In any given year, there are thousands of people who inspire us, lift our spirits, give us hope, and truly make us believe that this world can be a better place. Unfortunately, there are also people who ruin our days, make us use that Futurama/Dr. Farnsworth meme way too much, and generally make us wish that we could all live on an island of our own, perhaps on Mars, where we’ll start a new breed of man… until that one also becomes too stupid and needs to be replaced by another. So as this year comes to an end, and everyone participates in the time-honored media and internet practice of picking People of the Year, we’re far more interested in those who made us laugh and cry (from laughter) and/or inspired us to always look at the bright side of life, because life’s too short to worry about how many zeroes a sex tape star earned for her stupid freemium video game.
While Time has named “Ebola Fighters” the Persons of the Year for 2014 (over 17-year old Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, which is an arguable snub, but let’s be thankful it wasn’t Roger Goodell) and Amal Clooney was named both Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of the Year and InStyle’s Breakout Style Star (an amazing combo of honors), we’re honoring the men and women who entertained us the most this year. For lack of a better phrase, these people totally owned 2014, winning us over in so many different ways, and we’re happy to bring them back to the stage one more time for another round of applause.
And when it came to dominating pop culture in 2014, no man did it better than this guy…
Person of the Year – “Weird Al” Yankovic
Thirty-one years ago, “Weird Al” Yankovic released his debut album and instantly became the king of parody music for millions of us. His career has featured too many great songs and music videos to list – but we have before – and he has simply been an unparalleled comedy icon, crossing over into TV and film along the way, but ultimately being the industry’s gold standard for goofing on the biggest songs and artists in the world. Well, at least those who pretend to have a sense of humor.
However, looking at Weird Al’s success or lack thereof on the Billboard charts for some recent releases, no one could have expected what happened for this polka prince in 2014. In an Internet era dominated by YouTube parody videos that range from hilarious to please stop sending these to us, Weird Al still managed to not only fire up grassroots buzz over the release of his first independent album, “Mandatory Fun,” but when it came time for him to release one new music video and single each day for eight days, he was the news. Everything was about which single was coming next, who he was mocking and ho awesome the video would be, and we weren’t disappointed at all.
It didn’t stop there, though. The one thing that Weird Al had never done in his amazing career was have a No. 1 record, and that would end up being the icing on a giant cake shaped like an accordion. Jason Mraz and his collection of pork pie hats almost ruined the fun for us, but as July came to an end, a teary-eyed and almost speechless Alfred Matthew Yankovic accepted his framed Billboard album chart from Tom Green, and as he choked back the tears, the singer of legendary hits from “Eat It” to “Tacky” simply said, “Wow… this is amazing.” Amazing and certainly late, but well worth the wait.
Long live the new, free “Weird Al” Yankovic, forever the King of Parody.
Superhero of the Year – Chris Pratt
The drawback of today’s era of instant celebrity superstardom is that as quickly as we build an actor or actress up, people try to tear that person right back down. For example, Jennifer Lawrence reigned in 2013 and most of 2014 as America’s Sweetheart and the Girl Who Can Do No Wrong, but some people started growing tired of the tripping, accidental cursing, vomiting on Madonna’s stairs, and dating Chris Martin, because there’s such a thing as too charming and folksy. So when Chris Pratt broke out from his small but beloved role on the woefully underrated NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation to rival Mark Wahlberg for box office domination this summer, someone should have started the timer on his A-list countdown.
But it doesn’t seem like anyone did.
Pratt’s story is an incredible one, almost too good to be true. It’s impossible to trust any actor who comes off as a squeaky clean do-gooder, as charming as he is humble, because we’ve been burned by plenty of wolves in the past. But with each new day, Pratt seems more and more like he really is that lovable bro’s bro that he plays on TV and in movies, and nobody’s getting tired of it. Well, at least no one who doesn’t wake up and think, “What popular trend can I hate next?”