The unforgettable pop culture moments of 2023

From linkups and breakups to questionable haircuts, the year left an indelible mark

Art by Rachel De Freitas

Art by Rachel De Freitas

As we bid farewell to another eventful year, 2023 has proven to be a rollercoaster of emotions, trends, and moments that will forever be etched in the annals of pop culture. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit the top pop culture moments that defined the year.

Shakira’s jar of jam revelation

Shakira made waves in January when she dumped then-boyfriend Gerard Piqué after discovering his infidelity through a jar of jam. The artist didn’t hold back, dropping a diss track that had fans and gossip enthusiasts buzzing.

Rihanna’s Super Bowl pregnancy performance

Rihanna took center stage at the Super Bowl, captivating audiences with a performance that revealed her pregnancy. The news added an extra layer of excitement to an already electrifying event.

Celebrity breakups 

The past year saw a series of high-profile celebrity breakups, from Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez’s mid-year bombshell to Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s surprising split. The end of fan-favorite couples from political figures like Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire to pop music royalty like Britney Spears and Sam Asghari marked a year of shifting relationship dynamics.

“Barbenheimer:” a cultural phenomenon 

In July, the world witnessed an unprecedented cultural phenomenon known as “Barbenheimer,” a term born out of the simultaneous theatrical release of two vastly different films, Barbie and Oppenheimer. Coined as a portmanteau of the titles, this unique cultural moment took the world by storm, making Greta Gerwig the first female director to hit the $1 billion mark.

Female world domination

After a three-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, powerhouse performers like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé not only delighted audiences but also contributed to local economies, with their highly successful tours injecting a welcome boost into communities around the world.

SAG-AFTRA strike

Due to streaming-induced changes in the entertainment landscape, writers and actors staged strikes, with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike concluding in September after 146 days, and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike concluding on Nov. 9.

Celebrity linkups

Taylor Swift and NFL star Travis Kelce sparked headlines as a surprising new couple, blending the worlds of music and sports. Meanwhile, supermodel Kendall Jenner and reggaeton sensation Bad Bunny turned heads with their unexpected union, creating a buzz in both fashion and music circles. Additionally, the glamour of Hollywood met the beauty industry as Timothée Chalamet and Kylie Jenner became one of the most talked-about couples.

Harry Styles’ buzz cut breaks the internet

Harry Styles’ buzz cut stole the spotlight, breaking the internet with fans catching glimpses at a U2 concert alongside girlfriend Taylor Russell. The Don’t Worry Darling actor officially debuted his shaved head at his brand Pleasing’s new fragrance launch party in London, creating a stir on cementing Styles as a trendsetter of the year.

In memoriam: celebrity deaths 

This year the entertainment world bid farewell to several beloved figures, including iconic Friends actor Matthew Perry, Grammy-winning, Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor, versatile actors Treat Williams and Andre Braugher, Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin, legendary singer and activist Harry Belafonte, the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Tina Turner, charismatic talk show host Jerry Springer, daughter of Elvis Presley and musician Lisa Marie Presley, and rising star Angus Cloud from Euphoria.

As we reflect on the top pop culture moments of 2023, it becomes evident that the year was a kaleidoscope of diverse experiences, emotions, and ideas. From the highs of entertainment triumphs to the lows of global challenges, these moments collectively defined and shaped the cultural landscape of the year. As we eagerly step into the future, one can only anticipate what new trends and moments will captivate the world in the years to come.