The 2010s were a decade of massive change. Yes, politically—we started the decade with Barack Obama and the ACA and ended with Donald Trump and impeachment; we saw gay marriage legalized and Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court—but also culturally. Before 2010, there was no Instagram, let alone TikTok. This decade brought us two royal weddings and four little prince/princesses. It saw many endings (The Oprah Show, Harry Potter, Brangelina) but even more beginnings (Girls, Frozen, Fenty Beauty). Kim Kardashian broke the internet and Black Panther broke the box office. And that's just a sampling. Ahead, the top 50 pop culture moments of the decade, according to Marie Claire's editors. We're sure we missed many of your favorites. There were too many controversial, hilarious, viral moments that occurred these past 10 years, and we had to make some brutal cuts. Is it too late now to say sorry? Hope not. Come along with us on a pop culture trip down memory lane.
2010: Lady Gaga's Meat Dress
Lady Gaga arrived at the 2010 VMA's in this carnivorous creation and people's minds exploded. Could the cowl-neck Franc Fernandez design really be made of...meat? Yes, the high-low dress was made of raw beef, and Gaga said she wore it as a form of protest. Today it lives at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and resembles beef jerky. To me, the '00s had J.Lo's iconic Versace dress, and the '10s had Gaga's meat dress. Enough said.
2010: 'Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife'
When Antoine Dodson spoke to a local TV station about saving his sister from an attacker in their home, the segment went viral. Partially because of how angry he was, but also because he gave us the iconic line, "hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband cause they're rapin' everybody out here." The interview grew so popular that the Gregory Brothers remixed it, and you bet the "Bed Intruder Song" hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Today, Dodson is a substitute teacher in Huntsville, Alabama.
2010: Instagram Is Founded
Remember life before Instagram? Us neither. Before early October of 2010, the only way you could really flex your photos digitally was through a Facebook photo album or Photobucket (how's that for a throwback?). Soon, things would change. We'd be introduced to a world full of double taps, sponsored influencer posts, Valencia filters, DM culture, and IG models galore. Now, the app has more than one billion users and is the second-most downloaded free app in the app store. Excuse me as I go down a scrolling-spiral on my explore page.
2011: Prince William Marries Kate Middleton
It was the first major royal wedding (with a reported $34 million price tag) since Princess Diana and Prince Charles tied the knot 30 years prior and, boy, did it deliver. The college sweethearts looked like a fairy tale come to life, and reinvigorated the royal family's popularity—especially here in the States, where more than 23 million people watched.
2011: The Oprah Winfrey Show Ends
Ah, Oprah. She got us through the '80s, the '90s, and the '00s, but in May 2011, the queen of day-time talk shows ended her 25-year run. And when we say queen, we mean queen: her program was the number-one talk show in America for the entire time it was on the air, and was watched in 150 countries. No longer would all those people hear, "You get a car! And you get a car! Everybody gets a new car!" because, sadly, all good things must come to an end.
2011: Beyoncé's Epic VMA's Pregnancy Announcement
When Ms. Knowles unbuttoned her sparkly Dolce & Gabbana jacket and rubbed her stomach while performing 'Love on Top' at the 2011 VMAs, we were shook! The moment literally triggered 8,868 tweets a second (yet another Queen B record). The world would later be introduced to her and Jay-Z's first-born, Blue Ivy Carter, on January 7, 2012.
2011: 'Harry Potter' Ends
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 hit screens in the summer of 2011, marking the end of a era for wizard lovers everywhere. It was the highest grossing movie of the year, making $1.3 billion worldwide. Team Gryffindor 4ever.
2011: Women Everywhere Read 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
Whatever your opinions are of Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic Twilight fanfic that introduced much of mainstream America to BDSM, you simply cannot deny the chaos that followed the publishing of the first book in 2011. It seems everyone and their mother (literally) read the steamy novels and book club will never be the same. The tome sold more than 150 million copies worldwide—in the United States the trilogy holds the top three spots for bestselling fiction books of the decade—and gave us three questionable movies starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
2011: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries's 72-Day Marriage
Kim Kardashian announcing in October 2011 that she was divorcing NBA player Kris Humphries just 72 days after their televised OTT wedding, was somehow both predictable and shocking. Since the premiere of Keeping Up With The Kardashians in 2007, we've seen a lot of antics from the Kardashian-Jenner clan, but this one takes the (wedding) cake. The video of Kim crying in a white robe as she realized she didn't love Kris anymore is forever engraved in our memories—and meme culture.
