Topics to Watch: April 2017

The latest edition of Topics to Watch has us embracing the more vibrant side of pop culture, examining subjects as diverse as music, cars and body art. But it’s not just about creative expression and celebration. As we look for the next big thing in creative and product development, we also see hints of self-reflection, with people examining what they stand for and where they come from.

Hammer drill
These are hand-held rotary drills that move with a rapid, hammering action. Great for tougher jobs, they’re already part of the professional handyman’s toolbox. As more people opt to “do-it-themselves,” thanks to how-tos moving from TV to the internet, tools like hammer drills have become more prevalent. This is helped by hammer drills, like the rest of technology, getting smaller and going cordless. Amateur handymen seem thrilled. We see them posting pictures to celebrate their families giving them hammer drills as presents.

History of the world
“Education entertainment” and “do-it-yourself biology” have been Topics to Watch in the past. This speaks to what happens when information becomes widely available to everyone, everywhere. People use forms of entertainment—short-form videos, animations, podcasts—to tell stories previously reserved for textbooks. And when learning gets fun, people get their geek on. Case in point, the rise in stories about the history of the world. Of note is the animated “The History of the World, I Guess,” which has been watched by millions since being posted in April.

Related topics: Educational entertainment, Do-it-yourself biology

House music

We’ve seen how the growth of satellite and internet radio has popularized niche and nostalgic electronic music like synthwave and downtempo in previous Topics to Watch. But now, one of the biggest genres of them all, is rising in conversation: house music, a type of dance music invented by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 80s. While it’s changed in form and style throughout the years, house music is still popular today, made even more popular by the proliferation of highly publicized music festivals. Turns out, there’s nothing like a steady drum beat to unite the world.

Related topics: Downtempo, Synthwave

Prior Topics to Watch, like Reiki and Yin Yoga, have shown that people embrace all kinds of methods to heal their bodies. Now we’re seeing a new practice. People are turning to philosophy to heal the soul. There’s a rise in discussions of Immanuel Kant and the category of “being,” as well as explorations of truth and morality. This suggests that people are now not only broadcasting their beliefs, but also reflecting on them, perhaps to the same end of self-improvement and connection with others that we’ve seen with physical therapies.

Related topics: Yin yoga, Reiki

For years, there had been an American urban underground scene, popularized in hip hop and rap, of people customizing the wheels and rims of their cars. Trends have since changed across time and location. There have been shifts in sizes and styles, from vinyl-wrapped to candy paint to spinners. Through these evolutions, rims have remained a fixture of custom car culture. So what’s different? The pop culture that shines a light on rims. Originally, it was hip hop that mainstreamed this behavior. Today, it’s movies, most famously the blockbuster global franchise, The Fast and the Furious.

Sleeve tattoos
A sleeve tattoo is either a single tattoo or a collection of smaller tattoos, usually themed, that covers most or all of a person’s arm from shoulder to wrist. Typically ornate, they showcase both high art—we’ve even seen Van Gogh tattoos—and personal expression. While sleeve tattoos remain popular, what’s also becoming popular is highlighting how these tattoos are made. Pictures and time-lapse videos of people receiving their tattoos are thriving. Like hair removal and permanent make-up, this is another example of people proudly embracing not just the final result, but the steps taken to alter and beautify the body.

Related topics: Permanent makeup, Hair removal