With the return of postponed events such as the Grammys, Olympics, and the Met Gala taking place for the first time since the start of the pandemic, 2021 was a busy year for pop culture. From surprise celebrity marriages and shocking divorces to the return of live music, album releases, and popular tv shows. Here are 10 pop culture moments that happened in 2021.
After a year of orders to stay inside, the Grammys returned on March 14, 2021. The night consisted of spectacular performances from Doja Cat with “Say So”, Megan Thee Stallion ft. Cardi B with “WAP“, and Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open”. Beyoncé made history as the most awarded artist in Grammy history, winning her 28th Grammy for Best R&B performance with “Black Parade”. Blue Ivy Carter made history as the youngest person ever to win a Grammy for “Brown Skinned Girl” at nine years old. Megan Thee Stallion was the first female artist to win Best Rap Song for “Savage Remix” ft. Beyoncé along with winning awards for Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance for “Savage Remix” ft. Beyoncé.
Gorilla Glue Girl
Tessica Brown, known to the public as “Gorilla Glue Girl” went viral back in February 2021 after accidentally using Gorilla Glue as hairspray. Originally posted on TikTok, Brown’s video was a plea for help and a warning to those who might consider Gorilla Glue as an alternative to hairspray. The video spread like wildfire, making Brown an internet meme. Brown’s newfound clout landed her a shoutout on Nicki Minaj’s song “Fractions” with the infamous lyric “Head game slicker than little miss Gorilla Glue”. Shortly after the video went viral, Brown received free surgery from plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Obeng, who successfully removed the gorilla glue. Nowadays, Brown is busy with her new haircare line “Forever Hair” geared towards people dealing with hair loss and damage.
2021 was a busy year for the Kardashians. The year started off with rumors of Kimye’s divorce which turned out to be true. On February 19, 2021, Kim Kardashian West filed for divorce from her husband, Kanye West, after seven years of marriage. Kardashian is seeking joint custody over the couple’s four children, North, Saint, Chicago, and Psalm. Despite the couple’s ongoing divorce, Kardashian attended all of West’s listening parties for his latest album, Donda. On August 26, 2021, during the Chicago Donda listening party, Kardashian appeared in a Balenciaga Couture wedding gown during West’s performance of “No Child Left Behind”. After hosting Saturday Night Live, back in October, Kardashian was spotted holding hands with rumored boyfriend SNL comedian Pete Davidson. Currently, Kardashian is filling documents to declare herself “officially single”.
Ariana Grande got Married
On May 26, 2021, Ariana Grande surprised the internet when she revealed that she married real estate agent, Dalton Gomez, at her home in Montecito, California just a day before. The couple reportedly started dating at the beginning of 2020 and went public in the “Stuck with U” music video by Ariana featuring Justin Bieber. By December 2020, the couple happily announced their engagement via Instagram in a series of photos titled “Forever n then some”. This is Grande’s second engagement after calling it off with ex-fiance, Pete Davidson back in October 2018. Luckily, the singer got her “Thank U, Next” wish, walking down the aisle in a custom Vera Wang wedding gown inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face (1957).
A year after being postponed, the Olympics finally commenced this past summer in Tokyo, Japan. Olympic-winning gymnast, Simone Biles had all eyes on her with expectations to take home the Gold again for Team USA. While competing, Biles experienced a gymnast’s worst nightmare, the “twisties”. The “twisties” is a dangerous condition that happens when a gymnast loses their place in the air, putting them at risk of injuring themselves when they land. This came along with undergoing legal proceedings against former U.S. women’s national gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, and the unexpected loss of her aunt while competing. Collectively, this caused Biles to withdraw from the women’s team final at the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health. This decision faced Biles with support from the public and criticism from haters saying that she “quit”.
The outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.(@Simone_Biles) July 29, 2021
Biles ended up shortly returning back to compete in the individual balance beam final, winning bronze. Despite Biles’s temporary leave, Team the USA won silver in the Team Final. Since the Olympics, Biles has gone on to be crowned Times 2021 “Athlete of the Year” for her brave decision.
