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R.I.P 2015: The Only End-Of-Year Recap You Need

2015 wasn’t the year that mass shootings became a thing of the past. We haven’t defeated ISIS. We didn’t solve crippling student debt. We didn’t stop dying at the hands of people in authority. We didn’t stop blaming the actions of few on the religion of many. We aren’t perfect. 2016 won’t be perfect. But we continue on. WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, a HAPPIER compilation of the biggest moments of 2015.

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30. Super Blood Moon

me. i did it.

Willing to enter this as Gold for Most Underwhelming Pop Culture Phenomenon of 2015. Meant to be a great moment for humans vaguely interested in space, we in the United States pretty much ended up looking at our friends’ bad snapchats of a weird looking moon obscured almost entirely by fog and clouds. Interested in seeing even MORE underwhelming pictures about this lackluster cosmic phenomenon? Click here.

29. The Loose Llamas

View this video on YouTube

This year, there was the Great Llama Chase of 2015 in Arizona. This might be one of my favorites, because it was one of those things that bound the Internet together with a common cause for EIGHTEEN MINUTES.

I definitely tuned in for the most part in real-time. You might appreciate this GIF recap instead. Let me remind you: this happened EERILY close to the whole “The Dress” debacle that there was verbal speculation in my [social media agency] office that 2015 was going to be the be-all, end-all of social events. It was sadly just a coincidence.

28. Pizza Rat/NY Food Animals


Pizza Rat was with us in a 14-second video posted in September, struggling to carry a piece of pizza on some subway stairs. If memory serves, he was followed up by the likes of Bagel Pigeon, a pigeon that wore a bagel around its neck like a necklace. We were all Pizza Rat. We understood Pizza Rat. He just wanted a piece of pizza larger than his body.

27. The Superbowl / Via

Remember when Tom Brady was MVP of the Superbowl? Remember how there was a huge scandal about deflated balls and he only got suspended for 4 games?? Remember that ridiculously morbid Nationwide commercial???

The best part: Katy Perry’s halftime performance will always be trumped by the appearance of confused, and possibly drunk, Left Shark. In the way that Twitter normally works, soon #WeAreAllLeftShark was trending. This persisted until Halloween, where the costume was still apparently relevant.

26. Drake vs. Meek Mill

Drake / Via

I have so many things to say about this. Not only the fact that Meek Mill (after releasing a mediocre album in which the best song Drake himself was featured) would have the audacity to take on the 6 God, but Nicki was brought into it with some serious blows. Speculation ran wild over whether Nicki would break up with Meek over the feud, especially after Drake opened up OVOFest this year by pulling up fresh Meek memes that fans had made following the drop of his extremely sorry "diss track."


One of my personal favorites (above) was a screen shot from the music video “All Eyes on You,” which provided more than ample opportunity for commentary.

“As long as YOU thought it was good, baby.”

"You tried your best, and that's what counts."

25. Drake's Year Overall

Sorry, I know, but I had to draw a line here and keep the beef and Drake himself separate. Aside from getting totally jacked and posing on the baseball diamond in my favorite IG photo OAT (no, I'm not linking it because it's mine), AND beating Meek Mill in a public beef, AND having a DISS TRACK play on the radio, AND dropping track after track of fire (solo & with Future-WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!!!), he was a veritable culture machine.

His Hotline Bling video became so iconic that it devolved into memes within minutes (and spurred a late Donald Trump adaptation that still makes my eyes bleed). His mixtape "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" also begat memes of the same nature, some even demanding Frank Ocean's much-anticipated new album release. If anyone is contending with Adele for music hustler of the year, it's Drake. Let's just not even discuss it, man.

If you're still interested in making a meme, these lovely folks will help you out.

24. A Good(ish) Year For Books

Harper Collins Publishing / Via

I'm going to come out and say it: I didn't like Go Set a Watchman. Sue me. That aside, there have been some great books published this year, not to mention one of my favorites being The Rap Yearbook by Shea Serrano.

