Person(s) of the Year- James Obergafell, John Arthur, April DeBoer, Jayne Rowse, Gregory Bourke, Michael DeLeon, Valeria Tanco, Sophia Jesty, Brittani Henry, Britini Rogers, Timothy Love, Lawrence Ysunza
Regardless of what happened in pop culture this year nothing can hold a candle to the historic Supreme Court decision in Obergafell v Hodge which made gay marriage legal across the country. The case itself was a consolidation of several similar cases around the country. While the story of James Obergafell and John Arthur has been getting the most attention there were at least 6 couples being represented in the lawsuit. I decided to name all of them as my Person(s) of the Year as a show of respect and admiration. It struck me as a perfect example of how a few people can change the world. I can’t imagine what they went up against and if I had been in their position I probably would have given up a long time ago due to the enormous struggle. These men and women wouldn’t back down and they fought for what they believed in. Now we all are able to reap the benefits of their hard work.
Artist of the Year- Adele
Clearly there was no contest with this one. Adele’s long awaited 3rd album was released in November and quickly began breaking every record in the book. She followed Taylor Swift’s lead and blocked her album from streaming services which helped push her sales higher. Apart from the incredibly sales, 25 is just a really good album. She stuck to her core strength of emotional ballads and the results were amazing. Send My Love To Your New Lover, Love In The Dark, Water Under The Bridge, and Remedy are a few of the best tracks but all are worth listening to. If you want upbeat pop music for your next party than this album isn’t for you. This is emotional music that you listen to with headphones while reminiscing about the past.
Transformation of the Year- Caitlyn Jenner
Having one of the nation’s most popular Olympians admit he plans to transition into a woman doesn’t go unnoticed. When (then) Bruce sat down for an interview with Diane Sawyer I was surprised to learn that this had been an issue since the early 80s and not the late in life realization that I expected. When she announced her new name and hit the cover of Vanity Fair the world was undeniably fascinated. It was a historic event that brought light to the Trans community. Not surprisingly Caitlyn received criticism from inside the Trans community because they didn’t feel she accurately represents their lives. Good or bad she definitely helped to raise people’s awareness and will continue to grab headlines.
Most Fascinating- Rachel Dolezal
Rachel Dolezal is a woman who was born white but used bronzer and hair dye to transform herself into a very passable black woman. That alone would be fascinating enough but the details about her life and how she was discovered made the story even more interesting. Dolezal was working for a branch of the Washington state NAACP when she was confronted by a reporter who discovered that she was lying about her race. I would normally expect her to have done this as some sort of twisted publicity stunt but instead it seemed just the opposite. She gave a few response interviews but overall she wasn’t trying to exploit her 15minutes of fame like I would’ve expected. To everyone’s surprise it seemed she genuinely cared about the issues facing black people and had worked for years on their behalf. While she clearly had issues there was a definite lack of self-promotion. How fascinating.
Song of the Year- Where Are You Now
In 2015 Justin Beiber pulled a Britney Spears style comeback. In the midst of controversy and mayhem he released great music. You’ll remember Spears did it back during her shaved head car bashing days when she released her Blackout album. Where Are You Now is a catchy upbeat song that clearly reflects the singer’s emotional ties with ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez. While you’re listening to Beiber also check out What Do You Mean and Love Yourself. Honorable Mention goes to How Big How Blue How Beautiful by Florence and the Machine and Downtown by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Under the Radar- Drake
Drake first released music in 2006 and since then he’s been putting out very good music that’s sold very well. Despite being the current king of rap most non-rap fans are only vaguely familiar with him. His record sales often beat his rivals yet he’s not the one grabbing all the headlines. I think many people would say that they’ve heard his name but that they’re unable to name a specific song of his. In 2015 he released Hotline Bling which finally started to get some love and attention from the mainstream media. Add to that a viral video and Drake has officially broken through to pop culture.
