1 JAY-Z IS SORRY, SO VERY SORRY, OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE
WHAT HAPPENED? On ‘4:44’, Jay-Z finally addressed the what-were-you-thinking adultery that had inspired Beyonce’s fearsome ‘Lemonade’, and his self-lacerating honesty made him sound more vital and engaging than he had in years.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Jay later revealed that he and Bey had recorded a post-affair joint album in an attempt to heal their marriage. And no, we’ll never hear it – but can you imagine?
WINNERS? Beyonce. Beyonce is always the winner. C’mon.
LOSERS? For all his mea culpa-ing, it’s hard not to think a little less of Jay-Z. Wharra twonk.
2 ‘DESPACITO’ WAS EVERYWHERE AND WE DIDN’T HATE IT
WHAT HAPPENED? Every summer needs an earworm megahit that soundtracks your every moment: it’s there as you queue in Asda, Uber to the gig, split up with that one, cop off with the next one. This year’s champ was Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s ‘Despacito’, which managed to be hooky as hell without driving you insane when you heard it the 50th, 100th, 500th time.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Bieber’s remix rocketed ‘Despacito’ even further into the stratosphere, its trajectory unaffected by the video of Justin singing the Spanish sections as “blah blah blah”. What is he like?
WINNERS? With ‘Despacito’ hitting Number One in 47 countries, those’d be Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.
LOSERS? Ya boy Sheeran, whose ‘Galway Girl’ was denied the honour of being 2017’s Undisputed Song of the Summer. If only he’d cack-handedly co-opted Hispanic culture, things coulda been different.
3 BEYONCÉ’S TWINS BROKE THE INTERNET
WHAT HAPPENED? In February, Queen Bey announced she was pregnant via a typically low-key Instagram post; in July, she followed up with a similarly just-hangin’-out pic unveiling her one-month-olds. Super-casual!
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? February’s post became Instagram’s most-liked of 2017; July’s, the fourth most-liked.
WINNERS? Rumi and Sir Carter, who already rule social media before they can walk.
LOSERS? Your meticulously planned, carefully executed selfie up at Glastonbury’s Stone Circle (two likes, one spam comment – oof).
4 WHAT IF HARRY STYLES RELEASED A SOFT-ROCK ALBUM AND IT WAS GOOD?
WHAT HAPPENED? Harry Styles released a soft-rock album.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? It was good!
WINNERS? Harry Styles, who released a soft-rock album that was good.
LOSERS? People who were mad that A) Harry Styles (boo!) had released a soft-rock album (how dare he!) and B) it was good (gaaah this is all wrong!).
5 ‘AQUIESCE’ LIED TO US – TURNS OUT LIAM DIDN’T NEED NOEL AT ALL
WHAT HAPPENED? Liam ends 2017 with a well-received solo album under his belt and full-blown ‘national treasure’ status, thanks to a series of sublimely bananas interviews that revealed a Zen-like and politically progressive new outlook on life. And Noel? Well, months of grumpy-rich-guy pronouncements were enough for N*g*l F*r*ge to label him a “legend”. Mate.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Guess who’ll be receiving the Godlike Genius Award at the 2018 NME Awards? (“About f**king time as far as I’m concerned,” says the man himself.)
WINNERS? Liam, clearly.
LOSERS? Noel, sadly. (For now, at least…)
6 A TWINKLY-EYED 68-YEAR-OLD WAS THE YEAR’S ABSOLUTE BOY
WHAT HAPPENED? In a year short on heroes, Jeremy Corbyn offered a glimmer of hope to millennials and Gen Xers. Jez was hoisted aloft by UK pop culture like no other politician in living memory: there was #Grime4Corbyn; the “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” chant to the refrain of ‘Seven Nation Army’; and a Glasto slot buzzier than any of the headliners’. A few sick bars over a Skepta banger and Corbz coulda been Number One all summer long.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? The #youthquake, upending a ‘foregone conclusion’ general election and shaking the Tories to the core.
WINNERS? Although Jeremy technically lost the election, he kinda sorta won it.
