2021: What can we say? What was touted as the year to topple the woes of 2020, a year full of hope, happiness and normality, seemingly was made worse than that of its predecessor. Alas, 2021 was not a good year.

But in the thick of the darkness broke through some shimmering gems that made a pretty crappy year slightly more bearable. As such, ICON is shining a light on the best things to come from a not-so-good year, and for that, we should celebrate.

The Best Song – All Too Well (Taylor’s Version), Taylor Swift

Ah, the song that re-sparked the controversial breakup between Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal. All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) sent the internet in a frenzy not only thanks to its new 10-minute iteration that goes into further detail over Swifts heartbreak to the Hollywood heartthrob, but it cemented the fact that Taylor Swift is indeed is on a personal journey of redemption (and revenge?) and she is certainly not taking any prisoners.

Red (Taylor’s Version, 2021) is a re-recording of Swift’s fourth studio album, Red (2012), following her current re-recording venture to counteract the changed ownership of the masters to her first six studio albums to Scooter Braun. ‘All Too Well’, a seminal hit in the T-Swift discography, is a song for everyone and anyone; it’s super relatable.

And not only has it dethroned Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ as the longest chart-topper ever, but it gives Swifites a closer look into the highly public break-up between the singer and Gyllenhaal in 2011.

The biggest takeaway from the heartbreak epic, however, is the mystery behind Swift’s missing scarf:

And I left my scarf there at your sister’s house
And you’ve still got it in your drawer even now…

But you keep my old scarf from that very first week
‘Cause it reminds you of innocence
And it smells like me
You can’t get rid of it
‘Cause you remember it all too well

It begs the question: where’s the scarf, Jake?

The Best TikTok Trend – Good Soup

This year, an old clip from the Television series Girls became a viral meme on TikTok thanks to the two words uttered by everyone’s favourite heartthrob, Adam Driver: Good Soup.

The original clip that sent the #GoodSoup trend to go viral has amassed over 37 million views and has 5.5 million likes, and as a result, the trend now has millions of videos under the hashtag #goodsoup with humorous takes on the lows and highs of all things relatable to ‘Good Soup’.

The video uses a scene from a 2017 episode of Girls in which lead characters Adam Driver and Lena Dunham look to meet to mend their failing relationship, only for it to end in eventual breakup. In the scene, Driver eats a bowl of soup, tearing up as he realises the relationship is over. But hey, at least the soup was good?

The Best Meme – Suez Canal Obstruction

In March of this year, for one entire week, a large modern container ship (measuring 400-meters long and one of the world’s largest container vessels) was catastrophically buffeted by strong winds and ended up being wedged across the Suez Canal, obstructing all traffic until it could be freed. For one whole week, folks!

On any given day during that timeframe, at least 369 ships were queuing to pass through the canal daily, preventing an estimated US$9.6 billion worth of trade to reach its eventual destination.

This whole debacle really, when it comes down to it, epitomised the year that was 2021, but reassured us laymen that no matter how shit things could be, it could be significantly worse… image being the captain!

What resulted from the adventures of the Evergreen was a plethora of genius, witty and relatable memes to be produced in the entirety of its obstruction – and then some!

The Best TV Show – Squid Game 

It was the most streamed television series on Netflix when it was released. Its #SquidGame hashtag on TikTok has been viewed more than 66.3 billion times. And it was the TV show you didn’t know you needed to watch until it was over, and what a welcomed surprise it was.

A break from all the drama of the western world, this non-English-language show not only introduced the world to a show that was ten years in the making, but this little South Korean production became Netflix’s most-watched program in at least 90 countries, including the US.

Squid Game follows the lives of a group of down-on-their-luck individuals, fighting the mundanity of everyday life and battling serious debt, who are invited to play a series of children’s games in order to win a whole bunch of money. The catch? Those who lose are brutally killed.

Its violence is attention-grabbing, and while the show is easy to follow – there’s only one main plotline and that is the survival of the contestants in a series of unregulated games – that’s the appeal of Squid Game; it’s easy to grasp, a low-effort watch. The most difficult part of Squid Game is keeping up with its sub-titles. It’s a no-phone affair when watching this series.

While the show sparked some controversy for its graphic violence, it was definitely a conversation starter as you walked past your local coffee pick-up during lockdown.

The Best Food Trend – Emily Mariko’s Salmon Rice

If there’s one TikTok-er to make her mark in 2021, it’s Emily Mariko and her now-famous salmon rice bowl.

Made for those who cherish the weekday leftover, the video – which has been viewed 15 million times – combines leftover salmon, rice, soy sauce, Kewpie mayo, and Sriracha, eaten with roasted seaweed, avocado, and kimchi, to form a delicious lunch bowl.

The ice-in-the-microwave step (which caught the attention of millions of viewers) helps reheat rice ensuring it comes out moist.

It’s delicious, it’s easy to make and it’s super relatable.

Emily Mariko
Credit: TikTok

The Best Sporting Moment – The Olympics feat. Tom Daley

Amid a year of lockdowns and mandatory COVID-related rules, the world forgot about the Tokyo Olympics. So, when it officially aired after being cancelled in 2020, it came as welcomed viewing for a dose of positivity and inspiration.

While the Olympics made headlines and trended for reasons such as those cardboard ‘anti-sex beds’, or Simone Biles’ decision to forfeit from the Olympics, or even just the amount of success stories we found in these athletes, one man won over our hearts, partly due to his sweet and endearing demeanor, but also for his extra-curricular activity. When Britain’s Tom Daley wasn’t diving for gold, he was knitting.

Bless.

As a result of his Olympic spectacle, Daley has now launched his own knitting kits, Made With Love by Tom Daley.

“I designed these knit kits to help encourage you to pick up those needles, learn the basics, and fall in love with knitting at the same time – all whilst creating something to show off or pass on,” Daley mentions on his website.

thoughts?