Pop Culture in Review for the Year 2010

The year 2010 was an exciting year for pop culture. Several developments took place that shaped the coming years. This was a time when literature, music, movies, sports, and Hollywood were rising to their peak and nothing could stop it. Newer fashion trends were popping up and people were always getting to see a show out of something. Furthermore, this was also a time when some of the biggest music artists in the industry today took off and had released either hit singles or albums.

2010 in particular brought a huge change to pop culture as we know it. Smartphones became more popular, and with them came many of the apps we can’t live without today. In a short amount of time, the wave took over, and people sort of enjoyed the new vibe. It was a complete transformation that was needed. On the other hand, 2010 couldn’t end without controversies at the same time. Some made headlines across the globe. Let us take a look into how 2010 contributed towards shaping Pop culture, something that people still talk about.

Read on to learn more about some of the events that shaped pop culture in 2010.


Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift was a showstopper of 2010. She had just turned 21 and had every inch of the spotlight towards her. She bagged four Grammy awards, which also included album of the year. She was performing in the biggest arenas across the world and were sold-outs. The same arenas where other big names performed as well but couldn’t sell them out completely. Then, she released her album ‘Speak Now’ which was a direct hit to Kanye West after his attempt to spoil Taylor’s award-winning speech. It was a gigantic hit and showcase how Taylor Swift had matured as a writer. Remember, she was 21 all this time. Needless to say, she was winning at everything.

Birth of Glee

2010 was the year when Fox gave birth to ‘Glee’. At the time it was impossible to not ignore the show as it covered everything from Madonna to Britney Spears. With so many big names in the show, people had every reason to stick to it. Perhaps the reason was that Television audiences had never experienced music-based series. Not only was Glee based on music but humor and high school drama as well. The show happened to be a big hit amongst the audience.

The CDs were sold in a huge number while the ratings were amongst the highest. In addition to that, the digital music tracks racked up 18.7 million in sales and made people go mad about Broadway musicals. On top of that, Kurt Chris Colfer came ahead with his slow version of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, which was another memorable moment in the history of television.

“Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” is Released

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup came the song “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” by Colombian singer Shakira. With its catchy, African-inspired tune and inspirational lyrics, it quickly became the most beloved World Cup song of all time. It’s also one of the best-selling singles of all time, with over 15 million downloads worldwide. Though the song did spark some controversy, especially within South Africa, this eventually died down, allowing the song to become as iconic as it has today. As of July 2020, the music video to it has received 2.5 billion views on YouTube, making it the 29th most watched video of all time on the platform.

One Direction Debuts

After being chosen by Simon Cowell on X Factor to form a group together, this group of boys weren’t able to win, or even come second. These third-place winners did become a worldwide sensation, though, and their impact lasted throughout the decade. They’ve sold 70 million records worldwide, and although they’ve been on indefinite hiatus since 2016, many of the members went on to continue solo careers and remained well-loved across the globe. Some of their most famous songs include “What Makes You Beautiful”, “Live While We’re Young”, “Best Song Ever”, and “Story of My Life.”

Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” Album is Released

Katy Perry had achieved considerable fame with songs like “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot n Cold” in 2008, but when she came out with “Teenage Dream” in 2010, she broke records. With its cute and colorful aesthetic combined with catchy songs and entertaining lyrics, the album achieved instant success and sold 192,000 copies within the first week. It also charted within the top 40 of the Billboard Top 200 year-end charts three years in a row, alongside winning several awards and nominations. Teenage Dream became the second ever album to produce five number-one singles and the first by a woman to do so. The album really brought in the peak of Perry’s fame, which then led to her iconic Super Bowl performance.

Ke$ha’s “TiKToK” Becomes the Best-Selling Single Worldwide

Originally released in August 2009 as the lead single on Ke$ha’s debut album, Animal, TiKToK received mixed reviews at first. While some praised the song’s carefree lyrics and catchy tune, others compared it to songs by the likes of Lady Gaga and Fergie, even saying it had strong similarities to Gaga’s “Just Dance.” The positive reviews outshone the negative ones, though, and by 2010 TiKToK had become the best-selling single worldwide. It also broke the record for the biggest single-week sum of all time for a female artist, selling 610,000 digital downloads in one week. While it was overtaken a few years later, it still remains one of the best-selling digital singles worldwide. The song was listed 61st on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of All-time.