Oft-cited as the book of the year, Ta Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. A Little Life. Aziz's sociological book Modern Romance. We got a new Franzen book, Purity, as well as a new Mindy Kaling book, Why Not Me? We got great memoirs from people like Sally Mann, Gloria Steinem, and Carrie Brownstein. All the Light We Cannot See, Fates and Furies, A God in Ruins, and Girl on the Train all seem to have staying power.

I'm definitely not able to list all of the greats of this year, so I'm not going to go any further. I'd love to hear about the best you've read this year in the comments!

23. Ahmed and the Clock

The Guardian / Via

They arrested Ahmed from a school in Texas without reading him his rights. After discovering he had made a home-made clock and not a bomb, he was released. President Obama spotted his NASA t-shirt and invited him to the White House, sending messages of encouragement for students with an interest in STEM.

22. Miley Hosts the VMAs



Sadly, another commentary on race and appropriation of black culture in America, it also reminds us that this girl just never learns. Yeah, girl can sing, but can we agree that she doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut, OR how to pronounce the names of anyone nominated?

One cool thing about the VMAs though: Kanye got the Vanguard award and did a whole 13-minute speech and announced his candidacy for 2020. Let’s get them shirts printing.

21. Hello: The Return of Adele

Tumblr??? Who makes these things??

I love Adele. 19, 21, 25, whatever. I think we can all agree that putting on “Hello,” has instantly led to either tears, solemnity, or reconciliation. Her new album, of course, did not disappoint and she even got her own special on NBC, a recording from a live concert she performed in New York. It was truly a magical time for us to celebrate Adele during the Holidays.

However, as we must discuss, 2015 is not perfect. Adele had slights thrown her way that would have never been thrown at a man.

We love you, Adele.

20. Oxford English Dictionary's Word of the Year

Oxford English Dictionary / Via

I'm only including this to make record of the fact that this is all your fault. You have destroyed us. Even as something comes in across your phone that you did not smile at, or perhaps it was a link you didn't even click on. You think it's something meant to amuse you.

If you're not *literally* yawning when someone sends you what you perceive to be a joke, you send face with tears of joy emoji. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 ISN'T THAT FUNNY???? YOU'RE LAUGHING SO HARD. You also killed two runners-up, which were On Fleek and Lumbersexual. Maybe I do hate 2015??? I don't know.

19. THE Dress. / Via

Even though I hate it, I have to include it. After all, I think we all know where we were when *someone* in our friend group brought up “The Dress.” I remember specifically that I was feeling very bloated at a Beer and Mac and Cheese Festival and drunkenly whipped my Twitter Timeline at my friends. “I don’t know why I’m even asking you, this is really stupid. But this is white and gold, right? It’s a white and gold dress.” Megan creased her eyebrows immediately. 

“Are you joking? No, it’s a black and blue dress. Not like dark blue, like a cerulean or a weird lightish blue and black.” Immediately I knew something was wrong. I can’t tell you I didn’t click on all the “scientific” articles explaining the dissonance we saw in the dress. I clicked on them. I just still don’t understand. That’s where I’m leaving this.

It’s white and gold.

18. A Good Year for Rap & Hip Hop

Kendrick Lamar / Via

Going to go ahead and PROTEST the HOTTEST TAKE of 2015, which if you haven’t heard is some crap that Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is an album that “we’re all just pretending to like.” Yeah, I’m not black. Yeah, it’s harder for me to identify with Kendrick’s struggle. Why does that make his album something I’m “claiming to enjoy?” Sorry — that’s a different argument. Complex did actually put it at #1 album overall. Anyway, 2014 was not great. 2015 was. And I’m precluding this by saying: I was expecting a Yeezy album and I didn’t get a Yeezy album and I’m salty about it. Yet still I’ll say it again: it was a great year for rap and hip hop.

