Pop culture in review: Cadenza’s favorite 2013 moments

Just like any other year, 2013 was full of some truly great pop culture moments. Here are a few of Cadenza’s picks of the best.

Beyonce knocks the lights out at the Super Bowl


It was a refreshing change for the Super Bowl halftime show; instead of washed-up rock bands, a relevant pop star played. And Beyonce absolutely killed it. The performer garnered rave reviews as she sang and danced for an audience of millions worldwide. The set began with an epic entrance walk, followed by the singer showing off her pipes with an abbreviated version of “Love on Top.” She then performed hits new and old, including “Single Ladies” and “Crazy in Love.” She even reunited Destiny’s Child for the first time since 2007. It all culminated in a triumphant performance of “Halo” as her powerful voice soared over the crowd that roared along with her. Her show was so big the Mercedes-Benz Superdome experienced a power outage. The biggest pop star of 2013 did not even release a new song this calendar year (much to my chagrin). But she’s survived a lip-sync “controversy” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, directed a documentary about her life that aired on HBO and toured the world in her sellout “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour” (which will be in St. Louis this Saturday, Dec. 14). Miley Cyrus and her quivering tongue can’t beat that.

–Georgie Morvis


More than a year before its release, the legend of “Gravity” began to grow. There were rumors that the film would be 60 percent computer-generated imagery and contain a 20-minute opening shot, and early screenings earned rave reviews. After the technical mastery of director Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film “Children of Men,” a new Cuaron project was bound to be an event. But this was different. This had the potential to be a game changer on the level of “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Star Wars.”

While it’s too soon to tell whether “Gravity” will become a cultural landmark, it’s clear that it’s among the best films of the 21st century. Credit must be given to Sandra Bullock and George Clooney for their ability to compensate for a thin script, but ultimately, “Gravity” belongs to Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. They established their bona fides with challenging camera setups and impeccable staging in “Children of Men,” but here, they raise their talents to a new level entirely. The camera twists, turns and lingers with a grace that makes every shot a marvel. When combined with gimmick-free 3-D, we’re given one of the most immersive cinematic experiences in recent history. If you haven’t had the pleasure of entering Cuaron’s enchanting vision, do so immediately.

–Mark Matousek

“Harlem Shake”

MorK, OK, the song “Harlem Shake” was released by Baauer in May 2012, but it had quite an impact in 2013. The 30-second video meme, originally uploaded by The Sunny Coast Skate, went viral within days. Soon enough, thousands of people uploaded their take on the “Harlem Shake,” and the song skyrocketed to the top of the charts. From offices to living rooms to swimming pools to the Miami Heat locker room, “Harlem Shake” videos were recorded everywhere.

The first 15 seconds of each video features a sole dancer, usually wearing a type of headgear, while everyone else goes on as normal. “And do the Harlem Shake!” Suddenly, the world erupts into brouhaha with everyone dancing in costumes (or a lack of clothes). The shortness of the video facilitated the production process and promoted many viewers with short attention spans to watch multiple versions. And naturally, when people are given the opportunity to go absolutely bonkers, who is going to say no? Yet like all pop culture fads, the “Harlem Shake” did not stay relevant for long, and Baauer will again fall into anonymity. Indeed, soon the “Harlem Shake” will solely refer to a diner on 124th Street.  –Tyler Friedman

Fall Out Boy reunion

It was easy to deride Fall Out Boy as a silly, mid-2000s “emo” band, but I know I’m not the only one who was excited when the Chicago-based quartet announced its reunion last February. After a four-year hiatus that many had figured was a breakup, the members of Fall Out Boy surprised everyone when they announced that they had not only gotten back together but that they had also already recorded a new album and planned a nationwide tour. With that, the band seamlessly reclaimed its pop-punk throne. Its new album, “Save Rock and Roll,” debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 in April. Lead single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” went multiplatinum soon after. The band’s spring tour completely sold out. And on top of all that, the band released seven music videos, recorded an EP called “PAX AM Days” and celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its debut album. Most people our age probably still associate Fall Out Boy with their angsty middle-school years, but 2013 marked the beginning of a new era for the band. Fall Out Boy returned with a more mature and confident sound as well as a renewed vigor that made it easy to forget it had ever left at all. –Katharine Jaruzelski