2021 saw the return of the Met Gala “fashion’s biggest night of the year” or as Twitter calls it – celebrity prom. It’s been two years after the 2019 Met Gala “Camp: Notes on Fashion”, and one year since the postponed 2020 Met Gala “About Time: Fashion and Duration”. The Met Gala is usually held on the first Monday of May every year but with COVID-19 this year the Gala was divided into two exhibits.
The first part “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” happened on September 13, 2021. Celebrities and designers sought inspiration from old Hollywood, the wild west, and American politics. Cara Delevingne and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore outfits that served as a commentary on the state of the country. While Yara Shahidi, Barbie Ferreira, and Billie Eilish channeled old Hollywood with their gowns. Rihanna and Kim Kardashian both wore all Balenciaga outfits, quickly becoming memes on the internet. The Met Gala will be returning May 2, 2022, with its second exhibit “In America: An Anthology of Fashion”.
Lil Nas X is Pregnant
Lil Nas X had one of the most creative album rollouts of the year. He announced the release of his debut album and “baby” Montero through a pregnancy reveal, due on September 17, 2021. Earlier this year, Lil Nas X landed himself in hot water with religious figures for the release of his “Satan Shoes” filled with human blood promoting his single “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”. The controversy grew after the release of the music video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” which depicted the rapper making his way down to Hell via a stripper pole and giving Satan a lap dance, killing him, and assuming the role of Satan. This caused an uproar from conservatives who deemed the music harmful to children due to depictions of Satan and homosexuality. Despite the controversy, Lil Nas X received public praise for being “unabashedly queer”.
Recently Montero has been nominated for Album of the year at the 2022 Grammys. Along with “Industry Baby” featuring Jack Harlow nominated for Best Melodic Rap Performance. As well as “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” nominated for Best Music Video, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year.
Released on September 17th, 2021, Netflix’s original series, Squid Game quickly became a worldwide sensation. According to Netflix, viewers watched 1.65 billion hours of Squid Game in its first 28 days, making it the most-watched TV show on the streaming service. Squid Game is a Korean survival drama in which a group of 456 indebted people play children’s games in hopes of winning a massive cash prize. However, failing any of the games results in death. Inspired by the series creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk’s experiences being poor, Squid Game is a social commentary about capitalism.
Celebrity, Chrissy Tiegan was under fire with the internet last month after hosting a Squid Game-themed party. People called out Tiegan’s decision to host an expensive party dedicated to a show critiquing capitalism as tone-deaf. Currently, Netflix has not confirmed the second season of Squid Game. However, Dong-hyuk confirmed the second season of the series is in the works.
Travis Scott’s third annual Astroworld Festival took place on November 5th, 2021, in Houston, Texas. Nobody could have predicted the tragic events that would unfold that night. During the festival when Scott was performing, a crowd surge pushed concertgoers toward the stage, crushing and trampling fans, leading to 10 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Despite, the cries for help from the crowd, Scott still continued to perform oblivious to deaths happening – resulting in over 300 lawsuits against Scott and the event organizer, Live Nation.
Scott has denied the allegations from the Astroworld Festival lawsuits and requested the allegations be dismissed. On December 9th, 2021, Scott spoke out in his first interview with Charlamagne Tha God, saying he was not aware of fans’ injuries until after the concert was over. After the tragic events of Astroworld, Scott has been removed as a headliner from the Coachella 2022 lineup. Additionally, Scott’s spiked seltzer brand, Cacti, has been discontinued which launched earlier in 2021. Along with Scott’s Air Max 1 x Cactus Jack sneaker collaboration with Nike being delayed.
In 2021, #FreeBritney finally became a reality. #FreeBritney is a social movement that began in 2008 spearheaded by fans to grant Britney Spears autonomy from her father’s conservatorship. Over the past few years, the #FreeBritney movement has become mainstream with documentaries like Framing Britney Spears (2021) and Controlling Britney Spears (2021) reporting on the state of Spear’s conservatorship. After 13 years under conservatorship, Spears spoke for the first time in June 2021, about the conditions of her conservatorship controlling her career, finances, and worst of all reproductive rights. On November 12, 2021, Spears was granted freedom from her father’s conservatorship after numerous court hearings. Fans from all over the world celebrated the monumental day online.
What was your favorite pop culture moment? Let us know in the comments. Til next year!