How will you remember 2013? What was the year's top music story? Was it the stunning revelation that Morrissey and Johnny Marr had, in fact, secretly reunited in 2007 to quietly issue records under the name "Taylor Swift"? Or did 2013's defining event come in July, when a critic tweeted, "Only halfway through, but this new Jo-Jo remix is solid," thus crossing a threshold of useless information at which all subsequent music criticism began to devour other parts of the Internet?
Here at the SF Weekly offices, 2013 was all about #Hashtag, the unlikely phenomenon that dominated the pop world for approximately one lunch hour in early January. Though the #Hashtag affair produced no actual music, its ramifications were felt throughout the industry, as other new artists like Alabama Shakes, Passion Pit, and fun. quickly adopted the Internet marketing tactics #Hashtag first took. This revolved around a simple maxim, memorably uttered by Chauncey Gardner in the movie Being There: "This is just like television, only you can see much further."
January 2013 was a simpler time. Let's relive it here, in the rise and rise of the year's most essential Internet pop star.
JAN. 8, 2013
12:37 p.m.: While dining at Katz's Delicatessen in Manhattan's East Village, pop singer Ke$ha tweets a picture of her lunch, a corned beef hash sandwich, chips, pickle spear, and Dr. Brown's black cherry soda. The picture is accompanied by the hashtag "#Hashtag."
12:41 p.m.: U.K.-based Stranger Records announces it has signed #Hashtag to an artist development deal.
12:42 p.m.: In rough cut, a trailer to the video for a song titled "Actual Fucking," credited to #Hashtag, is uploaded to YouTube. There is no audio and, confusingly, no mention of the Cex album of the same name.
12:46 p.m.: Pitchfork names "Actual Fucking" Best New Track, calling it a "stunningly solid debut trailer to a video for a song."
12.51 p.m.: Stranger Records uploads a second trailer for the video to "Actual Fucking." However, before the video posts, the record company takes action against itself and YouTube disables the audio due to "copyright infringement claims."
12:52 p.m.: London's NME calls #Hashtag a "Sandwich to Watch."
12:52 p.m.: Indie blogger Chaz profiles #Hashtag for Ironic Cocaine Reference music blog, asking, "Is #Hashtag the next overrated, marginally talented lunchmeat in indie or do I have zero sense of perspective on this Earth?"
12:53 p.m.: In an exclusive, Hipster Runoff reports that before Ke$ha ordered #Hashtag, she originally wanted a Reuben, but Mr. Katz's son told her they were out.
12:56 p.m.: In preparation for upcoming sold-out tour dates, #Hashtag, billed as "Snow Patrol," plays a secret show in a dank Brooklyn basement.
12:57 p.m.: Interscope announces that it has signed #Hashtag to a worldwide distribution deal.
12:58 p.m.: On syndicated radio talk show Sound Opinions, critic Jim DeRogatis offers the backhanded compliment that #Hashtag is "still better than 90 percent of what's out there."
12:59 p.m.: The third bearded guy in The National takes to Facebook to lambast a music culture that would fall for the superficiality of a meat that isn't free range or grass-fed.
12:59 p.m.: Patrick Stickles from Titus Andronicus is pissed. Reports say this has something to do with Ke$ha cutting in line at Katz's.
12:59 p.m.: Not to be outdone, the girl from Beach House ... or was it the guy? The girl — wait! Oh, shit. Never mind.
1 p.m.: TMZ exposes #Hashtag's former identity: several square inches of the back of a quiet, unpopular Wisconsin heifer.
1:02 p.m.: The third trailer for the "Actual Fucking" video earns a four-star review from Rolling Stone's Will Hermes.
1:05 p.m.: Gore Vidal returns from the dead, takes a look around, then thinks better of it. Before he goes, he offers this blurb for any future books #Hashtag might publish: "I have been asked whether I wish to nominate a successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delphino. I have decided to name this delicious beef you degenerates have christened '#Hashtag.'"
1:07 p.m.: On a sold-out British press junket, #Hashtag is described numerous times as smelling "gamy."
1:09 p.m.: #Hashtag duets with Mick Jagger at Miami's Sun Life Stadium as part of an all-star benefit for the victims of deadly Superstorm Rod.
1:10 p.m.: #Hashtag is seen exiting Athens, Ga.'s 40 Watt Club with Thom Yorke. The topic #HashThom trends on Twitter for nearly 20 minutes.
1:12 p.m.: #Hashtag covers Neil Young's "Transformer Man" at BotCon 2013 in San Diego. After the appearance, promoters find #Hashtag unresponsive backstage. Though rumors of a massive drug overdose are quickly dispelled, #Hashtag enters the Esalen Institute to recover from what is publicly called "fatigue" and formally diagnosed as "actually a massive drug overdose."
1:15 p.m.: Interest in #Hashtag suddenly plummets after Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar tweets a picture of his cat attacking a grocery bag.
APRIL 2, 2013
In time for the Easter holiday, Interscope releases the deluxe Actual Fucking box set, nine discs containing every video version and some surprising remixes by the likes of Big Sean and A$AP Rocky.
JULY 7, 2013
In time for the Bastille Day shopping season, Interscope preps the release of the elaborate More Actual Fucking box set, though it is delayed by manufacturing problems with the set's intricate packaging, which includes a flash drive in the shape of a pickle spear and the entire Beatles discography on laserdisc.
DEC. 10, 2013
In time for the Christmas shopping season, Interscope releases a deluxe holiday edition of the Actual Fucking box set, packaged in a super limited edition of 12 1994 Dodge Neons with "Actual Fucking" cassettes permanently melted into the cars' tape decks.
DEC. 25, 2013
In a stunning diplomatic coup, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brokers a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. No one with an Internet connection notices.
Well, 2013 was a strange year in music, to be sure. What will 2014 have in store? If nothing else, we can look forward to the #Hashtag-curated All Tomorrow's Parties in April 2014.