Pop Culture

From icy challenges to 'Sharknado 2' madness, summer pop-culture trends stayed cool

Get in the water! Get out of the water! Contradictory messages drove the pop-culture zeitgeist this summer, and some of the trends may not fall away even with the autumn leaves. Here's a look at what was keeping us cool when the temperatures were hot.

Werid Al's return, celebrity ice-bucket challenges, and "Sharknado 2" all earned entertainment headlines this summer.

Celebrity Ice Bucket Challenges
Celebs stayed cooler than the other side of the pillow this summer by dumping buckets of ice water on their heads as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge began as a fundraiser for any charity, but soon turned into one mostly focused on giving money for ALS research, with the famous and non-famous alike challenging friends to take on the task and donate money whether or not they dump the water. We're guessing most celebs forked over larger donations to fight the disease than the suggested $10 for those who complete the chilly challenge, but they also gave us some creative videos. Mickey Rourke sat in a kiddie pool for his dousing, Matt Damon used toilet water, and Patrick Stewart just classily wrote a check and sipped his drink. Ice, ice, baby.

'Sharknado 2'
Sharks caught up in an L.A. tornado is so 2013. This summer, Ian Ziering and Tara Reid returned in "Sharknado 2: The Second One," a sequel to the bizarre Syfy movie that took a chomp out of entertainment headlines last summer. This one moved the action to New York, was packed with celeb cameos (hi, Jared from Subway eating a sub on the subway!) and still brought out Ziering's chainsaw for some shark-sawing action. Chicago, are you up for "Sharknado: Lake Michigan" next summer?

Retro cast reunions
Whenever times are tough, we love to look back to more innocent days. And what's more innocent than the goofy TV shows that got you through childhood? Back in March, a "Full House" reunion snapshot took fans back to the days when the Olsen twins cared more about dolls than designer fashions. Then the "Little House" cast went back to the prairie via a TODAY reunion — even evil Nellie Oleson was there. And Mayim Bialik and her "Blossom" buddies reunited, too. Whoa!

Weird Al returns
Eat it, Weird Al Yankovic haters. The curly haired parody-song master made a comeback this summer in a most White and Nerdy way. He released a new song each day for eight days, spoofing everything from general tackiness to corporate-speak, and borrowing from new artists such as Iggy Azalea and older ones, such as Crosby, Stills and Nash. Every English major on Facebook shared his "Word Crimes," a "Blurred Lines" spoof poking fun at bad grammar. And just like that, Weird Al won the hearts of a whole new generation. Pretty fly, for a rabbi.

Related story: Ranking Weird Al's new songs

'Fifty Shades' of anticipation
The "Fifty Shades of Grey" film won't be out until February, but anything involving the erotic bondage book-turned-movie had fans tied up in knots this summer. The trailer was teased on TODAY, with the uncensored version offered online only. The movie's stars, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, taught Natalie Morales a naughty word. Beyonce re-recorded her hit "Crazy in Love" for the soundtrack, and Jimmy Fallon pranked his house band, The Roots, with an altered version of the film's trailer. Our inner goddess is already buying tickets.

Fallon, the viral-video king
Speaking of Jimmy Fallon, he settled into the "Tonight Show" chair and displayed a gift for segments that went viral faster than a cute cat in a shark costume sitting on a Roomba. He threw beach balls at Julia Roberts' famous face. He danced with J.Lo in tight white pants. He took a terrified roller-coaster ride with Kevin Hart. And perhaps best of all, he continued to debut addictive and hilarious Brian Williams music videos, including "Baby Got Back." And that's the way it is.

'Bachelor'/'Bachelorette' craziness
Brian Williams even admitted to Fallon this summer that he's a fan of "The Bachelorette," and he picked a good time to confess that fact. Few show franchises went crazier over the past few months than the "Bachelor"/'Bachelorette" franchise. First came Juan Pablo Galavis, the retired soccer-player "Bachelor" who called gay people perverts (he blamed the language barrier), retweeted an insensitive joke, upset a contestant with a crass sexual comment, and seemed pretty lukewarm about the woman he chose. "The Bachelorette" season that followed "The Bachelor" wasn't much better, ending with jilted contestant Nick Viall making a sexual revelation that "Bachelorette" Andi Dorfman probably would've preferred he keep to himself. Those roses are looking a little wilted.

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