Our 2022 Pop Culture Predictions : Pop Culture Happy Hour If there's one thing we can tell you about 2021, it's that we didn't see it coming. And we might not see 2022 coming either, but we're going to try — by making some pop culture predictions for next year. And on top of that, we'll look at last year's predictions and see how things turned out.

Our 2022 Pop Culture Predictions

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If there's one thing we can tell you about 2021, it's that we didn't see it coming. And we might not see 2022 coming either, but we are going to try.


And on top of that, we'll look at last year's predictions and see how things turned out. I'm Stephen Thompson.

HOLMES: And I'm Linda Holmes. It's predictions time once again on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR.


HOLMES: You just met NPR Music's Stephen Thompson. And joining us from his home studio is Glen Weldon of NPR's Culture desk. Hi, Glen.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Hey, old acquaintance.


HOLMES: And also here, from her home on the West Coast, of course, is Aisha Harris. Hey, Aisha.

AISHA HARRIS, BYLINE: Hey. It's me. I'm feeling confident about my predictions.


HOLMES: Awesome. Awesome. Well, we have been making predictions for years and years. I think we're past the 10-year mark now. But before each of us tries to predict something about next year, we always look back at what we predicted for this year because we are all about, as I always say, accountability.


HOLMES: So we are going to start with Glen's prediction from the end of 2020 for 2021. Let's hear it.


WELDON: I predict that by this time next year, the experience of moviegoing will return to the state it was in before the pandemic. Now, don't get me wrong. It's still going to be, you know, problematic. It's still going to be precarious. But - and it's not going to look the same because a lot of the chains and the individual theaters aren't around anymore, so the names will be different. But I firmly believe that our human need for familiarity and consistency and community is going to assert itself so strongly that it's going to put the lie to all those, you know, this is the end of the cineplex forever articles. And I don't know. I just believe in us as a people.

And you'll know if I'm right. You'll know the first time you go back to a movie theater and you don't think about it. It's not going to happen in the spring. It's not going to happen in the summer. It's not going to happen in the fall. I predict that by this time next year, it will happen. You'll find yourself not thinking about it because we got a collective glimpse of what the future of home theater looks like, and it sucks. Now, granted, it's not really a one-to-one comparison because the home experience we're having now is - there's no alternative to it. It's, like, all we got. I think moviegoing is going to go back to what it was before.

HARRIS: I hope you're right.





HOLMES: How young we were.


HARRIS: How do you feel about humanity right now?

WELDON: Can you hear the hope in my voice? Any time I believe in humanity, I just - it just all goes wrong. That is a face-plant. That is F-minus. That is wildly not true. Now, I did make that prediction before vaccines, before delta, before omicron, when we all still thought that this will be over by summer - right? - if we just tough it out through grit and intestinal fortitude and carnal (ph) forbearance.

HOLMES: Well, we knew vaccines were coming.


HOLMES: We didn't know people were going to push back so hardly against...

HARRIS: Exactly.

HOLMES: ...Actually getting the vaccine.

HARRIS: Exactly.

WELDON: Yeah, but we really probably should've.

THOMPSON: I appreciate that I got to attend the movie "House Of Gucci" while assuming risk.


WELDON: I mean, all of us on this Zoom have gone back to press screenings. We are fully masked. We are distanced. We are showing proof of vaccination. And I'm sitting there with my N95 fogging up my damn glasses, and I feel safe-ish, safe-adjacent. But I am thinking about it constantly. Here's a thought I didn't want to have in the year 2021. Am I risking my life for "Free Guy"?


HOLMES: I will say, Glen, you know, as we tape this, we have just seen an absolutely massive opening weekend for "Spider-Man" - I don't know - Home Fries or whatever it's called.


WELDON: That's what it's called.

