When the outside world shut down in 2020, we all turned to our phones for entertainment. We scrolled for hours, days, weeks, maybe even months if you add up all our screen time — especially when the puzzle making and experimental baking era of early lockdown got old. And it did quickly.
As it turns out, PAPER fans were invested in some pretty strange stories (This one about a terrifying giant baby, for example, never leaves the charts). You loved debating over celebrity hairstyles, getting naked on TikTok and following the latest in meme culture. You also really, really loved K-pop. And Britney Spears. And Lady Gaga. But you also prioritized the important topics, from Black Lives Matter to hypocrisy in the entertainment industry.
Your thumbs must be tired from all the clicking, scrolling and sharing. But please never stop.
Below, we've reviewed and organized the top performing stories of 2020, from January to December — and it's a wild ride, to say the very least. Good luck and here's to hoping 2021 is less of a mess.
The New Year kicked off with an online frenzy surrounding Jeffree Star's seemingly flawless relationship with then boyfriend Nathan Schwandt, which ultimately came to an end. (Meanwhile, new romance blossomed elsewhere in Cali.) PAPER readers continued to obsess over beauty news, but especially when YouTuber Nikkie Tutorials came out as transgender (with subsequent drama in the following days). The surprise Cheetah Girls reunion kept everyone clicking, as well as Lupita Nyong'o's "afro clouds" hair and the story of one sad journalist who decided it was appropriate to criticize Blue Ivy Carter's appearance. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
One month into 2020 and we were gifted Charlotte Awbery, the viral singer who covered Lady Gaga's "Shallow" in a train station to massive praise. The internet also discovered what Rihanna smells like: "Shea butter and success," according to Black-ish star Miles Brown. In the world of fashion, there were a few glimmers of joy (before the world descended into darkness) with Harry Styles wearing Marc Jacobs to the BRIT awards in London and Fendi making history with its first plus-size runway models. Of course, PAPER readers clicked on a lot of celebrity gossip, but we love you for that. Oh, and Wendy Williams wore Telfar. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
When the world first started grappling with COVID, Vanessa Hudgens took a big hit with her polarizing comments on an Instagram Live. Perhaps a sign of our dwindling mental health in March, the internet couldn't stop debating over whether or not Andrew Cuomo's nipples are pierced. This was also the start of a long year filled with coronavirus memes. Remember Ariana Grande washing her hands? And a long year filled with conspiracy theories, beginning with Keri Hilson's claims that 5G was behind COVID's global spread. Thankfully, we had brief levity in the form of Harry Styles wearing fishnets, which you all clicked on a lot. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
As we all started settling into quarantine, PAPER checked in a few friends to see how they're passing the time. PAPER readers particularly loved Manu Rios' photo diary, probably because he's hot. Very hot. Go ahead, click it again. This was also the month the internet discovered — and fell in love with — a very sad bulldog named "Big Poppa." His melancholy was like a mirror and everybody shared the shit out of his photos. Then we got into aliens (because why not?) when the Pentagon finally released Tom DeLonge's previously top secret UFO footage. Oh, and Zayn and Gigi announced their baby. They've since had that baby. We're getting old. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
With George Floyd's murder, the world became newly awakened to cruel injustices towards the Black community. This wasn't the beginning of Black Lives Matter — nor the beginning of racial inequality whatsoever — but the U.S. doubled down on its fight for civil rights and, especially, defunding the police. PAPER readers were very invested, as was the internet. "Justice for George Floyd" became Change.org's biggest petition fo 2020. Elsewhere in May, Florence Pugh's face in Midsommarsparked a viral meme and the gays were given Lady Gaga's "Rain on Me." The 1975 also released their new album, Notes on a Conditional Form, which you all loved. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
June is typically a month dedicated to LGBTQ+ pride, but with physical spaces still shut down under COVID the community turned to protest instead. Sandra Bland became a focal point, as people demanded that past cases of police brutality and negligence be reopened. There was also renewed focus on the safety of Black trans women, who're the most at-risk in terms of everyday violence. In the midst of conversations surrounding Black Lives Matter, Lady Antebellum rebranded as Lady A, and the internet started calling on the band formerly known as the Dixie Chicks to remove "Dixie" from their name. Black creatives continued to prevail, including Saweetie with her hit single, "Tap In," as well as all these Black-owned fashion businesses. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
