The year ahead in pop culture
BRIEF HISTORIES - Don Jaucian (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2016 - 9:00am

Like last year, 2016 will be a year of great swings and misses, even without the upcoming presidential elections. Whether it’s learning to slow down, a rethink of values, or the next big thing, here are some life lessons from 2015 that we should consider for the year ahead.

• Pop stars will continue to grow up. The Biebs came back with legitimate swag, One Direction semi-retired, Selena Gomez bid goodbye to her nubile chanteuse era, and Demi Lovato tried to resuscitate interest in her career with a lesbian anthem. The kids clearly aren’t all right. But it’s fine; angst and crazed responses to the pop star life make for compelling pop albums. This year, we’re looking forward to more grown-up pop, led by Troye Sivan’s brand of awkwardness which, fortunately, isn’t drenched in bubblegum pop despite his young age, and Zayn Malik’s anticipated solo outing, backed by “Channel Orange” producer, Malay. Speaking of which, will 2016 finally be witness to Frank Ocean’s long-delayed second album?

• More comebacks. Last year, we witnessed a few unexpected triumphs from companies and pop cultural entities long thought to be obsolete. Microsoft had a pretty good 2015 with Windows 10 and two of the year’s most interesting products, the HoloLens (ArsTechnica called it “flat-out magical”) and the Surface Book hybrid. The company has long been dismissed as a relic, kept alive by profits from Windows, but it’s poised to make a bigger splash by 2016. Albums and the bid for traditional values also resurfaced, thanks to Adele and Aldub, respectively. People bought long-playing records (both physically and digitally) and the mulch of the ligaw tradition became spectacular stuff ,thanks to a split-screen romance. The new year might hold a few surprises from careers and values we’ve dismissed as irrelevant. Maybe Lindsay Lohan will finally come back from the dead. Or even Nokia.   

• Space is still cool! Sure, Interstellar made Gravity look like a piece of cake but The Martian was the space nerd’s movie. It was the best publicity NASA could get, effectively making Ridley Scott the space agency’s Michael Bay. There was also a renewed interest in Pluto as a probe went by the reinstated planet (earlier demoted to “dwarf” status). There’s more space exploration stuff to come this year: Elon Musk’s SpaceX is expected to launch their powerful rocket Falcon Heavy, astronaut Scott Kelly returns to earth after a year in space, and NASA has a few missions expected to reach Mars and Jupiter. Plus, The X-Files comes back for a six-episode run and there’s a new Star Trek movie directed by Justin Lin. All is good for the nerd herd.





• Nostalgia will move on to the ‘00s. The Force Awakens proved that nostalgia is the stuff of hype and by this year, the ‘90s will play second fiddle to pixie dust from the ‘00s. There’s a new Harry Potter film, a sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas’s joint tour, and the end of American Idol. It’s barely been a decade but we’re treating the aughts as if it were 20 years ago. This is what happens when the market is backed by the Millennial Machine.

• Print will still live — but with a hitch. Big magazines such as FHM and Details bit the dust and Playboy published its last nudie issue. As advertisers rethink the whole print system, where people spend only a small percentage of engagement, publishers are scrambling to up their digital game. Even Conde Nast acquired online music giant Pitchfork to bulk up their digital portfolio. But still, smaller print titles are flourishing, especially the ones that cater to specific markets. Monocle continues to be influential, expanding its reach with travel books, a conference, and a newsstand kiosk in London. Fashion quarterlies such as Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman continue to reimagine editorial style beyond the hold of luminaries such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

In the local front, things are much different. Two years ago, Wattpad novels were the future of local books. Now they’re all but forgotten. Last year, artista books were all the rage, BJ Pascual’s starlet-fronted Push flew off the shelves quickly, Alex Gonzaga became a bestselling author, and JaDine milked their popularity with a scrapbook. While the country remains in an artista-centric culture, it’s still unsure whether readers will continue to live in this bubble or ditch it for shinier and newer things. It’s pretty sure, though, that coloring books will expire after 2015.

• We should start paying for stuff. Lousy feds are cracking down our favorite torrent sites and even The Pirate Bay’s founder declared the fight a “lost cause.” Now that there are streaming alternatives such as iFlix and Spotify available in the country, and network providers are teaming up with content producer to make paying for stuff easier, maybe it’s time we rethought how we consume — and pay — for the movies, TV shows, and music that we continue to enjoy and support.

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Tweet the author @donjaucian.

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