Pop culture is all about the joy of the discovery.Think about it. There’s nothing better than unearthing something new, something fresh, something you’ve literally never seen or heard before and watching as the world opens up its eyes and lets that thing seriously break big. And 2018 was all about discoveries. Whether it was a workhorse actress finally getting her due or an Olympian becoming a global icon, a talking point that haunted the A Star Is Born press tour or the latest meme to divide the internet, there was so much to be discovered. If 2016 was the year of realizing stuff, then 2018 was the year of discovering things—ya dig?So before we say head into 2019 and all these things inevitably get overexposed—that is, if they aren’t already teetering on the brink already—let’s take one last look at all that we learned about, obsessed over, and, at times, cringed at this year.
We humbly present our handy A-Z guide of everyone and everything we discovered in 2018!
He became the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to win a medal in a Winter Olympics when he took home bronze in the figure skating team event in Peyongchang, South Korea this year, but he won our hearts thanks to his endlessly entertaining social media activity and his winning turn on season 26 of Dancing With the Stars. He may have retired from competitive figure skating in November, but expect him to be in our lives in some capacity for many, many years to come.
Bradley Cooper’s Singing Voice
We knew he could act. We had a pretty good feeling he’d be a great director. But who know B-Coops could saaaaang?! Excuse us, that’s Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter B-Coops now. BRB, we’re going to listen to “Maybe It’s Time” for the 34287th time.
Crazy Rich Asians’ Cast
Not only did CRA help revive the rom-com and deliver a watershed moment in Asian representation in film, but it also finally gave Constance Wu her due, delivered a new sex symbol in Henry Golding, allowed Awkwafina to take over the damn world, and rightfully made stars out of Gemma Chan, Nico Santos, Sonoya Mizuno and more. This cast was seriously stacked, you guys.
The way in which we learned that Adonis existed may have been petty AF—we’re looking at you, Pusha T—but we learned about him nonetheless. And to hear Drake coo about his son’s eyes, as he did in October on LeBron James’ The Shop, was pretty adorable.
If you turned on the radio right now, there’s a 99.99 percent chance that you’d come across the English R&B breakout’s hit “Boo’d Up.” And considering it was released all the way back in February, that’s beyond impressive.
Look, we don’t really get what this game is either, but all your nieces and nephews were obsessed with it this year anyway. All we know is that you can make your character dance and Alfonso Ribiero is suing the game’s developer, Epic Games, for stealing his signature “Carlton” dance.
Gaga’s “100 People in a Room” Speech
Say it with us now: “There can be a hundred people in the room and 99 don’t believe in you. And just one does.” That’ll do, L. Gaga. That’ll do.
The Australian stand-up comedian had been entertaining audiences down under for years, but she burst onto the international stage when Netflix released her searing comedy special Nanette in June. Over the course of 69 brutally honest minutes, Gadsby pushed her art form to new territory and a star was born. We simply cannot wait to see what she does next.
“I Like It” by Cardi B
This was the song of the summer from the artist of the year. ‘Nuff said.
Jodies Comer and Whittaker
One played a psychopathic assassin in Killing Eve; the other, the latest to take on Doctor Who’s titular character—and the first woman to do so. Both are English. Both are named Jodie. Both kicked ass on TV this year.
No one broke bigger in 20GAYTEEN than the “Curious” singer, who brought vital lesbian representation to music, along with some serious bops. It’s no wonder she earned the biggest endorsement of all—a surprise guest appearance at one of Taylor Swift’s reputation Stadium Tour stops—this year.
This British reality series, which takes a group of contestants to the titular isle and forces them to couple up another another to survive and hopefully take home a cash prize, was already a hit in the UK, three seasons deep, when Hulu became its exclusive U.S. home in April. When the streaming service began airing new episode of season four as they aired concurrently in the UK, its audience increased by nearly five times. And for good reason—we couldn’t get enough of the addictive, trashy fun. Naturally, an American adaptation is coming to CBS in the new year.