HOLMES: And I do think it's safe to say people certainly were starting to go back, I think. I think the omicron thing in the last couple of weeks has sort of thrown this all back into chaos, depending on where you live, right? And it's important to acknowledge many of you are probably out there saying, people where I live never stopped going to the movies, never stopped, you know, doing whatever they wanted. I acknowledge your existence and the existence of the people around you, and I don't mean not to.

But, I mean, look, Glen. I give you 10 points for the fact that before the end of the year, we managed to have one enormous opening weekend that would've been an enormous opening weekend even by normal standards.


HOLMES: I give you that.

WELDON: That's true.

HOLMES: All right. Well, Glen, what is your prediction for this coming year?

WELDON: Well, not last year, but the year before I predicted kind of an implosion of streaming services, a consolidation - right? - a thinning of the herd because I assumed you can't just keep slicing that apple. There's only so much apple. But then the pandemic hit, and everyone is stuck at home. So guess what happens - bigger apple, more apples. You can just keep slicing away.

So my prediction based on - I want to make this clear - precisely nothing - no industry analysis, no careful study of what content catalogs are not yet represented in the streaming space, just a big, dumb hunch - we're going to get a shakeup. We're going to get a big one. We're going to get the launch of another major streaming service. I don't know where it's going to come from because there's only - what? - three corporations left, and I think they're all already in the space. But it's going to be a big launch of a brand-new streaming service that will rival the Big Three - Netflix, Hulu, Amazon. You will still get points. But you'll knock it down a letter grade if what happens is instead, we get a merging of two or more existing streamers, like a Netflu (ph) or an Amazix (ph) - I don't know what. But...

HARRIS: (Laughter).

WELDON: ...The thing is...

HARRIS: Netflu.

WELDON: ...When it happens, we will all collectively realize that it never would have happened without the pandemic. And the pandemic is what gave it the runway. That's my prediction.

THOMPSON: All right.

HARRIS: I get it. I like it. Just don't call it Netflu because, God, that's a terrible branding.

WELDON: Yes, it is.

HARRIS: Almost as bad as Quibi - like, what? Why?

WELDON: Yep, yep.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

THOMPSON: Almost as bad.

HOLMES: Oh, man, Quibi.

HARRIS: Remember Quibi?

HOLMES: Was that this year?

HARRIS: I don't know. What it's time? What is time?

HOLMES: Yeah. What is time?

All right. Thank you very much, Glen Weldon. Stephen Thompson, I want to hear what Stephen Thompson predicted for this year.


THOMPSON: I am not as optimistic as Glen about a return to any kind of normalcy. I kind of predict that we're going to record our predictions show from our respective closets and apartments kind of the way we did this year. I will - I'll go through my Oscars, Grammys and Super Bowl picks. I'm going to say - I'm going to say "Mank" for best picture on the exact same principle that I picked "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood"...


THOMPSON: ...Which is that Hollywood loves a movie that celebrates the way Hollywood used to be. It's probably going to be something I have not even heard of because of the way that that whole schedule's shaking out. I'm going to say "Folklore" by Taylor Swift will win album of the year. I feel like that's kind of a shoo-in. I'm going to say Chiefs over Packers for Super Bowl, thus destroying my friendship with Mike Katzif. Musically speaking, I think when we're talking about the Grammys for 2022, we're going to be talking about Adele and Kendrick Lamar. But I also predict a massive and colossal and much-deserved breakthrough for Tierra Whack. I think Tierra Whack is going to put out a record in 2021 that will absolutely blow our minds if the current singles are any indication. I think she is in for just a gigantic stardom wave. But beyond that, I see a lot of inaction in 2021. I imagine a lot of talk about some sort of entertainment industry bailout to save theaters and venues. And I just see it not happening. I just see inaction.


WELDON: So it's a win for pessimism.


WELDON: I feel like I kind of won.


THOMPSON: I feel like I won this battle as soon as I spoke the words not as optimistic as Glen.


