Ten years ago, we were still wearing leggings under skirts and dresses over pants, glued to the TV for all sorts of reality show goodness while we lusted after the new iPod or MP3 player because the iPhone wasn’t out yet. It seems like ages ago, but really it has only been a decade since we were popping the collars of our polo shirts and thanking MTV for satisfying our need for trashy game shows based on the flimsiest pretexts. It’s close enough to our present that we can reach back and touch what it was like, but far enough away that we shake our heads and tell one another, “Can you believe we did THAT?”
Aside from the shallow fun that came with the year, which saw us witness Britney Spears’ tragic meltdown and sob at the end of Harry Potter, there was also a lot of heavy stuff happening around the world that we may have forgotten, in an age where world tragedies are heartbreakingly regular. Well, step into our time machine and take a trip back to 2007, when Kim Kardashian wasn’t yet a household name and many had no houses to live in at all.
17. KUWTK Premieres
Since they’ve completely saturated all media channels for the past few years, it can be hard to believe that the Kardashians and their “reality” show have only been around for ten years, and that there was once a time when we were blissfully ignorant of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. The show first premiered in 2007 and has been on the air ever since, amassing a staggering 13 seasons and 194 episodes in total. Its success (despite critical skewering) saw the spin-offs of seven other shows, including the as-yet-unaired Life of Kylie.
Naturally, as many already know, interest in the E! Channel show first arose once Kim Kardashian’s private tape with rapper Ray J was leaked (it was filmed in 2003), probably taking a page out of former BFF Paris Hilton’s book. Since 2007, KUWTK has been able to stay on air despite struggling ratings and exhaustion with the plastic surgeried family, so only time will tell if it’s still kicking around another ten years from now! (We bet not.)
16. 200 Dead in Aviation Accident
It was Brazil’s deadliest aviation accident to date, with 199 deaths and no survivors. On July 17, 2007, TAM Airlines Flight 3054 overran the runway in São Paolo due to the rain, and crashed into a warehouse killing all 187 passengers and crew members on board, as well as 12 other people on the ground. Since the runway had recently been resurfaced, without water-channeling grooves cutting into it, this error was attributed to potentially causing the crash, as the plane was unable to grip and slow down upon touching down from the air.
In addition to the runway, investigations showed that human error on behalf of the pilot and co-pilot may have also been to blame, owing to an asymmetric thrust condition between the engines which would cause a loss of control and end in a crash. While airline accidents are unfortunately moderately common, this one is notable for being the most deadly in Brazil’s history.
15. Baseball Record Broken
Barry Bonds became the home run king when he broke the world record previously set by Hank Aaron when he scored his 756th career home run on August 7, 2007. (He has 762 home runs to his name now.) It would have been an even bigger deal, except for the fact that Bonds was dogged by rumors of steroid usage, which put a gigantic asterisk next to the Giants slugger and was almost as his record-breaking ball! In 2003, Bonds testified that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs nor paid for such.
Probably owing to the scandal surrounding him and the fact that he was getting on in years, the Giants didn’t resign Bonds for their 2008 season. Seems like they knew what was up because just a few months after his record-breaking home run, Bonds was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice regarding steroid usage. In 2011, he was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest, two years of probation, and 250 hours of community service.
14. Putin Named Person Of The Year
In the wake of certain revelations and burgeoning threats involving Russia, however, it is interesting to note that a recent controversial choice would be Russia’s Vladimir Putin. In 2007, Putin was finishing up as the second President of Russia (he is now the fourth, after a four-year term served by Dmitry Medvedev), and the choice of covering the former KGB agent forced TIME to make the distinction that their Person of the Year award was not an honor, nor an endorsement, nor a popularity contest, but that Putin was worthy of the title owing to what he had done for his country at that point. To quote the piece in 2007, Putin was, “Not a paragon of free speech. He stands, above all, for stability–stability before freedom, stability before choice, stability in a country that has hardly seen it for a hundred years.”
13. Queen Elizabeth II Oldest Monarch Ever In UK
In 2007, Queen Elizabeth II overtook her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, as the oldest living monarch in the United Kingdom at the age of 82. For reference, Queen Victoria was 81 years, seven months, four weeks, and one day at the time of her death in 1901. Perhaps due to this achievement, the Royal Canadian Mint produced a million dollar coin the same year. Featuring a portrait of the Queen, it was made of pure gold and weighed 100 kilograms and measured 53 centimeters in diameter!
At that time, ten years ago, Queen Elizabeth II’s predecessor was also the longest-serving monarch in British history. But since then, the current queen has overtaken that distinction as well! In fact, as of October 2016, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning and oldest living monarch in the world, after the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for as astonishing 70 years by the age of 91.
