2012 has been marked with exhilarating highs and unfathomable lows. From partisan politics, juicy tabloid scandals, inspirational record breakers, and unimaginable tragedies, here are our picks for 2012’s biggest headliners:
The Royals’ Endless Drama
Thanks to The Royals, the tabloids were having their own jubilee—first with the news that Prince Harry was sowing his wild oats in Vegas with some X-rated help, and secondly, with the most anticipated royal nugget yet: Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting. Unfortunately, in addition to Kate’s severe morning sickness, tragic news came when a nurse at Kate’s hospital committed suicide after discovering she had been part of a joke involving two Australian DJs impersonating the Queen and Prince Charles.
Presidential Debates Get Testy
The presidential debates between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama were dramatic, heated, and fully meme-ified. From Romney’s Big Bird blowout and “binders full of women” gaffe to Obama’s Ambien-fest first debate and LOL “horses and bayonets” quip—it seemed that political pundits, voters, and SNL writers got their kicks as the alarming (and for most, disheartening) billion dollar election campaigns roared from start to finish.
Michael Phelps & The Summer Olympics
Although swimmer Ryan Lochte initially stole the show as USA’s Olympic golden boy, Michael Phelps found his Speedo-wearing mojo again to become the most decorated Olympian of all time—22 medals, winning six of them this summer in London. But he wasn’t the only star. Gymnast Gabby Douglas became the first African-American female to win gold in the individual all-around and team competitions, while Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt snagged his double gold in the 100m and 200m medleys, cementing him as “the fastest man alive.”
TomKat No More
Let’s face the facts: Tom Cruise’s rep has been in question these days. From his attack on Brooke Shields’s post-partum pill popping, his contentious “glib” interview with Today’s Matt Lauer, his semi-psychotic, couch-jumping declaration of love for Katie on Oprah, his desperate ‘go-see-my-movies-I-can-be-hip’ performance at the 2010 MTV Music Awards, and all the weird rumors and speculation that come with being one of the most outspoken celebrity Scientologists—it seems he’s estranged himself to the public over the years, and somewhere along the way, Katie Holmes was dunzo. The actress decided to lay “TomKat” to rest and filed for divorce, and although both have been mum on their split, it’s widely believed that Tom’s devotion to Scientology was the main culprit.
Whitney Houston Dies
Music lovers were shocked (and some, not so much) when word got out that pop diva legend Whitney Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel room at the age of 48. Houston, who sealed herself in pop music history with hits like “Greatest Love of All,” “Saving All My Love for You,” “All the Man That I Need,” and the epic Bodyguard soundtrack, began tarnishing her squeaky clean reputation when she married bad boy Bobby Brown and started abusing drugs. Although the couple split and Brown cleaned himself up, Houston had a difficult time staying sober. Before she died, she was trying to make a comeback, having just finished shooting the film Sparkle, starring Jordin Sparks.
See the famous faces who’ve left us in our ’2012 In Memoriam’ video:
Lance Armstrong Stripped
Lance Armstrong, considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, fell from grace when cycling’s governing body stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles after it found overwhelming evidence that he was doping and was involved in organizing a doping program for his cycling squad. Shortly after the news, Armstrong resigned as chairman for his cancer foundation, Livestrong, which lost almost all of its corporate sponsorships. Along with his having no credibility in the world of sports, Armstrong is currently facing millions of dollars in lawsuits from companies who thought they were paying him for being an extraordinary athlete—not for being an extraordinary liar.
David Petraeus: A Question of Character
Like many venerable men before him, David Petraeus turned vulnerable at the hands of his own lust when he decided to carry on a secret affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Their extramarital activities were inadvertently exposed by socialite Jill Kelley who contacted the FBI and claimed someone was sending her threatening emails; (the emails were traced back to Broadwell.). Long story short, a handful of flirtatious characters came to light and their reputations were questioned and arguably tarnished. Once Petraeus knew he was caught, the general turned CIA director embarrassingly resigned from his post and joined the ranks of powerful men who can’t seem to control their libidos.
Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Leap
Austrian paratrooper Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier and made history when he became the first person to skydive 24 miles above the Earth from a manned balloon at a speed of 834 mph. By the time the 43-year-old daredevil landed safely on his feet in a New Mexico desert, he had also broken a YouTube record of eight million simultaneous live streams. But Baumgartner’s thrilling adventure wasn’t just for personal kicks: he was reportedly helping NASA test out future spacesuits.
Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting
On December 14th, the number “26” was forever etched into our hearts when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. A total of 28 people were killed that day, including Lanza’s mother and Lanza himself, who committed suicide after hearing the police arriving at the school. The murderous rampage was one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history and resurrected the old, contentious debate over gun control, as well as how to treat those with mental health issues.
Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ Goes Global
The rise of K-Pop (Korean Pop) in the Asian music scene has been alive and kicking for decades, but no one artist has gotten the kind of global airplay as Korean singer Psy with his infectious “Gangnam Style”—the first song in digital history to reach over one billion YouTube hits. So what’s Psy’s magic? Perhaps it’s his overt sense of comic irony in his music video that brings in the countless views; after all, wooing a “sexy lady” with his rotund looks and his hokey giddy-up signature dance move is the kinda thing that’s hard to take your eyes off of.