The year-end retrospective list has become music journalism tradition come every December (or late November for some of the increasingly trigger-happy publications out there), but we thought we’d take a midyear breather to take a look back and appreciate all of the goods we’ve been given this year so far, from January to June.
We've spent the bulk of the week taking a look back at the greatest releases 2015 had to offer so far, from albums to songs to music videos. But what about something a bit more...controversial?
The PopCrush editors have selected their favorite — err, at least, the most memorable pop culture moments that had our jaws on the floor in disbelief this year to date, from Natalia Kills' shocking X Factor New Zealand rant to Madonna's fall heard 'round the world at the 2015 BRIT Awards to Zayn Malik's departure from 1D. (And yes, we're still reeling.)
Did we miss a major moment? Let us know in the comments below.
During a live episode of X Factor New Zealand, former judge Natalia Kills called out contestant Joe Irvine for allegedly copying her husband Willy Moon's style — which, more or less, involves wearing a suit — skewering him by calling him "disgusting" and devoid of originality. Willy joined in with a horrifying suggestion that Joe was going to stitch skin to his face and kill everyone in the audience. (These two are a delight at parties!)
Whether it was an act of sincere delusion or pre-planned mean-spirited controversy gone way, way awry, Kills and her husband were quickly canned from the show within 24 hours amid global outrage. Pop stars all around the world harped on Kills' own lack of originality and sent kind words (and cupcakes — thanks Lorde!) Irvine's way.
On the bright side, everyone knows who Natalia Kills is now! And the memes that came from the incident are the GIF-ts that keeps on giving.
Also, the line "As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted..." will never not be hilarious. Thanks for that, Natalia! — Bradley Stern
Iggy Azalea Spits Mad Gibberish Live
It’s like the Australian rapper once said in a now-immortal Vine, “Piz puh point, boo pass me a joint, got a toothless bee I’ma spring my joint, trig-leh rah, bullet to the papa, poo nah jootarang, sittin’ on…” FIRE. — Samantha Vincenty
One Direction's Most Devastating Loss
One Direction’s cumulative average of hotness decreased significantly with the posting of a single Facebook status: Zayn Malik — a man with a face so immaculate that all the words taken from all the various iterations of Rosetta Stone wouldn’t be enough to sufficiently describe his beauty -- quit the most popular band on the planet in the middle of a massively successful world tour.
For the fans, it was like Malik took a dull butter knife and painstakingly picked away at the flesh just to the left of our collective breastbone until ultimately exposing the heart, which he then ripped out and dumped on the floor — leaving only a mangled, bloody mess of sinew, soft tissue and anguish behind.
We may never recover from his departure but in a much more real sense, One Direction will never be the same without him. Malik's much needed (and much appreciated) propensity for soulful inflection and his inclination toward a more R&B sound is now lost from any future recordings with the band, guaranteeing their continued trajectory toward a stale, Wonderbread soft-rock sound. Not to mention his undeniable vocal prowess will be sorely missed -- Liam Payne makes a valiant effort, but that “You & I” glory note just doesn’t sound the same anymore. — Ali Szubiak
Raven-Symoné Doesn't Want Harriet Tubman on U.S. Currency
If you thought your cousins’ Thanksgiving argument over tea tree oil was arbitrary, you must have missed The View’s May 13 episode, during which recurring guest host Raven-Symoné came out swinging against Harriet Tubman’s potential feature on the $20 bill for some reason. The debate came on the heels of a survey conducted by a group called Women on the 20s, which found that many Americans are in favor of featuring the Underground Railroad pioneer on American currency, as no female has yet earned the distinction. “I think we need to move a little bit more forward,” Symone contrarily preached. Oh. — Matthew Donnelly
Madonna Takes A Tumble
Many people will tell you it’s not okay to laugh when someone falls down a flight of stairs...but sometimes it’s hard not to laugh, especially when it happens to someone famous. Madonna took the most high-profile tumble of the year at the 2015 BRIT Awards when she was yanked from the stage by a rogue Armani cape that failed to untie in time. If anything, this moment proved a triumph for Madonna stans everywhere — absolutely nothing can keep her down, not even being nearly strangled to death by a wardrobe malfunction on live television.
Madonna didn’t miss a beat as she soldiered on, most likely content in knowing someone would be getting fired later anyway. — Ali Szubiak
John Travolta Getting Touchy-Feely at the Oscars
At the 2014 Oscars, John Travolta’s bizarre mispronunciation of Frozen star Idina Menzel’s name (“Adele Dazeem”) went viral. At this year’s ceremony, the actor tried to make it better…and ended it up making it weird again.
“You, my darling, my beautiful, my wickedly talented Idina Menzel,” John murmured as he invaded Idina’s personal space, repeatedly grabbing her chin and caressing her cheek onstage as she laughed in confusion. All the face-touching would be a lot even from a platonic male friend, but if they were actual friends, pronouncing her name correctly wouldn’t be a triumph. And it wasn’t his only oddly handsy moment of the night: Travolta also sidled up to Scarlett Johansson, planting his hands on her waist and giving her an uninvited kiss on the cheek (while she alternated between a cold scowl and some searing side-eye). His overall vibe was somewhere between “I was nervous about tonight so I took MDMA and you all look so, so beautiful right now,” and that one great-aunt whose sloppy smooches you dodge at family reunions. — Samantha Vincenty
8th Unremarkable White Guy Wins 'Idol' in 9 Years
Nick Fradiani, a 29-year-old from suburban Connecticut, may not have, himself, been the nail in American Idol’s coffin (FOX announced next season will be the competition show’s last), but he certainly gave it a few good whacks on his way to top spot. Across tepid renditions of “Teenage Dream” and “I Won’t Give Up,” the oft-flat-but-fractionally-charming vocalist nevertheless steamrolled over acts that were twice as talented, proving the show has officially devolved into more of a local talent show than a verifiable Kelly Clarkson-scouting industry opportunity. — Matthew Donnelly
Madge Makes Out With Drake
30+ years deep into her prolific career, and Madonna still knows how to scandalize the entire world — including Drake. The former Degrassi-starlet-turned-Canadian emo rapper clearly did not know what he was getting himself into when he penned "Madonna," an ode to the Queen Of Pop for his surprise mixtape, If You're Reading This, It's Too Late.
The audio love letter lent itself to a cameo by Madge herself during Drake's Coachella set, in which she strolled out in a "BIG AS MADONNA" tank and performed "Human Nature" and "Hung Up" (what?) before walking over, grasping his face and diving into a messy make-out sesh seen 'round the world. Drake sold her out immediately after with a grimace post-kiss (as if it were actually unplanned!), which he later explained was because of her lip gloss. Sure. The move made her look totally thirsty, while he came off looking like a wimp who couldn't handle a true #UnapologeticBitch. — Bradley Stern