THOMPSON: I always do this. You know, I'm always like doing so well, and then I immediately start saying like, well - and "Mank" is going to win best picture. "Mank" did not win best picture. "Nomadland" did. The Chiefs did not beat the Packers in the Super Bowl because I underestimated the Packers' ability to implode in the playoffs. They lost in the NFC Championship game to the Buccaneers, who beat the Chiefs. So I was like, right there. I just didn't anticipate misery quite as much as I should have. Also, "Folklore" did win album of the year at the Grammys.


THOMPSON: As for Tierra Whack, I really anticipated Tierra Whack having this big wire-to-wire 2021. But she waited until December to release these three magnificent little EP's that I hope portending that prediction being pushed into 2022. But I think as soon as I said not as optimistic as Glen, this became a solid C (laughter). And we'll just leave it at that with the mixed bag of other predictions.

WELDON: You got it right in the big picture. Your details were off, but one of your details was right. So I would give it a C-plus.

HARRIS: I'd give it a B-minus.

HOLMES: I was going to say, I'm into the B's. I mean, look, no TMI or anything, but we are all in our homes.


WELDON: Exactly.

HARRIS: Very much so.


WELDON: All right. You're right. You're right. Knock it up to a B - solid B.



HOLMES: All right. Stephen Thompson, what do you have on tap for this year?

THOMPSON: Well, my overarching theme for 2022 is a year of incalculable stupidity - another year of fits and starts and endless specks of false hope, which are immediately dashed. To do a quick awards-y (ph) lightning round, I'm going to say the Grammys - huge run for Olivia Rodrigo, followed by a shocking album of the year win for Billie Eilish. I'm going to say best picture will be "Belfast." I'm going to say Super Bowl, because we can't have nice things, will be Buccaneers over Patriots. I am going to predict that Rihanna will finally release the album everybody has been waiting for her to release, but it won't be until the fourth quarter of 2022.

And finally - I have been ruminating for days now, trying to figure out exactly how to make the stupidest and most depressing possible prediction involving entertainment and NFTs. And I can't come up with anything stupider than environmentalist Matt Damon shilling for crypto.com. But I'm going to go with, in 2022, there will be at least one massive, big budget movie that will be funded almost entirely via NFT sales and will be a complete and utter boondoggle, in part, as a result. That's what I'm going with for 2022.

HARRIS: That is very specific.

HOLMES: All right. Thank you very much, Stephen Thompson. Aisha Harris - now, Aisha was a rookie at this...

HARRIS: I was.

HOLMES: ...Last year, so I want to hear her first-ever prediction for our prediction show.


HARRIS: First, a non-prediction that Rihanna is not going to release a new album this year.


HARRIS: I'm saying this in the hopes that it actually comes true...

THOMPSON: (Laughter).

HOLMES: Yeah, I know that. I know that.

HARRIS: ...That she actually does release one (laughter). But my real prediction is that we will see an unprecedented number of women nominated for best director this year at the Oscars. Now, that is a very low bar because in no year have more than one woman been nominated in that category. And there have only been five women total who have been nominated, and Kathryn Bigelow remains the only one who has won for "The Hurt Locker." So very low bar.

But because of the pandemic and the way things have shaken out in terms of what's been released, what still needs to be released, there's a lot of chatter about the possibility of Chloe Zhao, who directed "Nomadland," which I've seen and which I think is a fantastic movie, and I can't wait for more people to see it and for us to be able to talk about it, hopefully. And then also, Regina King is getting a lot of buzz for "One Night In Miami." So if we have two of them nominated, that's already...


HARRIS: ...A big year for diversity.



HARRIS: Now, whether either of them will win, who knows? But it is sad that it took a pandemic for this to maybe happen. But I will be happy if it does happen. So that is my cautiously optimistic prediction for 2021.


HARRIS: Well, newsflash, Rihanna did not release an album this year, and I don't think she's going to release one next year either.


HOLMES: Unless it's all NFTs.


HARRIS: So obviously that didn't happen, but I was absolutely right. It was a big year for diversity. I mean, it wasn't, but it was.


