As this year winds down, we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2018 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies, and more.
Most people would admit that it drives them crazy, but in 2018 Twitter has continued to be one of those places you go to for information straight from the source. And since tweets are often published away from the watchful eyes of celebrity PR teams, they tend to be the most candid and revelatory insight into a public figure’s mindset.
While it might seem like every year is chock full of big Twitter moments, 2018 seemed to be the year when everyone — from politicians and tech moguls to musical artists and brands — had something to say about the pressing issues of the day, whether that was politics, social justice, racism, or all of the above.
Elsewhere, you had cleaning products telling consumers not to, uh, consume them and billionaires accusing strangers of pedophilia. It was just that kind of year.
As we prepare to leave 2018 in our rearview, here are the tweets (and the odd Instagram caption) that best defined the year.
The tweet: “You know what, don’t bother showing me the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.
The context: One of the most harrowing events this year was the ordeal that trapped a Thai youth soccer team in a flooded network of caves for 18 harrowing days. Tesla/SpaceX tech mogul Elon Musk offered up his services to build a mini-submarine to aid the rescue effort. So far, so noble.
But what ensued was a war or words between Musk and British diver Vernon Unsworth, who had assisted in the rescue of 12 of the trapped children. After Unsworth accused Musk of engaging in a PR stunt, Musk fired back by accusing him of being a pedophile. Unsworth subsequently filed a lawsuit for $75,000 in damages.
The context: Taylor Swift has been accused of being too reserved when it comes to voicing her opinion on social issues. But this year the singer strayed from her apolitical stance in a lengthy Instagram post urging her 112 million followers to get out and vote, telling fans she would be voting for Democratic candidates in her state of Tennessee.
After Swift’s post, vote.org noted that some 65,000 voting registrations occurred in a two-day span, accounting for nearly one-third of all new voters who signed up in September.
The Tweet: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
The context: One of the biggest Hollywood moments of the year was the return of Roseanne Barr to television. The reboot of her sitcom saw the ABC show nab a record-breaking 27.3 million viewers.
But the jubilation for cast and crew was temporary, with Barr taking to Twitter to comment on Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama, in the now-deleted tweet above. Almost immediately, ABC canceled the show and her agency dropped her from their list of clients.
The context: In October of this year, Kanye West spent the majority of his public appearances donning a MAGA hat in support of President Trump. Since the president is particularly polarizing when it comes to racial equality, West’s tweet suggesting “we abolish the 13th amendment” (the amendment that ended slavery) only left his already befuddled fanbase that much more confused.
West later tweeted the following explanation: “the 13th Amendment is slavery in disguise meaning it never ended. We are the solution that heals.”
The context: The Kanye-President Trump bromance was no one-sided affair. When West tweeted that he and the president shared “dragon energy,” whatever that is, POTUS responded in a Tiger Beat-meets-All the President’s Men in 2018 kind of way.
The context: Few, if any, ad campaigns were as effective as Nike’s Colin Kaepernick-led “Just Do It” advertisement. In addition to an estimated $43 million in earned media for the brand and a spike in stock value, it was an assertion by the sportswear behemoth that athletes should be both seen and heard.
The context: Whereas we often used to look only to our politicians for guidance upon enduring a national tragedy, now more than ever, celebrities have used their massive social media platforms to enact change.
In this case, Dwayne Johnson championed the March for Our Lives rally in Washington DC against gun violence in the wake of the February 14 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The context: In early August, Mac Miller released his most ambitious and critically acclaimed album to date, Swimming. A month later, he died of an accidental overdose aged just 26.
The New Yorker
The context: From a sartorial standpoint, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has become known for his “hoodie for every occasion” approach to dressing because, in his own words, “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”
However, in the wake of several data breaches on the social media site, Zuckerberg appeared in front of Congress in a navy blue suit. Or, as The New Yorker put it, the suit wore him.
The context: As if Drake needed any more help breaking streaming records, a viral dance challenge initiated by Instagram creative Shiggy elevated his song “In My Feelings” to unseen heights of popularity simply by acting out the first few lyrics of the verse.
The Pulitzer Prizes
The context: While most artists usually get recognized by governing bodies such as the RIAA and Nielsen SoundScan, Kendrick Lamar became the first hip-hop artist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for his album, DAMN. Speaking on a Pulitzer Facebook Live video, Lamar said, “It’s an honor… I’ve been writing my whole life, so to get this type of recognition — it’s beautiful.”