Love the Way You Lie

Love the Way You Lie was created and recorded by American rapper Eminem who chose Rihanna’s powerful vocals for the song. Released on June 25, 2010, the song was a hit amongst critics who described it as ‘among the best tracks of 2010’ and ‘Eminem’s Career’. Furthermore, the song was recorded number 1 on several charts and stayed at the no.1 spot at the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks.


L’Homme qui marche 1

L’Homme qui marche 1 was a sculpture created by sculptor Alberto Giacometti in 1961. In February 2010, its second edition was sold at an auction for US $104.3 million. At the time, it became the most expensive artwork ever sold. Therefore, it meant that it was the most expensive sculpture ever.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

The famous painting by Pablo Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust was painted in 1932. The painting was based on his mistress Marie-Therese Walter. For nearly six decades, it was preserved and collected by private collectors in Los Angeles. Then, it was sold at an auction for US $106.5 million. As a result, it was declared the third most expensive artwork piece sold at an auction.

Paintings Stolen

In May 2010, thief VjeranTomic stole several paintings from the museum Art Moderne de Paris. The paintings that were stolen included five paintings of Pablo Picasso. The total worth of Pablo Picasso’s paintings was estimated at around 100 million euros. Described as the ‘heist of the history’ it made highlights around the world and caught the investigators totally off guard.


The Year of Mr. Larsson

The year 2010 was a huge year for Stieg Larsson who was a Swedish novelist. Although he died in 2004 but his crime novels were brought from the dead. His ‘Millennium Trilogy’ featuring both journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer goth whiz Lisbeth Salander reached the top charts and were termed best-selling in both paperback and hardcover categories throughout the year. Later, films based on the same novels were made such as ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ that made skyrocketing numbers at the box office.


Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress

One of the most iconic looks of 2010 — and perhaps even the whole decade — is the dress Lady Gaga showed up to the 2010 VMAs in. Designed by Franc Fernandez, this dress was made entirely out of raw beef. The dress was her third outfit of the evening, and definitely the one that made the most impact. Though Lady Gaga herself said she wore the dress as a form of protest, it ended up becoming very controversial in animal rights groups. Today, the dress is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where it has been painted and preserved in a way similar to beef jerky.


The Dead Alive

Many people are not aware of the fact that it was 2010 that kept the vampire phase alive. People were off the view that it had slowly died but they were wrong. Infact, the year was the biggest for the undead. ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ based on Stephanie Meyer’s books was released. It was the third edition in the series and crushed all other movies coming out at the time. It sold $43 million worth of DVDs and racked up $300 million in total sales. Then, it was ‘True Blood’ that was a huge hit at HBO followed by the ‘Vampire Diaries’. Finally, it was ‘The Walking Dead’ that marked the last of the dead. Each show took the film industry by storm and made the audience stick to them for years to come.

Toy Story 3 Hits Theaters

The third movie in Pixar’s beloved Toy Story series, Toy Story 3 follows the adventures of Woody, Buzz, and the other toys yet again as they’re finally thrown away. The film touched many as it dealt with the reality of life and growing up.  There was also the famous incinerator scene, where the toys are described as becoming almost human as they face the inevitable with all hope lost. The theme of the film appealed to children and adults alike, and garnered much positive response. Toy Story 3 went on to become the first animated film to earn 1 billion USD.

Avatar Becomes the Highest-Grossing Movie of All Time

Originally released in December 2009, Avatar was first written in 1994. The film was written by James Cameron, who also wrote Titanic (1997), and filming was supposed to start after Titanic was complete. Due to technical issues, though, screenplay development didn’t begin until 2006. After its release in 2009, Avatar broke several box office records and in 2010 it became the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassing Titanic, which had held the record for twelve years prior. To this day, it remains the second-highest-grossing film of all time, only surpassed by Avengers Endgame in 2019.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland was the second highest-grossing film of 2010 as it collected more than $334,191,110 in North America and $691,276,000 in other territories. In total, the film collected $1,025,467,110 worldwide. Considering its budget of $200 million, the movie was a huge success financial wise. However, the movie failed to impress critics and viewers as it received an approval rating of 51% based on 275 views. Furthermore, the average score was 5.73/10. Regardless, the movie was a huge hit and gave the kids a taste of what they wanted.