LOSERS? Aaand reverse the above for Maybot.
7 TAYLOR SWIFT AIN’T NUTHING TA F**K WIT
WHAT HAPPENED? “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cos she’s dead!” And with that, Swifto mutated from Goofball Prom Queen to Scowly Mean Girl. “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me”. Brrr.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ was ‘allegedly’ about Tay’s long-running, hugely entertaining feud with Kanye West. We’re still awaiting his lyrical response, which’ll undoubtedly be as gracious as it is high-minded. *Turns to camera, raises eyebrow*
WINNERS? Taylor Swift tbh. The most surprising thing about her heel turn is how chillingly convincing it’s been.
LOSERS? Kanye. Let’s call it 3-2 to Taylor at this point – your move, Yeezy.
8 IF YOU’RE A SLEAZEBAG, YOU ARE DONE
WHAT HAPPENED? As Harvey Weinstein’s stomach-churning behaviour came to light, women (and a handful of men) across the film and TV industries recounted their own experiences. Previously untouchable men watched their worlds implode as the horrifying extent of sexual misconduct in the entertainment business – and, by extension, society at large – was laid bare.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? With the music industry now cleaning house – Def Jam’s Russell Simmons and Crystal Castles’ Ethan Kath are among the first named-and-shamed – you can expect this bonfire to keep burning well into 2018.
WINNERS? In ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’ terms, at least, the winners here would be the newly validated victims.
LOSERS? Louis CK, Steven Seagal, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey – the list goes on (and on, and on).
9 RICK AND MORTY SUPERFANS ARE WACK A.F.
WHAT HAPPENED? ‘Rick and Morty’’s third season featured a storyline that revolved around Rick’s obsession with a Szechuan sauce McDonald’s briefly offered back in 1998. Capitalising on this – with the tragic over-eagerness of an uncle idly asked about his CD collection – McDonald’s reissued the sauce, for one day only, in woefully insufficient quantities.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? The worst element of Rick And Morty fandom –entitled, cellar-dwelling 4channers – lost their s**t when they were unable to get hold of their hero’s fave condiment. We’re talking full-on toddlering – screaming, crying, the works.
WINNERS? Nobody covered themselves in glory here.
LOSERS? Non-dickhead ‘Rick and Morty’ fans, forced to conceal their true selves for fear of being lumped in with the screechy babymen.
— KevinFitness (@Chauncey_Boy) October 7, 2017
10 LANA DEL REY DID THE BAD MAGIC ON TRUMP
WHAT HAPPENED? Back in February Lana Del Rey encouraged her Twitter followers to join her in performing a series of occult ‘binding’ rituals that would, she hoped, remove Donald Trump from office. “Your thoughts are powerful things,” she later explained to NME, “and they become words, words become actions, actions lead to physical charges.”
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? The president’s blackened heart exploded live on Fox News.
WINNERS? Lana (we wish).
LOSERS? Trump (we wish).
11 MEME OF THE YEAR: DISTRACTED BOYFRIEND
WHAT HAPPENED? A boyfriend in a stock photo is distracted by another woman.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Meme-makers use it to describe infinitesimal ménages-à-trois between people and things.
WINNERS? Salt Bae, Roll Safe and Disbelief Guy deserve honourable mentions.
LOSERS? Distracted Boyfriend’s girlfriend. Dump his ass, gurl!
12 THE MANY MOODS OF WINONA ARE AS VARIED AS THEY ARE FLEETING
WHAT HAPPENED? Taking the stage alongside her Stranger Things castmates at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Winona Ryder – for reasons known only to herself – ran the full gamut of human facial expressions in under 30 seconds. Mesmerising scenes.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? One of year’s great memes was born.
WINNERS? Winona, for making the truly inexplicable seem adorable.
LOSERS? David Harbour (Jim Hopper), whose acceptance speech was upstaged into next week.
