Story by Bridget Gibley, Culture Editor
Welcome back to the real world, Saints. If you’re anything like me, the summer of 2019, like most summers, felt more like the space in between two things rather than its own season. It’s easy to tune out of normal life during these four months– everyone’s on varying vacations throughout the summer, you’re busy saying goodbye to friends who are moving on to the next part of their lives or welcoming new friends and new stages of your own life, an adjusted sleep or work schedule means you miss breaking news and are left to catch up later… The list goes on and on.
But now that we’re headed back into some semblance of normalcy, it’s time to catch up on all the pop culture news you may have missed or forgotten about. When you’re standing in line at Wege, searching for news to talk about with someone from your Spanish class, it’ll be good to be caught up and refreshed on the biggest pop culture moments from Summer 2019.
“Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters
Photo courtesy CNN
It’s been 11 years since 2008’s “Iron Man,” and Marvel hasn’t slowed down once. This summer’s ambitious “Endgame” brings together the plots and characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in another summer blockbuster. In late July, “Endgame” officially earned $2.79 billion at the global box office, passing James Cameron’s “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing film of all time. And while it’s hard to discuss plot points without spoilers for any number of MCU movies, let alone this one, the later summer release of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” reassures Marvel fans that “Endgame” was far from the end of the story.
Lil Nas X and “Old Town Road” Take Over
Photo courtesy Billboard
The catchy country rap single was initially released on December 3, 2018, but really started hitting its stride in April, when the remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus was released. It’s been hard to avoid, whether you hear it on the radio or just hear your friends talking about having “the horses in the back.” This summer, Lil Nas X turned his hit into history. “Old Town Road” spent 19 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the record for longest time on the chart (previously held by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day”). And, as of June 30, Lil Nas X has been an openly gay Black man at the top of the charts. The song that many listeners and even the country radio charts dismissed back in the early days of 2019 has now cemented its place both in music history and in our heads for the foreseeable future.
The Summer of Lizzo
Photo courtesy Essence
Lil Nas X isn’t the only one having a good summer on the Billboard charts. Lizzo’s album “Cuz I Love You” dropped in April, featuring summer hits “Juice,” “Tempo” and (on the deluxe version) the empowering anthem “Truth Hurts.” At the end of the summer, “Truth Hurts” has reached the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Lizzo has performed at the MTV Movie and TV Awards and the BET Awards (a viral performance complete with surprise flute playing), and fans all over are attending Lizzo’s church of self-love. It seems safe to say we haven’t seen the last of Lizzo.
“The Lion King” Breaks Records
Photo courtesy Variety
The remake of Disney’s classic animated film was released on July 9, 2019, starring Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Billy Eichner and, of course, James Earl Jones. Unsurprisingly, this movie is breaking records–surprisingly, it’s hard to tell which ones. Because of its realistic computer animation, it’s unclear whether critics are categorizing the film as animated or live-action. One thing we can all agree on? These CGI lions are preferable to the cats in the trailer for the movie musical “Cats,” out this Christmas.
Taylor Swift’s Return
Photo courtesy Variety
“Reputation,” Taylor Swift’s last album, was a major change for the pop princess, and it divided fans with its stark departure from the glitter and kittens of her past. Her upcoming album, “Lover,” complete with cotton candy clouds on the cover, seems promising for fans who may have missed a sweeter Taylor. The singles so far– “ME!” with Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco, “You Need to Calm Down,” “The Archer” and “Lover” received a mixed reception from fans and critics, but the full album drops on August 23 and we’re that much closer to seeing exactly who this new Taylor is.
This summer was full of major pop culture moments, so I couldn’t possibly include them all here. Honorable mentions go to: the final season of “Orange is the New Black,” Hannah Brown from “The Bachelorette” finding (and losing and finding) love, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth’s breakup, and the announcement of Halle Bailey as Ariel in the live-action version of “The Little Mermaid.” Am I missing your favorite pop culture moment of Summer 2019? Let me know what you think should have made the cut.
Bridget Gibley is a senior at Aquinas studying English, Spanish and Women’s Studies. She thrives on reading, writing, and lots of coffee.