This year was a wild ride for everyone, especially for those who keep up with the pop culture corner of the internet. Equal parts entertaining and disturbing, 2023 ate and left no crumbs. This was made possible by some bizarre concoction of shocking romances or breakups, international tours, billion-dollar films, Oscar wins, big Bollywood comebacks, celebrities getting hit on stage with some of the most random objects, and, of course, the ghost of Elvis taking up residence in Austin Butler’s body.
So, as the credits roll on another year, we would suggest you take a seat and settle down as we take you through some of the biggest moments from 2023’s pop culture recap:
1. Natu Natu Supremacy
One for the pop culture books. A moment where we screamed with joy. Musician M.M. Keeravaani and lyricist Chandrabose brought an Oscar home for Naatu Naatu (from the movie RRR) in the Best Song category.
2. Rihanna’s Remarkable Super Bowl Performance
Queen Riri aka Rihanna, who had been away from the stage for five years, soared above the crowd in a spectacular red attire. She seized the chance to announce that she was expecting her second child. According to Billboard, she also broke the previous record for the most viewers of the Super Bowl halftime show (121.017 million).
3. The Hollywood Strikes
The Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes caused Hollywood to close for many months. First, to challenge the big studios, the authors demanded protections against artificial intelligence, new guidelines on the staffing of writers’ rooms, and raises in salaries and residuals. The strike came to an end on November 9.
4. SRK’s Big Box Office Comeback
A comeback we were waiting for. Bringing back his King Khan charms for the fans. The Badshah of Bollywood smashed several box office records with his releases like Pathaan and Jawaan, which were followed by his latest festive release, Dunki.
5. The Eras Tour Took Over The World
Taylor Swift dominated pop culture all year long thanks to the enormous success of the first leg of The Eras Tour. This concert tour made history as the first to surpass the $1 billion mark. Apart from the stadium tour, the documented movie made tonnes of money in theatres, grossing more than $250 million globally.
6. Diljit Dosanjh’s Coachella Debut
Fans hailed the 39-year-old singer’s Coachella debut performance as a proud historic moment for India. The Lover singer became the first Punjabi artist to play at the iconic music festival, paving the way for more Indian artists. His setlist included grooving hits like Lover, Born To Shine, and Proper Patola.
7. Starry Affair At Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC)
Popularly labelled as the Indian Met gala, we saw a train of Hollywood and Bollywood biggies like Shah Rukh Khan and his family, the Kapoor clan, Gigi Hadid, Zendaya, Tom Holland, and more gathered at the NMACC on a warm April evening to celebrate the cultural centre’s opening night.
8. Celebrity Couplemania
If you were keeping with the Hollywood dating section, you would rename 2023 as the year of celebrity breakups and divorces. The celebrity ships that drowned this year were Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn, Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes (again), Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Britney Spears and Sam Asghari, and Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner. Apart from these dommed romances, we also witness new blooming love stories like Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, Timothee Chalamet and Kylie Jenner, and more.
9. Barbenheimer And The Billion Dollar Doll
As Cillian Murphy’s Oppenheimer and Margot Robbie’s Barbie competed at the box office, Barbenheimer emerged as the pop culture’s biggest event. Both films became enormously popular because moviegoers chose to watch them as a double feature instead of one after the other. Barbie became the highest-grossing Warner Bros. movie of all time, making director Greta Gerwig the first female director to enter the billion-dollar club with a female lead.
10. Ranveer Singh’s Entry In The Don Franchise
Change is inevitable. The announcement made by Farhan Akhtar in August about Ranveer Singh playing the new Don in Don 3, the anticipated follow-up to the 2011 film Don 2, sent the audience in a frenzy.
11. Twitter Becomes X
In April 2022, Elon Musk spent $44 billion to acquire Twitter. He has since made several adjustments to the social media network, the most significant of which was perhaps the formal rebranding to X in July 2023. Additionally, he replaced the platform’s logo and app version with a straightforward black X.
12. Cashing On Nostalgia
This year, we witnessed the resurgence of nostalgia in pop culture like never before. Production houses brought back fan favourite movies like Little Mermaid, Wonka, and The Hunger Games prequel for the audience, striking a chord with the audience.
13. Queen B’s Renaissance World Tour
Over two decades into her career, Beyoncé embarked on what was perhaps the most lavish tour in history, grossing a staggering $579 million globally. At the tour’s inaugural event, Beyoncé debuted songs from the Grammy-winning album that inspired the tour’s moniker.
14. Britney Spears Memoir
For years, Britney Spears fans have been eager to hear the singer talk about her life in the spotlight and her 13-year conservatorship. And answering all the questions she wrote a startling autobiography this year called The Woman in Me, which examined her career from the beginning of The Mickey Mouse Club to the present.
15. BTS members’ Shinning Solo Careers
In 2023, was a tough year for the BTS fans aka the Army. The Grammy-nominated band completely enlisted in South Korean military activities will all members joining their duties. But before that, these K-pop stars released multiple solo projects like V’s Layover, Jimin’s Face and more, breaking numerous records and giving a taste of what’s yet to come in their 2025.
16. Celebs Getting Hit By Objects On Stage
This year’s bizarre news didn’t have Oscar slaps but several celebrities made headlines when different objects were hurled in their faces at concerts and other occasions. Fans threw items at or near pop stars including Cardi B, Drake, Harry Styles, Pink, and Kelsea Ballerini. In June, a concertgoer hurled a mobile at Bebe Rexha, resulting in her hospitalisation with several stitches. Something we want to forget.
17. The Rise Of Roman Empire
How often do you think about the Roman Empire or What is your Roman Empire? These two question kept pop culture on hook. Women asking men how often they think about the Roman Empire on reels with the answers are being more and more obscure kept memes flooding everywhere. And if you ask us our Roman Empire would be the dazzling ELLE Beauty Awards.
18. Girl-fication Of The Internet
This year, girlhood dominated pop culture. On reels, various characters gained popularity, like the tomato girl, rat girl, strawberry girl, wild girl, clean girl, and others. Even the most ordinary parts of our existence have been given a girl touch. You may have engaged in ‘girl math’ to rationalise your Black Friday purchases, gone on a ‘hot girl walk’ or lived ‘a hot girl summer’, thought about leaving your corporate career for a ‘lazy girl job’, danced to ‘It Girl’ or feed into a ‘girl dinner‘ Girlies.