2020 by the trends: A look back at the year’s saving grace
by John Philip Argonia
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a hectic year for everyone. Not only have we witnessed some of the most tragic events this year, but also felt the ever-looming feeling of melancholy from being stuck at home. As we move forward to 2021, it’s time we take a step back and review this year’s trends that have helped us push through our battles.
1. January: Adorable Home Fever
The year started with the mobile game Adorable Home being virtually present in everybody’s smartphones. It didn’t matter if it was your ate, kuya, or even your tita. They all had their fair share of cuddly and furry friends inside their pockets. The simulation game even took over local Twitter by storm when Filipino users started posting their virtual homes with the hashtag #AdorableHomePH. Its simple yet cozy nature is what made it such a hit that even I couldn’t resist giving it a try. As a cat-lover myself, I approve of Adorable Home taking up the number one trend of 2020.
2. February: Justin Bieber changes the trend with his fifth studio album “Changes”
When Bieber released “Yummy” as a single, it was hard to find an audience that appreciated its rather questionable lyric choice and music video. From there on, everybody already set their expectations with how his comeback album is going to sound like. In hindsight, Justin Bieber’s fifth studio album “Changes” did have some fresh apples that were evidently better than the ripe ones.
With songs like “Intentions”, “Habitual”, and “E.T.A” proving to be the album’s redemption arc, “Changes” received mixed reviews from critics and polarizing opinions from fans and non-fans alike. It may have also come to these results as Bieber’s last album, “Purpose”, was generally liked by most people. While “Changes” may not be a solid candidate for album of the year (basing solely on critic reviews), it was still a big hit on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram where quarantined Filipinos jammed to “Yummy” and “Intentions”.
3. March: Animal Crossing: New Horizons crosses to mainstream pop culture
Animal Crossing: New Horizons felt different right from the beginning. To some extent, it shared similarities with Adorable Home since both are simulation games that were perfect to play while cuddling your pillow on the sofa. New Horizons did something different as it was able to captivate Switch owners and non-Switch owners alike. One factor that may have contributed to its hype was the eight-year-long anticipation of its avid fans.
When the trailer dropped for the Nintendo Switch, the world paused as they were witnessing history unfold. And when it was finally released, it broke records for both the console and the Animal Crossing franchise. Nintendo Switch owners around the world put their collective effort to keep New Horizons at Twitter’s top trending for at least two weeks. A live and bustling community of gamers in quarantine spent their time customizing their virtual island and living in a fantasy world that was COVID-free.
4. April: Dalgona Coffee breezes through the list
South Korea attempts to start a trend, they succeed and it goes viral, then it makes headlines. At this point, who’s even surprised when it’s from South Korea? It began trending when South Korean actor Jung Il-woo stumbled on the beverage in Macau. Right after netizens drooled over what he ordered, they immediately turned it into an overnight trend on Instagram where photos of their Dalgona Coffee were seen in every scroll and swipe. But who can blame the netizens for turning this beverage into a worldwide trend? When a drink looks like it was made in cream heaven, there’s no way you’re passing on it.
Dalgona Coffee also became a hot topic in the Philippines as recipes and tutorials for the drink became April’s most searched terms on Google Philippines. Dalgona Coffee continues to be a trend as latest as of August with BTS members RM and Jimin reviving the drink’s popularity by featuring it on one of their V Live streams.
5. May: Rose and Big Ed begin their 90-day adventure
This list wouldn’t be complete without the infamous segment of Big Ed and Rose in TLC’s reality TV show, 90 Day Fiancé. Often featured in the biggest YouTube channel, PewDiePie, we all know how this went. Countless memes and videos have been made that paid homage to Big Ed’s rather unpleasant presence on the show, and Rose’s mean but witty reactions to Ed’s antics. PewDiePie’s contribution to this trend’s popularity is undeniable, and he, for the most part, jump-started its presence in social media when he uploaded a series of reaction videos to their segments. It’s hard to not pity Rose due to Ed’s negative demeanor on the show, but it’s good to know that she is doing well herself following the show’s episode finale of their segment.
6. June: BLACKPINK breaks records in a blink with comeback single “How You Like That”
After a year-long hiatus, BLACKPINK definitely owned the month of June as their comeback single, “How You Like That,” became KPOP’s standards when it comes to record-breaking views, popularity, and social media presence. The South Korean girl group broke their first record by hosting the biggest YouTube premiere with 1.65 million awaiting viewers. They proceeded with another record-breaking view count amounting to a total of 86.3 million views in 24 hours. With all these record-shattering numbers, BLACKPINK’s sphere of influence continues to echo strongly outside of the KPOP community. With numbers and fans only rivaling that of boy band BTS, BLACKPINK is unquestionably on its way to international domination as well.
7. July: Taylor Swift shocks folks with a surprise quarantine album “folklore”
Taylor Swift surprised the world with the drop of her eighth studio album “folklore”. It was Taylor Swift’s breakaway from her forte that is Pop, and where her unparalleled skill for songwriting was discernible. The album is considered Swift’s finest and sophisticated work yet. And who can say that the album is not a masterpiece? Everyone on my timeline and their stories were of “folklore” which did not come as a shock to me. I cherished “exile” and “cardigan” as they were refreshing to hear after months of new releases from Pop and Hip-Hop artists.
Taylor Swift then dropped another surprise album for us, which might as well served as her Christmas gift to the world. Her ninth studio album “evermore,” released on December 11, yet again showed how her craft and talent for lyric-writing resonated with the critical acclaim its predecessor has garnered.