HARRIS: There were two women nominated in the category. One of them was Chloe Zhao for "Nomadland." And, of course, she won - historic moment. And the other one was Emerald Fennell for "Promising Young Woman." So Regina King didn't get in there - that's OK - but it happened that there were two women nominated. And again, that was a very low bar. I'm not like Stephen. I'm not, like, swinging for the rafters here.


HARRIS: I am bunting that prediction (laughter).

HOLMES: But it is unprecedented.

WELDON: Yeah, and you named names.

THOMPSON: Ten out of 10, man.

WELDON: And the Chloe Zhao of it all gets you an A.


HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you.

THOMPSON: You crushed it.

HARRIS: Between that and the Rihanna thing and just stumping Stephen with the Rihanna thing.


HARRIS: I feel like Rihanna's just going to be the running prediction every year. We just threw out bets and...

THOMPSON: Rihanna is the new Guns N' Roses.


HARRIS: It's too soon for her, at this point, to release an album. She has to wait another few years before people are really, really clamoring. Because it's - whatever she comes out with, it has to be fire. Like, it has to be fire at this point.

HOLMES: All right. So, Aisha, what is your prediction for 2022?

HARRIS: I predict that "West Side Story" will become the first remake of a previous best picture winner to win best picture. I feel like it could happen. I don't think it should. I'm not as high on it as some other critics have been. And obviously, critics versus the academy - who knows? They can diverge very prominently. But I think that "West Side Story" has the pedigree. It's got the DNA. It's got the franchise. It's got Rita Moreno, and it's got Spielberg. And this is probably the first Spielberg movie in a very long time that people have been this excited about, just generally. It's got the momentum, and I can see it becoming that first best picture remake winner.

Now, my other one is that this is the year that Keke "Sorry To This Man" Palmer blows up. She's been working her way. She's been in the business since she was a kid. She was the star of "Akeelah And The Bee." She's got the gravitas. She's got the social media presence. If you follow her on social media, she does impressions. She does jokes. She does songs. She is everything, and she is just a delight. And this year, she has two roles coming up that I think are going to put her into a very different stratosphere.

The first is "Alice," which is going to be premiering at Sundance. And the premise sounds kind of like "Antebellum," which is a very terrible movie starring Janelle Monae. It's basically - a woman is on a 19th century slave plantation in Georgia, and then she escapes and discovers, actually, it's 1973. Now, apparently, this is based off of true events, whatever that means, so I'll be curious to hear about it. But, you know, I feel like it could be an interesting addition to all of these different Black film and TV things that are happening when it comes to slavery and all those things.

And then the other movie is "Nope" directed by Jordan Peele, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun. And it's Jordan Peele. And I'm sorry, but that has the ability to put anyone into a new stratosphere, as we've seen with Daniel Kaluuya and Lupita Nyong'o having, like, a really, really meaty role. So Keke Palmer - I think she's going to blow up. I don't know how I would quantify that. I just think we should expect to see people talking about her in a way that they haven't before.

HOLMES: I think that's great.

WELDON: And as for the "West Side Story" of it all, I mean, I think it's going to be an interesting competition between you and Stephen, because "Belfast" is exactly the kind of movie that the academy loves, that all dads and all moms in the world (laughter) kind of love. So I take your point, but I think that's going to be a real contest.


HOLMES: Yeah, either one of those, in a way, is a really, like, oddly retrograde move for the Oscars, given the fact that they've rewarded some less obvious things for the last couple years. And I agree that that may wind up being the big battle. All right. So I want to listen to my own pick from this past year, and we'll see how it turned out.


HOLMES: I think you are going to see at least one more prestige documentary miniseries about a cult. I think they cannot help themselves because of the success and buzziness of "The Vow" and the other NXIVM stuff. Plus, there's one coming out right now about Heaven's Gate. The thing is there are plenty of cults, unfortunately. Depending on how good you want it to be, you can put it together relatively quickly. And I suspect there are ones that are in the works right now being pitched right now and potentially even assembled right now. So I think in 2021, you will see at least one more prestige-y cult documentary series.


