If 2021 felt like a bit of a blur to you, well, join the club.
And while most of the world remained a dark place through the pandemic, pop culture at least hacouchd a few bright spots.
By the end of it all, you can’t say we weren’t entertained.
From Olivia Rodrigo skyrocketing to chart-topping fame, to the TikTok trends that made their way into our everyday lives, here are 2021’s most viral moments.
1. Billie Eilish reinvents herself (again)
While we once saw her as a green-haired wonder, the “Happier Than Ever” singer went platinum and shed her baggy clothes.
For May’s issue of British Vogue, Eilish broke the internet, donning lingerie on the cover of the magazine.
The exclusive interview with Eilish came just after she debuted her blonde tresses on Instagram, breaking records with more than 10 million likes in under three hours.
After spending most of her young career under oversized outfits, fans freaked out when her new look was revealed.
2. Lil Nas X
The “Industry Baby” rapper labored in 2021, creating his first full-length studio album, “Montero.”
To really make the occasion memorable, Lil Nas X flaunted a pregnant belly for months leading up to the release of the album, eventually sharing footage of him “giving birth” to celebrate.
His fake pregnancy caused a stir online, with some A-list peers showing support, but others cringing. One commenter wrote, “Never is [pregnancy] something to mock.”
But this wasn’t the rapper’s only viral controversy.
Upon the release of his single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” earlier this year, fans were starkly divided over the imagery of Lil Nas X giving Satan a lap dance in the NSFW video.
But devout fans were quick to shut down the haters.
3. ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’
Or, in other words, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Achilles heel.
Taylor Swift — queen of breakup songs — rerecorded and rereleased her famous album, including some new editions.
Upon its release, fans everywhere had a mental breakdown (their version).
They took to Twitter to share their thoughts on reliving their childhood with the chart-toppers and slamming Swift’s ex-beau Gyllenhaal, who supposedly inspired “All Too Well” (yes, the 10-minute version).
4. Emily Mariko’s salmon rice
For a while, Emily Mariko had a tight grip on TikTok users everywhere who were trying her salmon-and-rice dish.
As an expert leftovers chef, her viral video showed her warming up shredded salmon with rice, topped with soy sauce, mayo and sriracha, then placing an ice cube on top before heating it in the microwave.
The ultimate bite, complete with seaweed and avocado, looked good enough for other TikTokers to try it.
5. Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’
Supposedly about co-star Joshua Bassett from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” “Driver’s License” had everyone in tears this year.
But as the song gained traction online, so did the drama. Suddenly, Rodrigo’s past with Bassett (and his then-relationship with singer Sabrina Carpenter) was on display for Twitter to butt into.
The unconfirmed gossip didn’t distract from the utter heartbreak the internet shared with Rodrigo, though. Naturally, Twitter exploded into a chorus of memes about crying and driving as “Drivers License” sped up the charts.
6. The ‘Couch Guy’ drama
TikTokers are sleuths, especially when it comes to spotting cheaters.
In a viral video on the platform, a girl visits her long-distance boyfriend at college, but the social media FBI were quick to spot his suspicious behavior while the camera was rolling.
“Red flag! He didn’t get up off the couch and jump up and down in excitement,” said one user.
“Nah those boys def set him up. He legit secretly grabbed his phone from the girl next to him,” commented someone else, sparking rumors the boy in question was cheating.
Despite a plea from the girlfriend to “Please think before you assume anything about my relationship,” the internet turned the situation into a ruthless joke.
After the original video, other TikTokers were quick to poke fun at the same type of reunion videos, making their own cringe-worthy posts in jest.
7. Gorilla Glue Girl
Poor Tessica Brown.
Ever since going viral online for using Gorilla Glue to flatten fly-away hairs, Brown, also known as Gorilla Glue Girl, keeps attracting viewers with her hairy situations.
After a doctor saved her locks, she thought, nearly one year later, that it would be fine to try to dye it. But Brown realized that wasn’t the case, losing her hair in chunks after a botched store-bought dye job.
The original video, which racked up more than 8 million likes and hundreds of thousands of shares and comments, influenced the rest of Brown’s year. Most recently, she received stem cell therapy for her damaged hair.
8. Kourtney Kardashian’s and Megan Fox’s baby daddies
Travis Barker and Machine Gun Kelly were given quite the introduction at this year’s Video Music Awards, when their significant others introduced them as their “future baby daddies.”
While some people were thrilled with the kinky name-calling, others jumped to Twitter to crack a few jokes.
9. Bernie Sanders at the Inauguration
While he might seem bah-humbug, Bernie Sanders really became all of us (at one point or another) while waiting for the Presidential Inauguration to start.
Donning his sustainable mittens, the senator shot into the meme universe as the grouchy but relatable icon of the coming year.
People found the photo so hilarious, that they started photoshopping Sanders into iconic moments.
10. Oprah’s royal interview
Oprah met with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after they formally left the United Kingdom’s royal family in a tell-all interview.
The new California residents dished the juicy deets regarding their own Brexit from the monarchy, leaving the internet reeling.