2012: The World Loses Whitney Houston
It's safe to say a hole was left in the music industry when Whitney Houston passed away in early February 2012 from accidental drowning. To know pop music is to love Whitney Houston. Songs like 'How Will I Know' and her cover of Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love You' for the Bodyguard soundtrack are forever engraved in our hearts. She's the only artist to have seven consecutive number-one hits on the Billboard Top 100 charts, and the only artist with eight consecutive multi-platinum albums. She's such an icon that her Hologram tour kicks off in late February 2020, for those who miss the queen of pop.
2012: KONY 2012 Goes Viral
In the spring of 2012, this poster was all over your Facebook feed, and was maybe even your profile picture. The short documentary film and ensuing internet campaign advocated against Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony for his heinous war crimes, including kidnapping thousands of children to use as sex slaves and soldiers. The doc garnered more than 100 million views in just five days, and helped the org behind it, Invisible Children, raise more than $30 million; it was even shared by Rihanna. But it also received much backlash, and Invisible Children shut down roughly two years later due to lack of funding.
2012: Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise Divorce
Headlines read that Katie and Suri were free at last, when Ms. Holmes filed for divorce in June of 2012, kicking Cruise and his scientology to the curb and ending "TomCat" (a terrible portmanteau that was doomed from the start). It begged the question: Was Cruise's couch jumping on Oprah real or no?
2012: Carly Rae Jepsen Gifts Us 'Call Me Maybe'
The song of the summer that went viral like no other. Canadian singer, Carly Rae Jepsen's pop earworm became the soundtrack of internet gold, inspiring dance videos from the likes of the Harvard Baseball team and Justin Bieber and Selena. Ah, 2012, such an innocent time.
2012: 'Girls' Premieres
Creator and star Lena Dunham sold the idea of the show (follow the lives of four 20-something friends in New York City) to HBO on a one-and-a-half page script when she was just 23 years old. Notable for its boundary-pushing sex scenes (even for premium cable), the show also helped start conversations off-screen on topics like abortion and drug addiction. It would go on to run for six seasons and skyrocket some of our favorite actors today (um, hi, Adam Driver) to fame.
2013: 'Frozen' Inspires Girls Everywhere
The question "Do you wanna build a snowman?" can now only be sung, thanks to Disney's Frozen, which hit theaters in November 2013. (Ditto for "Let it go.") The tale of two princess sisters is the highest-grossing animated film of all time and winner of two Academy Awards. It has its own Broadway musical, holiday specials, and a sequel that made $130 million in its opening weekend. So, obviously, the cold never bothered us anyway.
2013: Game of Thrones Airs the 'Red Wedding' Episode
First off, they didn't have to do my man Richard Madden like that. Secondly, they didn't have to do us like that! When the season three finale of 'Game of Thrones' slashed what seemed like half the cast, including Catelyn and Robb Stark and his pregnant wife Talisa, it was major. Obviously, because it's G.O.T. far worse things have happened since, but at the time, it was the most engaging episode ever, with more than 700,000 mentions across social media.
2013: Prince George Is Born
For Royal family lovers, Christmas came in July when Prince William and Kate Middleton walked outside the hospital where His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born. The third in line to the throne weighed in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and it's said that around $300 million was spent by fans celebrating his birth. The now-6-year-old is way cooler than any of us will ever be, even taking private tennis lessons from Roger Federer.
2013: Miley Cyrus's VMA Performance
The 2013 VMAs was Miley Cyrus's official going away party for Hannah Montana and the old Miley, and a signal to fans that the Bangerz era (arguably her best album) was in full swing. The hyper-sexualized performance had moms of tweens clutching their pearls. And the image of her grinding on Robin Thicke in a nude latex two-piece—the inspiration for many Halloween costumes to come—can never be erased from our memories.
