Women take centre stage with biggest pop culture moments of 2023

Here are the biggest pop culture moments in 2023.

Here are the biggest pop culture moments in 2023.

2023 was a huge year for pop culture, with stars breaking records, reaching new heights and fighting for a fairer entertainment industry for all.

There’s no denying that women were front and centre in 2023.

Movies and music celebrated women from all walks of life, the Matildas made all of Australia proud, and TikTok was inundated with trends by the girls, for the girls.

Taylor Swift is the moment

This year was Taylor Swift’s year.

On March 17, Swift kicked off The Eras Tour in Arizona, after fans scrambled to get tickets the year before.

It’s estimated Swift has contributed billions of dollars to the US economy and her goodwill to those working on the show were given bonuses, plus she donated thousands to food banks at every stop of her tour.

It wasn’t just her tour that reaffirmed her status as a powerhouse. Swift released Speak Now – Taylor’s Version and 1989 – Taylor’s Version, both breaking records.

Pictured is Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift had a huge 2023.

The success of her re-records have essentially rendered useless the “stolen versions” and record labels are trying to prevent artists from doing exactly what Swift is doing.

She released the Eras Tour movie, navigating the Hollywood strikes and going around the studios to do so.

She was also the Top Global Artist on Spotify with 26.1 billion streams and Apple Music’s Artist of the Year.

Swift’s personal life was also in the spotlight this year. News broke that she had ended a six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn.

She then briefly dated Matty Healy, which proved to be controversial with some of her fans. Then she sent the NFL into a frenzy when she started dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Beyoncé makes history

Swift wasn’t the only megastar at the top of their game this year.

Beyoncé kicked off her Renaissance World Tour, leaving millions of fans stunned.

In February, she became the most decorated artist in Grammy history, with 32 wins thanks to her album Renaissance.

It has also been reported she too helped give the economy a boost, with fans flying in to see her live, booking hotels and spending money.

She also produced a concert film, Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce. 

When Swift released hers, Beyoncé was there to show support.

When Beyoncé released hers, Swift was there and the signs of solidarity were widely praised on the internet.

Beyoncé and Taylor Swift attend the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert movie world premiere in Los Angeles.

Barbenheimer takes over

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer were probably the two most anticipated movies going into 2023.

They were released at the same time and many took it as an opportunity to spend the day at the cinema and see the films back to back.

Barbie came out on top, raking in billions and Gerwig became the first solo female director to make more than $US1 billion in ticket sales globally, leaving studios speechless.

pictured is Barbenheimer

Barbenheimer fever took over when Barbie and Oppenheimer were released.

Australia’s Margot Robbie did not disappoint when promoting Barbie, in which she played the titular role, as she paid homage to the iconic doll on the red carpet.

Oppenheimer became the highest-grossing film about World War II and got people reading about the creator of the atomic bomb.

However, the Barbenheimer phenomenon left some people in Japan hurt, after a Warner Bros-affiliated account, the studio behind Barbie, promoted a meme about the two films.

The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by J Robert Oppenheimer’s creation.


When the FIFA Women’s World Cup came Down Under, perhaps no one anticipated just how much Australia would rally behind the Matildas.

Stadiums were sold out, pubs were packed, and you could hear people screaming at their TVs from the street.

The highlight was when they made Australian sporting history, by reaching the semi-finals of the tournament by beating France 7-6 in an intense penalty shootout.

England crushed the nation by winning the next match, but there is no denying the Matildas, led by Sam Kerr (who was ruled out of the first few games due to injury) changed the trajectory of the sport for women.

Not only was the Matildas’ semi-final against England the most-watched program of the year with a total of 7.32 million TV viewers, it was the most-watched TV program of the past two decades.


Football Australia is expecting a 20 per cent increase in participation after the Matildas’ heroic run.

Hollywood strikes

For the first time since 1960, Hollywood actors and writers were on strike at the same time.

The writers were the first to go on strike, with the union, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), demanding increases in base pay and residuals in the streaming TV era, plus assurances that their work will not be replaced by artificial intelligence.

The actors had similar demands. As a result of the strikes, talent in Hollywood was unable to promote any movies.

The announcement of the actors strike led to the cast of Oppenheimer walking out of the British premiere.

Work stoppages lasted months, until both unions came to deals with the studios.

However, the strikes led to more awareness about how little many people in Hollywood are paid and how vulnerable many are to being replaced by AI.

Oppenheimer SAGAFTRA strike tweet


This year, Rihanna performed at the Super Bowl half-time show.

The announcement alone sent people into a frenzy, as Rihanna has chosen to focus on her businesses over music for the past few years.

Rihanna started her performance on a stage suspended from the sky, announcing her second pregnancy and dove right into her discography, playing some of her biggest hits.

People were also loving the interpreter who seemed to be having the best time dubbing Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance.

Girl everything

Just sticking with the theme of it being a year for the girls, Girl Dinner, Girl Math and Tube Girl dominated TikTok.

Girl Dinner was a trend in which women showcased their thrown-together meals, many of which were just grazing plates.

It seemed like an innocently simple trend, but it noted that it was essentially challenging gender norms.

Then came Girl Math, in which women were justifying their purchases by breaking it down by how much they were saving by taking into account other services they would need or other factors that should be considered.

The term was popularised on Fletch, Vaughan & Hayley, a New Zealand radio show, but it took social media by storm and women jumped on the bandwagon making videos that were serious and jokey.

Tube Girl Sabrina Bahsoon romanticised the mundane moments this year, by filming herself dancing on the train in the UK and becoming the “it girl” of a moment in time.

The Tube Girl trend took hold and people scrambled to replicate it, but it did more than just generate views on TikTok, it empowered women and launched a career for Bahsoon.

Padam Padam

Kylie Minogue won over new fans thanks to her hit song Padam Padam, the lead single from her 16th studio album, Tension.

A catchy dance track, Padam Padam is also her first big hit in the streaming age, finding popularity on TikTok.

Its almost hypnotic chorus lends itself well to the app and has spawned a dance trend, while also being memed.

Minogue also performed at Sydney World Pride this year, sharing the stage with her sister, Dannii.

But let’s be real, the real star of Sydney World Pride was the “Progress Shark”.

Fans throwing things

It appears the COVID-19 years led some people to forget how to act while at a show.

At several concerts this year, fans were hauling various items up at performers on stage.

Harry Styles sported a Bunnings hat after it was launched on stage at one of his Australian shows, which was fine, but other instances left celebrities stunned and injured.

Bebe Rexha was hit in the face with a phone in New York. It resulted in a black eye and stitches.

In one very unsettling instance, some fan threw their mother’s ashes while Pink was performing on stage.

Adele actually called out the behaviour earlier this year, while holding a T-shirt gun, ready to launch merch at the crowd.

“Have you noticed how people are like, forgetting f—ing show etiquette at the moment?” she asked the crowd. 

Later in the year, Swift asked fans at her show not to throw things on stage, saying she feared her crew could slip on rogue items.

Spare and Elizabeth Arden

Prince Harry’s story about what he did with some Elizabeth Arden cream has been burned into my brain, so if you forgot, sorry.

Ghostwritten by novelist JR Moehringer, the Prince’s memoir, titled Spare, came out in 2023 and it flew off the shelves.

The memoir delved into his grief following the death of his mother, Diana in 1997, him being overshadowed by his older brother William, and how he was also just the “spare”.

He also recounted arguments he had with his brother, told the story of how he lost his virginity, and his use of cocaine and cannabis.

However, all of that was overshadowed by the story he told of how his penis got frostbite and how the cream he used to help reminded him of his mother.

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