The context: It remains to be seen if Marvel’s Black Panther will bag any Academy Award nominations, but either way, the film’s massive box office success — coupled with the outpouring of support from famous people around the globe — made the film one of 2018’s biggest stories.
The context: After a skirmish at New York Fashion Week saw Cardi B use her shoe as a missile, she and Nicki Minaj went back and forth on social media, accusing each other of a variety of mortal sins. The beef reached a fever pitch when Minaj challenged Cardi to take a lie detector test to prove her juicy claims.
The context: The trouble for Dolce & Gabbana began with a series of videos on Instagram and Chinese social media platform Weibo titled “Eating With Chopsticks,” which showed a model attempting to eat Italian food with the utensils. This prompted a backlash for perpetuating stereotypes. What followed were Instagram leaks and a series of DMs posted by fashion provocateurs Diet Prada in stark contrast to the public apology the brand had offered.
Charlamagne tha God
The context: The beef highlight of 2018 may very well have been the back and forth between Drake and Pusha-T that resulted in the tracks “Duppy Freestyle” and “The Story of Adidon.” Regardless of who you were rooting for (if anyone), the general consensus was that Push’s personal ethering of Drake was as vicious as it gets.
The context: Virgil Abloh’s appointment at Louis Vuitton as men’s artistic director, succeeding Kim Jones, was a monumental moment. Although the move shocked some, it made complete sense given the brand’s push toward millennial sensibilities after its 2017 collaboration with Supreme.
The context: Stan Lee’s passing this year was a sad loss of a giant. As the man who put Marvel Comics on the map, giving us some of today’s biggest movie characters and franchises, Lee and his contribution to popular culture won’t soon be forgotten.
The context: There was little else Cristiano Ronaldo could accomplish at Real Madrid after 15 major titles, including four Champions League wins. His departure for Italian giants Juventus shook football, with the Old Lady flying in Italy and Real Madrid still trying to recover in Spain.
The context: Cardi B is a rare superstar who uses social media just like anyone else. In turn, we get gems such as the above.
The context: Fox News host Laura Ingraham chastised LeBron James for his political beliefs, stating that she didn’t want to hear from “someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” adding, “Keep the political comments to yourselves. Shut up and dribble.”
In the lead-up to the NBA All-Star Game, James responded, “We will definitely not shut up and dribble. I mean too much to society, too much to the youth, too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out.”
The context: The internet backlash was almost immediate when H&M released a hoodie printed with the phrase “COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE” and modeled by a black child. Surprisingly, the mother of the model didn’t see the problem, saying, “That’s my son… I’ve been to all photo shoots and this was not an exception, everyone is entitled to their opinion about this. This is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modeled… stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue.”
The context: This was the year when a company most known for its laundry detergent had to remind customers that eating its Tide Pods could be dangerous. Because grown-ass adults apparently need to be told this. Of course it wasn’t a good idea — just ask The Onion, which predicted the phenomenon three years earlier.
The context: Politicians and musicians are often on opposing sides, especially when it relates to the usage of a song that can be repackaged for personal gain. In this instance, Rihanna was made aware that President Trump had used “Don’t Stop the Music” at his Chattanooga rally. She responded with a cease-and-desist.
The context: While the tweet itself is pretty innocuous, Anthony Bourdain’s reference to a cover of The Animals’ “The House of the Rising Sun” on the Hong Kong episode of Parts Unknown proved to be the final correspondence from the chef/author/media personality to his audience before his untimely death.
The context: Meek Mill got released from prison in April after serving a five-month sentence for a controversial parole violation. Seven months later, he released Championships, which we called, “his most inspired album yet.”
The context: Moments after his Girl With Balloon sold at auction for $1.4 million, Banksy revealed to a stunned crowd that he had built a paper shredder into the artwork’s frame. But perhaps the person who bought the half-shredded work got the last laugh: it was estimated that the newly named Love Is in the Bin was worth even more after the stunt.
The context: There’s no denying that Jared Leto’s depiction of the Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad suffered because of inevitable comparisons to Heath Ledger’s legendary performance in The Dark Knight. Todd Phillips hopes to change that with a definitive origin story for the Batman villain, with Joaquin Phoenix cast as Arthur Fleck — a failed Gotham City comedian who is pushed over the edge.