2014: John Travolta Calls Idina Menzel "Adele Dazeem"
An Oscar moment for the ages: John Travolta was tapped to introduce Frozen powerhouse Idina Menzel before her performance of the movie's nominated song. But rather than hearing the Tony Award–winner's name, audiences witnessed the Grease actor call her "Adele Dazeem." Travolta would go on Jimmy Kimmel Live and explain that the error came from the fact that her name was spelled phonetically on the teleprompter. Ah, now it all make sense.
2014: The Ice Bucket Challenge Takes Over Social Media
From Justin Bieber to Nina Dobrev, it seemed that everyone participated in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge to help raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The gist: Dump a bucket of ice water over your head or donate to the ALS Association (most people actually did both), then nominate someone else to do the same. In an 8-week period in 2014, $115 million was donated through the viral trend; overall the organization saw a 30 percent increase in funding. Sweet!
2014: Accusations Against Bill Cosby Are Finally Believed
More than 60 women came forward with accusations of sexual assault spanning six decades, but it took until late 2014 for the news to impact the once-beloved comedian and star of The Cosby Show. A barrage of stories from women, including Janice Dickinson, that Cosby raped and drugged them flooded the news in November 2014, and inspired a powerful New York Magazine cover that introduced us to the #TheEmptyChair movement. The 80-year-old would go on to be found guilty and sentenced to three-to-10 years in prison.
2015: Misty Copeland Becomes First Black Principal Dancer of ABT
The ballerina made history when she became the first Black principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, one of the world's most prestigious companies. Since the announcement, she's written a memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, and has been named one of TIME's 100 most influential people. Could she get any cooler? Oh, yeah, she has her own Barbie doll.
2015: The Great Dress Debate
Do you see white and gold or blue and black? It's a question that seriously divided the internet. On what would have been an average day in 2015, Buzzfeed posted an article featuring an image of a striped dress and asked viewers to vote on its color palette. At one point, more than a million people were on it, with celebs from Tay Swift to Gaga voicing their thoughts like it was the 2016 primaries, and we were for it. The hubbub sparked many conversations (and even scientific investigations!) about human perception. Eventually it was revealed that the dress is, in fact, blue and black (we know!), but the debate was fun while it lasted.
2015: The World Meets Caitlyn Jenner
After years of speculation that Bruce Jenner was transitioning to female, on June 1, 2015, Vanity Fair dropped their cover feature the Olympian and Keeping Up With The Kardashians star's new identity: Caitlyn Jenner. The iconic shot was taken by none other than legendary photographer, Annie Leibovitz. The photograph was next-level class, but the reveal wasn't completely smooth. It was revealed in a mini-doc from Vanity Fair that Jenner had to keep a low profile in her house for three months to avoid being seen by paparazzi.
2014: Kim Kardashian Covers 'Paper Magazine'
With the Winter 2014 issue, Paper Magazine and the world learned never doubt the power of Kim Kardashian. The reality TV star posed nude on the cover featuring a cheeky coverline encouraging her to break the internet, and then she literally did just that. On the day of the issue's release, the site received more than 50 million hits, which equated to 1 percent of all U.S. internet traffic that day. Crazy, we know! The cover sparked memes and Halloween costumes galore, reminding us that Kim is the unofficial queen of the world wide web.
2016: David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, and Prince Pass Away
Twenty-sixteen is the year the world got a little duller. Each time we heard the news of the passing of another iconic artist—first David Bowie, then Prince, and then Carrie Fisher—it was like mourning the death of a close friend. Each person brought such color and creativity to our worlds, and their legacies will continue to live on in their films and music.
2016: Leo Finally Gets His Oscar
Watching Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio finally win an Oscar (for his role in The Revenant) was like watching your favorite team score the winning point...or learning that your friend finally went on a date with that cute guy from the gym. We were ecstatic! The heartthrob had previously been nominated six times. (We know!) Of course, in Leo fashion, he talked about climate change in his acceptance speech and even made his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet tear up.