HOLMES: So here's the funny thing about that prediction. I would not say I completely succeeded or completely failed, I would say I was off by, like, 15 degrees. And the reason I was off by 15 degrees is they did continue to chase a lot of what came out of the interest in "The Vow." But first of all, not all of it was in series. I should have hedged a little more and said some of it might be movies. But they picked up less on the idea of NXIVM as a cult, more on the idea of NXIVM as a MLM, as a multilevel marketing thing...

WELDON: That's true.

HOLMES: ...Because what you did continue to see was some stuff about multilevel marketing outfits, right? There was an Amazon documentary about LuLaRoe. And there was also this one that was somewhere between depending on who you ask, MLM weight loss religious thing. There was a woman who had a group that was, like, lose weight through religion, and there's a documentary series about her. I didn't particularly think that one was that good. So they've picked this thread up, but they've picked it up more through the kind of people who get sucked into businesses. There's also one that's about Beanie Babies.

HARRIS: Oh, yeah.

HOLMES: And it's a little different, but it still has that like, let's look at people getting swept up. That's kind of what they've picked up on, as opposed to the idea of the traditionally defined cult. It's sort of like the cult of Beanie Babies is not a cult in the way people are talking about. But people might still say the cult of Beanie Babies. You know what I'm saying? So I would give myself, like, a B-plus, C-minus.


WELDON: You were close. It's just a difference in the lens that you look at it through. The lens of consumerism is what they ended up going for, you know, instead of the lens of philosophy, the lens of, you know, psychology. I say 15% off. Yeah, exactly.

HOLMES: So predictions for next year - I have two. First of all, I predict that by this time next year, we will be back to going to the movies much as we did before the pandemic, and we will not be thinking about it. Glen just was a little bit early. It's going to take an extra year, but I think they're going to figure it out. And I think at the end of 2022, I will feel comfortable going to the movies in a way that I never did in 2021.

WELDON: Linda, you lost this prediction the moment you said, I think they're going to figure this out. That's not going to happen.


HOLMES: All right. Here's my other one. The 2022 Golden Globes are the last ones.

THOMPSON: Oh, I like that.

HARRIS: Ooh, I hope so.

HOLMES: I'm going out on a limb, right? I'm already looking forward to Linda a year from now going, you just underestimated the strength of the Hollywood publicity complex, whatever. But the Golden Globes have been shoved off of television, which I think a lot of people thought would never happen. And if they are not a drunk party, who cares? They've always been suspect and weird, but now they're not even fun. So why bother?

It doesn't mean publicity is going to get any less gross. It just means this brand is so ruined that they're going to have to find a new brand for the same kind of goofy award giving and party holding. And I'm just going to say they're going to hold them in 2022. And they're going to be like, nobody cares. When they're not on television, when there's not a party, nobody cares. And they'll suspend them and send out certificates of merit or something like that. But the Golden Globes, as we know them - last ones in 2022.

THOMPSON: Wow. I appreciate your optimism.

HARRIS: I think that's an A-plus prediction.


HARRIS: I mean, the Oscars already this past year kind of did the Golden Globes thing where they were all seated at tables and drinking.


HARRIS: I think they were drinking. I don't remember. They seemed looser than usual. So remember Glenn Close did "Da Butt."


HOLMES: This is what I was just going to say. I was looking back on the year, and I was like, this was the year Glenn Close did "Da Butt."


HOLMES: Anyway, those are my predictions for 2021.

WELDON: Solid, solid.

HOLMES: We want to hear all of your predictions for 2021. Find us at facebook.com/pchh or on Twitter at @pchh. Thank you all for being here to talk about predictions.

WELDON: Thank you.

HARRIS: Thank you.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

HOLMES: And, of course, thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. I predict you will continue listening to it next year. We will see you all back here tomorrow for - (vocalizing) - our resolutions episode.


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