Written by Thomas Chou
Oh, 2018—where do we even begin? From celebrity babies, to rap beefs, to Internet child stars, is there any stone that we’ve left unturned this year? Before we start fully ringing in the new year that is 2019, we at Thread are taking some time to reflect on the insanity that was pop culture in 2018. This holiday season, take a break from rockin’ around the Christmas tree to think about all the memes and moments we’ve collectively experienced. If you’re having a hard time thinking back that far, check out this roundup of some of the most earth-shattering clickbait from this past year. You’re welcome, we do it in the name of *culture*.
Kardashian Klan - The Expansion Pack
When I look back on years previous, I categorize them up top by Kardashian/Jenner moments. Oh, 2014? Kim got robbed. 2012? The Dark Ages when Kim was with Kris Humphries. Now, 2018, you say? Well, the Kardashians/Jenners certainly had a fruitful year when it comes to child rearing, with a whopping three babies conceived. Kris Jenner’s surely rolling around her closet in Chanel this holiday season. Kylie’s mystery baby was one of the most significant celebrity news stories of this year, after the 20-year-old starlet took some time off from social media to experience pregnancy in private. Is it just me, or is that kind of selfish?
This scares me a little bit, but as a pop cultural enthusiast I have no choice but to accept this. 2018 was undoubtedly the year of children who are much younger than me becoming more famous (and wealthier) than I will ever be. Think Lil Tay, Bhad Bhabie, Jojo Siwa, and Life with Mak, these Internet phenomenons-turned-celebrity have been the ultimate middle finger to those who say Internet stars never make it. Who needs grown-men rappers when you have Lil Tay and Bhad Bhabie cursing us out to the moon and back? Who needs to eat when you can watch Life with Mak do it via ASMR? Jojo Siwa sold 45 million hairbows this year through her insane merchandising deals with Walmart and other retailers—she has an entire stockroom full of her merch in her house. Now tell me, how many bows with your face on it did you sell in 2018?
Petti Minaj vs. Cardi Beef
There’s nothing that titilates the soul quite like a juicy rap feud, and this year marked one of the most drawn-out and exhausting ones we’ve seen yet. Now, we all have our shady moments, but this public feud had the kettle on full boil, screaming! Checking social media became all but synonymous with staying updated on this beef between the female rap legend and a scrappy newcomer who’s made major waves this year with her music. From the iconic Motorsport tea to the legendary Harper’s Bazaar Icons Party brawl, you’d think this feud was orchestrated with how many slights (and shoes) these ladies have thrown at each other this past year. Thankfully they’ve begun to patch things up as the year has come to close, but time will can only tell how the Queen and Bardi will make things work in the following year. I hate how invested I am in this, but I’ll chalk that up to *gay culture* as a whole.
Recently, I was talking with some people and mentioned that while I appreciate “Sweetener” as a body of work, I was a little disappointed to hear her new direction. Someone cheekily retorted—and I will never forget—“Why? Is it because every song wasn’t ‘Side to Side’?”
As a #gay, this hurt. It was as if a piece of my rainbow-colored soul was forced to go outside and play football with my straight cousins. 2018 has not been the year of Ariana Grande, but rather the year when people stopped sleeping on the female vocalist of our generation. LMS if you’ve been a fan of hers since her orange spray tanned visage from her first single back in 2011. From the Manchester charity concert to the release of her new album—including her follow up singles—Ariana Grande single-handedly woke up our nation with her sweet melismas and an occasional, throaty “yuh”. With a cross-country move to East Coast gay-heaven (Chelsea, NYC) and a snatched ponytail like never before, there’s nothing stopping her now aside from delays on the 7 train.
Rupaul’s Drag Race
Yet again another significant aspect of #gay culture that has seen prominence in 2018, drag has never been more popular than ever. From its influence on mainstream makeup trends (think baking, extreme contour/highlight, overdrawn lips, MEN IN MAKEUP, etc.) to it’s highly quotable phrases (“hunty”, “Miss Vanjie”, “kitty girls”), RPDR is increasingly infiltrating pop culture and leaving behind a trail of glitter and dead butterflies (@Asia O’Hara) in its wake.
Lest we not forget this nugget:
“Time out, hold up. Hold up, sweetheart. Let's get it together before you wanna read. I don't have a sugar daddy, sweetheart. Everything that I've had, I've worked for, and I worked for to get and I've built myself. So you need to know that 100%. I don't have a sugar daddy, I've never had a sugar daddy. If I wanted a sugar daddy, yes, I probably can go out and get one, because I AM WHAT? SICKENING. You could never have a sugar daddy because you are NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL. Baby, everything I've had I worked for, and I've gotten myself. I built myself from the ground up, FUCKING BITCH!” - Shangela Laquifa Wadley (vixen, gluten-free spirit, artistic muse)
An interesting pop cultural phenomenon born out of the intersection between child Internet stans and gay men. Therefore, he has earned his place.
While the rest of high fashion is busy reacting to pop culture, the Bible for Instagram models is out here creating it. Can you imagine an Instagram landscape without the “Maura Mesh Dress” or Kylie Jenner-lookalikes busting out of some high-waist Fashion Nova jeans? The answer is no. Going so far as to create a full-on men’s line, there’s no stopping Fashion Nova when they’ve got some polyester lycra in one hand, and some coins in the other. Let’s pull those body-con sausage casings on, throw back a shot or two, and break our spines as we arch our backs for a couple pics in front of a white wall.
And thus concludes our definitive list of need-to-know moments from within the pop cultural zeitgeist that was 2018. It surely has been a lot, but if you’re a true pop cultural enthusiast such as myself, you know deep down it only makes you thirsty for more. On behalf of Thread, we wish all of you a happy and healthy 2019—may the Instagram Gods (@celinedion and @naomi) look favorably upon us all. New year, new me(mes)!
Follow @thethreadmag for more music premieres, artist features, and interviews.