Pop Culture with Aminah: My Favorite Pop Culture Moments of 2020

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

As this year comes to an end and we reflect on all that has happened, I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments from pop culture this year. This list is by no means complete, but it’s as extensive as it gets.


Visual


J-Lo and Shakira’s Halftime Show

Photo courtesy of the New York Post

These icons became the first Latina singers to perform at the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show. Not only did they assure us that they still have it, but they did so with immense Latino pride.







Black is King

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

In July, Beyoncé delivered an astoundingly versatile visual album (meaning each song is accompanied by a video) called Black is King accompanying her album The Lion King: The Gift — and what a gift it was. The film portrayed Black people in a way that owned their Blackness in all aspects of life.




Kennedi Carter Shooting Beyoncé for British Vogue

Photo courtesy of Because of Them We Can

Kennedi Carter, a 21-year-old photographer from Durham, North Carolina, shot three covers with Beyoncé for British Vogue, making her the youngest cover photographer to shoot for the magazine. These covers are a testament to the ingenious ability Carter has for capturing Black beauty on camera.






Quarantine Highlights


Rediscovering the Community

Photo courtesy of Entertainment Tonight

When COVID-19 had us down, Community gave us hope (and I’m not just talking about our neighbors). This early 2000s sitcom and cult classic was rediscovered on Netflix by millions, and it rightfully deserved the attention. It provided a fresh comedic relief during stay-at-home orders.



The House Nobody Asked For

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

The TikTok account The House Nobody Asked For (THNAF) came to be when nine creators decided to quarantine together over the course of the pandemic and post funny TikToks. Even though they posted their final TikTok on their page last Wednesday, the comedic bits of THNAF have left a lasting impression on the app.






Doggface

Photo courtesy of Nicki Swift

Doggface’s viral video showing him skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams'' while drinking cranberry juice gave us what we all needed during this time of uncertainty: simplicity. His positive attitude is a perfect reminder of how easy it can be to live on the bright side when you look for it.



Film


Zendaya Winning an Emmy

Photo courtesy of Citizen Side

Zendaya’s 10+ years as an actress have conveyed her versatility that is deserving of recognition. This award for her latest role as Rue in HBO’s Euphoria proved just that.











Parasite’s Profound Impact on the Film Industry

Photo courtesy of Metro

This Korean thriller captured the misfortunes and desires of working class people in a way that resonated with audiences worldwide. The movie swept award shows at home and abroad, causing the worldwide film industry to notice and praise the film. In the words of the movie’s director Bong Joon-ho, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”


Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible 7 Meltdown


Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Finance

In a leaked audio recording from the set of Mission: Impossible 7, Cruise was heard yelling at crew members for violating social distancing protocols. Despite the crudeness of some of his comments, his fury about reckless behavior in the midst of a pandemic that has cost the lives and livelihoods of thousands was a sentiment that resonated with many of us.



Music


Noname’s Diss Track

Photo courtesy of NOW Toronto

Noname, an independent rapper from Chicago, has done her fair share of work using her platform to discuss issues prevalent in the Black community. She released a song titled “Song 33” that was a response to a single J-Cole dropped prior that many people speculated was dissing how Noname speaks on Black issues. Noname later apologized because she felt the song was letting her ego overshadow the issues she was passionate about. Even so, it was an important reminder that tone policing hinders Black liberation. In my opinion, “Song 33” is the anthem for intersectional activism and is one of the strongest diss tracks to the patriarchy ever created.


Aminé’s Second Studio Album

Photo courtesy of Aminé on Twitter

Aminé burst onto the hip hop scene in the summer of 2016 with his single “Caroline” and has been unstoppable ever since. His second album, titled Limbo, includes profound reflections of his youth while capturing his perceptions of Blackness and success in the music industry.










Taylor Swift (x2)

Photo courtesy of US Magazine

Taylor Swift dropped her album folklore back in July, and just when we thought she had given us everything she could, she released her surprise album evermore in December. Swift has officially entered a new era of her career, and my fingers are crossed for this album duo to become a trilogy.



Music Reactions


Ben Shapiro’s Reaction to WAP

Photo courtesy of Metro UK

Ben Shapiro, a right-wing political commentator, mocked Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s single “WAP” on his show The Daily Wire by trying to draw parallels between his interpretation of feminism and the song’s message. His attempt ended up backfiring on him. Shapiro’s belief that the artists were experiencing a severe medical emergency because of their “WAP” proved that he didn’t understand basic female anatomy, let alone have a strong argument against the song besides just not liking it.


Rina Sawayama Being Snubbed by British Awards Shows

Photo courtesy of Dazed

Singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama made international headlines after she announced she was ineligible for major British music awards because she was not a British citizen. Ironically, her debut album SAWAYAMA discussed her identification as a British-Japanese artist and never feeling like she was enough of either nationality. The rules for eligibility are currently being reviewed, but I appreciate how Sawayama has continued to defy expectations and push forward in her career, including making her television debut on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.








Every Chloe x Halle performance

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

R&B duo Chloe x Halle delivered incredible at-home performances this year. The innovations used for their visuals, wardrobes and overall sound are clear indications of a dynamic duo that is here to stay.







Honorable Mentions


Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik’s Pregnancy Announcement and Birth

Photo courtesy of Her World

The couple shocked the world when they announced in late April that they were expecting. News of their pregnancy first broke when fans noticed a baby bump in pictures from Hadid’s 25th birthday. Hadid and Malik have since welcomed their daughter, but have yet to reveal her name




Ariana Grande’s Engagement

Photo courtesy of People

Less than two weeks ago, Grande announced on Instagram that she and her boyfriend Dalton Gomez were engaged. Seeing her happy and content is news we can all be excited about.







Bryce Hall and Blake Gray’s Pandemic Parties

Photo courtesy of Insider

Hall and Gray, two famous TikTokers, were caught in controversy for throwing large parties that defied social distancing orders. The gatherings caught the attention of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who ordered that their power be shut off as punishment. This was the perfect reminder that no one is exempt from following the rules.





By Aminah Jenkins, Staff Writer

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