Social Network

It was hard to deny the fact that the year 2010 belonged to Facebook. The film was about how Facebook started in Harvard’s dorm room by Mark Zuckerberg who was accused of stealing the idea. Within seven years of its launch, it had gained 550 million friends. The smart and entertaining film featured Justin Timberlake, who indirectly had an important role to play in Facebook’s creation. Not only was the movie a big hit but it also became a strong contender for the Oscars. Oprah had invited Mark Zuckerberg on his show and was later named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

Instagram is Born

October 2010 brought us Instagram, the social media app that became an instant hit. A platform where posts need to be accompanied by photos may have seemed odd to many at first, but the idea caught on quickly, and today Instagram may even be considered part of our culture. With more than one billion registered users, it is now the second-most downloaded free app on the app store. While the original intention was for people to share pictures of themselves and the events in their lives, today it’s used for everything from advertising to sharing memes. It also gave rise to the social media influencer, and more of those emerge every day.


American Idol in Low Year

2010 was a pretty bad year for American Idol. It was at its lowest gear due to the lowest ratings in history. The performance of the show was so bad that the winner Lee DeWyze was forgotten two days after he had won the show. It was American Idol’s ninth season and pretty big at the time. However, the show was self-destruction from the very beginning. Simon Cowell, who was the head judged, bailed out on the show. Ellen DeGeneres jumped ship as she replaced Paula Abdul while Kara DioGuardi was forced out. There was a storm brewing behind the scenes and after much struggle and effort, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were brought in by the new producers to join Randy Jackson.

Lost Signoff

Lost had been running for six seasons until it finally gave up and decided to end itself. The last episode ‘The End’ was aired in May and was described as the biggest moment in Television. Millions of viewers were waiting to see the last episode as they were confused about why would such a hit show, suddenly end? The show was based on a couple of friends who were stranded on an Island. The ending received mixed reviews. While some had tears in their eyes, others were furious about the show offering nothing special to the fans to remember, for six years they had been watching the show.

Team Coco Rules

In 2004, Jay Leno had signed a five-year deal to host the ‘Tonight Show’. After that, the show was handed over to Conan O’Brien that most viewers described as the ‘Best thing Happened’ to Television. Conan O’Brien was exactly the same as we see him today. Funny, humorous, and could pull a joke out of everything. Furthermore, his assistant Sona Movsesian added significant entertainment to the show and the duo could be seen pulling off hilarious episodes. However, all this happened when Conan O’Brien moved to TBS. Before that NBC executives had tried playing a game with the hosts, which eventually turned bad and were shown the way out.




Wikileaks took the world by storm. It consisted of classified and top-secret documents regarding toxic waste dumping in Africa, extrajudicial killings in both Guantanamo Bay and Kenya. In July, more than 90,000 documents were released, all that pointed towards the U.S. Then, in October the website, released over 40,000 documents pertaining to American operations in Iraq.

If that wasn’t enough, more than 250,000 documents of the U.S. State Department were released. The relationship between America and its military was put in the spotlight but before anything could be taken to court, its editor-in-chief Julian Assange was taken into custody.

North-South Korea Tensions

The year 2009 saw, North Korea testing its nuclear bombs. As a result, the U.S. put further sanctions on the country while the global superpowers increased scrutiny. This was due to the increasing tensions between North and South Korea. Then, in March North Korea attacked and sunk a South Korean naval vessel, killing all the sailors inside. Furthermore, North Korea attacked the Island of Yeonpyeong, that killed two civilians and two soldiers. This was the first time, North Korea had attacked civilians after the Korean War that took place in 1953.