Best New Show- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Thank you Tina Fey. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a show that started out at NBC. After the initial development the network decided that it wasn’t a good fit for them. Creator Tina and company then sold it to Netflix where they were able to produce exactly the show they wanted. What we got was a marvelously funny show that instantly felt like an old friend. It centers around Kimmy who has just moved to New York after having lived with a cult leader in an underground bunker for the last 7 years. Her gay roommate Titus and her rich boss Jacqueline are the perfect supporting cast. Netflix and chill this series for the perfect Sunday.
The New Camp Classic- Scream Queens
Scream Queens seemed to come out of nowhere. When adds first started appearing I, like many others, wrote if off as a ridiculous premise. However my roommate started watching it and had nothing but good reviews. In fact I could hear him laughing out loud while watching it in another room. I finally tuned in and found that it was one of the greatest campiest shows I’ve seen in a long time. I was right that the show’s premise and plot lines were completely ridiculous but I hadn’t expected a cast of good actors who could make it all believable. Emma Roberts is perfect as Chanel i.e. the new Regina George. Billie Lourd is unstoppable as the ultra-cool Chanel #3 and Glen Powell is the picture of f brohood as Chad Radwell. Even Lea Michele is surprisingly well cast as crazy Hester. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
The Character We Love to Hate- Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Game of Thrones is a medieval fantasy epic drama that is comprised of many different interwove story lines. A few of the story lines are boring (Ayra I’m talking to you) but Landing is the best by far and it’s all because of Cersei ‘Blonde Cher’ Lannister. She is the ultimate b and I hate her however I do realize that we need her. Without her character that entire store line would dissolve into beige nonsense. Thank you Blonde Cher Lena Headey for giving us a character that we love to hate
Best Wrap Up- Gay of Thrones
Gay of Thrones is an online video that wraps up HBO’s very popular Game of Thrones. Every week hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness recaps the latest episode with his signature over the top flair. The genius of the concept is that he makes up his own nicknames for all the characters. The nicknames are so perfect that I’ve completely forgotten all the real names. Blonde Cher, Munch Munch, Christina Aguilera, Baby Kristen Stewart, and of course Baby Power Bottom are all a lot more memorable than Cersei, Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, and Joffrey. Gay of Thrones is funny even if you’ve never seen the original show. Fun fact, star Jonathan Van Ness is a real working hair stylist and not just some actor they found.
End of An Era- America’s Next Top Model
The first episode of America’s Next Top Model aired in May of 2003 and after 22 seasons (cycles) it’s finally coming to an end. Tyra Banks paved the way and set the formula for reality competition series. Top Chef and Project Runway both owe a lot of their basic judging format and formula to Tyra. Over the years she’s given us so many memorable moments that ANTM will always have its own place in internet meme history. Without her none of us would ever have known how to smize (smiling with your eyes). I was a fan for many years and Tyra will always have a place in reality television history.
Best Documentary- Going Clear
Going Clear is an HBO documentary about Scientology told from the perspective of ex-members. They reveal all the deepest darkest secrets that the church usually tries to hide. The documentary was riveting and I was glued to the TV as I listened to them talk about work camp punishments and alien overlords. Many had been completely cut off from their families because they chose to speak out. The whole thing is fascinatingly nuts and you have to watch it. Also if you’re interested I recommend Leah Remini’s new book Troublemaker as a supplement to the documentary.
Movie of the Year- Star Wars The Force Awakens
The new Star Wars movie isn’t even out yet and but its already the most anticipated movie of the year. To be honest I don’t plan on seeing it. I have nothing against the movie franchise it’s just one of those cultural movements that I missed out on. Even though I don’t have a personal connection to the movie it’s hard to think of any film this year that has generated such excitement. In fact until now 2015 was a year comprised of a very long list of forgettable movies. Despite decent ticket sales none of the summer block busters managed to stand out and make a big impact.
Ugly Cry Award- Woman in Gold
Woman in Gold tells the true story of Maria Altmann who was forced to flee Austria during WW2. During the take over the Nazi’s stole a painting from her family’s home and after the war ended the painting was seized and retained by the Austrian government. Helen Mirren plays the modern day Altmann but the movie often flashes back to tell her story. The flash backs of her having to say goodbye to her family forever made me cry harder than I have in a long time. Usually crying during a movie means a single tear or the welling up of my eyes. During Woman in Gold I was loudly and embarrassingly gasping for air because I was crying so hard. It’s a great movie but bring some tissues.
