Let’s be honest. This year has been really fucking rough. We started out with the same man in the Oval Office, an industry rocked by sexual assault allegations , prevailing gun control issues , and more divisive rhetoric than a Facebook news feed. But along the way, 2018 did give us some pretty magical pop-culture moments that made us wanna scream, “Yes Kween!”.
Serena Williams’ Catsuit
With 23 Grand Slam titles under her belt and arguably the most recognizable name in tennis, Serena Williams came back to the tennis world—after having her daughter—with a fury. In June, Williams wore a Nike catsuit to play in the opening round of the 2018 French Open. Designed by Virgil Abloh to help her combat blood clotting issues, the catsuit caused quite a stir, landing in headlines after being banned by the French Tennis Federation president, Bernard Giudicelli. Despite the racially-tinged upset about the outfit, Serena went on to defeat Kristyna Pliskova, Ashleigh Barty and Julia Goerges before pulling out of the French Open for an injury.
Beyoncé has mastered the art of secrecy and delivering mind-blowing experiences every time she touches the stage. If anyone ruled 2018 it was Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter—and her iconic Coachella performance on April 14 proved why she is the greatest entertainer alive. Accompanied by over 100 dancers, the multi-dimensional artist paid tribute to the HBCU experience and played a riveting 26-song set which featured Solange Knowles, Destiny’s Child and sampled Nina Simone and Malcolm X in an electrifying performance. Perhaps one of the most monumental moments in her infamous set was the choreography to Atlanta rapper O.T Genesis’ “Everybody Mad” that unintentionally birthed a dance challenge in its own right. Flaunting themes of regalness, feminism, and liberation, Beychella was truly unforgettable.
Karena Evans’ Videos
Toronto native Karena Evans had a high level of visibility in 2018 because of the two videos she directed for Drake. Following the release of the emotional “God’s Plan” music video—which she directed in Miami—all eyes were on the burgeoning 23-year-old. Evans went on to direct the visually-stunning “Nice For What” video, featuring Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, Issa Rae, Misty Copeland, and Olivia Wilde. Then Evans signed on to direct the infectious single, “In My Feelings,” which became Drake's third No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. And if all that wasn’t enough, the Canadian director is behind the lens in Drake’s “I’m Upset” visual that captured the Degrassi reunion we’ve all been waiting. Drake aside, Evans’ resume includes directing SZA’s “Garden (Say It Like That)” video and SiR’s “D’Evils" video. In February, Evans became the first woman to win the Prism Prize's Lipsett Award for music video direction.
Cardi B’s Debut Album
Few artists have had a better professional year than Cardi B. After achieving huge breakout success with her monster Billboard Hot 100 hit, “Bodak Yellow” in 2017, the entertainer continued to dominate the charts and set new records in 2018. Cardi not only achieved her third No. 1 hit song but her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, was met with critical acclaim and ushered the rapper into superstardom. While many thought her pregnancy would stop Cardi’s grind, they thought wrong. The five-time Grammy nominee made history by becoming the first female rapper to have two No. 1 singles top the charts and the first female entertainer to headline Rolling Loud Festival. The 26-year-old also made major money moves after inking deals with Fashion Nova and Reebok. This is only the beginning for Kulture’s mama.
Amber Wagner’s Glow Up
Every so often we get a social media darling who wins our hearts with their infectious personality. This year, the world was introduced to 27-year-old Instagram influencer, Amber Wagner. Called “the social media generation’s Oprah” Amber has amassed an Instagram following of 1.7 million who flock to her page for an inspirational word about life, career, and pitfalls. The talent has been at it for a few years but was elevated to a whole new level with her Oprah Magazine interview in October.
Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” Video
After releasing her fourth studio album Sweetener in August, Ariana Grande surprised fans in November with the viral hit, “thank u, next”. The record broke the internet and generously mentions some of Grande’s publicized relationships and breakups. The song has topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks and is accompanied by a nostalgic music video featuring legendary film references from Legally Blond, 13 Going on 30, Bring It On, and Mean Girls. Ari has also claimed the throne for YouTube’s all-time record for most views in the first 24 hours of release and has fans anxiously waiting for her next era.
Janet Jackson’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Honor
100 million records sold? Check. Five-time Grammy Award winner? Check. Icon Award at the 2018 Billboard Awards? Check. Global Icon Award at the 2018 MTV EMAS? Check. This year has been nothing short of amazing for the legendary Janet Jackson who snatched accolades left and right all year. Now, the beloved entertainer has another prestigious award to add to her massive collection—2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recipient. Jackson joins the likes of James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Paul McCartney in being inducted in one of the most prestigious ledgers of music. With more than four decades of hit songs and albums under her belt, Ms. Jackson is the gift that keeps on giving.
Rihanna’s Fashion and Beauty World Domination
Although Rihanna hasn’t released any music in 2018 (unfortunately), the West Indian artist has been building an empire right before our very eyes. With the success following her cosmetic line, Fenty Beauty, Rihanna delivered her lingerie brand Savage x Fenty in May. Boasting an inclusive collection that ranges from XS to 3X, the flirty line was a hit. To top it off, her Savage x Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 runway show highlighted diversity with various body types and skin tones. While the world gears up for the arrival of R9 in 2019, Rihanna intends on keeping everybody’s pockets busy in the meanwhile.
Regina Hall’s Historic Win
We’ve all known how amazing Regina Hall has been for years, starring in iconic films like Love & Basketball and Paid in Full. But this year, the talent made history by becoming the New York Film Critics Circle’s first black leading actress champion for her role in the comedy Support the Girls, where she played a general manager of a sports bar.