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The Hot List 2017: The People and Trends We’re Talking About the Most

From Cardi B to future A-list actors to the thinkers and creators who could save the world, here’s who and what made Rolling Stone’s annual list

The Hot List 2017: The People and Trends We're Talking About the Most

Welcome to our annual Hot List – our tour of the most exciting corners of pop culture, where the weirdest and freshest ideas are coming from. We check out the voices that are giving us reason to get excited about the future – the musicians, the filmmakers, the activists. If anyone sums up the state of hotness in 2017, it’s our cover heroine Cardi B – as the great woman herself would say in “Bodak Yellow,” only the real can relate.

But Cardi is our Hot Issue cover girl because she’s a lot more than just the year’s most thrilling pop rebel. She’s a philosopher who understands that in a year like 2017, a year jam-packed with dread and terror and minute-by-minute insanity, a year that keeps bombarding you with reasons to give up and hide away and tune out, realness is resistance. The stars of our Hot Issue tap into that realness – it’s there in the beats of Latin trap, it’s there in the hard-ass comedy of Tiffany Haddish, it’s there in the deceptively smooth Swedish grooves of Northern Electronics. It means young musicians like Lukas Nelson or Portugal. The Man looking for innovative ways to build on the past. It means hearing new resonance in elder voices from back in the day, whether that means Michael McDonald or Freddie Mercury or the indestructible Britney Spears. In 2017, hotness is not just a matter of how you sound or how you move or what you build. It’s about how you envision the future. And as Cardi would say, it means walking boldly into that future, even if that means walking in bloody shoes. Walk on. 

Hot Actress: Grace Van Patten

Sophie Elgort

Hot Actress: Grace Van Patten

Grace Van Patten’s dad will soon be seeing her boobs. “That’s what’s going on in my mind,” she says, staring out at the Manhattan skyline from the rooftop bar of a Brooklyn hotel, pursing her very pursable lips. “Grandma. Cousins. Uncles. They’re all gonna see my boobs!”

That’s because, a few days after our interview, Noah Baumbach’s latest feature, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), will be screened at the New York Film Festival. It’s Van Patten’s fifth film since the 20-year-old New Yorker graduated from LaGuardia High School (the school that inspired Fame), and the one likely to be her big breakout. Not because of the scenes in which her boobs are on display – framed as college freshman performance art that she shamelessly, charmingly shares with her onscreen family – but because she holds her own opposite Adam Sandler, who plays her dad (“He did remind me a lot of my dad”), and Dustin Hoffman, who plays her grandfather. “We were at a reading, and [Hoffman] walked in, and I said, ‘Hey, Grandpa!’ ” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Why did I say that? He’s gonna think I’m calling him old!'”

Van Patten’s own family might catch Baumbach’s eye. Her mom was a model and “biker chick” whose father owned one of the world’s largest Harley-Davidson dealerships. Her dad was a director on The Sopranos, where an eight-year-old Van Patten landed her first role (“I had a couple of lines”) before defecting to less artistic endeavors: “I was a tomboy, super into sports, in cargo shorts with baggy T-shirts.” Van Patten lives with her parents and two younger sisters. Never mind that she is on the brink of ubiquity, she still can’t have guys in her room. “My parents don’t let boys above the third floor,” she says. “But it’s fine. I don’t have the urge to, like, break free.” Or at least not quite like her characters do. She cringe-laughs. “I’m so nervous for my dad to see that.” A.M. 

Rolling Stone Hot Issue List 2017 Read

Hot Resurrection: Freddie Mercury

A biopic based on the epic life and over-the-top persona of Freddie Mercury has always seemed like a no-brainer. The only issue was finding an actor charismatic enough to fill the Queen singer’s tank top. But if the bootlegged footage of Bohemian Rhapsody (out next year) is any indication, that problem has been solved in the form of Mr. Robot star Rami Malek. “When we filmed the Live Aid scene, people who were [at the 1985 performance] got chills,” says director Bryan Singer, who worked on the project for 14 years before finding a plausible Mercury. “He’s really re-creating those legendary moments.” D.F.

Rolling Stone Hot Issue List 2017 Read

Courtesy of Mad Magazine

Hot Pivot: ‘Mad’ Magazine

Maybe it was when they made Trump the leader of rap group Republican Enemy (It Takes a Moron With Billions…). Or when they cast Reince Priebus as a Wookie-deporting villain in a Star Wars parody. But operating under the cover of barf jokes, Mad has become America’s best political satire magazine, featuring Trump on six of its last nine covers – seven if you count the poop emoji. J.L.