WATTBA. Compton. Fetty Wap. Rodeo. DS2. Summertime 06'. Free TC. I guess Mac Miller’s was alright. OFWGKTA’S Earl and Internet released albums! Documentary 2 (okay — ext. edition, I don’t even believe you if you don’t CRANK El Chapo when you’re driving to the turn-up). Surf. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. At. Long. Last. A$AP (you missed out if you missed the Tyler/A$AP tour this year). Darkest Before Dawn. Dark Sky Paradise. Ludaversal. I know I haven’t listed a couple, but you know what I mean. A solid year.

17. Kobe Bryant Calls It Quits


On Nov. 29th, basketball great Kobe announced that it was his final season. He wrote an open letter which you can read on the site here or read my favorite portion below:


I ran up and down every court

After every loose ball for you.

You asked for my hustle

I gave you my heart

Because it came with so much more.


I’m ready to let you go.

I want you to know now


And we both know, no matter what I do next

I’ll always be that kid

With the rolled up socks

Garbage can in the corner

:05 seconds on the clock

Ball in my hands.

5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,


16. A Pretty Decent Year For Movies

IMDb / Via

I know the Star Wars and Jurassic Park “look at how much money they made” people will be out here so I have to mention them. I’m here to list all the awesome movies put out by Hollywood that maybe haven’t lived up in the box office but honestly, absolutely crushed it. It was the year of:

Room. Mad Max. Ex Machina. Tangerine. Creed. FURIOUS 7 (I don’t care. I love the series, I’m including it). Sicario. Amy. Carol. That One Movie Leo is Supposed to Win an Oscar For. Dope. Beasts of No Nation. 45 Years. Spotlight. Trumbo. Brooklyn. What We Do In the Shadows. Phoenix. Anomolisa. Going Clear. The End of the Tour. Still Alice. Clouds of Sils Maria. The Danish Girl. 

Special shout-out to horror/suspense movies It Follows, The Visit, and The Gift: as a fan of these genres, there has been an extremely poor showing in recent years. These all made me very happy and hopeful for the future.

15. PenisGate 2015

Mashable / Via

Alright, I mean. Come on. I can’t believe this even happened. If you had to guess which celebrity’s penis in 2015 everyone would want to see, and I gave you 5 guesses at which you actually would, was anyone betting on Justin Bieber? Like he’s not a guy who just walks around with his dong out. I don’t know his penis history, but he’s not Jon Hamm. And yet — everyone saw Justin Bieber’s penis! Several articles (which to be honest I thought were funnier than the actual incident itself) cropped up, including How To Talk to Your Significant Other About Justin Bieber’s Penis. 

Also, in an incident only befitting of Lenny Kravitz, Lenny Kravitz also had a crazy penis moment when doing a very strange lunge onstage, where his leather pants (still not making this up) split down the seam and his penis sprung out. Once again, couples had to navigate tumultuous waters on how they discussed such a public figure’s penis. Of course, I just explained that I clicked on ‘Related Links’ after I had been desperately searching for Michael Fassbender’s penis.

14. Dances like the Whip, NaeNae, and Dab

My little brother just dabbed on a Christian tv show 😐😐

If I’m honest, I’m extremely over all three of these but they had to be included, in all fairness. The second politicians get their hands on these, they are never to be resurrected. However, I make one single exception and that is for this little guy whose heroic actions are self explanatory.


screenshot from the live-stream / Via

Ignoring the fact that Shia started this year with the Tumblr-consuming move of the year (his green-screen motivational speech #INTRODUCTIONS), he actually did some even cooler collaboration with his performance art buddies over at New Hive. With a seemingly thorough understanding of Internet Culture, Shia announced he would be live-streaming himself in a public theatre while he watched #ALL[HIS]MOVIES back-to-back for three days. 

Honestly, I felt a little lonely when it was all over after dual-screening the whole thing at work. No worries — you can still watch some of it. This performance alone gave watchers opportunities to take screenshots of Shia during his most tired, happy, and emotional moments. In the same vein, he announced #TOUCHMYSOUL on Twitter and provided a phone number to call and have a moment with the artists, again live-streaming the whole thing.

12. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, Rousey vs. Holm

i'm so sad that ronda rousey lost i can't even wrap my head around it this is devastating

This is a hard one to talk about because honestly, it’s hard to believe in 2015 that these things aren’t entirely fixed. M vs. P was billed as the “Fight of the Century” but really didn’t live up to the hype. Mayweather won unanimously. I felt out of ~fairness~ I’d include that fight here because I’m including the female fight of the year — WHICH WAS SO MUCH BETTER.

Fighting sweetheart and general champion of strong women everywhere, recently having made acting debuts in Furious 7 and Entourage, champion Ronda Rousey was bested at 0:59 of Round 2. It was the KO heard ‘round the world.

11. Caitlyn Jenner Steps Out

Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair / Via

If you still haven't read the full article here I'd recommend it.

The beautiful thing I've found about Caitlyn's story and Transparent and having a transgender character on Orange is the New Black is simply...inclusion. Transgender people have more mainstream representation now than they have in a long time, and more complex. The discussion is not over, but it is better.

10. The Snafu at Miss Universe

ABC / Via

Whether you were actually watching the competition live and saw the incident unfold horribly in real-time or just caught the backlash on social media, it was nasty. The winner of the Miss Universe 2015 pageant had in fact been Miss Philippines, not Miss Columbia, and Steve Harvey had read the First Runner Up instead of the First Place spot on the card. Some speculation circulated that the card had been hard to understand, but honestly it just ties right in with my theory that everything is Performance Art, welcome to 2015: Where Everything’s Scripted and the Ratings Matter.

9. Kanye (& the Kardashians)

ABC News / Via

Where do I begin? Alright. I'm a little mad no Yeezy Season officially hit this year, but as he claimed on Twitter, no one's allowed to bother him until the album is done. He did, however, manage to drive Sneakerheads bonkers with new releases of the Adidas-collaborated Yeezy Boost collection as well as a clothing line.

He did also: put out songs FourFiveSeconds, All Day and Only One [and not those two "new songs!!!!!" that everyone kept talking about on his SoundCloud. They were not actually new. stop the lies.] He also found time to produce and do guest verses with Pusha T, Vic Mensa, and Big Sean and swooped up 4 Grammy nominations this year. This all while being voted GQ's most stylish man of the year!

Oh, and to mention the obvious: welcome to the Earth, Saint West.

In other Kardashian news, all the Kardashian/Jenners broke Instagram another year, released their own apps, and Kim herself put out a set of "Kimojis" to build upon her book/beauty line/game/personal app/fashion line empire. Khloe got skinny and wrote a book, thus destroying the most #relatable Kardashian in the process. Kylie is *officially* dating Tyga as of this year, Kourtney is single-ish, and Kendall is now an official Victoria's Secret Angel.

Claps all around for a good West/Jenner/Kardashian 2015.


NASA/JPL/University of Arizona / Via

I'll just let you listen to NASA.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars."

6. Steps Toward More Diversity on TV

Neftlix / Via

2015 has taken some first steps in the right direction to make sure that more minority voices will be heard. With a wave of shows available on cable and Netflix, like Aziz Ansari's artful comedy/commentary Master of None, diversity is not only important, it is a huge talking point among the characters.

Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat certainly touch on these topics, but Master of None does it in a way that allows us to see directly what minority actors go through trying to fight stereotypes and get their stories heard in the media (because Aziz' character himself is an actor). It is a show that we didn't know that we needed, but are very lucky to have.

5. The Memes that Broke Us

Complex / Via

Uncle Denzel and Crying Michael Jordan dominated the sports photoshopping sphere, but there were a lot of memes that rose and fell as quickly as The Articles of Confederation. The most annoying and quickly ubiquitous was the Minions, rumored to have been destroyed in the Great Christian Mother Appropriation Movement. Also in this category: Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams and the Rare Pepe. One that has been officially, officially murdered to death with the cold, hard hammer of justice is Netflix and Chill. I’m looking at you, SNL.

