If 2016 taught us anything (besides the fact that the night is long and full of terrors), it's that no matter how much we think we know about the ebbs and flows of pop culture, it remains entirely unpredictable. Did anyone see the juggernaut that was Deadpool coming? And how many of us predicted that a throwback TV show starring Winona Ryder and a group of plucky kids on bikes would become the year's biggest sensation? Surprise albums for both Knowles sisters? Two albums from Frank Ocean? Yes, 2016 was full of surprises. So, what does 2017 have in store for us? Let's gaze into our crystal ball and find out.
Taylor Swift will take a page out of The Weeknd’s playbook for her new album.
It’s been three calendar years since Taylor Swift dropped a proper album, which all but guarantees that 2017 will see the release of her hotly anticipated sixth studio LP. So, how will pop’s reigning princess reinvent herself this time? Though no concrete details have been released, some major clues indicate that Swift will ditch the stadium-ready power pop that defined her 2014 powerhouse, 1989, for the kind of moody electro-R&B popularized by artists like Zayn and The Weeknd. In fact, Swift just gave us a taste of what her next record might sound like on the Zayn-assisted “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” and has reportedly spent time in the studio with Drake. Does that mean a Tom Hiddleston diss track could be on the way, too? Fingers crossed.
SZA will take center stage.
You may not recognize Solána “SZA” Rowe’s face (yet), but you’ve definitely heard the otherworldly vocals that made her ANTI’s best guest feature (sorry, Drake). Now, after a string of promising EPs, your favorite artist’s favorite artist—she’s collaborated with Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, and, of course, Riri—is set to drop her long-awaited debut album, A, with appearances from fellow upstarts Kaytranada, Travis Scott, and BADBADNOTGOOD. In other words, expect to be hearing SZA's name a lot this year, which also means you'll finally learn how to pronounce it. (It's "Sizza," by the way.)
Big Little Lies will win all the Emmys.
The line between film and television collapsed years ago, but not since the first and second seasons of True Detective, have we seen such a collection of high-wattage movie stars in a TV show as we do in HBO’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel Big Little Lies. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley star as at-first-glance cheery suburban soccer moms whose seemingly perfect lives unravel after a mysterious murder rocks their seaside town. Oscar-nominated director Jean Marc-Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) directed all seven episodes, and Zoe Kravitz, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, and Laura Dern round out the star-studded cast. This is prestige television of the highest order.
Jon Snow and Daenerys will take Westeros by storm and kill Cersei.
Okay, so we’re kind of cheating here, but leaked photos from the set of Game of Thrones’ penultimate season confirmed that the show’s two central heroes will finally come face-to-face and join forces in an attempt to take down Cersei, the White Walkers, and anyone else who crossed them over the years. But even without the photos, a collision course between Jon and Dany—aka GoT’s hair MVPs—was all but a given, as the most popular show on TV finally sets its endgame into motion. Expect fireworks when Game of Thrones season seven premieres this summer. Oh, and there will be dragons.
Marvel vs DC will scorch the earth and set box office records.
Last year saw Batman and Superman launch each other through buildings and Captain America trade acidic one-liners with Iron Man while the world crumbled around them. Forget all that. In 2017, the superhero wars will be waged at the box office, as both Marvel and DC are set to unleash some of their biggest titles ever. At DC, we’ll get a double dose of Wonder Woman, first in her own standalone movie (out June 2) and then with Batman, Superman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg in the curio that is Justice League, a film whose success or failure will define the DCEU for years to come. Marvel, meanwhile, is poised for its biggest year yet (and that’s saying something) with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5), Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7) and Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3) all looking to set records at the box office.
Emma Watson will be the entertainer of the year.
Since hanging up her magic wand once and for all back in 2011, Emma Watson has been unable to find that one magical role to launch her career into the next stratosphere (apologies go out to Noah, The Bling Ring, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower). That’s set to change this year, as Watson has not one, but two, of the year’s most anticipated films on deck. In March, we’ll finally see (and hear) her as Belle in the hugely anticipated live-action musical Beauty and the Beast, which is poised to become one of the biggest films of the year. Then, in April, Watson stars in The Circle, a high-minded thriller starring Tom Hanks as the head of a tech company that isn’t what it seems. It’s the kind of one-two punch that could see Watson dominate the box office and awards season in the same year, otherwise known as “pulling a J-law.”