Houston is internationally recognized for its arts scene. You’ve heard the stats and the slogans by now: We’re one of only five U.S. cities with permanent, professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines—ballet, opera, symphony and theater—and second only to New York City when it comes to the number of theater seats we’ve packed into a concentrated downtown area. Houston has high culture covered. But what about pop culture?

While we obviously aren’t Hollywood, our city has exerted more influence on the American mass media landscape than many may realize. We’re not talking sports, or politics, or even moon landings. We’re talking music, movies, artists and stars, molded here, who went on to mold pop culture everywhere—and not just Beyoncé (but also definitely Beyoncé).

Houston put grillz and Gen-Xers on the map thanks to Paul Wall and Reality Bites. It inspired Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater to create their finest films (Rushmore and Boyhood, respectively), and Arcade Fire to lash out spectacularly at the suburbs (The Woodlands, specifically). It created stars out of dancing rollerbladers; it gave us the best of Quaids and the worst of Quaids. Houston may not have a TV show named in its honor, but where would Americans be without Jim Parsons—once a fixture on the Alley Theatre stage, now the highest paid television actor in America—making them laugh every night in syndication on The Big Bang Theory?

Within, a look at the biggest bangs Houston has made in the pop culture scene. These are the rappers’ phone numbers a million fans memorized, the honky tonks that hundreds of thousands flocked to, the Instagram posts that nearly broke the Internet. And—most of the time, anyway—they’ll make you proud to live here.

In This Feature:

The 6 Buzziest Times Beyoncé Broke the Internet

We're all still crazy in love with Queen B.

06/21/2017 By Sarah Rufca Nielsen

Ranking Houston's 6 Biggest Reality TV Moments

From our proudest points to our most painful, from Project Runway to personal astrologers.

06/21/2017 By Sarah Rufca Nielsen

So...What's the Deal with Drake?

And when did he become so obsessed with H-Town?

06/21/2017 By Sarah Rufca Nielsen

How Chopped and Screwed Became Houston's Signature Sound

The laid-back style that's become ubiquitous in hip-hop originated here in the 1990s.

06/21/2017 By Katharine Shilcutt

These Are the 4 Must-Jam Houston Playlists for Fans of Every Genre

Make your own old-school mix-tape of these classic Houston tracks, or check out our curated Spotify playlists.

06/21/2017 By Sarah Rufca Nielsen

8 Iconic Houston-Filmed Movies, Mapped

Plus: The top 3 times we've seen Houston get blown up on the big screen.

06/19/2017 By Sarah Rufca Nielsen

The Great Houstonian Movie Has Yet to Be Made

The Bayou City is about more than cowboys, politicians drenched in oil money, and NASA. So when will the silver screen reflect that?

06/21/2017 By Gwendolyn Zepeda

How to Be Beyoncé

Experience Houston like its most beloved export.

08/30/2018 By Abby Ledoux