2023 Pop Culture Highlights

by Akosua Baah

2023 was a year to remember, with countless emergences of media that will be looked back on as classics. As we reflect on the year and look forward to 2024, here are four of 2023’s most notable moments in pop culture.

Guts by Olivia Rodrigo

Audiences were first introduced to Olivia Rodrigo in 2015 when she starred in American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success. She later gained more recognition for her role as Paige in Disney Channel’s Bizaardvark. She released her debut album, Sour, in 2021 after she left High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, where fans were given the first taste of her musical ability.

After Sour’s release, fans waited for two years before Olivia’s new album, Guts, came out. When it was released, Guts debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and remained there for eight weeks. Compared to Sour which focuses more on the heartbreak that follows young, naive love, Guts is an album that explores Olivia’s emotional journey as a now-twenty-year-old with more experience and a clearer view of the world.


Many viewers had a clear idea of what to expect from the Barbie movie. Memories from the countless shows and movies starring the beloved childhood toy were called to mind before watching. But Barbie had a way of swerving expectations and blowing the minds of people everywhere. Writer and director Greta Gerwig took the idea of a decades-old toy and transformed it into a heartwarming story of humanity, womanhood, and family. 

Barbie became the year’s highest-grossing film, and the highest-grossing film ever produced by a woman, making 1.44 Billion USD in the worldwide box office. The movie also boasts a well-loved soundtrack featuring artists like Dua Lipa, Dominic Fike, Nicki Minaj, and Charlie XCX.

Beef [Netflix]

A24’s Beef guides audiences through the winding path of an explosive feud between Amy (played by Ali Wong) and Danny (Steven Yeun). The strange narrative draws watchers in with relatable characters and surprising scenes, which form a stand-alone story that spans 10 episodes. The show was nominated for three Golden Globes: Best Limited Series, Ali Wong for Best Actress, and Steven Yeun for Best Actor. 

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour

Taylor Swift has seemingly been everywhere this year with her extremely successful Eras Tour, new romantic prospects, and as the recipient of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year award. Swift sold 4.35 million tickets, which made hers the first tour in history to make over 1 billion dollars in total. This placed the Eras Tour at the top of all tours in 2023, in North America and worldwide. There was also focus on Taylor’s new relationship with football player Travis Kelce. Following the start of their relationship in July, Taylor was seen attending games for the Kansas City Chiefs. Viewership for the games she’s attended has dramatically increased. 

Following the announcement that Swift was Spotify’s most streamed artist of 2023, she was named Time’s Person of The Year, further cementing her lasting impact on 2023.

And here is a list of some honorable mentions which also had an important impact on the culture of 2023:

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