2011 Time Capsule: The Year of the Pop Diva and the Queer Anthem

2011 saw the release of an extraordinary number of legendary pop songs.

2011 was a turbulent year, a year of the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, of murdered dictators and earthquakes.

In terms of American pop culture, it was a time of great exuberance and energy. Female pop stars dominated the airwaves, as did the British Royal Wedding, as political unrest tangled with the public's desire for flashy distraction. Here are the pop culture highlights of 2011.

Music: Fridays and Queer Anthems

2011 was the year of the pop diva, and an almost unfathomable number of iconic hits by women hit the airwaves that year. Katy Perry and Adele dominated the charts, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" became a queer anthem, Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me" played perpetually, and Rihanna dropped her scandalous "S&M," the absolutely legendary "Man Down," and another song about Friday, "Cheers (Drink to That)".

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Rihanna - Man Down

Avril Lavigne had us bopping along to "What the Hell" and Nicki Minaj had everyone learning the words to "Super Bass." Beyonce released "Love On Top" and "Who Run the World? (Girls)" and Jessie J. put out "Domino." Carly Rae, of course, dropped "Call Me Maybe."

Nicki Minaj - Super Bass

Beyoncé - Run the World (Girls) (Video - Main Version)

There were some sad bangers in the midst of all the girl power; Demi Lovato put out "Skyscraper" and Lana Del Rey dropped her mysterious amalgamation of found footage for "Video Games."

Lana Del Rey - Video Games (Official Music Video)

And last but not least, Rebecca Black's "Friday" went super-viral and lodged itself in everyone's brains for eternity.

Rebecca Black - Friday

Folky boys Conor Oberst, Wilco, and Jeff Magnum of Neutral Milk Hotel all had big years—the first two dropped great albums and the third reemerged from obscurity with a flood of unreleased gems. The ukulele also grew in popularity, taking center stage on the hit album w h o k i l l by tUnE-yArDs.

That year, we also tragically lost Amy Winehouse, who passed away at 27.

Movies: Franchises Come to a Close

2011's greatest hit was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, which smashed box office records. It was also a good year for the Twilight franchise; in Breaking Dawn, Part I, Jacob the werewolf imprinted (or fell eternally, irrevocably in love) with his former love interest's, Bella's, baby daughter.

Twilight 4 Breaking Dawn Part 1 Jacob imprints on Renesmee, the Cullens and the werewolves fight Y

Overall, it was a strange year for film. The Artist had everyone falling in love with an adorable dog; Drive polarized audiences, and so did The Descendants; and the heart-wrenching Like Crazy had everyone sobbing.

Las mejores escenas de Uggie ''The artist''

TV: Escaping to Sweeter Times

Like the movies, television favored escapism, with shows like The Great British Bake-Off and Downton Abbey transporting viewers to other, sweeter times. Game of Thrones promised that "winter is coming," and South Park gave us "tween wave."

Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Fringe, and other dramas gained continued success.

Entertainment: Kate and Pippa Middleton Make History

2011's biggest entertainment event may have been the Royal Wedding, which dominated America's hearts. Kate Middleton's dress went down in history.

Royal Wedding - Carriage Procession To Buckingham Palace And Departures Bustle

In terms of viral trends, honey badgers and planking were huge. The year's top Twitter trends were:









It wasn't a great year for Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, whose hard-partying habits (and lawsuits) made headlines constantly. Lady Gaga arrived to the Grammys in a giant egg. Kim K. and Kris Humphries married and got divorced. Beyonce announced she was pregnant. Justin Bieber debuted his relationship with Selena Gomez–and was also slammed with a paternity suit. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher broke up. Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted what was called "the worst Oscars ever."

That was 2011... A year of divas and distraction, chaos and comedy, and of course, the only 11/11/11 any of us will be alive for.

Music Lists

12 Black Indie Musicians to Support on Bandcamp Today

Bandcamp is waiving revenue shares today, and you should support POC artists.

Today is another Bandcamp Friday, meaning until midnight tonight, the platform will be waiving revenue shares and letting artists take 100 percent of profits.

Now more than ever, as Black Lives Matter protests occur around the world, it's extremely important to lift marginalized voices. The music industry has repeatedly erased Black voices throughout history, despite the fact that most mainstream genres were invented by Black people.

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5 New Releases for People Sick of Hearing About Taylor Swift

New music from Jay Som, Missy Elliott, and more.

A lot of fantastic music came out this week.

Yes, there was a new Taylor Swift album. And it was admittedly full of catchy and impressively well-produced songs, and Taylor Swift is going to be an unavoidable presence in the music and pop culture sphere for the visible future. We get it.

But if you're getting tired of hearing about her and her perfect boyfriend, there are plenty of excellent new releases that will provide catharsis to your angry, jaded, burned-out soul.

1. Jay Som — Anak Ko

Jay Som's latest LP, Anak Ko, is a masterful collection of exquisite indie rock. These songs are slow-burners that showcase Melina Duerte's incredible abilities as a songwriter, performer, and producer. This is indie at its purest and finest, switching from sweet to gritty with a moment's notice, with each song offering a journey within itself. Jay Som's music has matured tremendously over the years, and this album feels like an opus.


America's favorite misfit boy band keeps outdoing themselves. GINGER is a patchwork of traditional instruments and electronic ultra-modern production; of huge, choral harmonies and spare solos; and of affection, euphoria, rage, and pain. BROCKHAMPTON continues to make music that's radically honest about internal struggles but that emanates enough swagger to fill stadiums. Though the album is strong lyrically, the band shines most where it always has: The music that backs up its seamless bars and resounding choruses is just so damn beautiful.

3. Lana Del Rey — The Greatest

Lana Del Rey just released two new songs from the upcoming Norman F**king Rockwell, and "The Greatest" may be one of her actual greatest songs. She weaves countless pop culture references with existential despair to create a track that's both a heart-wrenching excavation of the present and a window into her timeless, enchanting dreamworld.

Lana Del Rey - Fuck It I Love You & The Greatest (Official Video)

4. Missy Elliott — Iconology

On her surprise EP, Iconology, Missy Elliott lets us glimpse the mind of a superstar who knows that her name is synonymous with "legend." It's been fourteen years since Elliott has released a new album, so this is an event in and of itself. "Let's #ThrowItBack to a time when music just felt good and made us want to dance," she said of its release. This music will definitely get you tapping your feet, and it may make you want to bow down.

Missy Elliott - Cool Off [Official Audio]

5. 1975 — People

"People" is one of 1975's angriest, most jarring tracks, and it feels like a cathartic howl from start to finish. It's a song that does justice to the anger and rage that's pervading America and the world right now. The relentlessly trippy video is as disorienting as any given moment on Twitter.

The 1975 - People (Official Video)