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Recapping the craziest summer pop culture moments

As the 2023 summer ends, it's time to recap the craziest pop culture moments from the past few warm months. Everyone was either attending a big megastar's concert or purchasing tickets to one of film history's most iconic double features. Along with it were some odd, unexpected moments that became the biggest trending topics on social media – some historically important and others that lasted for 10 minutes. 

‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer,’ aka “Barbenheimer”

Cinema was back as the biggest double feature of all time – "Barbenheimer" – drove masses of moviegoers to the theater with two long-awaited, opposite films. The vibrant pink "Barbie" joined forces with Christopher Nolan's dark biographical "Oppenheimer," as the juxtaposed hilarity of it all had everyone wanting an "I Survived Barbenheimer" shirt. Expect to see a lot of Barbie, Ken and maybe even Oppenheimer costumes this Halloween. 

Colleen Ballinger's drama unfolds

All aboard this summer's most chaotic moment: Colleen Ballinger's 10-minute long ukulele song, infamously titled "Toxic Gossip Train." The YouTube persona's response video came after several of her former fans came forward about Ballinger's toxic and controversial relationships with them. After the unbelievable ukulele track was uploaded, the internet grew even further from forgiving Miranda Sings and the video became one of the summer's biggest memes. 

Twitter's transformation to "X"

Elon Musk's reign of one of the largest social media platforms took its biggest turn, transforming the long-standing "Twitter" into what is now just "X." Retweets are now plain old "reposts" and the iconic bird symbol is now nowhere to be found on the app. "X" 's competitor, Instagram, then established "Threads" in early July, which featured a similar format to the former bird platform. 

All the celebrity breakups and divorces

Nearly every celebrity couple was going through the wringer this summer, as news of couples breaking up seemed to pop up left and right. Pop star Ariana Grande split with her husband, Dalton Gomez, while another iconic pop star, Britney Spears, went separate ways with her husband of 14 months. Even long-term couples detached this summer, including actors Sofía Vergara and Joe Manganiello, whose marriage ended after seven years. Though it seemed the most trending relationship of the summer was the short-lived, peculiar relationship between Taylor Swift and The 1975's Matty Healy. 

Celebrities randomly working restaurant shifts

Imagine going into Waffle House one day and seeing singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey serving you breakfast or Ed Sheeran serving your morning coffee at Starbucks. Apparently, this is more common than you think, as celebrities randomly started picking up shifts at fast-food restaurants and coffee shops throughout the past summer. These sightings were most likely PR stunts for these artists, especially those with a tour or a new album coming up. Surprisingly, it's an odd method that is working. 

Taylor Swift's 'Eras Tour' and re-recordings

There was absolutely no vacation for the unstoppable Taylor Swift this summer. Swift's sold-out "Eras Tour" started in mid-March, but its journey continued strong throughout the summer. Even more tour dates were added along the way, with dates for out-of-the-country and a second U.S. leg of the tour.

Not only was Taylor Swift performing on the world's largest, top-grossing tour, she also announced not one but two of her re-recorded albums at her concerts – "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" and "1989 (Taylor's Version)." Swift released "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" in early July, along with six unreleased vault tracks. She also released a music video for one of the vault tracks, "I Can See You." The music video featured Taylor Lautner and Joey King, both of whom had iconic significance from the original "Speak Now" era. 

Beyoncé's world tour

Another iconic music legend, Beyoncé, shimmered this summer with her Renaissance World Tour. From the unexpected setlist to the lack of visuals due to the fact that the singer doesn't have an opening act, she is doing things differently, and rightfully so. Her ambitious choices may set a precedent for future tours to come. With Swift and Beyoncé's tours and the "Barbenheimer" double feature, billions of dollars returned to the U.S. economy. 

The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes

In early May, 11,500 writers from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) began their strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for failed negotiations on stable compensation and artificial intelligence in screenwriting. The SAG-AFTRA, also known as the Screen Actors Guild, also went on strike starting in mid-July. As this strike continues, more pop culture events will feel the effects until negotiations with the WGA/SAG and AMPTP are met. The strike will also push back several anticipated film and television releases, including "Dune: Part Two," the next season of "Euphoria" and the final season of Netflix's "Stranger Things." 


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