stars” hit theaters in June, catapulting Young Adult fiction into the spotlight in a big way (and also catapulted its stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, too.)
The John Green-penned novel focuses on two teens struggling to survive cancer, developing mutual connections and—you guessed it—finding real love through their shared ups and downs, and the movie was a massive, tear-jerking hit with audiences of all ages, prompting movie studios to option several other YA books, including “Eleanor and Park,” and “If I Stay.”
Z is for Zack, Kelly, Slater, Jessie, Lisa, and Screech
There’s no denying that, during it’s five-season run, “Saved by the Bell” was a pop culture phenomenon. So when Lifetime announced in June it would be making a movie version, ’90s kids were ecstatic. Especially since the movie was based on Dustin Diamond’s scandalous tell-all book Behind The Bell, in which he revealed what life was like behind the scenes and on the hormone-fueled set of the iconic teen series.
Ultimately, the made-for-TV movie bombed, with critics and viewers trashing it as “horrendous,” “atrocious,” and a “yawn-indicing mess.”
Art by Candace Napier