From Miley to Munro: 10 of the biggest entertainment stories of 2013
(Photos courtesy AP)
Published Monday, December 30, 2013 11:00AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 30, 2013 11:13AM EST
How will 2013 be remembered in the world of art and entertainment? From Miley Cyrus' reinvention to Canadian author Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for literature, here's a look back at some of the year's biggest entertainment stories.
1. Miley Cyrus: She came in like a wrecking ball
Love or hate her, there's no denying pop star Miley Cyrus dominated entertainment headlines this year.
With memorable performances filled with twerking, giant foam fingers and animated lip-synching cats, Cyrus seemed intent on shedding the image of her wholesome past stemming from her "Hannah Montana" days.
Cyrus was one of the contenders to be named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" and MTV recently declared her the best artist of the year, noting she has "completed one of the most remarkable (and successful) reinventions in recent memory."
However, not everyone's in love with the 21-year-old's new act.
Critics have noted that there's nothing particularly shocking about Cyrus' new image, pointing out that the daughter of country superstar Billy Ray Cyrus borrows heavily from southern U.S. urban culture.
Indeed, GQ Magazine recently placed her on a list of the least influential celebrities for "basically trying every inane strategy she could think of to rile up America's few remaining pearl clutchers."
2. 'Kind of' a big deal: Rush inducted into Rock Hall of Fame
Rush fans around the world were cheering as the Canadian prog-rock trio were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.
Despite being eligible for the honour since 1998, the band – which hails from Willowdale, Ont.—have been repeatedly been left off the nominations list, prompting accusations from fans of an anti-Rush bias.
Over the years, the band had repeatedly stated that the competition didn't matter to them. However, during the L.A. awards ceremony, the group appeared to have had a change of heart.
As Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart took the stage, Peart told the crowd that for quite a long time the band had said that being inducted "wasn't a big deal."
"Turns out, it kind of is," he said.
Since forming in 1968, the group has sold 25 million albums in the U.S. and has been awarded 24 gold, 14 platinum and three multi-platinum albums, putting them in the top three rock bands for the most consecutive gold albums.
3. iTunes turns 10
iTunes turned 10 in April, marking a decade in which Apple's program for organizing media has revolutionized the entertainment industry.
Industry experts noted that when iTunes launched in 2003, the music industry was still reeling from the effects of online piracy.
Now, 10 years later, iTunes has helped to create a culture where consumers are paying for music again. In February, Apple announced that the iTunes store set a new record with 25 billion songs sold.
And the top selling song of 2013? Robin Thicke's catchy (and controversial) "Blurred Lines."
4. Introducing Prince George
The world was watching when Britain's newest monarch, Prince George, made his first public appearance in July on the steps of London's St. Mary's Hospital.
The birth of the newest royal sparked a whole industry devoted to the production of royal baby-themed memorabilia, including a special stamp issued by Canada Post.
Many noted that the excitement leading up to George's birth wasn't just good for the nation's spirits; it was also good for business.
With plenty of merchandising opportunities – even bookies found a way to cash in – some analysts forecasted that the birth of the royal baby would generate roughly $382 million for the U.K. economy.
5. Cars, crimes and vices: GTA V smashes sales records
Grand Theft Auto V, the latest installment of the super popular video game series, smashed sales records in September, racking up around $800 million in sales on the first day of its release.
Guinness World Records later confirmed that the game, set in the fictional California city of Los Santos, broke six world records, including being the fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion. (It took just three days.)
Reviews of GTA V were overwhelmingly positive, proving that the series' maker Rockstar Games have struck gold with their formula of troubled protagonists, cars, crime and vices.
6. Netflix makes history at the Emmys
Netflix made history at this year's Emmy after its political thriller "House of Cards" won three awards in total, including the award for best director in a drama seris. The wins marked the first time TV's biggest awards recognized an online-only series as being as good as series produced by traditional TV networks.
While "House of Cards" didn't exactly sweep the awards show, many noted that the nods in general were yet another sign of the ongoing shift in the way viewers consume entertainment.
Netflix had received 14 nominations in total, for "House of Cards," "Arrested Development," and "Hemlock Grove."
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told the Associated Press that the slew of nominations was ultimately a "win for Internet television."
7. "Breaking Bad" ends with 10.3 million watching
After five seasons, fans of AMC's "Breaking Bad" said goodbye to the award-winning series in September in one of the most-anticipated season finales in years.
In the end, 10.3 million viewers tuned in to watch teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White one last time. Over the course of its run, Breaking Bad drew critical praise and legions of devoted fans.
At this year's Emmys, the show nabbed the award for best drama series, beating out Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards and Mad Men.
The series -- which was set in Albuquerque, N.M. -- even sparked a mini "Breaking Bad"-themed tourism industry, with the city hosting viewing parties and retailers offering special "Breaking Bad" memorabilia (including fake "dime bags" of blue meth candy) and tours.
8. Alice Munro: 'Master of the contemporary short story'
Author Alice Munro won the prestigious Nobel Prize for literature in October, becoming the first Canadian and the 13th women to be awarded the honour.
Munro, who was called a "master of the contemporary short story" by the Swedish Academy, told reporters that although she initially believed her chances of winning the prize were slight, winning the $1.2 million prize felt "wonderful."
Despite speculation that the award might bring Munro, 82, out of retirement, the author declined to travel to Sweden to receive the award due to health reasons. Her daughter collected the prize on her behalf.
9. Nazi-looted art found in Munich apartment
German investigators announced in November that more than 1,400 pieces of modern art by some of the 20th-century's greatest painters had been discovered in a Munich apartment.
The paintings were found after a tax evasion probe led investigators to the apartment of an elderly German man. That man was later identified as Cornelius Gurlitt, son of German art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt.
The collection of paintings contained pieces by Picasso, Renoir and Matisse, as well as others. At least some of the pieces had been previously unknown to art scholars, never having been listed in any inventories.
As some of the paintings had apparently been seized by the Nazis, questions quickly arose over to whom the paintings rightfully belonged.
10. The year of the 'selife'
While 'selfies' – the word to describe self-portraits often taken on smartphones -- have been trending online for years, it wasn't until November that the term got an official nod after being declared word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.
Everywhere you turned, whether on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, it seemed like everyone from politicians to the Pope were putting on their best face and posing for smartphone cameras.
Even U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, couldn't resist taking part in the trend.
Back in August, the first lady snapped a selfie with the first dog, Bo.
Meanwhile, Obama made headlines after he was spotted posing in a selfie with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Bonus: The creative economy
So what does this all add up to? Around $500 billion, according to the U.S. government.
In early December, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts released its first-ever estimates of the creative sector's contributions to the U.S. economy.
According to the latest available data from 2011, the creative industries – led by Hollywood -- added about $504 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. That's at least 3.2 per cent of all U.S. goods and services, the government said.
By comparison the U.S. travel and tourism industry contributed roughly 2.8 per cent of the GDP in 2011.
NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa said in a statement that the findings prove that the creative industries are a valuable part of the American economy.