Pop Culture Radar: What’s Trending This Summer

By Samantha Reid


‘The GoldFinch’

At 800 plus pages, Donna Tartt’s novel “The Goldfinch” doesn’t exactly qualify as a light summer read. But this best-seller is the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner, to boot and is definitely worth a read. It has everything a great thriller should, including art theft and murder, all in the larger scheme of a coming-of-age tale. Beautifully written, the story reminds readers of the artistry Tartt has been known for over the past three decades.

the fault in our stars

‘The Fault in Our Stars’

Young adult literature author John Green has churned out hits for years, but it’s 2012’s “The Fault in Our Stars” that garnered enough popularity to be turned into a film. The emotional story follows two teens who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. The movie comes out June 6, so there’s still plenty of time to read the novel beforehand — after all, the book is always better than the movie.



‘Catfish’ is back

Between Facebook, OKCupid, Tinder and more, it seems like meeting people online is becoming more and more common. But what happens when you aren’t talking to the person you think you are? MTV explores the behind-the-scenes world of Internet dating, and the endings aren’t always happy. Each episode is chock-full of drama, and the new season begins May 7.

orange is the new black

‘Orange is The New Black’

It seems like it’s been forever since season one of “Orange is the New Black” hit Netflix and gained a huge following. It’s finally time for season two, which will be binge-watch ready June 6. Fans may want to stretch out the viewing process, though. It’s bound to be another long while before season three. Netflix has already caused a frenzy by releasing the season two trailer, and despite the rumors, it looks like Laura Prepon (Alex) will return for some episodes of the show’s second season and have a regular role in season three.



‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ swings into theaters

Marvel fans are getting an early gift this summer with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” hitting theaters nationwide on May 2. Andrew Garfield is reprising the titular role, alongside real-life girlfriend Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. The movie gives additional backstory on Peter Parker’s parents, and it stars Jamie Foxx as Electro. The film also marks the Green Goblin’s introduction in this reboot of the series. Comic fans can expect a continuation of the first film’s high-flying action, with twists at every turn.


‘22 Jump Street’

It’s certainly a summer of sequels, including a follow-up to 2012’s hit comedy “21 Jump Street.” Starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, the movie picks up, predictably, in college. Following the same formula as the first film, the bromantic duo has to break up a fraternity crime ring. In pursuit, audiences can expect more hilarious hijinks in stereotypical college style as the boys take on spring break. Dave Franco and Ice Cube also reprise their roles, so fans of the first film have a lot to look forward to.


beyonce out

Beyonce on the cover of Out Magazine

For Out’s May “Power Issue,” no one makes more sense as a covergirl than Beyonce. With a Marilyn Monroe inspired photo shoot, Beyonce looks commanding as ever on her first magazine cover since the release of her album this past December. In the interview, she covers how her new album speaks to female sexual liberation, saying, “You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist and a feminist — whatever you want to be — and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”

scarlett johansson

Scarlett Johansson does Vanity Fair

With two new movie releases (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Under the Skin”), an engagement and a baby on the way, Scarlett Johansson certainly has a lot to celebrate. Vanity Fair celebrates her success in its May issue, talking with the starlet about her competitive career as one of Marvel’s new favorites and her budding love life with French journalist Romain Dauriac. Fans of Johansson can pick up the issue on newsstands now for the “Study in Scarlet.”


ed sheeran

Ed Sheeran ‘x’

In the follow-up to his debut album “+,” British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran releases his new album “x” June 23, to be followed by his first ever North American headlining tour, set to begin Aug. 22. If the album’s first single “Sing” is any indication, fans can look forward to an uptempo sound on Sheeran’s sophomore album. “Sing” was co-written and produced by Pharrell, and Sheeran premiered it alongside another single, “Don’t,” on Saturday Night Live in April. For more of the album, listeners will have to wait patiently until June.


Lana Del Rey ‘Ultraviolence’

One of the most highly anticipated albums of 2014, Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” is supposedly dropping May 1. There’s a lot of secrecy surrounding the project, but Del Rey did unveil one new track, “West Coast,” at Coachella. During a Twitter Q&A, Del Rey described the album as “so dark it’s almost unlistenable,” something that wouldn’t be out of character for the pop singer. She’ll also be hitting up Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on May 16, so grab tickets while they’re still available.


alexander wang

Alexander Wang for H&M

Fashion fanatics, get ready for the next in a line of amazingly affordable designer collaborations: Alexander Wang for H&M. The collection was just announced and won’t hit stores until Nov. 6, but summer is a great time to save your pennies for the designer pieces fall has to offer. Lauded as “one of the most important voices in fashion today,” Wang is the perfect choice to make out-of-the-box urban style available to the masses.

film festival

Chicago Critics Film Festival

Music festivals tend to get all the hype, but Chicago is home to a number of film fests, as well. Coming up in May is the second annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, which will be held at the Music Box Theatre starting May 9. The festival features a number of highly anticipated films, including the premiere of “They Came Together,” starring comedy favorites Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler. Tickets to individual screenings start as low as $12, and the festival promises special guest appearances from some of the directors and stars.

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