Before things crumbled with their relationship, July was the month Demi Lovato announced her engagement to actor Max Ehrich. The internet quickly became addicted to their love affair. Online stan wars raged on (while neighboring stan accounts lost hope), Grimes took this unsettling photo of Elon Musk and Kanye West, and Timothée Chalamet got caught in some drama with then rumored girlfriend Eiza González. Jay Manuel gave PAPERpiping hot tea, "skin therapist" Sean Garrette dished on his ultimate beauty secrets, and Kali Uchis opened up about activism and autonomy. Meanwhile on TikTok, austistic women thrived and an amazing account emerged that rates how celebs act toward service workers. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
After releasing their "WAP" video, searches for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion spiked on Pornhub (a 235% increase for Cardi and 210% increase for Meg). In other sex-related news, drag artist Alexis Stone leaked a fake sex tape with her body double and broke down her viral project, Exploited, with PAPER. You all fell into her trap, yet again. Tess Holliday's Grammys strawberry dress — which landed her on several worst dressed lists — sparked a debate on thin privilege, and another red carpet at this year's remote VMAs kept the internet talking. All those Lady Gaga outfit changes live in our heads, rent-free. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
In September, Chris Evans accidentally shared a screenshot of his phone's photo gallery that included his own dick pics. (You all clicked on that article a lot, so apparently you needed it — thank you, Chris.) What we didn't need, though? Aaron Carter doing porn, but he persisted nonetheless with a livestream nude guitar performance. Jeffree Star boyfriend drama reemerged, and people briefly believed that Halsey and Cara Delevingne were dating. This was also the month that the internet was introduced to Nathan Apodaca, the viral TikToker whose Ocean Spray skateboard video stole the hearts of millions (including Fleetwood Mac). Oh, and PAPER readers really loved this list of 10 Instagram dogs to follow. Very sweet. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
The Country Music Awards couldn't handle Noah Cyrus' sheer performance look, but thankfully the star clapped back at her critics. (That same Saga NYC outfit went on to dominate 2020 Google searches.) Elsewhere in October, Vaquera kicked off an Instagram butt challenge throughout New York City and BLACKPINK's Lisa wore this new Celine bag to widespread fandemonium. This was also the month of Emily in Paris, the Netflix series that spawned a million memes and renewed interest in French style under costumer Patricia Field. YouTubers kept quite busy this fall, with David Dobrik launching his own perfume line, Nikita Dragun partnering with Morphe Cosmetics and Tana Mongeau... offering booty pics in exchange for Biden votes. Politics! Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
Although the 2020 election was nail-biting, its resulting memes provided some necessary relief. Nevada's slow election results? The Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot? That "BBQ Beer Freedom" guy? Perfect fodder for an anxious internet. Unfortunately, this wasn't enough to entertain bored TikTokers, many of whom started shaving down their teeth to partake in a viral "veneers check" trend. Billie Eilish also joined TikTok this month, but soon after changed her original iconic handle (RIP @coochiedestroyer5). Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez and Hayley Williams kept PAPER readers clicking, and Kylie Jenner somehow became a Middle Eastern meme. Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.
Ah, December. The final month of an absolute shit storm of a year. In a final twist, we received further confirmation that alien life exists (they just don't think we're ready to meet them yet). Probably true. Strange monoliths also started popping up around the world, although those were likely separate from anything extraterrestrial. A Ratatouille musical emerged on TikTok, while the platform also gave us an astrologist's alarming prediction about the fate of Joe Biden in 2021. The queers won big with Elliot Page's coming out, Troye Sivan's mullet, Harry Styles in a dress (let's not give him too much credit) and Shawn Mendes' public apology for misgendering Sam Smith, who uses they/them pronouns. Also: Shaq dropped a thirsty comment on Megan Thee Stallion's Instagram Live, haven't we all? Here are five other PAPER stories you couldn't stop scrolling through.