Jimmy Fallon

In terms of the late-night TV scene, 2013 unquestionably belongs to Jimmy Fallon. Yes, stalwarts Jay Leno and David Letterman may still be fetching higher ratings thanks to their more desirable time slots, but Fallon has proven this year that he is the host to beat. With Leno on his way to retirement (barring any surprises) and Letterman consistently losing his young viewers, Fallon has proven he is the late-night host for Generation Y—affable, funny and as great at impressions as he is at making the next viral video. Who can forget his legendary lip-sync battles with John Krasinski or Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Stephen Merchant? This year also gave us the wonderful “Evolution of Mom Dancing” with Michelle Obama, TV parodies “Game of Desks” and “Joking Bad,” and numerous musical numbers featuring the best late-night house band, The Roots. Also, we can’t not mention Timberweek, the incredible week of Fallon-Justin Timberlake bromance and sketches galore. In terms of media presence and Internet visibility, Jimmy Fallon owned 2013.

It’s clear that the TV bigwigs agree. With Fallon (and The Roots) moving into Leno’s spot at the end of the Winter Olympics, Seth Meyers, another young, charmingly magnetic pick and current host of “Saturday Night Live”’s “Weekend Update,” will take over Fallon’s chair. Basically, the old guys are on their way out. It’s time for a new generation of evening talk shows that actually makes us want to stay awake, and Fallon has made it clear that he’s heading the pack. Keep an eye on your late-night screens in 2014 because it’s bound to get better from here.

–Kayla Hollenbaugh


In its fourth year, LouFest was bigger and better than ever. There’s not much in life better than live music, and festivals have become the primary method of musical entertainment during the summer months. Having a good festival right in our backyard was the perfect way to kick off the school year for those of us at Wash. U.

LouFest is still smaller than a lot of festivals, but it’s cheaper, too, and this year’s will always be special to me. It was my first real music festival, but more importantly, it was the first time I saw The National, my favorite band, live. And even though that was my highlight, the rest of the festival didn’t disappoint. The middle-schooler in me was ecstatic to see The Killers, and the weekend served as an introduction to other great bands like The Mowgli’s and Walk the Moon. As far as local entertainment, LouFest was the best St. Louis had to offer this year; it was definitely one of my best weekends this year.

–Trevor Leuzinger

Shake-ups at “SNL”

This year was full of change for NBC’s classic favorite, “Saturday Night Live.” It began with the season 38 finale: by saying goodbye to long-time favorites Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader, a monumental chapter of the run of the iconic show came to a close. The episode gave a fitting tribute and farewell to Hader’s fan-favorite character, “Weekend Update” New York City correspondent Stefon. After years of lusting after “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers, Stefon’s dreams came true when Meyers reciprocated his love and the two married in a ceremony attended by all of Stefon’s eccentric friends, including iconic, never-before-seen-but-often-talked-about figures such as DJ Baby Bok Choy and Black George Washington. The season 39 premiere brought six new cast members as well as the addition of Cecily Strong to the “Weekend Update” desk after it was announced over the summer that Meyers will be taking over for Jimmy Fallon as the “Late Night” host starting in February. The first half of “SNL”’s season has shown much promise, featuring excellent hosts such as Tina Fey, Miley Cyrus and Josh Hutcherson; guest appearances by old favorites Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig; and beloved musical guests like One Direction.

–Kimberly Henrickson

Side-eye Chloe

It all began two years ago—six year old Lily was surprised by her parents that they were going to Disneyland for her birthday. Yes, this sounds rather ordinary, but she had a meltdown that was captured on video, put on YouTube and went viral.

Flash-forward to this September. Lily was again surprised by her mother when she drove past school (gasp!) and said they were skipping school to go to…Disneyland! Lily, now 8, had a similar reaction, and the video, again, was posted to YouTube. However, this time when it went viral, it wasn’t because of Lily’s reaction but the show-stopping side eye from 2-year-old sister Chloe.

To put it mildly, Chloe was not quite amused by her sister’s reaction. Soon, screen captures of Chloe’s reaction to Lily’s tears were all over Tumblr and became one of the biggest memes on the Internet. Side-eyeing Chloe was soon Photoshopped onto almost everything, including images of Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and even Abraham Lincoln. BuzzFeed picked up the story about Chloe, calling it “The Only Reaction You’ll Need for Anything Ever,” which is pretty close to the truth.

Chloe’s unamused side eye made its mark on the Internet and pop culture a little late in the game for 2013, but is a great way to sum up any under-enthused reaction.

–Caroline Gutbezahl

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