Arrivals: The top newcomers on the scene in 2014

From the first-ever comet landing to the Ice Bucket Challenge, 2014 was full of surprises

  • Venturelli/WireImage/Getty Images

    Venturelli/WireImage/Getty Images

  • Kiesza: It took only a single take for the Calgary-born artist to explode onto the music scene. The video for Hideaway went viral—now with 10.4 million views on YouTube and counting—as an overalls-clad Kiesza danced her way through more than four minutes of choreography without a cut in filming. By April, the song had vaulted to the top of the U.K. charts, while her summer breakout hit landed her a performance on Late Night with David Letterman. Rest assured, music fans will see that red “steamhawk” hairdo again.
  • Chad Hipolito/CP

    Chad Hipolito/CP

  • Hitchbot: In order to make its 6,000-km journey from Halifax to Victoria, Hitchbot needed a lift—a few of them, in fact. The talking robot from Port Credit, Ont., created by Ryerson assistant professor Frauke Zeller and David Smith of McMaster University, thumbed 19 rides from strangers over 21 days as GPS tracked its movement across Canada. In addition to making new friends at gas stations and coffee shops, Hitchbot even crashed a wedding in Golden, B.C., tweeting and instagramming its observations along the way.
  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma. (Jewwl Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

    Alibaba founder Jack Ma. (Jewwl Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Alibaba: What started in 1999 when Jack Ma pitched the idea to 17 friends inside his tiny apartment erupted on the world stage this year when Alibaba’s record-breaking IPO raised US$25 billion. The Chinese e-commerce company has been dubbed “a marketplace, search engine and bank, all in one” by the Wall Street Journal. Transactions from its various websites totalled $248 billion last year, more than Amazon and eBay combined. Jack Ma, meanwhile, is now China’s richest person.
  • Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

    Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

  • Ice-bucket challenge: Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to George W. Bush and Kermit the Frog had a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads. The ice-bucket challenge was the viral charity sensation of the year, raising not only awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, but plenty of money, too. In the U.S. alone, the ALS Association raised more than $100 million over a 30-day period in the heat of the summer. The next challenge is to find a cure for the neurodegenerative disease.
  • Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

    Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

  • Mo’ne Davis: Never before had a Little League baseball player made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Then again, never before had a 13-year-old girl pitched a complete-game shutout on the big stage. While her Taney Dragons didn’t win the Little League World Series, the young Philadelphian later threw out the first pitch at an L.A. Dodgers game (a strike, of course) and appeared on late-night TV with Jimmy Fallon. So does she have a future career in pro baseball? Maybe not. She apparently prefers basketball—and beats the boys at that, too.
  • Hockey_Strombo_carousel
  • George Stroumboulopoulos: Sure, the CNN gig didn’t exactly resonate with American viewers last year, but, this year, Strombo found himself a dream job back home as the new face of Hockey Night in Canada. With his top-line interview skills, the former MuchMusic VJ-turned-CBC celebrity has already sat down to talk hockey with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. As for journalistic independence, let’s just say it won’t apply when his beloved Habs take the ice.
  • Aaron Cohen/Canadian Museum for Human Rights

    Aaron Cohen/Canadian Museum for Human Rights

  • Canadian Museum for Human Rights: Izzy Asper didn’t live long enough to walk down its halls, but his vision finally came to fruition when the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg opened in September. After more than five years of construction, the $351-million project, with a controversial design by architect Antoine Predock, displays the good and the bad of our past, housing everything from a copy of the Bill of Rights signed by John Diefenbaker to an exhibition that discusses Canada’s abhorrent treatment of Aboriginals.
  • Walt Disney Co./Everett Collection/CP

    Walt Disney Co./Everett Collection/CP

  • Chris Pratt: In 2013, Pratt was best known for playing a chubby slacker on the hit TV comedy Parks and Recreation. Then, Pratt seriously hit the gym, lost 60 lb. in six months, and became the action star of 2014. With lead roles in The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt even landed on the cover of GQ’s “Man of the Year” issue. As for his wife, actress Anna Faris, Pratt says: “She likes abs, but she likes her fat husband better, because she gets to feed him.”
  • Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images

    Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images

  • Jimmy Fallon: Taking the reins of The Tonight Show from Jay Leno is no easy task. (Just ask Conan O’Brien.) But Fallon, a Saturday Night Live alum, has found a fresh base of young fans, in part, thanks to recurring segments such as “lip-sync battle” and “hashtags,” where he reads his favourite tweets. After five years of hosting NBC’s 12:30 a.m. talk show, Fallon has finally moved up to 11:30 p.m., with his sights on becoming the next king of late-night TV.
  • YouTube


  • The ‘unboxing’ video: There’s nothing quite like unwrapping a gift. There’s also nothing quite like the oddly hypnotizing “unboxing” videos on YouTube, which show only a pair of hands opening toy boxes or unwrapping Easter egg toys while a female voice narrates. Surprising as it sounds, DisneyCollector is the most watched YouTube network in the U.S., with more than two million subscribers and hundreds of millions of views. Adults have no idea what the appeal is, but their toddlers—apparently the videos’ target market—are hooked.
  • Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

    Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

  • Renée Zellweger’s new face: The Oscar-winning actress was once one of the most recognizable stars on the red carpet. Then she completely changed her face. She hasn’t starred in a big movie since Leatherheads in 2008, but people could not stop talking about the 45-year-old ever since she appeared at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards in October. “I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” she told People magazine. With any luck, the talented actress will land some major roles, though this likely spells the end of any more Bridget Jones sequels.
  • The surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. (ESA)

    The surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. (ESA)

  • Philae lander: It didn’t get the same fanfare as the moon landing, but a 220-lb. unit named Philae became the first spacecraft to ever land on a comet. Data sent back to Earth revealed Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has dust 10 to 20 cm thick, potentially on top of strong ice. But with the battery life for Philae running low, the lander had to shut down, though not before tilting its solar panels toward the sun. If all goes according to plan, Philae will recharge and wake up soon.
  • Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

    Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

  • Dendropsophus ozzyi: Thirty-two years after Ozzy Osbourne bit off the head of a bat at a concert in Iowa (later claiming he thought it was made of plastic), the rocker’s famous gross-out moment became the inspiration for the name of a new species of tree frog found in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. The orange-and-brown amphibian has oddly elongated digits, but it was its bat-like calls that excited researchers. “As soon as I heard its call, I knew it was a new species. I had never heard anything like it,” one reported. That led them to chat about their affinity for Osbourne and his former band, Black Sabbath. The head of the Dendropsophus ozzyi remains intact.

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