2016: 'Lemonade' Drops
The nine-time Grammy-nominated visual album arrived on the music streaming platform Tidal in concert with Beyoncé's HBO special, Lemonade, and we were never the same. The conceptual album was kept so secret that supermodel Winnie Harlow, one of the stars in the film, didn't even know what she was filming, just that it was for the Queen B. Needless to say, it was all worth it: The album debuted at number-one on the Billboard charts and in June 2019 was certified as 3x platinum—and still gives us chills every time we listen.
2016: 'Hamilton' Makes History Hot
Who knew a musical about one of the founding fathers could be so fun? Heartwarming? Catchy? Lin-Manuel Miranda, that's who. The 16-time Tony nominated musical and winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama reminded us how good the arts can make us feel—and how much they can teach us. It's one of the highest-grossing musicals on Broadway, making $3.3 million for eight performances in a single week. (The same week President Trump asked people to boycott the show as a result of VP Mike Pence being booed upon arrival.) Excuse me as I listen to the soundtrack on repeat.
2016: Brangelina Splits
In September 2016, Angelina Jolie filed for separation from Brad Pitt after 12 years of being a couple we were shook. TheHollywood icons and parents of six seemed so in love, but announced they would be separating due to "irreconcilable differences." (Rumor has it that an altercation on a private plane between son Maddox Jolie-Pitt and Brad was the final straw for Angie.) While three years have passed by and the couple still isn't 100 percent divorced yet, we're still 100 percent mourning.
2016: Colin Kaepernick Kneels During the National Anthem
During the 2016 NFL season, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines when he chose to not stand during the national anthem in protest of the systematic racism and police brutality that was (and is still) going on in the U.S. Many people, including President Barack Obama, praised Kaepernick's protest as patriotic, and several fellow football players followed suit, some teams locking arms, and others simply not leaving the locker room until after the anthem. But Kaepernick was met with incredible backlash, too, and left the 49ers in 2017. Since then, he's been a finalist for TIME's person of the year, been given an award by Beyoncé, and donated more than $1 million to social justice charities.
2016: 'Apprentice' Host Is Elected President
In one of the most shocking and influential elections in the history of democracy, business owner and host of NBC's Apprentice, Donald Trump (R), won the 2016 election for POTUS with 306 electoral college votes, beating Democratic nominee, winner of the popular vote, and overly qualified woman, Hillary Clinton. Since Trump has taken office, politics have gotten a lot more, shall we say, interesting.
2017: TikTok Launches
Formerly known as Musical.ly, the 15-second lip-syncing app took the Internet by storm, filling the spot that Vine once held as the top video creating and sharing app. In the two years since, the app has received more than one billion downloads—a number that has only continued to rise. While the app perplexes many (OK, Boomer), it gave us Lil Nas X and the worlds of #EBoys and VSCOgirls. Turns out, we really couldn't be more thankful for the mindless entertainment that is TikTok.
2017: Serena Williams Wins the Australian Open While Pregnant
We all know Serena is the G.O.A.T., but winning the Australian Open while pregnant? We are not worthy. Weeks after the tennis great took home her 23rd title (in case you lost track of how amazing she is) we found out via her spokeswoman Kelly Bush Novak that Williams was expecting her first child with Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. Baby Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born in September 2017.
2017: The 'Moonlight'/'La La Land' Oscars Mix-Up
If you ever doubt yourself, just know that you weren't the person who gave Warren Beatty the wrong envelope for Best Picture. In a painfully awkward moment two minutes into the musical's acceptance speech, Jordan Horowitz, one of La La Land's producers, told the crowd that there was a mistake. His film had not won best picture, Moonlight did. Naturally, the cringe-worthy moment became Twitter gold.
2017: The Frye Festival Fraud
It was supposed to be the millennial event of the year...until it wasn't. Hailed as the new Coachella, Frye Festival was supposed to take place on a Bahamian island once owned by Pablo Escobar. Alessandra Ambrosio and Bella Hadid endorsed the music festival in an over the top promotional video. Fans shelled out between $1,500 and $250,000 for tickets in hopes of seeing acts like Pusha T and Blink-182. Things took a turn, though, when festival goers were met with cheese sandwiches and flimsy tents. Turns out, everything they saw on social media was a scam—big time. How big we talking? Enough to get organizer and subject of two documentaries, Billy McFarland, sentenced to six years in prison.