12. Britney Spears’ Rough Year
We know that many world disasters happened in 2007, but Britney Spears definitely had the worst year of her life, both personally and professionally. In terms of her personal life, Spears officially divorced her husband, Kevin Federline, in July, lost her aunt to ovarian cancer in January, and entered rehab in between. After one day, in February 2007, Spears entered a hair salon and asked to have her head shaved, before taking the clippers and doing the deed herself. That same day, she took an umbrella to the car of a paparazzo.
In August of 2007, Spears got in a car accident and fled the scene. And by September, she gave a dismal, disturbing performance of her song “Gimme More” at the MTV Video Music Awards, which caused many to speculate on her mental health. By October, she was forced to hand over custody of her sons to Federline, and in early 2008, was placed under psychiatric hold and a conservatorship under her father, which is still in place ten years later.
11. Benazir Bhutto Returns
After going into self-imposed exile in 1998 amid rumors of corruption, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, returned to her country on October 18, 2007 once she had been granted amnesty. One day after her return, Bhutto’s campaign bus was attacked, leaving dozens of her supporters dead. Bhutto was safe, but she was awakened to the growing tensions her return had brought about.
On December 27, Bhutto was assassinated while leaving a campaign rally. Upon exiting, Bhutto entered a bulletproof vehicle, but appeared out of the sunroof to wave at her supporters. Sensing their chance, a gunman shot Bhutto while explosives were detonated nearby, killing over 20 people. Bhutto later died of her wounds in the hospital. Since her death, her legacy has been a polarizing one. On one hand, many celebrate the late Prime Minister for her part for Muslim women and for acting against Islamic extremism, while others point to her history of corruption.
10. Madeleine McCann Disappears
Three-year-old Madeleine McCann was on holiday with her family in Portugal when she was snatched from her bed on May 3, 2007. That incident sparked “the most heavily-reported missing-person case in modern history.”
Shortly after McCann’s disappearance, Portuguese police made multiple mistakes, including failing to obtain descriptions of the toddler, failing to make house-to-house searches, and refusing to request motorway surveillance pictures of vehicles leaving the area. It ended up taking Interpol five days after the disappearance to issue a global missing-person alert. Rumors flew about McCann’s parents and their involvement in her disappearance, with people citing the discrepancies in their statements and saying that the parents were swingers who made a habit of sedating their children to engage in some adult-only activity. Their actions (leaving their children alone in an unlocked home at night) were much discussed online and in publications, in what was dubbed a “trial by media.” Ten years later, McCann still has not been recovered.
9. OJ Gets Busted
He made headlines and was the central figure in a media circus in the trial that sought to convict him of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. But those who hated OJ Simpson had to wait until 2007 to see the former football star get put behind bars.
In September 2007, Simpson led a group of men to rob a hotel casino, with the goal of taking sports memorabilia at gunpoint. Although he initially denied his part in the crime, he was charged with multiple felony counts two days later, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon. While his co-defendants plea-bargained, Simpson plead not guilty to a felony charge of robbery.
Although Simpson finally got busted after years of getting away with murder, it wouldn’t be until 2008 that he was finally found guilty of all the charges and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. His lawyers attempted to move to a new trial, but it seems that everyone was sick of seeing Simpson get out of jail free. So, in the prison is where he still remains.
8. Writers Strike Hurts TV
If you were an avid TV watcher back in 2007, you probably noticed the dearth of quality programming we had, and the fact that so many shows abbreviated their seasons in order to get by when the Writers Strike was in full effect. On November 5, all 12,000 writers and screenwriters in the Writers Guild of America went on strike to seek fair funding for writers in comparison to the money being brought in by larger studios.
In addition to receiving the support of tons of writers, major actors like Ben Stiller and Olivia Wilde also took part in the protests, which lasted for just over three months (not quite the longest in the Guild’s history). While the strike meant a greater reliance on reality TV shows that didn’t use scripted scenarios in the way that dramatic and comedic shows did, the end of the strike meant a return to quality TV programming as some of the Writers Guild of America’s demands were met.
7. Harry Potter Comes To An End
We still had more movies to come out (and much later, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, if you can count that), but in 2007, J.K. Rowling released the final Harry Potter book and we cried at it being the end of an era. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the seventh in the series, and was published on July 21, 2007, becoming the fastest-selling book in history up until 2012.
Translated into 120 languages, Deathly Hallows sold 15 million copies in its first 24 hours of release—11 million in the United States and United Kingdom alone! Due to the intense interest in the novel, the publisher, Bloomsbury, invested £10 million to prevent spoilers from being released. (Unfortunately, it wasn’t a total success, as pages were leaked online a week before the official release date, since early copies had been shipped.) In another link to a different event on this list, Rowling asked that booksellers in the UK be given posters featuring missing toddler Madeleine McCann, in the hopes that they might display them prominently in their stores and lead to the discovery of the girl.