8. August: BTS explodes with the record-breaking release of all-English single “Dynamite”
BTS goes boom with their explosive release of “Dynamite” — which, just like BLACKPINK’s comeback release, broke a lot of records. It just seems that every new drop from BTS breaks the internet in some way. Funnily enough, most of the records that BLACKPINK set with “How You Like That” were succeeded just after two months by BTS’ “Dynamite”.
As of writing, “Dynamite” sits as the most-viewed YouTube video in the first 24 hours. With how BTS has evolved into one of South Korea’s “Elite 4”, it should come as no surprise that they are breaking their own and other South Korean group’s records. “Dynamite” became their first all-English single. Because of that, they were able to integrate Asia’s best into America’s mainstream media. BTS will continue to dominate the world with their inevitable takeover in North America.
9. September: Apple celebrates iOS month
Every new release of Apple’s iOS is starting to look like a national day of some sort. This is no different from iOS 14’s release, arguably one of the more fresh updates from Apple. The update introduced quality of life changes, new emojis, and finally, some customization that users can fiddle with like widgets and custom icon packs. It almost felt like a community day on social media when iOS users gathered around and shared their customized iOS 14 home screen setups. There was no way you did not stumble upon an iOS user sharing their thoughts about iOS 14 when it dropped.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, Apple’s iOS and macOS updates are distinctive with how it makes users feel like they are part of this big family which no other operating system, even on PCs, can achieve. It’s fascinating when you think about it — people waiting until midnight for an update on their phone. If this was anything before 2015, it would seem absurd. But fast forward to 2020 and September has, unofficially anyway, become “iOS month”, where people would hold their breaths for the latest iOS update.
10. October: Among Us suspiciously slides into the list
Ah, yes. Among Us. Everyone’s favorite social deduction game. When I say everyone, I actually mean everyone. Not only does your ate or kuya enjoy Among Us, but probably even your mama and papa have played or at least have heard of it. For those out of the loop, Among Us is a free online multiplayer social deduction game that was released in June 2018. Some may scratch their heads and wonder, “2018? Then how come did I only hear of it this year?!”. Despite being a 2-year-old game that was hidden deep in the depths of Steam and mobile app stores, Among Us made a roaring entrance when it started to pick up real pace in September of this year.
What made Among Us surge in popularity is its beginner-friendly vibe and its unlimited potential for replayability. Every time you play Among Us, a million different things can still happen (even if it’s with the same set of friends). This is due to its gameplay that does not solely rely on players just mashing buttons. It asks players to think outside of the box and come up with alibis that they will need to either type or explain to their friends over voice comms. Its exposure to social media helped it climb up to the mainstream. Big names like DisguisedToast and PewDiePie posted their fair share of gameplay where they played alongside big Twitch/YouTube names like Pokimane and Corpse.
Among Us ended 2020 with 2 trophies from The Game Awards, which were “Best Mobile Game”, and “Best Multiplayer”, even beating out Riot Games’ First Person Shooter VALORANT in that category.
11. November: Joe Biden secures the bag
Just like with anything that has to do with the USA, the world watched closely as Joe Biden dethroned Incumbent President Donald Trump. Even if you do not give two cents as to what happens in the USA and its elections’ outcomes, the memes, controversies, debates, and eventually its impact will all make their way to you.
Being one of the world’s superpowers, it’s understandable why the US Elections are always a hot topic as world leaders and citizens alike wait for what’s about to come. This also became a significant event due to the circumstances that it happened upon. The US Election took place amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and sociopolitical movements, like Black Lives Matter, were all factors that affected the polls greatly. This also marked the significant time where an astonishing amount of Generation-Z (8–23 years old) took part in the elections. Polls suggested that over 65% of Gen-Z voted for Joe Biden. The news rippled its way to the Philippines where Filipinos shared their thoughts and encouraged their own youth to also take part in #Halalan2022. Looking forward to our elections in 2022, we may also witness our history unfold as, slowly but surely, the youth makes waves to ensure that we all get to take our part in the elections.
12. December: Attack on Titan: The Final Season shifts the mood
Attack on Titan (AoT): The Final Season made waves when its trailer dropped in May. Now that it’s finally here, the general consensus of fans is that it’s the best thing that happened in 2020. Hajime Isayama’s unparalleled skill for writing the most shocking plot-twists and multiple-layered story-telling gave AoT its credibility as one of, if not, the best anime to ever come out in recent years.
AoT has set the standard for what anime story-telling can achieve, and as we continue to unravel the secrets of Eldia, Marley, and its universe, expectations may be shattered once again. As we “Sasageyo’’ our way to 2021, AoT finds its stride by delivering us heart-breaking yet vigorous moments. With the anime series looming into its final days, we may finally get the answer to the heated question: is Eren the protagonist or antagonist?
What we should expect in 2021
2020 is full of heartaches and misery. We have come to accept the fact that merely a week is left for 2020, yet there seems to be an abundance of bad news with no stroke of good luck. While the trends listed above may have alleviated some of the loneliness that surrounded the year, real issues such as COVID-19 and sociopolitical adversaries are still present. Bringing these into 2021 may or may not break another blank slate of what could be a great year.
As for the trends, we may witness a partial resume to our “pre-COVID” lives as vaccines are becoming widespread. The first half of the year may be a continuation of 2020 as educational institutions such as the University of Santo Tomas have announced that Distance Learning will still be implemented while we wait for a vaccine to come. The second half though, as the saying goes, only time will tell.