2017: Rhianna Drops Fenty Beauty
Rhianna launched Fenty Beauty in September 2017 with the ultimate goal: total inclusion. Customers were able to choose from 40 different shades of foundation (and were also gifted 'gram-worthy eyeshadows and body glitter to put everywhere). It's no surprise that Fenty Beauty is now predicted to outsell Kylie Cosmetics (sorry, girl!). While we're hoping for a new RiRi album before the 2010s wrapped, Fenty Beauty will hold us down a little while longer.
2017: Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein Spark the #MeToo Movement
Women in Hollywood had, for years, been trying to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, but it took two indelible pieces of investigative reporting (in The New York Times and The New Yorker) to finally bring the 67-year-old Miramax and Weinstein Company co-founder down. The horrific news of dozens of accusations of sexual assault and harassment had a silver lining: It brought about the #TimesUp and #MeToo eras, with powerful men—Matt Lauer, Roger Ailes, Louis C.K.—finally being punished for their abuses, and sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace finally being talked about seriously.
When Queen B headlined the California music festival in 2018, it rightfully became known as Beychella. The first black woman to ever headline the music festival, the icon proved she's even more incredible than anyone knew, performing a two-hour, 26-song set both weekends that included numerous costumes, a Destiney Child's reunion, and a nail change. Oh, and it inspired the Netflix documentary and live album, Homecoming, which garnered 1.1 million U.S. views on the day of its release.
2018: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Get Married
It was the second royal wedding of the decade, and more than 29 million Americans still woke up at the crack of dawn to watch it. This could have been due to the fact the bride is American (!), or we have a soft spot for Prince Harry. Probably both. The extravagant event cost an estimated 32 million pounds, but boosted the British economy by roughly 500 million, thanks to tourism and merchandise. Meghan wore Givenchy, Harry cried, and Elton John and Oprah attended. The now-Duke and Duchess of Sussex have since welcomed a baby boy, Archie!
2018: 'Queer Eye' Makes Everyone Cry
In the age of reboots, there's none quite like Netflix's new version of the mid-aughts Bravo series, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Starring Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness, it's the makeover show that isn't, with an equal focus on fixing what's external and dealing with what's going on within. The touching, tear-jerking show will make you cry. Every. Single. Time.
2018: 'Crazy Rich Asians' Reignites the Rom-Com
When Crazy Rich Asians hit theaters, it marked the first time an American filmed was helmed by an all-Asian cast since 1993's Joy Luck Club. The movie, based on the New York Times–best-selling novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, tells the story of a girl who travels to Singapore with her long-term boyfriend only to find out his family is mega-rich. Speaking of money, the flick brought in $238 million, making it the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. Since, there's been a bit of a rom-com renaissance, with Netflix leading the charge.
2018: Michelle Obama Releases 'Becoming'
Have you read Becoming, the former first lady's memoir? Of course you have, it's best-selling nonfiction book on Amazon for the year and one of only seven books (four of which are in the Harry Potter series) that has held the number-one spot for longer than two months. In addition to the tome, Obama went on a massive book tour, inspiring sold-out crowds across the nation, and dropped a merch line so fans can wear their love for MObama on their sleeve.
2019: The College Admissions Scandal
No, it wasn't the plot of a Lifetime original movie. Though it could have been. In March it was revealed that more than 50 people, including celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, gave big bucks (talking thousands here) to William Rick Singer in an effort to bribe their kids' way into elite colleges across the country. The scandal's codename: 'Operation Varsity Blues.'
2019: 'Old Town Road' Blows Up the Charts
The certified diamond hit by Lil Nas X is definitely in your 2019 Spotify Wrapped. It was named the longest-running number-one hit by Billboard in July, with 17 weeks on the charts, beating out the record previously held by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men for “One Sweet Day” from 1995, and the 2017 remix of “Despacito,” from Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, and Justin Bieber. Brb while I listen to it one more time before the decade is over.
2019: Simone Biles Becomes the Most Decorated Gymnast Ever
We first met Biles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the 'Final Five.' Just three short years later, at the World Championships in Germany, she would become the most decorated gymnast in the world with 25 medals to her name. She's just 22, by the way.
Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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