Best Dressed- Rihanna at the MET Gala
The MET Gala is a charity event held every year to celebrate the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. It has become the place where celebrities can wear edgy high fashion and because there is a costume element built in the looks tend to be incredibly over the top. When Rihanna stepped onto the red carpet she hands down won the night in an embroidered golden yellow fur cloak. Amazing! At that moment everyone else should’ve just turned around and gone home. Rihanna wins again.
The Dress That Blew Our Minds- The Black and Blue/While and Gold Dress.
This dress became and unexpected internet sensation and made science the popular kid for a while. The stripped dress was unintentionally photographed in such a way that some viewers saw it as white and gold while other saw it as blue and black. I saw the blue and black while my boyfriend saw white and gold. It was a fun and fascinating way to learn about the science of vision and how our eyes work. I suspect a lot science teachers out there will be using this in their lesson plans for years to come.
Keeping SNL Alive- Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon
We all know Saturday Night Live is pretty terrible but the few hilarious bright spots come when Leslie Jones or Kate McKinnon are on the screen. Kate can kill with impressions of Justin Beiber, Ellen, and Hilary Clinton while Leslie brings an in your face hilarious perspective. Both women keep this otherwise stale show alive and relevant. Honorable mention goes to Aidy Bryant who holds her own and deserves some credit too.
Getting Me Through the Work Day- Podcasts
My favorite podcast is My Brother, My Brother, and Me featuring the three McElroy brothers who answer silly questions with silly advice. They have devoted entire episodes to Totino’s Pizza Roles and America’s Next Top Model. I challenge you to listen and not laugh. Also there’s something so perfect about their voices and accents. The new podcast that I’m excited about is Pop Rocket hosted by Guy Branum of Chelsea Lately fame. He is joined by his 3 regular co-hosts to discuss the pop culture they love. What makes his show different and why I love it is that the discussions are quit intellectual and I always learn something new from each episode.
2015 Scene Stealers
Missy Elliot at the Super Bowl
When it was announced that Katy Perry was performing the Super Bowl half time show it sounded like a match made in heaven. Perry’s fun over the top persona is exactly what people want from that show. Little did she know that she was going to be upstaged by Missy Elliot. During Missy’s performance many young viewers thought she was a brand new rapper because they were not familiar with her earlier work. With so many great songs to choose from she regained popularity and even put out new music. Shantay you stay Missy.
Lady Gaga at the Oscars
Lady Gaga was chosen to perform a tribute to the Sound of Music at the Oscars and she absolutely killed it.With Julie Andrews in the audience Gaga reminded everyone that under all the costumes and commotion is a singer with genuine talent. Her performance ended up being the most memorable part of the entire awards show. In fact the only other thing I remember from the show was Patricia Arquette winning an much undeserved Oscar. When she finished her performance you could see that she was as surprised with herself as anyone else.
John Cena in Trainwreck
Amy Schumer had a very good 2015 which included her first starring role the movie Trainwreck. Like Katy Perry at the Super Bowl she did her job well but as fan left the theater they couldn’t help but talk about John Cena’s role as the juiced up muscle head boyfriend. A spectacular body and a genuinely funny performance stole all the attention. The internet has also exploded with memes and screen shots of his scenes.
2014 Late Comers
With so many entertainment choices it’s easy to miss something in a given year. Sometimes we don’t find these gems until months after our New Year’s Party. With that in mind I wanted to celebrate some of 2014’s stars that I didn’t find until 2015. Betty Who released an upbeat pop album that I loved. I never heard of her until I tagged along to a concert where she was the opening act. I ended up liking her better than the star of the show. On the movie side of things, The Imitation Game was by far my favorite movie of 2015 but unfortunately it was released in 2014. Regardless of when it was released it’s a movie that more people need to see because it’s both very interesting and also very educational.