Love her or hate her, there was no one in the comedy world who generated more headlines than this Daily Show vet who mercilessly skewered the Trump Administration at this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner. Sure, her Netflix series, The Break, came and went, but this was a star-making year for the comedian, without a doubt.
Before Netflix’s Summer of Love, the actor was simply the guy who replaced Jake T. Austin on The Fosters. But thanks to the back-to-back releases of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser—part of the streaming service’s rom-com resurrection—he became the internet boyfriend of the year. With a co-starring role in the upcoming Charlie’s Angels reboot and a sequel to To All the Boys on tap for 2019, Centineo’s future looks bright.
Look, of course we know that this English powerhouse has been slaying audiences across the pond for years and years. And yes, she won a Golden Globe last year for her work in The Night Manager. But now that she’s landed herself one of the most coveted gigs in Hollywood, replacing Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth on Netflix’s The Crown for its upcoming third season, and generated serious Oscar buzz for her work as Queen Anne in The Favourite, it’s safe to say that this year was Colman’s year.
Pharrell Williams’ “Sneezing”
Don’t know what we’re talking about? Turn on Ariana Grande’s “Sweetener” and listen reaaaaaal closely.
Queer Eye’s Fab Five
It certainly feels like Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Jonathan Van Ness have been in our lives a lot longer than February, when Netflix debuted its smash hit revival of the groundbreaking reality series, which originally aired on Bravo. They’ve been everywhere in 2018: charming at award shows, lighting up our Instagram feeds, guest-starring on TV shows, even making over the town of Yass, New South Wales in Australia! Just don’t ask us to pick our favorite out of the Fab Five because this case of alchemical perfect casting is truly a case of “You can’t have one without the other…”
Royal Family Drama
Thanks to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s blessed union, merging two beloved houses (the United Kingdom’s House of Windsor and central Florida’s House of Markle, naturally), 2018 was all about those doggone royals. Whether it was all the glamour of the royal wedding, the excitement of Markle’s pregnancy announcement, the alleged feuding between the duchesses, or the very public one-sided feuding courtesy of Samantha and Thomas Markle, it felt like 2018 was all royals, all the time. And that’s exactly how we like it.
It was a big year for this Degrassi alum, who not only stunned on the small screen with his Golden-Globe nominated work in Amazon’s Homecoming, but on the big screen as well in director Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk.
Taylor Swift’s Politics
For years, the pop superstar had remained decidedly apolotical, keeping her thoughts to herself. Not anymore. Not only did she endorse liberal candidates in her home state of Tennessee, but she also just might’ve caused a massive spike in voter registration among young people in the process.
Up and Vanished
Very few true-crime podcasts actually help solve the cold cases they obsessively shine a spotlight on, but this one, hosted by Payne Lindsey, did just that when arrests were made in connection to the disappearance of beauty queen Tara Grinstead. Fewer still make the leap to TV, as this one did in November when Oxygen exposed the case and the dogged armchair investigator who cracked it wide open to an audience of people who’ve probably never listened to a podcast in their lives.
Victoria Beckham’s Insistence
As the rest of the Spice Girls were reminded, Easy V doesn’t come for free. Why? ‘Cuz she’s a real lady. That 2019 reunion tour will have to carry on without her.
Between breaking box office boundaries and introducing the world to a pair of breakout actors (Letitia Wright and Winston Duke), letting black women bask in their power (seeing Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa protected by his all-female Dora Milaje special forces was a sight to behold) and making Michael Bae Jordan take his shirt off, Black Panther had us wishing we never had to leave the fictional African nation at the heart of it all. Wakanda forever, indeed.
Not all discoveries are welcome, and the gruesome and haunting stories surrounding the late SoundCloud rapper (born Jahseh Onfroy), who was gunned down on June 18, are proof. His posthumous released made him a chart sensation in death, but his laundry list of alleged crimes left us too shook to find the joy in that.
Or is it Laurel? On second thought, nevermind. Don’t answer that.
OK, sure, the actress first came to our attention when Donald Glover’s groundbreaking comedy Atlanta aired its first season on FX back in 2016. But 2018 was truly her year thanks to a star-making turn as Domino in Deadpool 2 and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy.
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