Pop’s Summer of ’13: Why We’re Already Nostalgic for Twerking, ‘Lines’-Blurring, and Chris Brown Retiring
"We've been havin' fun all summer long," the Beach Boys sang at the end of American Graffiti, waving a fond farewell to convertibles, bikinis, and carhops. In 2013, it's also time to say sayonara to summer... maybe with a little less sense of innocence, since we're basically getting sentimental over Miley Cyrus' foam finger, naked ladies in Robin Thicke videos, and download Jay-Z albums on dodgy phone apps.
Here are a few of the pop music stories we'll remember most — or at least have the hardest time forgetting — from the summer of '13:
1. Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs. There are some things you can't unsee, and Miley made sure her tongue was one of them, since she stuck it out about a hundred times between her red-carpet walk and ultimately appearance on the MTV telecast. Does that thing even go back in her mouth, or is there some kind of severed nerve thing going on? Her rear end and foam finger got just as much attention, if not more, of course, as she grinded against Robin Thicke and buried Hannah Montana about 60 feet under. According to your op-ed preferences, it was either a swell example of young women taking charge of their sexuality or the skeeviest thing ever. "It's not the Grammys," Justin Timberlake said in her defense. One of the year's best viral videos had Hank and Marie, in a competing episode of Breaking Bad, watching Miley break bad.
2. Robin Thicke likes girls, but not Gayes. At the VMAs, One Direction won a call-in voting contest for Song of the Summer, which got the boy band booed by the in-house audience, because everyone who was half-awake this year know that title rightfully belonged to Thicke. It didn't hurt that he had a video with nekked women, which made the song seem more misogynistic, to some. But video director Diane Martel insisted she was making it less so, counterintuitive as that might seem. "I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics in a way where the girls were going to overpower the men," she said. "I directed the girls to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position." Oh, now we get it — it was a feminist statement! Later in the summer, the singer preemptively sued the Marvin Gaye estate to hold off any possibly forthcoming legal claims that he'd plagiarized the tune. You'd almost have to be thick to court that kind of bad press!
3. Jay-Z gives away a million copies of his new album, if you give him your info. It sounded like a good idea at the time... and it probably still does if you're Jay-Z, who made another small fortune upfront on the deal when Samsung bought a million copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail at $5 each for the giveaway. But not everyone who downloaded the necessary Samsung-exclusive app to hear the album was pleased with the experience, especially when stories surfaced about just how much personal data the app was mining. Anyone who was thinking about dissing the album suddenly had to remember: Jay-Z knows where you live. (Or at least from where you tweet and who your Facebook friends are.)