August 25, 2013: Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke shock the world at the 2013 VMAs
If you hadn't been paying attention to developments in the pop career of Miley Cyrus for the first half of 2013, you were in for a treat at that year's VMAs. The former child star had reinvented herself with her Bangerz LP and its provocative lead single, the drug-alluding, hip-hop-influenced "We Can't Stop," and she was set to perform the song in a joint mini-medley with R&B star Robin Thicke -- whose own chart-slaying hit "Blurred Lines" had come with its fair share of controversy, thanks to its ultra-explicit music video and arguably problematic lyrics. Together, the two sent Twitter into a tailspin, with uproar over their twerk-heavy performance -- accused of racial appropriation, among other things -- dominating the news cycle for weeks to come. Miley has since reimagined her career several times over, but Thicke's never quite recovered. -- A.U.
December 13, 2013: Beyonce surprise-releases her eponymous album
Beyoncé has always proved herself to be a pioneer in the music industry, so it came as both a surprise, and not really much of a shock, when she rewrote the rules on how a major pop star -- or anyone for that matter -- can release a new album. At the stroke of midnight on a seemingly random Thursday in December, she air-dropped not just a new LP, but a music video go along with every single track on the project, creating an audio-visual masterpiece that would become a near-commonplace practice in the years that followed. Beyond that, it marked a turning point in her career: Bey had fully embraced the joys of marriage, a brighter counterpoint to the darkness that would permeate through its follow up Lemonade, and once again reclaimed her status as pop's reigning Queen. -- S.J.H.
January 26, 2014: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis beat Kendrick Lamar for Best Rap Album Grammy
At the time that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won the Grammy for Best Rap Album with Oct. 2012’s The Heist, they were riding the mainstream wave. The Seattle rapper-producer duo had come out of left field with their Hot 100-topping novelty single “Thrift Shop,” and parlayed that into continual success with the LGBTQ-positive anthem “Same Love” and “Can't Hold Us,” which also crowned the aforementioned chart. But hip-hop fans generally felt that good kid, m.A.A.d. city, the acclaimed concept album by breakout rapper Kendirck Lamar, deserved the trophy -- and so did Macklemore, who controversially posted an Instagram of a text he sent to the Compton rapper following the ceremony where he wrote, “You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have. It's weird and it sucks that I robbed you.” -- S.J.H.
March 8, 2014: Frozen spends 5th week at No. 1 on Billboard 200
The soundtrack to Disney's animated musical was nearly as much of a blockbuster smash as the movie, moving over 4 million album equivalent units and spawning an iconic hit in the Idina Menzel-sung power ballad "Let It Go." In February of 2014, it even notched a 5th week on top the Billboard 200 albums chart -- more than any movie-accompanying set since the Celine Dion-powered Titanic soundtrack spent 16 weeks on top in 1998. The soundtrack would ultimately spend 13 weeks atop the Billboard 200, proving that after a period of relative dormancy, the OST was back: Within the next three years, soundtracks to Guardians of the Galaxy, Furious 7, Suicide Squad, Fifty Shades Darker and more would all top the chart. -- A.U.