Rolling Stone Hot Issue List 2017 Read

Harmony Gerber/Getty

Hot Playlist Strategy: Activism

Call it the Woke Playlist: On September 5th, as 
the Trump administra
tion moved to end DACA, Spotify pushed out its No Moment for Silence playlist, with music and messages of support for Dreamers from Khalid, Demi Lovato, Camila Cabello and more. July’s I’m With the Banned playlist paired U.S. stars with artists from countries targeted by the travel ban, like Pusha T and Syrian MC Moh Flow. Expect more playlists like these. “With this administration,” says Jackie Jantos, Spotify’s vice president of creative and brand strategy, “we won’t run out of opportunities.”
 J.L.

Rolling Stone Hot Issue List 2017 Read

Sacha Lecca for Rolling Stone

Hot Band: Sheer Mag

Tina Halladay – powerhouse singer for the Philadelphia band Sheer Mag – recently received an awesome tribute. “My friend sent me a neon poster-board collage that a little girl made of me at Girls Rock Camp in Austin,” Halladay says. “I’m fuckin’ tearing up talking about it.” It’s no surprise that Sheer Mag can inspire such devotion in young fans; the band’s self-released debut, Need to Feel Your Love, is one of 2017’s best records, mixing steely protest jams and lovesick yearning (what Halladay calls “the intertwining of things that make you feel hopeless and things that give you hope”) into songs that combine punk spirit and Seventies hard-rock riffage.

The band began in late 2013, four roommates bashing
out music on an 8-track machine. From the beginning, they’ve infused their
retro sound with lyrics that take on sexism, gentrification and other forms of
oppression. “Rock & roll has always been a white boy’s game,”
says Halladay, who has a silhouette of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott tattooed on her
thigh. “But when I look out at a bunch of white dudes screaming our lyrics
back at me, I hope it’s slowly chipping away at that toxic masculinity.” J.P.

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Rolling Stone Hot Issue List 2017 Read

Larry Hammerness/ZUMA

Hot Nostalgia: The Early 2000s

You know things are bad when people are looking back fondly on the era of Paris Hilton. But longing for the early Bush years is everywhere right now – in fashion, music, TV and even politics. Here’s the evidence:

Teenage Wasteland
The post-9/11 era was a heyday for the escapism of teen soaps like Gossip Girl. Now, Riverdale, 13 Reasons Why and other shows are bringing that high school drama back – and adding dark new plot twists.

George W. Bush: Not So Bad?
The post-Trump descent into hell is forcing us to give Dubya a second look. Bush had liberals cheering after a recent speech in which he called bigotry a form of anti-American “blasphemy.” Not bad for a war criminal.

The Post-Punk Revival Revival
Great early-’00s postpunk bands like Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are doing reunion tours, LCD Soundsystem put out one of 2017’s best LPs, and, like clockwork, word has it the Strokes are back in the studio.

The Golden Age of Tabloid Trash
Podcasts like Who? Weekly and the blog PopCultureDiedin2009 look back at a time when it was harder for famous people to control their images and Lindsay Lohan calling Paris Hilton a “cunt” was headline news.

Xtina Aguilera: Fashion Goddess
The crop tops, chokers and glitter Britney Spears
and Christina Aguilera loved are now favored by Kendall Jenner  and Gigi Hadid. Even trucker hats are making a comeback. God help us. B.S.

Rolling Stone Hot Issue List 2017 Read

Geesus Reyes/Hear This Music

Hot Sound: Latin Trap

In 2015, Jorge Fonseca, an A&R man for Sony Music Latin, went to Puerto Rico in search of new sounds. “When you go to the island, the streets speak to you,” he says. On this particular visit, he noticed something different blaring from passing vehicles: “I started hearing more trap.” More specifically, he was hearing Latin trap, which blends smooth Latin American crooning and touches of reggaeton with the sound of traditional trap, whose roots lie in the hyperactive high-hats, 808 bass and gritty lyrics of Nineties Southern hip-hop. Latin trap got a coming-out party on the compilation Trap Capos: Season 1, which topped Billboard’s Latin Rhythm Albums chart in 2016, and singles by artists like Puerto Rican rapper-singer Bad Bunny and Colombian vocalist Karol G have amassed streaming numbers in the hundreds of millions. That online success has allowed the
genre to circumvent gatekeepers like mainstream radio, which has shown little
interest. Fonseca, who is currently assembling Trap Capos: Season 2, hopes
Latin trap can have its mainstream moment. But he’s not sure it matters. “A
hit,” he says, “can come from anywhere.” E.L.

Rolling Stone Hot Issue List 2017 Read

Hot Candidate: Randy ‘Iron Stache’ Bryce

If Randy Bryce didn’t
exist, Democratic consultants would have to invent him. The Wisconsin
ironworker – who’s also an Army vet and a proud owner of a handlebar mustache –
launched a bid to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan last summer in a viral ad that
touched a nerve with liberals hungry for a working-class hero after Trump’s
victory last year. Bryce has since netted more th