The Most Unforgettable Pop Culture Moments Of 2022

By Rebekah Gonzalez

December 29, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

The year 2022 has come to an end and it's time to look back on some of the most jaw-dropping, internet-breaking, moments in pop culture. As always, this year in pop culture ran the gamut from joyous news like Rihanna and A$AP Rocky's first child being born, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck finally saying "I Do," and Taylor Swift dropping Midnights to the not-so-joyous moments like the Oscars Slap, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's grueling defamation case, and the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Some pop culture moments prompted provocative and tough conversations. But most of these moments simply offered people reprieve as they watched Russia invade Ukraine or parents mourn the loss of their children due to senseless gun violence in Uvalde and faced other hardships on a global and personal level.

Whatever storm you weathered in 2022, we're so glad you've made it through and are joining us to reflect on the many events that brought us together throughout the year. These are the most unforgettable pop culture moments of 2022!

Rihanna Announces She's Pregnant With Her First Child

Photo: Getty Images

On January 31st, Rihanna and her boyfriend A$AP Rocky confirmed they were expecting their first child together. The couple welcomed their baby boy to the world on May 13th in Los Angeles, California.

Wordle Goes Viral

Photo: Getty Images

If you were on Twitter at the start of the year, you probably remember the influx of gray, green, and yellow squares on your timeline. After being released at the end of 2021, the game Wordle became an online craze with people of all ages logging on every day to guess a five-letter word in as few tries as possible.

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar Headline the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show

Photo: Getty Images

The iconic quintet made history by performing the first Super Bowl halftime show to center entirely around hip-hop music on February 13th. They also brought out 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak for the critically acclaimed performance. The LA Rams went on to win the Super Bowl in their home stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock Onstage At The Oscars

Photo: Getty Images

"The Slap Heard Around The World" took place at the 94th Oscars in Hollywood, California on March 27th. Will Smith walked onstage during the live broadcast and slapped host Chris Rock across the face in response to a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith's shaved head, which she had been shaving due to alopecia areata.

Kim Kardashian Wears Marilyn Monroe's Iconic "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" Dress To The Met Gala

Photo: Getty Images

Kim Kardashian is no stranger to "breaking the internet." In 2022 she did it by showing up at the Met Gala wearing the historic sparkly, nude gown worn by Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe while she sang "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962. She only wore the historic dress to walk to the red carpet with her boyfriend at the time Pete Davidson.

Harry Styles Drops Harry's House & Becomes A Movie Star

Photo: Getty Images

2022 was a massive year for Harry Styles. Not only did he drop his critically acclaimed third studio album Harry's House on May 20th, but he also starred in blockbusters like Don't Worry Darling and My Policeman. In bonafide movie star fashion, Styles was also the subject of some wild tabloid gossip as he dated his Don't Worry Darling director Olivia Wilde (the two broke up in November) and was even wrongly accused of spitting on co-star Chris Pine at the movie's premiere.

Stranger Things 4 Prompts An '80s Revival Helmed By Kate Bush & Metallica

Photo: Getty Images

There was no doubt that the fourth season of Netflix's beloved sci-fi show Stranger Things would be a hit when the first seven episodes premiered on May 27th. What wasn't expected was the show incorporating Kate Bush's 1985 classic "Running Up That Hill" and shooting it to the top of the charts. In July, it was reported that the artist made a whopping $2.3 million after the show popularized her song. Metallica's song 1986 hit "Master of Puppets" also played a pivotal role in the plot and entered the Billboard chart for the first time ever.

Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Defamation Trial

Photo: Getty Images

There was a point this year where it felt like the only stories in the tabloids were about the Depp vs Heard defamation trial. On June 1st, after a messy and highly publicized battle in the courtroom, the jury in Virginia found Heard guilty of defaming Depp in her 2018 op-ed for the Washington Post in which she opened up about being a survivor of domestic abuse and never mentioned Depp by name.