The context: It isn’t too often that the fashion worn at tennis tournaments makes headlines, but in 2018, we had several notable moments, including Palace’s Wimbledon collection and Serena Williams’ catsuit at the French Open. Although Roland Garros doesn’t have a dress code, French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli has banned Williams’ suit from next year’s tournament, despite the star saying the outfit made her feel like a “superhero when I wear it.”
The context: After Pusha-T dissed Drake on “Infrared” from his album DAYTONA, the Canadian rapper responded straight away with his own slight, “Duppy Freestyle.” Kanye West was also on the receiving end of a couple of shots, and Push was prompted to go nuclear with “The Story of Adidon.”
The context: The Dave LaChapelle-shot cover for Travis Scott’s album Astroworld ignited controversy after RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Aquaria pointed out that trans model Amanda Lepore had been removed from the original version. LaChapelle and Scott both took heat for the change, but each claimed it was for artistic reasons only.
The context: Tesla is a publicly traded company, meaning Elon Musk has a responsibility to shareholders to make money. As such, the CEO has faced intense pressure to ensure the company is profitable. His now infamous tweet, claiming he would be taking the company private, had immense repercussions. He was forced to pay a $20 million fine to the SEC and had to step down as Tesla chairman.
The context: JAY-Z hadn’t tweeted since June 2017 when he decided to clarify his lyrics on Meek Mill’s “What’s Free?” While most had assumed he was taking shots at Kanye West, he made it clear that there was no ill intent.
The context: In an attempt to use popular culture to gain support for his sanctions against Iran, President Trump decided to use a reworked version of Game of Thrones‘ tagline, “Winter is Coming.” Shortly afterward, HBO responded with a statement, “We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes,” before turning to social media to drive home its point.
The context: The music video for Childish Gambino’s “This is America” has been dissected in a multitude of ways, speaking not only to the execution of the visual but the portrait Donald Glover paints with the lyrics themselves.
President Donald Trump
The context: Colin Kaepernick’s Nike advertisement reached the desk of the president, who after many called for a boycott, took his own shot at the sportswear giant.
Tyler, the Creator
The context: Tyler, the Creator’s Grammy outfit was among the most vibrant yet cohesive looks anyone pulled off that evening. Rocking his own GOLF label, a white ushanka hat, Louis Vuitton scarf, and custom GOLF le FLEUR* Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops, Tyler topped the look off with leopard print hair.
The context: Former President Barack Obama voiced his optimism that in the wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the young people in the United States behind the March for Our Lives campaign would finally succeed in achieving gun reform in the United States.
The context: The biggest MMA fight of 2018 pitted Conor McGregor versus Khabib Nurmagomedov. Featuring real bad blood between the two combatants, the usually boisterous McGregor was rather subdued following his fourth-round defeat by submission.
The context: On the first anniversary of the bombing that killed 22 people attending her Manchester Arena concert, Ariana Grande took a moment to remember the victims. The singer also put on the One Love Manchester benefit concert, featuring performances by herself, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Niall Horan, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay, and Liam Gallagher.
The context: What happens when you combine one of the biggest video games of the year, a huge Twitch streamer, and one of the biggest stars in the world? We got our answer when Drake joined Ninja for a streaming session which resulted in 635,000 concurrent viewers, nearly doubling the previous non-tournament record of 388,000.
The context: Following the death of Mac Miller, fans and peers took to Twitter to pay their respects to the late Pittsburgh native. J. Cole’s message to his nearly 12 million followers was perhaps the most important. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The context: Apple CEO Tim Cook’s announcement was part of an eight-year initiative by the brand, which saw Apple take its sustainability goal from 16 percent of facilities being powered by renewable energy to 100 percent this year.
The context: It was certainly an eventful year for Post Malone both on- and off-stage. In addition to going through an emergency plane landing, his house was burglarized and he was in a car accident.
The context: Will Smith joined Instagram in late 2017 and took over almost immediately by inviting followers along on his many family vacations. His son Jaden acknowledged his father’s newfound social media status with a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style lampooning of the ridiculousness of it all.
The context: At the time of writing this piece, Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement stands as the most liked status in all of 2018.
When you’re finished up here, have a look at our end of year Highsnobiety Crowns awards.