December Closed Out 2013 with Singing Nuns, Hobbits

Snow fell, Smaug desolated, and Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball. The end of December draws near, when another year will pass, so let's look back on this month and remember all the little things you forgot. 

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The Year That Was, 2013 is far too large of a topic to tackle all at once, even when only focusing on the pop culture aspects. Breaking things down month-by-month feels like the smarter call. We'll be working our way through the year one month at a time, remembering the songs, films, TV, and other fun/horrifying stuff that we may well have already forgotten.

December 2013

The #1 Song

People don't really listen to pop music during the holiday season. Bing Crosby and Boney M. impeach your usual singers and songwriters from stereos. But pop music wait for no one — it goes on, with or without your Christmas carols. Surprisingly, after nine weeks of Lorde domination, December saw Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball" return to the top of the pop charts. No song produced more jokes and bad youtube parodies than the former Disney star's ballad about an irresistible, heartbreaking love. At least we weren't talked about twerking or cultural appropriation this time. Just her bein' naked and swinging on an actual wrecking ball.

The #1 Movie

December is usually a month reserved for the prestigious awards fare that will dominated your attention and conversation over the first few months of the new year. Your Martin Scorseses and David O. Russells trot out their Oscar contenders.

But Peter Jackson and his merry band of hobbitses and dwarves roamed around Middle Earth, and also reigned at the box office. The second installment of Jackson's extended, flawed Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, dominated film houses and, despite less-than-favorable reviews, made nearly $100 million more than the next movie. It won't win any of the major Oscars—some tech or design statues aren't out of reach, though.

The Month in TV

As the year drew to a close, TV shows wrapped up their dangling mid-season plot points. The Scandal finale freaked out nearly every fan of the ABC thriller with more cliffhangers than a 90s Stallone movie. Showtime's Homeland (Spoiler Alert!) finally killed Brody in their surprisingly well-received season finale, giving it an opportunity to come back reborn.

But the biggest event in December television was definitely NBC's offensive, horrifying, lets-pretend-that-never-happened holiday special, The Sound of Music: Live! Carrie Underwood's musical abomination of the Julie Andrews classic wasn't allll bad, but it mostly horrified fans and critics alike.

Jimmy Fallon brought along his boyfriend Justin Timberlake for the final Saturday Night Live of 2013, and helped deliver one of the best sketches of the year. "(Do It On My) Twin Bed," about getting nasty in your childhood home, was an instant classic.


South African hero Nelson Mandela died. Hundreds of world leaders attended a memorial service where a hallucinating criminal worked as a sign language interpreter. At one point, the President was merely steps away from him. Surely the secret service agents on duty were relaxed and not at all frazzled by these developments.

Oh, and Family Guy killed the dog.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.