DIVERSITY PAID OFF
This year Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians marked Hollywood firsts with their majority African-American and Asian (respectively) casts and crews and both were incredibly successful; smashing box office records and getting all the love on social media. This is important because when Hollywood can see profitability in something, they'll do more of it (that's why we're inundated with superhero films). The result is content creators have been scrambling to get on the diversity bandwagon - sure, they sometimes miss the mark, but the increased effort gives us so, so much hope.
POP CAME OUT TO PLAY
We thought last year's record-breaking visit from Adele was one for the books – and then Ed Sheeran came along. 140,000 Kiwis flocked to see the songwriter across three nights in Auckland before he went south and played another three shows at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium. It was the biggest tour to ever hit New Zealand – but far from the only one. This year, we've seen a non-stop stream of hitmakers pop in for a visit – from Bruno Mars and Katy Perry, to Sam Smith, Harry Styles, Pink and Halsey. And let's not forget Tay Tay. Pop-tastic!
NETFLIX GOT SOME COMPETITION
Look, no one's pretending that Netflix isn't still our go-to when it comes to looking for a fresh binge. But this year, we found ourselves switching things up as other platforms stepped up their game. Amazon Prime Video delivered some standout series, including The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, The Terror, Homecoming and The Good Fight, for the bargain basement prices of just $2.99 a month. Meanwhile, TVNZ OnDemand gave us this year's best television, fast-tracking Killing Eve straight to our screens. For free. Admittedly, we'd rather pay than sit through those terrible ads but still... Good job team.
KIWI MUSIC TOOK OVER
To steal a line from Jesse Mulligan, 2018 has been the year your favourite Kiwi artist became your favourite artist. In fact, nearly half our Best Albums list is made up of homegrown talent – not because it's local but because it's bloody great. We must have listened to Marlon Williams' exceptional Make Way for Love at least 100 times this year. Elsewhere, The Beths broke through and found international acclaim with their debut record Future Me, Hates Me. Auckland rapper Tom Scott topped the charts with his "rap album for people who hate rap". And Six60 made history when they proved local artists can sellout stadiums. Take a bow, all of you!
AND LOCAL TV IMPROVED
After two years with no homegrown entries on our Best of TV lists, this year delivered two standout local series – The Casketeers and Wellington Paranormal. Three did their part to develop new talent and ideas with Comedy Pilot Week in October, with some outstanding results. Both Golden Boy and The Lonely Hearts Motel would be welcome additions to next year's TV schedule. We've also had a cheeky sneak peek at two of TVNZ's upcoming comedy series – The Educators (starring Jackie van Beek and Jonny Brugh) and Fresh Eggs (starring Claire Chitham and Cohen Holloway) and we're confident next year will see this trend keep growing.
NOSTALGIA HIT OVERDRIVE
It started with Alanis. The post-grunge queen hit our shores in January, reminding us all just how bloody great the 90s were. Then Celine Dion swooped in, followed by ZM's Friday Jams' line up of Usher, Salt n Pepa and Naughty by Nature. Promoters have been quick to jump on the bandwagon and next year will see everyone from Bryan Adams to Aqua head this way, as well as Boyzone, All Saints, Craig David, B*Witched and Blue.
CELEBS GOT REAL ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
Celebs have long been outspoken about mental health, but this year escalated with the likes of Demi Lovato, Kanye West, Ariana Grande and the late Mac Miller dominating headlines and releasing songs and albums addressing depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Even here in New Zealand we've addressed it head on - earlier in coping with the loss of beloved presenter Greg Boyed and most recently with Sarah Gandy leaving The Hits to take time to work on her health and happiness. Speaking out makes it easier for others to speak out and seek help, so we give our thanks.
WE STOPPED CARING ABOUT REALITY TV
There was a time when we covered reality TV like no one's business – we're talking live-blogging, recapping every episode, analysing things that really didn't need analysing. This year, we didn't. And guess what? No one cared. On the rare occasion we tried to dive into a reality show, no one took the bait. Stories about Project Runway, Bake Off and Survivor went unnoticed. Dancing with the Stars happened. The Block was... The Block. Honestly, we're over it. Our readers are apparently over it. Is it finally time to call it a day?
OF DONALD GLOVER
Somehow Donald Glover has managed to have a foot in every door of the entertainment industry this year and nailed every endeavour. In May, he starred in Solo: A Star Wars story and released the hit single (and video) This Is America. Then came the Summer Pack EP in July and Pharos Festival last month - where he also debuted the trailer for his Guava Island project. The trailer for the Lion King dropped last month (in which he stars) and on top of all that, season two of Atlanta dominated our screens in March. Can this man do no wrong?