6. Introduction To The iPhone
It’s hard to believe that it has only been a decade since the first iPhone was released, considering the fact that we’re constantly using them, almost as if they’ve become an extra appendage and that we’re on the seventh generation of the device. That works out to a brand new iPhone almost every year and a half!
For the very first iPhone, the introduction of the device that changed how we think of and use smartphones, was on January 9, 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the new phone at the Macworld convention. It would be made available for purchase six months later, on June 29, 2007. There was already a ton of hoopla surrounding the newest foray into technology, including the first iPhone ad which aired during the Academy Awards in February of that year. Fast-forward to now and people are already asking for info about the iPhone 8 (despite the fact that the 7 hasn’t been around for that long yet), and the tech-savvy among us are firmly divided into two camps—iPhone, or Android?
5. Spice Girls Reunion
They were a phenomenon and an all-girl supergroup that took the ‘90s by storm. But once Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice, decided to go off in search of a solo career, the Spice Girls fell apart.
Until 2007, that is!
That year (now ten years ago), the Spice Girls decided to reunite for a world tour that played 47 shows from December 2, 2007 to February 26, 2008. Demand to once again witness the glory that was the Spice Girls caused people to respond in a frenzy, and tickets sold out in one minute, causing the band to add sixteen additional dates in London. All the biggest hits were seen, with the Spice Girls clearly understanding what their audience wanted. Filled with lavish costumes, fireworks, and plenty of girl power, the band was back in their element. In more recent Spice Girls news, Halliwell has said that she regrets leaving the band, saying in an interview with Oprah that it was an immature decision. Perhaps we’ll have more Spicy goodness to look forward to in the future?
4. Earthquake In Peru
Unfortunately, earthquakes are not an infrequent occurrence, and can decimate cities, villages, and countries in a short period of time. In the case of the Peru earthquake that took place on August 15, 2007, the 8.0-magnitude quake lasted a mere three minutes, but the impact it had on the country was beyond devastating. It was considered as one of the most destructive earthquakes to ever hit Peru, a country that is no stranger to massive quakes (they suffered a 9.0-magnitude quake back in 1868).
For this quake, 519 people were reported dead, 1,366 were wounded, and 58,581 homes were destroyed in the coastal cities that were affected the most. The earthquake was so intense that dozens of aftershocks with a magnitude of 5.0 (or greater) were recorded, and even years later, the people of Peru are still dealing with the effects of the quake, unable to return to their homes and attempting to rebuild their ravaged communities.
3. The Virginia Tech Massacre
Seung-Hui Cho was not only a senior at Virginia Tech University in 2007, but also a mentally ill individual with a violent streak that first manifested itself in his public declarations of committing suicide, before turning his rage to others. Beginning in February 2007 and March 2007, Cho purchased guns—the first from an online retailer and the second from a shop—along with 50 rounds of ammunition. Then, on April 16, 2007, he decided to open fire.
In two separate incidents, Cho first shot and killed two students at West Ambler Johnston Hall, before returning to his dorm room to stock up on everything he needed, including a knife, a hammer, and nearly 400 rounds of ammunition. Almost two hours after the first attacks, he headed to Norris Hall, chaining the doors shut behind him. All in all, 33 people were killed in the Virginia Tech Massacre, including the gunman himself. At the time, it was the deadliest shooting carried out by a single perpetrator in US history.
2. Barack Obama Declares Candidacy
It seems like a lifetime ago, but merely ten years has passed when former President Barack Obama declared his candidacy for the Democratic Party on February 10, 2007. At the time, Obama was just a senator from Illinois, and few thought he would be able to make the kind of impact Hillary Clinton already had with the Democratic party, owing to her years of political experience and time spent in the White House as the First Lady.
During his campaign, Obama made distinctions between himself and Clinton, stating that while Clinton supported the war in Iraq, he had opposed it from the start and was dedicated to bringing American troops back home. Despite later criticism that he had become a politician’s politician, Obama was considered the underdog at the time, a man of eloquent speeches and adoring crowds who was gaining steam on a grassroots campaign fueled by one of the most iconic words attached to his image—hope.
1. Housing Bubble Bursts
If you’ve recently seen the film The Big Short, then you’ll recognize that in spite of it happening only a decade ago, the effects of the housing crisis and housing bubble burst that happened in 2007 is still being felt across the globe up to this day. After subprime mortgages had been rising steadily for a few years and high and adjustable-interest home loans were being handed out left and right to families who couldn’t afford them, mortgage companies began to fall, one by one, like dominoes.
Investments were quickly becoming worthless and stock market values began to drop as more and more big subprime lenders began to file for bankruptcy, and families were shunted out of their homes and left destitute, stuck paying rates that they couldn’t possibly afford while becoming destitute. The predatory nature of these subprime lenders affected families as well as the global economy, which threatened to force the world into a new Great Depression, in one of the most catastrophic events of the year 2007.