2016 was a roller coaster of a year, for better or worse. Take a look back at some of the best and worst moments of the year before it comes to a close.
Music’s Best Moments
- 2016 started on a high note for Adele. The British songstress was reeling in the massive success of her Diamond-certified third album 25 and about to kick off her Adele Live World Tour. The soulful singer sold out arena after arena during her Europe and North American legs of the tour, and was the headlining artist at the 2016 Glastonbury Music Festival. Adele has had a whirlwind year on the road and she’s not done yet! She will spend a month touring Australia and New Zealand in 2017, and will finally close out her massive world tour at home with a four date stint at London’s Wembley Stadium.
- Beyonce had been hinting at a new album to come out sometime in 2016, but remained hush-hush about details. When she dropped the surprise single “Formation” in February, the world collectively freaked out. She followed that up with a head-turning performance at the Super Bowl halftime show and announced her Formation world tour that same weekend. By the time April rolled around, the hype for her new visual album Lemonade was off the charts. The album was met with widespread critical acclaim and became Beyonce’s sixth consecutive album to top the Billboard chart. She begins the new year as a Grammy hopeful, with nine nominations including Record, Song and Album of the Year. All hail Queen Bey.
Music’s Worst Moments
- Kanye West is known for many things, but being level-headed isn’t one of them. The rapper stirred up controversy yet again for his antics during a string of concerts on Saint Pablo tour. During his show in Sacramento, West went off on a rant in which he criticized Hillary Clinton, Jay Z, Beyonce, radio stations and more. West had only performed a three songs prior to his tirade and then stormed off the stage, cutting the show much too short and infuriating fans in the process. The remainder of his Saint Pablo tour was subsequently cancelled and West was later hospitalized for undisclosed reasons.
- The music world lost a number of legends this year, most notably David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and George Michael. Bowie lost his battle with liver cancer in January, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his final album, Blackstar. The eccentric rocker’s death was met with an outpouring of love from fans, as Blackstar shot to the top of charts around the world and Bowie set a Vevo record for the most-viewed artist within a single day. A more surprising loss was that of Prince, the 80s pop star who was found dead of an overdose in his home at the age of 57. The “Purple Rain” singer was truly an icon of the industry with over 100 million records sold. He was the winner of nine Grammy Awards, as well as a Golden Globe and Academy Award. In the time following his shocking death, millions were listening to his albums, and as a result, Prince became the first and only artist in history to have five albums chart in the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 200 simultaneously.
- Leonard Cohen passed away in November at the age of 82, leaving behind a legacy many only dream of. Cohen was an inductee of both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Hall of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and the talent behind one of the world’s most covered and hauntingly beautiful songs, “Hallelujah.” Finally, pop singer George Michael died suddenly of heart failure at his home on Christmas Day. As one half of the popular 80s group Wham!, Michael is known for hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Last Christmas,” and his biggest solo endeavor, “Careless Whisper.”
Sports’ Best Moments
- The Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro were undoubtedly the biggest event in all of sports this year, dishing up plenty of triumphs, disappointments, and everything in between. We’d be remiss not to mention the Olympic dominance of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. The “Final Five” of women’s gymnastics–comprised of young standouts Laurie Hernandez, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Gabby Douglas–took Rio by storm with their tour de force attitudes and near flawless executions of difficult routines. The squad earned a gold medal in the Team All-Around event, with Raisman, Hernandez and Kocian each taking home silver medals in individual events. Biles, however, proved to be an unstoppable force and truly the best in the world. The 19-year-old left Rio as a bronze medal winner on the balance beam, and a gold medalist in the individual all-around, vault, and floor exercise events.
- Perhaps even more impressive than that? Michael Phelps’ continued dominance in the pool. Phelps won six more medals in Rio, five of which gold, further sealing his legacy as the most decorated Olympian of all time. In the women’s aquatics field, teenager Katie Ledecky raced her way to five medals, and broke four swimming world records in the process.
- If you thought that no sports story could match the Olympics, you thought wrong. In a nail-biting, historic, and captivating World Series, the Chicago Cubs did the seemingly impossible. They rallied to beat the Cleveland Indians in extra innings of Game 7 to win their first championship since 1908. Forever the underdog, the Cubs finally took their rightful place in the winner’s circle, while a heartbroken Indians team are left dreaming of victory for another year, extending their own championship drought to 69 years.
Sports’ Worst Moments
- Of course, with every win, there is a loss. For the sports world, this was especially relevant on two occasions this year. The first came in July, when Kevin Durant announced he was leaving his post as forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder to join Steph Curry on the Golden State roster. The announcement came just weeks after Golden State fell to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Although Durant had achieved great success in this eight seasons with the Thunder (most notably being named the league’s MVP in 2014), it wasn’t good enough. After being knocked out of the conference finals by Golden State, Durant decided to swap jerseys and sign as a Warrior. Many saw it as a weak move of Durant selling out.
- Perhaps the most bizarre sports story of 2016 is Ryan Lochte’s Rio robbery that never was. The Olympic swimmer made headlines for weeks following his claim that he was robbed while at a Rio gas station in the early hours of the morning. It was later revealed that Lochte’s allegation of a robbery was false, as the athlete, along with three other Team USA swimmers, had stopped at the station to use the bathroom while on their way back to the Olympic Village. Intoxicated, the athletes had vandalized the premises, which led security staff to ask for money to compensate for the damage before allowing the swimmers to leave. As a result, Lochte was issued a ten-month suspension from swimming, which excludes him from participating in the 2017 national and world championships. The gold medalist announced his intent to compete in the 2020 summer games in Tokyo. Here’s hoping he doesn’t repeat his bizarre Brazil behavior.
- The sports world said goodbye to some of the most successful and influential figures this year. The most notable names include Pat Summitt, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and Gordie Howe. Summitt’s death at 64 was a tragic end following years of deteriorating health after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach left behind a tremendous legacy that includes eight NCAA championship titles and 1,098 career coaching wins, the most in NCAA history. Like Summitt, Ali had also faced declining health issues near the end of his life. The legendary boxer passed away from septic shock at age 74, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Hockey great Gordie Howe and golf (and beverage) legend Arnold Palmer died at 88 and 87, respectively, after lengthy careers that left behind some of the greatest legacies in professional sports.
Theater’s Best and Worst Moment
- Hamilton covers both the Best and Worst of 2016 for the theater category. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit shattered Broadway records left and right, including winning an astounding 11 Tony Awards of its 16 total nominations. In addition, the show’s cast won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, raked in millions of dollars in profit, and consistently sells out each performance at the Richard Rogers Theatre on Broadway. It became a full-blown cultural phenomenon in the year since its debut.
- Following this year’s heated and particularly bitter election, the famously diverse Hamilton cast addressed one specific audience member after a Nov. 18 performance: Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Cast member Brandon Victor Dixon told Pence, “We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” The statement garnered mixed responses, with some praising the Hamilton cast for using their platform to address the concerns of millions, while others felt the address was disrespectful at the time and place, including President-elect Donald Trump. Perhaps Hamilton came out on top once again, as the show cracked another Broadway record for highest sales in one week, with over $3 million collected over the Thanksgiving holiday.