In our age of endless information, it’s too easy for days, months and years to blend together into one long wash of time. A fun and effective way to differentiate one year from the next is through popular culture. Here is a list of the most memorable movies, songs and memes that make every year since 2017 its own.
Two awards are given to the top movies of each year. The “Cha-Ching” Award is given objectively to the highest-grossing movie of the year, while the “Cocky” Award is given subjectively to the movie with the most pop culture gravitas.
2017 Cha-Ching Award: "Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi" ($517,218,368)
The eighth film in the "Star Wars" saga grabs the top spot of 2017. There’s something about Mark Hamill being stranded on that island that feels both timeless and so four years ago.
2017 Cocky Award: "It"
The 2017 reimagination of Stephen King’s 1987 novel about a murderous clown dominated people’s fears and 2017 movie culture.
2018 Cha-Ching Award: "Black Panther" ($700,059,566)
This award is bittersweet following the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman in August 2020. Still, we can remember 2018 partly due to this monumental film, which was as profound as it was action-packed.
2018 Cocky Award: "Avengers: Infinity War"
"Avengers: Infinity War" left 2018 movie-goers with arguably one of the most epic cliffhangers in the history of cinema, more than enough to earn it the 2018 Cocky Award.
2019 Cha-Ching Award: "Avengers: Endgame" ($858,373,000)
Apparently, a lot of people were curious to see if the Avengers would come back to defeat Thanos.
2019 Cocky Award: "Joker"
Hotly anticipated since Joaquin Phoenix was cast in the titular role, "Joker" proved that comic book movies can be both prestigious pieces of art and mass entertainment.
2020 Cha-Ching Award: "Bad Boys For Life" ($204,417,855)
Despite earning less than a quarter of 2019's top film, a top spot is a top spot. The third film in Will Smith and Marin Lawrence’s movie series earns this prize during a difficult year for the movie industry.
2020 Cocky Award: "Soul"
In addition to being a profound story that animates life’s biggest questions, "Soul" is indicative of the movie business’s changing strategies from theatrical releases to streaming services.
Nothing quite defines a year like a song. Let’s travel back through the past four years by revisiting some of each year’s greatest hits. These songs were selected based on their position on Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 Charts, along with their overall presence in pop culture.
1) “Shape of You” — Ed Sheeran
2) “Despacito” — Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee
3) “HUMBLE.” — Kendrick Lamar
The musical theme for 2017 was multiculturalism. The top hits of 2017 featured tracks by English, Puerto Rican and American musicians, respectively (and Canadian, if you count Justin Bieber’s "Despacito").
1) “God’s Plan” — Drake
2) “Perfect” — Ed Sheeran
3) “Meant to Be” — Bebe Rexha feat. Florida Georgia Line
Karaoke was the theme for 2018. It seemed like everyone was singing Drake’s hit single in 2018. "Meant to Be" works great for couples at karaoke night, and Ed Sheeran’s "Perfect" is, well, exactly that.
1) “Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
2) “Without Me” — Halsey
3) “bad guy” — Billie Eilish
2019 was the year of unlikely combinations. The unlikely combination of country and rap took the top spot, while second and third place was claimed by songs that are polar opposites.
1) “Blinding Lights” — The Weeknd
2) “Circles” — Post Malone
3) “The Box” — Roddy Ricch
2020 was the year of reflection. The Weeknd’s No. 1 hit reflects on the '80s with its driving beat and synthesizer melody, while "Circles" and "The Box" reflect in their own ways.
You can find these songs and more hits from the years on The Daily Gamecock's Class of 2021 Playlist.
Memes are kind of like new kids at school. They sort of appear out of nowhere and either rise to prominence or fade into obscurity. While the memes for 2017 and 2018 were selected because of their hilarity and popularity, the memes for 2019 and 2020 were selected because they recall some significant, defining event of their respective years.
"The Distracted Boyfriend" meme
The beauty of this meme is twofold — it is both hilarious and appalling. Since going viral in 2017, "The Distracted Boyfriend" meme has been as ubiquitous as guys with wandering eyes.
"Change My Mind" meme
The great thing about the "Change My Mind" meme is that its roots are completely genuine. Steven Crowder (the dad-looking guy with the coffee mug) uploaded this photograph to his Twitter account in 2018, and it has taken on a life of its own ever since.
One of the most entertaining pop cultural phenomena of 2019 was Storm Area 51. Along with a Facebook event that listed over 2 million attendees, alien pop culture, such as this "Men In Black" meme, began popping up everywhere.
"Toilet Paper" memes
2020 wouldn't be properly archived without a "toilet paper" meme. The problems we faced together during the worst of the pandemic are elegantly — and disgustingly — captured in this simple meme. While funny, this image also reminds us that even the most basic things can be taken for granted.