13 MP3 (1993-2017)
WHAT HAPPENED? In May, the Fraunhofer Institute, inventors of the MP3, announced they’d no longer be licensing the 24-year-old format, thereby effectively reading it the last rites.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Sainsbury’s announced it was setting up a boutique vinyl-only record label. What the f**k even was 2017, honestly.
WINNERS? The MP3, eventually, when it’s ironically resurrected by hipsters in 2029.
LOSERS? Your lovingly curated noughties iTunes library just took one step closer to obsolescence.
14 MILLENNIALS DISCOVERED THAT NATALIE IMBRUGLIA’S ‘TORN’ IS A COVER
WHAT HAPPENED? Shock.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Despair.
WINNERS? Imbruglia, whose version rocketed up streaming charts as a result.
LOSERS? Imbruglia, who’ll struggle to get anyone under 35 ever to trust her again.
15 FYRE FESTIVAL LOL
WHAT HAPPENED? Bored rich kid Billy McFarland and his mate Ja Rule decided to throw an ultra-luxurious festival, for the worst people in the world, on an obscure Bahamian island.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? As business journalist Bryan Burrough observed, “It’s tempting to say nothing went as planned, but that would assume actual plans had been made.”
WINNERS? Ha! Nooo.
LOSERS? The traumatised attendees, the social media giants who promoted Fyre Festival – including Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski – but most of all, McFarland and Ja Rule, now up to their eyes in s**t-scary lawsuits.
16 BEEF IS BACK (AND IT’S DELICIOUS)
WHAT HAPPENED? Feuds, glorious feuds! Father John Misty vs Ryan Adams! Nicki Minaj vs Remy Ma! Marilyn Manson vs Justin Bieber! Noel’s kids vs Liam’s kids! Wooo!
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Snide subtweets, lyrical sideswipes and the occasional buried hatchet.
WINNERS? Look, it’s not about who ‘won’. Let’s try and elevate the cultural discourse, yeah?
LOSERS? Minaj defo lost her one, though.
17 IT’S SURPRISINGLY TRICKY TO CGI A MOUSTACHE AWAY
WHAT HAPPENED? 1) Henry Cavill grows a voluminous ’tache for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible 6. 2) Cavill is required to nip off and reshoot scenes for Warner Bros’ Justice League; Paramount forbids him from shaving. 3) Warner Bros CGI Cavill’s ’tache away. Very very badly.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Everyone laughs at Superman’s weird-ass new face.
WINNERS? Sniggering Paramount execs.
LOSERS? The DC superhero movie franchise, an ongoing calamity of bozo-brained decisions.
18 GAME OF THRONES WENT THERE
WHAT HAPPENED? Game Of Thrones has pushed every boundary imaginable, but surely it wouldn’t eroticise auntie-on-nephew incest – would it?
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? It would.
WINNERS? Well, Daenerys and Jon seem happy enough, the derty gets.
LOSERS? We can imagine the icky awk at family-gathering GoT viewing parties.
19 YOUR REPUTATION IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE LAST PERSON YOU KICKED IN THE FACE
WHAT HAPPENED? This year has seen a staggering number of public figures hit the self-destruct button on their reputations, with Josh Homme among the most disheartening. There he was, riding high with a well-received QOTSA album and a charming appearance on CBeebies’ Bedtime Stories…
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? …before inexplicably kicking photographer Chelsea Lauren in the face during a gig in LA, at which he also dubbed the audience “retards”. Why, Josh? Why though?
WINNERS? Common decency: Homme’s first excuse, about being lost in performance, was derided as nonsense, forcing a more contrite response.
LOSERS? Rocking toddlers: another two Homme-fronted CBeebies stories have been shelved by the BBC.
20 ED SHEERAN IS A SINISTER GENIUS
WHAT HAPPENED? We’re not saying Sheeran cynically engineered ‘Galway Girl’ to be the all-conquering lowbrow cash cow it was, but shortly before its release he did say this: “There’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not – and those people are going to f**king love it.”
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? They f**king loved it.
WINNERS? Ed’s bottom line.
LOSERS? Ed’s artistic integrity, and the good people of Galway, who did nothing to deserve this.