Britney Spears Marries Sam Asghari After Her Ex-Husband Tries To Crash The Wedding

Photo: Getty Images

On June 9th, Britney Spears' wedding to Sam Asghari was crashed by her ex-husband Jason Alexander. After being restrained by police, Britney and Sam were able to tie the knot in an intimate ceremony surrounded by family and friends which included the likes of Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Paris Hilton, and more.

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Get Married 20 Years After Their First Engagement

Photo: Getty Images

Longtime Bennifer fans were overjoyed when Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck revealed they were married in an impromptu Las Vegas wedding on July 17th. "Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient," JLo wrote in a heartfelt statement following the nuptials. The two were later married in front of friends and family in a second lavish Georgia wedding in August.

Beyoncé Releases First Album In 6 Years, Renaissance

Photo: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

Beyoncé unleashed her long-awaited seventh studio album Renaissance on July 29th. Fans were beside themselves as they were treated to 62 minutes of Queen Bey singing over pristinely produced house music. While Drake also released a house-influenced album called HONESTLY, NEVERMIND earlier in the summer, Beyoncé's focus on paying homage to the queer Black pioneers of dance music and pop culture, in general, struck a chord that resonated deeply with America's queer community.

Serena Williams Retires From Tennis

Photo: Getty Images

On Tuesday, August 9th, tennis star Serena Williams shocked the world when she announced her decision to end her historic, two-decade-long professional career on the court. The 23-time Grand Slam champion said goodbye to professional tennis in an essay for Vogue called "The Hardest Thing."

Demi Lovato Returns To Rock On HOLY FVCK

Photo: NBCUniversal

We'd be remiss if we reflected on 2022 without talking about Demi Lovato holding "a funeral for my pop music." The singer's eighth studio album HOLY FVCK, released on August 19th, saw her return to the rock roots of her first two albums Don't Forget and Here We Go Again. Lovato was praised for dealing with tough issues like addiction, substance abuse, age gap relationships, and existentialism on the standout tracks "Skin of My Teeth," "Substance," and "29."

Queen Elizabeth II Dies At The Age Of 96

Photo: Getty Images

The world was in shock after Buckingham Palace announced that Britain's longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, had passed at the age of 96. “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," the Royal Family's official Twitter account wrote three hours after she was pronounced dead on September 8th. Her Majesty was the longest-reigning British monarch in history, ruling for a record-breaking seventy years. In June, the city of London celebrated the milestone with a Platinum Jubilee. The crown was passed on to her eldest child, King Charles.

Taylor Swift Drops Midnights & Announces The Eras Tour

Photo: Getty Images

Taylor Swift's rollout for her 10th studio album Midnights may have been one of the most dramatic of all time. After making a surprise announcement about the album's release date (October 21st) at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, Swift went on to slowly release the tracklist for the album through a TikTok series. Swift's every move was analyzed as fans prepared for any surprises Swift may have in store. Sure enough, fans correctly predicted that Midnights would come with even more unannounced tracks. They were compiled in a separate deluxe album entitled Midnights (3am Edition).

Then, the singer-songwriter announced she would be hitting stadiums across the country on The Eras Tour but an unprecedented demand for the hottest tickets in town caused millions of fans to miss out on tickets before the general on-sale even began. For the lucky 2 million who did manage to score tickets, Swift will hit the road starting March 17th, 2023!

Elon Musk Buys Twitter For $44 Billion

Photo: AFP

The world's second-richest man, Elon Musk, completed a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on October 27th. On his first day as the new owner of the social media platform, Musk chopped four top Twitter executives, making himself CEO, and fired dozens of employees who criticized him in public and in private. The billionaire also briefly suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists who he accused of doxxing him in their coverage of his Twitter takeover.

On December 20th, Musk announced he would be stepping down as CEO of Twitter once he found a replacement. The decision came after he posted a poll on his Twitter account asking if he should step down as CEO and said he would abide by the results. When the poll closed, over 17 million people voted, with 57.5% voting in favor of him stepping down.

What were your favorite pop culture moments of 2022?

Advertise With Us

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


    © 2023 iHeartMedia, Inc.