Haiti Earthquake

The Haiti earthquake was one of the most devastating events in human history. More than 3 million people were affected whereas around 230,000 people were killed. The earthquake was measured at 7.0 magnitude and destroyed the capital Port-au-Prince. As a result, more than 300,000 people were injured and nearly 1 million left homeless. Countries across the globe extended their help and offered both manpower, machinery, and funds to help the country out of the crisis.

Chilean Miner Miracle

After the San Jose Mine in Chile collapsed in August 2010, 33 miners were left trapped 2300 feet below ground level. As the days passed, things started to look hopeless, but 17 days after the collapse an exploratory bore found the miners’ location, the drill returning with a note attached. “Estamos bien un el refugio los 33,” it said: “All 33 of us are fine in the shelter.” After surviving for a record 69 days, the miners were extracted one by one in what was deemed a miraculous rescue. The miners became instant celebrities and their story was later turned into a movie, released 2015.

Lindsay Lohan is caught again

Well what can we say about Lindsay Lohan, there was a time when all we used to hear about her is alcohol and drinking problems. She has been into rehab several times and one could feel bad for her. Lindsay was caught violating her probation, so she was asked to come to court and from there sent to Betty Ford. Just when we thought that things about to get better, she was reported to be sneaking out of the center to get alcohol and got attacked by one of the staff members at Betty Ford.

Sandra Bullock wins at career but loses at life

Sandra Bullock is one of the most admired female actresses in the world. Known for her versatility and and humble personality both on and off screen, she was loved and is still loved by many. 2010 was a great year for her as she won the Academy Award for the best actress for her role in ‘The Blind Side’. Everyone listened to her emotional speech while she thanked her husband for supporting her. However, it was later found out that he was cheating on her. Talk about the best year turned to worst. We feel you Sandra!

Rickey Martin announces he’s gay

Rickey Martin’s fans were surprised when in March he took to Twitter to announce that he was gay. He wrote ‘I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man’. The news came out after years of speculation that he actually gay and that he had kept his sexual identity hidden so that it does not harm his career. It wasn’t until his surrogate twin sons were born, that he decided to make private matter, public.


2010 Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics took place in Vancouver with the international event attracting more than 2,600 athletes around the world. Furthermore, 86 nations participated in the event, which featured 15 gaming disciplines. From Alpine skiing to Scottish curling sport, the U.S. won the most number of medals, while Canada grabbed the most number of gold medals, overall.

2010 FIFA World Cup

One of the most exciting and watched sports events, the FIFA world cup was held in 2010. Countries such as Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and others took part in the event, which lasted over a month. It was undoubtedly the biggest event of the year.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup became well known thanks to the infamous blaring of vuvuzelas — to the point where ESPN had to put a noise filter on their broadcasts of it. This World Cup also brought football (or, soccer) to the mainstream in the United States. It also, of course, marked Spain’s first World Cup victory, making them the eighth nation to win the tournament.


Ipad Comes Through

As if Apple wasn’t keeping the world at its toes already. The company was gaining speed and immense popularity from its Iphones and Ipods alone. But then, it released the next big thing, the Ipad. Apple was able to sell more than 3 million units of the Ipad within three months. At the same time, Apps started flooding and there was every reason for buyers to grab themselves an Ipad. This also gave a huge boost to the sales of e-books and just like that, Apple surpassed Microsoft in terms of market value.

Angry Birds

While the IPad madness was one thing, smartphone applications was another. The year 2010 saw the release of Angry Birds, which spread like fire. At the time, no application was bigger than itself. It was a game developed by a Finnish company that was based on a couple of angry birds taking revenge on an evil pig. Even Hollywood celebrities such as Justin Bieber spent a huge amount of time playing the game and users would remain focused on the game for hours every day.

Final Word

As it is with every year, 2010 was full of surprises and unfortunate events. It was a big year for the tech world, Taylor Swift, Mark Zuckerberg, and U.S. Meanwhile, some viewers were disappointed about their favorite seasons signing off. Countries like North and South Korea were locked in a battle and Haiti was going through huge destruction. For better or worse, these events help shape the year 2010 and the pop culture scene existing at the time.

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