Some personal (& crowdsourced — thanks Cool Freaks community!) favorites: John Travolta Lost, Hotline Bling Parodies, Why You Always Lyin’, Surprise John Cena, O RLY, David Cameron’s #PigGate, WHAT ARE THOOOSE, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Dirty Chain Texts, “I Hate People Who Dress Like This, We Get It, You ___”, The 50 Shades of Grey “My Tastes are Singular” Panels, Sleep Tight Pupper, Thinkin’ bout thos beans, *Reads Writing on Smudged Hand*, Barber Memes, and this meme which is definitely my all-time favorite of the year:

👌👀👌👀👌👀👌👀👌👀 good shit go౦ԁ sHit👌 thats ✔ some good👌👌shit right👌👌th 👌 ere👌👌👌 right✔there ✔✔if i do ƽaү so my self 💯 i say so 💯 thats what im talking about right there right there (chorus: ʳᶦᵍʰᵗ ᵗʰᵉʳᵉ) mMMMMᎷМ💯 👌👌 👌НO0ОଠOOOOOОଠଠOoooᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒ👌 👌👌 👌 💯 👌 👀 👀 👀 👌👌Good shit

4. FIFA Womens' World Cup

CNBC / Via

CAN I START THIS ONE BY JUST SAYING: women do not have it great, okay? The truth is, there’s always men out there who catcall, and think women deserve less, and therefore do not watch a major international event because it is women participating, not men. 2015 marked a big change for the womens’ soccer community because — at least to me — this seemed like a contest the world was really watching. Coupled with the US’ team’s message #SheBelieves, it really was inspiring to watch these women progress.

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo — the fierce players on this team will stand as heroes for female athletes across the country. Even better than getting the opportunity to compete in the finals this year? Winning.

3. DJ Khaled on Snapchat

DJ Khaled / Via Snapchat

DJ Khaled’s Snapchat is a late contender for trend of 2015. Though it had a slow creep-up around August/September, it gained mainstream traction in October and November and has gained nearly critical mass. Even DJ Khaled’s Wikipedia page was altered to include an occupation of “philosopher” — though that has now been taken down. Even Snapchat’s special Christmas Filter included a special DJ Khaled message and illustration.

Common themes are “Keys to Success,” Cloth Talk, eating his meals prepared by Chef Dee, warning his followers of the dangerous “They” (who do not want you to succeed), jet skiing and occasionally getting lost at sea, promoting his new store, saying “Bless Up,” and “Another One,” watering his plants, saying “LION ORDER!” when he shows his Lion Statue, giving speeches in his hammock, and generally hanging out with the Miami Heat, talking about sneakers, and drinking Ciroc. He seems to be slowly alienating those close to him through his continually intrusive use of Snapchat.

2. Jennifer Lawrence Calls Out Hollywood on the Gender Pay Gap

Jennifer Williams / Lenny Letter / Via

J-Law's striking letter was brought to us through Lena Dunham (Girls) and her collaborator Jenni Konnor's internet mag/newsletter Lenny Letter, a conversation that has been ongoing, but seemingly never as hot a topic as this time around.

After the well-publicized Sony hacks, Lawrence discovered how much she was payed for certain roles in comparison to her male co-workers. She spoke about this, but also elaborated on something I think all women in the workplace can relate to: not having your voice heard because you don't want to come off as being aggressive, or rude, or ungrateful. Her line struck me here:

"I'm over trying to find the "adorable" way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that. I don't think I've ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It's just heard."

1. #LoveWins

The White House / Via Twitter: @WhiteHouse

I have very little to say about this, because I think it's all been said, but I'd like to iterate the final Opinion of the Court because it is beautiful and I wanted to read it again.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

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