The top pop culture retrospectives of 2018

What anniversaries will you be reading about in 2018? From 30 years of the web to 15 years since that Madonna/Britney kiss, take a trip down memory lane with Suzanne Harrington.

IT’S the New Year, so obviously we will all want to flick backwards through our pop culture memories and remind ourselves how rapidly we are ageing by looking at the following snippets and screaming, ‘Oh my god, was it really that long ago?’ The answer is yes. Yes it was.

It’s been 10 years since...

  • Barack Obama showed us that Yes He Could, by becoming America’s first black president. Aretha Franklin sang at his inauguration and everyone cried. (With joy. A decade later, we would cry again, this time in dismay).
  • Norway knighted a penguin, Brigadier Sir Nils Olav III. He was previously Commander in Chief until his promotion at Edinburgh Zoo, in his role as mascot for the Norwegian Army. Norway has been knighting penguins since 1972.
  • In January 2008, Britney Spears was finally diagnosed with bi-polar after a protracted breakdown played out in the tabloids — by December 2008 she was No 1 in the album charts.
  • Harrison Ford returned to the swashbuckling role of Indiana Jones aged 65. Nobody mentioned his age, because he is a man.
  • Madonna turned 50. Everyone mentioned her age, because she is a woman. Prince and Michael Jackson also turned 50, but they are no longer with us. Madge will hit 60 this August.
  • The first Sex & The City film was released, resulting in a tsunami of oestrogen engulfing cinemas. Mamma Mia caused a mass outbreak of lady karaoke; both films broke the box office, the latter appealing to a frequently ignored demographic, the menopausal middle aged.
  • Polaroid stopped making instant film. Hipsters cried.
  • Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand got into trouble for leaving hideously inappropriate messages on the answer machine of Manuel from Fawlty Towers. Russell Brand went on to become a folk hero, but only after he’d sorted out his sex addiction.
  • Heath Ledger accidentally died from drugs. Bo Diddly, Paul Newman, Eartha Kitt, Bettie Page, and Yves Saint Laurent died from natural causes, and the writer David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest, died from depression.

It’s been 15 years since...

  • The Da Vinci Code was published, making its author Dan Brown insanely rich. The book was banned in Lebanon because it was deemed offensive — not to decent writing, but to Christianity. Although the first reason would have worked too.
  • Beyonce and Jay-Z released ‘Crazy In Love’, and everybody cheered.
  • Banksy smuggled a piece of his own artwork into London’s Tate Gallery, and managed to hang it, and leave, while filming the entire process, without being caught.
  • Cheryl Tweedy, who would later go on to become Cheryl Cole and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, was convicted of assault, which was accused of being racially motivated, on a bathroom attendant (she was found guilty of assault, but cleared of the racism allegation). We forgave her.
  • Victoria Beckham was still primarily known for her hair extensions and augmented bosoms, rather than the tailored chic of her future designs. She didn’t smile then either.
  • Britney and Madonna had that stage-managed snog at the VMA awards, designed to grab headlines. Their ploy succeeded.
  • The Nokia 3200 was the most exciting phone on the market.
  • Christina Aguilera was deemed one of the year’s hottest women, while Paris Hilton, who cannot sing, released a sex tape instead.
  • The word McJob was added to the dictionary. It would be some years before the term ‘zero hours contract’ made having a McJob seem like a an achievement.
  • Music lost legends Johnny Cash, Nina Simone and Barry White.

It’s been 20 years since...

  • The Good Friday Agreement changed the course of Irish history, and everyone exhaled. Until Brexit. Now we are all hyperventilating again.
  • France won the World Cup in France. Oooh la la.
  • Google was founded. Its name was initially a spelling mistake, which should have been Googol. In the decades that have elapsed, google has become a verb.
  • The American FDA approved Viagra, making untold men stiffen with joy. Many attempts at lady Viagra have been attempted, but the female equivalent remains stubbornly old fashioned — the Rabbit.
  • “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” became the most notorious sentence of the year, as President Bill Clinton threw a young intern, Monica Lewinsky, under the bus. A blue dress from Gap and a cigar became culturally significant for quite unpleasant reasons.
  • Apple invented the iMac, and the first MP3 appeared.
  • Armageddon and Godzilla were cinematic hits.
  • A British cat inherited the equivalent of approximately €10 million, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s richest cat.
  • Nintendo 64 and Furbys were popular Christmas presents.
  • Frank Sinatra, Tammy Wynette, Sonny Bono, and Linda McCartney died of natural causes — while Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG were shot to death, and footballer Justin Fashanau took his own life.

It’s been 25 years since...

  • The Barbie Liberation Organisation caused hilarity/disruption (depending on your perspective) in US toy shops by swapping the voice boxes of GI Joe and Barbie dolls as a comment on gender stereotyping. Pink/blue chaos ensued as GI Joe squeaked about going shopping and doing his hair.
  • Sleepless in Seattle was released with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and became everyone’s top romcom.
  • The Cranberries released Everyone Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We?, and Bjork gave us Human Behaviour.
  • The first ever X Files was aired, allowing ‘The truth is out there’ to slip into the cultural lexicon.
  • Jurassic Park was one of the year’s top films, and Cheers – where everybody knows your name - aired its last series.
  • Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder broke up as Whitney Houston released ‘I Will Always Love You’ from the movie The Bodyguard, providing decades of future Ai-ee-Ai-ee karaoke imitations. Thanks for that.
  • Apartheid ended in South Africa, so we were able to stop boycotting South African fruit.
  • 20th century icons Dizzy Gillespie, Audrey Hepburn and Rudolph Nureyev died.

It’s been 30 years since…

  • Everything started with an E, as DJ Danny Rampling opened his seminal club Shoom — capacity 300 — in a sports centre in an unfashionable London backstreet. The smiley faces that decorated the club became a lasting symbol of an entire dance culture, symbolising Acid House and beyond.
  • “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way,” purred Jessica Rabbit, voiced by Kathleen Turned, in the hit film of the year Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
  • Just Do It became the Nike slogan.
  • A computer network, the World Wide Web began life at CERN, Switzerland.
  • Milli Vanilli were exposed as lip syncers and did not win a Grammy.
  • The Seoul Olympics released dozens of doves at its opening ceremony to symbolise peace, but accidentally cooked them when the Olympic flames were fired up moments after their release. Ping pong became an Olympic sport.
  • Actress Barbara Hershey had collagen injections in her lips, prompting an urban myth that her lips exploded on a flight due to cabin pressure. They didn’t. We just didn’t know anything about cosmetic surgery back then.
  • Mikhail Gorbachov introduced Glasnost in the Soviet Union, which resulted in a major thaw in East-West relations, preceding the dissolution of the USSR.
  • Guns ’n’ Roses had a hit with’ Sweet Child O’ Mine’.
  • Divine, the notorious drag queen from John Waters’ early movies, died. So did Kenneth Williams, Roy Orbison and Chet Baker.

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