- Text Alexis Castro
- Design Jasmine Bae
The internet moves at lightning speeds these days, and if you miss one day of scrolling, it feels like you missed a month rather than 24 hours. Luckily, we racked our brains and looked back on what happened online in 2023 to recap the trends that left a real, lasting impression on culture. Whether they sparked reshares, Stitches or lengthy thinkpieces, these were (some of) the trends that lit up our group chats throughout the year.
January/February: AI Music Covers
Whoever thought that Spongebob Squarepants singing covers of Billboard Hot 100 tracks would be a hit was onto something. But in all seriousness, hearing your favorite artists (or cartoon characters) convincingly sing on other artists’ songs sparked some of the earliest debates on what we should and shouldn’t be using AI technologies for.
March/April: Beige Flags
It seems TikTok has an unrelenting urge to come up with a creative name for everything, and “beige flags” were an example from early 2023. What does it mean, you ask? It’s just a pithy way of saying “this is a fairly innocuous personality trait, but it’s worth keeping tabs on it for the time being.”
April: The Renaissance ERA (Tours)
Live music came back with a vengeance this year, and everyone was ready for it. The queens of pop booked world tours complete with tons of sold out dates, viral memes and heated online debates about which stage outfit was their best.
May: Tomato Girl
Most people’s summer traveling ends up being “for the grid,” but this “Under the Tuscan Sun” vibe did the rounds on TikTok and took things one step further — and might have even had a tangible global economic impact. The red-tinted European-inspired trend was seen on the likes of celebs like Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber and may have been responsible for a significant spike in tourism to destinations across the Mediterranean this year.
June: Girl Dinner
This phenomenon felt like a vintage Vogue diet masquerading as a TikTok trend. A handful of influencers successfully rebranded “eating snacks for dinner” into something that felt fun and cute, and there were plenty of commenters and food creators who could not wait to drag them for it.
July: NPCS Rising
“Gang gang. Ice cream, so good!” This strange craze took over TikTok Live this summer, and creators went all-in putting on multi-hour long NPC performances. It’s not entirely obvious what the appeal is in getting creators to recite catchphrases for nominal amounts of money, but the trend is still going strong to this day.
Since 2020, most summer blockbusters have gone straight-to-streaming, but this year’s head-to-head matchup between two meme-worthy juggernauts had people rushing back to the in-theater experience. The shared release date of Barbie and Oppenheimer was able to do something we haven’t seen in a long time: simultaneously split people into fierce opposing camps and create a marathon-like viewing event where cinephiles sat in theaters through a total runtime of five hours in a single day.
In a time where it seems like we are less and less in control of our own destiny, Gen Zers are looking for ways to feel like they have some grasp on reality. Rather than having confidence that’s supported by facts, people are living “delulu” and with unjustified and overwhelming confidence in themselves, their decisions and their future. The strangest thing about it all is that it might actually be working.
October: The Travis & Taylor Takeover
There are so many celeb couples out there that it’s hard to keep track, but it’s impossible to ignore the media frenzy that has surrounded Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s budding relationship. Taylor’s loyal fanbase made a tangible impact on the NFL’s viewership numbers and brought in viewership with demographics that the NFL had been sorely lacking. That’s some real star power there.
November: We're Girls! We're Gonna...
A trend that kicked off as a tongue-in-cheek way for female identifying creators to call out their quirky personality traits quickly evolved into spinoffs about niche groups like software engineers, finance bros and beyond. Turns out that everyone feels like their quirks are relatable and humanizing, which made this trend adaptable, shareable and entertaining, even if we have no friends or family who fall into those archetypes.