Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.
Jack Yan looks at the seven personalities who defined our year
Last year’s news-makers story not only charted who the personalities of 2013 were, we made calls about people who remained big—perhaps even got bigger—in 2014. Idris Elba, for instance, is now being touted as a possible James Bond, generating more discussion over his race than Daniel Craig’s blond hair got a decade ago; while Jennifer Lawrence continued to remain in the news through the year, for her work, for leaked private photos, or for the concerning news that, even for Academy Award winners, there is pay disparity based on gender.
Our 2014 list, published below, has a mixture of figures, one of whom has passed on, but generated—and continues to generate, with his work being released posthumously—buzz. These are our influencers of the past year, people who made us think about our present-day culture. It is occidental—given that’s where we are—and the below are in no particular order.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
If celebrity is measured by social media followers, then Kendall Jenner is one of the top models in the world. We recorded in November, when she was made the face of Estée Lauder—following in the footsteps of Elizabeth Hurley, Willow Bay, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liu Wen, Paulina Porizkova and Julia Roberts—that she had 30 million fans across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And if you want access to that, and the youth market that is undoubtedly following Jenner, then you should pay for it—which the Lauder company, in its commercial judgement, has just done.
Jenner was always the one talked about at the office, even in 2013, when she was branded “our favourite Kardashian”: classically attractive, sample-sized, and ideal for the catwalk. She benefited from her half-sister’s stardom but, at the same time, balked at it, wanting to be dissociated. There’s no denying that Jenner wouldn’t be the 30-million social media model if not for the Kardashian connection, but desiring to disconnect, in some respects, shows dignity. Jenner might still appreciate the attention, but by all accounts, she’s pragmatic about it.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
When Taylor Swift’s 1989 album takes the top of the Billboard charts, and has been there for six of the eight weeks in release, that’s remarkable. She’s netted cumulative sales of 3·4 million before Christmas, and 1989 is expected to overtake the Frozen soundtrack by the time you read this. In its first week, she sold a million, bucking the trend that in this age of downloads and streaming, traditional album sales would continue to tank.
Swift pulled her catalogue from Spotify, wrote an opinion piece for the Murdoch Press on the value of an album, and framed the debate. And, above it all, 1989 is simply a good album, with great, personable music, and little Polaroid-like prints within that help connect Swift with her fans even more. No wonder we’re watching what she’s wearing. At 25, the singer kept rising.
FKA Twigs, via Instagram
This singer, songwriter and producer from Gloucestershire, born Tahliah Barnett, released her first album, LP1, in August and appeared on Later with Jools Holland in October, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in November. Billboard called her one of the artists to watch in 2014, Vogue called her a breakout star, and she was nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2014 prize. We like the raw talent of this English songstress, who counts Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Marvin Gaye among her influences. The results are best described as experimental R&B and trip-hop, with a dose of electronica, with the music getting critical acclaim. She has scored a 2015 Grammy nomination, if only for LP1’s recording package. In her personal life, she is dating actor Robert Pattinson.
William Stadtwald Demchick/Creative Commons
Where to begin with the internet entrepreneur? As far as the non-tech crowd were concerned, it began with a fall (the raid on his home by New Zealand police in 2012 over warrants from the US), before a rise (the realization that he had been illegally spied on by the New Zealand government, which forced a law change), and ended with a fall again (when his involvement in politics in the New Zealand General Election fell flat). Dotcom is a divisive figure, and there are some who love to kick a person when they’re down, but the basic facts of his case have remained the same since day one. Not content with copyright infringements, where he’s acted the same as any other organization that receives take-down notices, such as Google, the US has slapped on money-laundering and racketeering charges, and hopes to see him extradited from New Zealand.
His financing of an Internet Party flopped badly, and media tended to focus on him rather than the allegations about New Zealand’s spying from Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, who made appearances at his ‘Moment of Truth’ event. Meanwhile, some Kiwis—who have likely made comments about the US and Australia—said, ‘How dare these foreigners give their opinion about our country!’ If your presence can overshadow Greenwald, Assange and Snowden, then you probably are a news-maker. The publisher’s blog post on Dotcom was the most-viewed since he posted about the Jyllands-Posten cartoons on the prophet Mohammed.
He’s not finished yet. With the US trying it on in a Virginia court, he’s managed to put in an argument that he didn’t flee the country, since he had never been there; and he now says there’s potential for an Internet Party in the US for 2016.
The late actor Robin Williams, 63, probably did more to highlight depression than any celebrity death in recent years, and he leaves behind a massive body of work, from his appearances on Happy Days and its Mork & Mindy spinoff, to Good Morning, Vietnam, lending his voice to animation in Aladdin and Happy Feet, and, recently, his wonderful return to US prime-time TV in The Crazy Ones, alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar. Along the way he was Mrs Doubtfire, and he won an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting. There was scarcely anyone who didn’t know who Williams was, since his appeal bridged generations, and the 2010s were, after all, his fifth decade in the limelight.
But Williams had admitted he had had drug addiction problems in the past, and had suffered from depression. His suicide highlighted just how quickly, and without warning, it can resurface, and be bad enough for Williams to wish to end his life. His family was there to help him battle those demons, but it wasn’t enough—and Williams left a massive hole in Hollywood in August.
Suki Waterhouse, via Instagram
Suki Waterhouse was on our radar long before she began dating US actor Bradley Cooper. We liked her look when it came to modelling, and she began appearing in our pages in January 2012. The face of Burberry today, and a former Tatler and Elle UK cover model, Waterhouse is as good behind the lens as she is in front. Her Instagram account (just shy of half a million followers, and a not-to-shabby, for a celebrity, follow-back of nearly 1,000) shows a gritty, moody world, punctuated by the high-life of an international model, and we admire how she stays mum about her personal life. (There’s enough out there already as tabloids follow her about.) She’s planning a greater move into movies next after a small role in Love, Rosie; her next role is in Insurgent, based on the Veronica Roth novel.
Surprisingly—especially if you look at previous years—Ellen DeGeneres is our most searched-for celebrity of 2014. DeGeneres organized the photo that reputedly “broke Twitter”, a selfie with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt and others, taken at the Oscars. DeGeneres has managed to be on the pulse of the public, especially with her daily talk show Ellen—with Oprah Winfrey running her network, DeGeneres is probably the most widely watched host in this genre in the world. Maurice Lévy, CEO of ad agency Publicis, values her selfie at between US$800 million and US$1,000 million, with 37 million people having seen it. (That’s six million shy of the Oscars’ broadcast itself.) In an age of social media measurement, let us remind you that that’s more followers than Jenner has. Another 3·3 million have re-Tweeted the photo. DeGeneres has stayed in the news, largely thanks to her show, but also a homeware and fashion line called E. D., announced in July. •
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