15 of last year’s breakout stars: How things went in 2013

From Gotye to Honey Boo Boo to Psy, they all burned bright in 2012. But whose fortunes rose, and who burned out?

Topics: Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Lochte, Lena Dunham, Honey Boo Boo, Psy, gotye, Best of 2013,

15 of last year's breakout stars: How things went in 2013Clockwise from top left: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Lochte (Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Jaguar PS, Featureflash via Shutterstock/Salon)

We all know, or at least can guess, who 2013’s breakout stars are, the newcomers to the scene who refreshed the cultural conversation this year. New Zealand-born chanteuse Lorde, the casts of “Orange Is the New Black” and “Duck Dynasty,” Macklemore, Lupita Nyong’o, Edward Snowden — they’re all just great! But whatever happened to the breakout stars from last year? How many of them burned bright and fast — and how many are still at their peaks?

We’re checking in on last year’s biggest new sensations. Whose stock has risen? Whose has fallen? Take notes, Lorde — you could end up ascendant like Lana Del Rey, or in the Carly Rae Jepsen doldrums. The future is unwritten!



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    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Lena Dunham

    The actress, who’d been a lightning rod for both praise and controversy on the back of her comedy series “Girls” in 2012, rung in 2013 with a pair of Golden Globes for best actress in a comedy and best comedy series. She’s nominated in both categories again, but Season 2 was a far less universally accessible thing; it went, in its 2013 season, from a show addressing the general malaise of Greenpoint post-grads to an exploration of a very particular protagonist. She also wrote for the New Yorker a lot. A good year!

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Quvenzhané Wallis

    The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Carly Rae Jepsen

    Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Honey Boo Boo

    2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Frank Ocean

    Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Channing Tatum

    The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    One Direction

    With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Lana Del Rey

    The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Rebel Wilson

    Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Gotye

    Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Ryan Lochte

    The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Jennifer Lawrence

    In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Kate Upton

    The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    E. L. James

    The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?

    Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?

    Psy

    The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.

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Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

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