While a few people were quick to dismiss the couple’s complaints against the British royalty, most people (on Twitter, at least) were loving every second of the special, waiting for every piece of dirty laundry to be aired out.
11. Demi Lovato’s yogurt shop feud
Demi Lovato vs. The Bigg Chill — how could we forget?
The singer clashed with the LA-based frozen yogurt shop in April, claiming their products that said “guilt free” were promoting diet culture.
“This screams diet culture and I won’t be gaslit by the media or anyone else that says otherwise,” Lovato posted to her Instagram Story during the feud, along with a picture of the “guilt free” snacks. “I don’t need to feel guilt free about eating anything.”
Lovato said the word choice was “triggering” for people who are recovering from an eating disorder.
12. ‘Meet Me At Our Spot’
TikTok caught a vibe from Willow Smith this year as her song took over the platform.
Smith performs the song “Meet Me At Our Spot” with Tyler Cole — as the band the Anxiety — and the live version took off on TikTok.
Naturally, users took their dancing to the next level, choreographing something very extra to go with the tune.
Even some A-list kids got in on the fun.
13. ‘Berries and cream’
We couldn’t get this forsaken sound off our TikTok feeds fast enough — so how could we possibly forget the most annoying-yet-catchy song on the internet this year?
While “good soup” is definitely up there in the most overused TikTok sounds, the little lad who “loves berries and cream” takes the cake.
Taken from a Skittles commercial used to promote a new flavor (back when we watched live TV), the sound is sung by a “little lad” donning a Lord Farquaad-style hair cut.
The sound took TikTok by storm, and while people used the original song for their videos, some made mashups and remixes.
It even got the attention of the original “little lad,” who shot to internet stardom when he made an official account.
If you’re like us, you couldn’t escape the tune online — it was the little lad’s world, and we were all just living in it.
14. The Rock’s doppelganger
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson discovered his civilian lookalike: a police officer.
In August, The Rock cop doppelganger — Alabama’s Morgan County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Lieutenant Eric Fields — surfaced on the internet, even wooing fans on TikTok.
His 10 minutes of fame even earned him a post on the Sheriff Department’s Facebook and recognition from action hero Johnson himself.
But he isn’t the only doppelganger to surface this year.
Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt and more have encountered their eerily similar look-alikes online.
15. ‘Ratatouille: The Musical’
Anyone can cook — but can anyone create a musical about a rat?
Apparently, TikTok can.
Despite the project starting in 2020 seemingly as a meme, the musical garnered some attention and very real money, fund-raising to the tune of more than $1 million.
While the idea seemed too good to be true, the cast was no joke.
Wayne Brady (“Kinky Boots”), Adam Lambert (“Wicked” tour), Tituss Burgess (“The Little Mermaid”) and Ashley Park (“Mean Girls”) were amongst the star-studded cast who partnered with other niche creatives to make the musical come to life.
16. ‘Body’ challenge
Got Megan knees?
This challenge (for hot girls only) made people drop it low to one of the top songs of the year, “Body” by Megan Thee Stallion.
Participants of this wild trend strut their stuff, cranking out the viral choreography that circled around TikTok earlier this year.
But others used the sound to promote body positivity, showing favorite photos of themselves to promote some self-love.
17. Free Britney
Britney Spears ended her conservatorship this year, and the monumental step for her personal autonomy did not go without celebration.
Love and support flooded Twitter, especially kind words from fellow celebrities.
18. Single Kim K
Kim Kardashian divorcing Kanye West was perhaps the most surprising yet unsurprising event in pop culture history this year.
Sources told Page Six that the newly minted lawyer wanted to focus on the bar exam and that she has “grown up,” while Kanye “is talking about running for president and saying other crazy s – – t, and she’s just had enough of it.”
But as soon as Kim K became single, she set her eyes on “SNL” star Pete Davidson. Naturally, it was the talk of the (Twitter) town.
19. Simone Biles
When Simone Biles dropped out of the Olympics this summer due to the “twisties,” people were either quick to defend her, or eager to take a jab at the medaled gymnast.
Those who didn’t understand the gymnastics term “twisties” called her a “quitter,” but her devout fans jumped to her defense and bit back at internet trolls.
20. Jeff Bezos goes into orbit
The Amazon founder took on the final frontier this year, but instead of celebration, he was met with a firing squad of jokes. (You can’t say that rocket isn’t phallic-shaped.)
While Jeff Bezos took a quick trip into outer space, Twitter — which wasn’t impressed — didn’t hesitate to jab at the face of corporate America.
21. R.I.P. Mr. Big
“And Just Like That” faced some backlash from fans after killing off “Sex and the City” character Mr. Big via a heart attack due to a Peloton. (Cue Peloton’s stock dropping.)
But the anguish was short-lived after actor Chris Noth was accused of sexually assaulting multiple women. He has denied the allegations, but promptly disappeared from Peloton’s feed.
Instead of jokes, Twitter was quick to defend the survivors of sexual assault.