This list was really hard this year! Because for the first time in a couple years, I actually spent a lot of time listening to new music and successfully sought out new-to-me stuff that I ended up loving! I don’t want to love Spotify as much as I do, but without it I would be much less musically educated.
5. Clara Rockmore, “Air”
This is probably the weirdest song that will ever make it on a Totally Top Five list from me, but if you can’t be weird on the internet, what the hell is the internet for?! I knew about the theremin prior to Google’s Clara Rockmore doodle, but I hadn’t heard of her. And like a lot of people, I ended up listening to the Lost Theremin Album on repeat for weeks afterward. It’s so beautiful and so unsettling and other-worldly and weirdly vocal without having vocals. It was great music for the office not only because it wasn’t distracting, but because it would freak people out a little bit and make them leave me alone.
4. A Tribe Called Red, “Sisters (featuring Northern Voice)”
I LOVE A TRIBE CALLED RED. And this song is so so so sooooooo good. And the video is so fun and charming and TO BE FRANK, if it were full of white people, it would have been HUGELY popular which is some bullshit. The beat is so good and so danceable and I have yet to ever skip it when it has come up on shuffle. If you don’t know A Tribe Called Red, remedy that immediately. I’m particularly fond of “Electric Pow Wow Drum” and “Suplex” and “Burn Your Village to the Ground” which has been my Thanksgiving anthem for the last two years.
3. AWOLNATION, “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)”
Like everyone else on the planet, I was extremely obsessed with “Sail” waybackwhen and was bummed when the rest of the album didn’t at all live up to the single, but I feel like “Hollow Moon” and the rest of Run was worth waiting for. I have scream-sung “Motherfucker, I’ll be back from the dead soon” far more often and far more passionately than I should probably admit to, but it’s, like, strangely empowering? It’s also just a really solid song from beginning to end. I also love “Run” aka that song everyone was using to make Vines for like a long time and “Woman Woman” and “Fat Face” and “Like People, Like Plastic” and “I Am” and “Drinking Lightning” and “Jailbreak”. SOLID ALBUM.
2. CL x Diplo x Riff Raff x OG Maco, “Doctor Pepper
THIS SONG IS SO DUMB AND SO GOOD. I don’t know how to explain my attraction and devotion to this song, but it is very much this year’s “Hood Go Crazy” because I could NOT stop listening to it and all I wanted to do was blare it in the car with my windows down as loudly and as often as possible. It has also frequently made me “dance” uncontrollably. This is the purest, most wonderful kind of jam because I can’t explain what the hell is going on in it and I don’t care AT ALL. It’s just GOOD.
1. The 1975, “Love Me”
This was by far my most listened-to song this year and I still think it’s as good as I did the very first time I heard it after Sonia put it on a playlist and changed my life forever. There is Bowie in this song. There is great 80s synth in this. There is Steven Tyler in this song. There is Talking Heads in this song. There is “Love Stinks” in this song! This is one of those songs that immediately makes you go and dig through the artist’s entire library, but there isn’t anything in The 1975’s catalog that comes anywhere NEAR this one. Bands with amazing one-offs are LIFE-RUINERS, but what a great way to go.
Not to be a HUGE DOWNER, but 2016 was kind of a shitshow, yeah? Everything is kind of terrible! If you had told me in January that my neighbors would successfully elect Donald Trump to the United States Presidency, I would have laughed. A lot.
Anyway, in the spirit of my Twitter declaration to try to share good things in the face of the dumpster fire burning eternally around us, it’s time for TOTALLY TOP FIVE 2K16! Because the year didn’t really fall totally apart until the end and I managed to like a lot of stuff before I got too depressed and hopeless to function like a normal person!
5.4th Man Out – This movie was so much more charming than I expected it to be. And it did such a good job of dealing with straight-guy-gay-panic in a way that felt more true to 2016 than a lot of contemporary stories have. It had a realistic level of angst without ever veering near tragedy porn — something that a LOT of LGBT stories still do — and most of all, it was funny and kind and about FRIENDSHIP. Really good friendship! It was super duuuuuper white, but I did appreciate that they were regular working class people in ordinary jobs and lives. Lots of good parental stuff too. It’s nice to see a coming out story where no one is irreversibly miserable and everything just sort of goes okay-enough. That’s what I think (and hope) it’s like for most people and it’s nice to see that translated on screen.
4.Ghostbusters – The original Ghostbusters is one of my favorite childhood movies and I was amped to see it with women and I just got more and more amped with each announcement. I really loved it. I thought it was funny and good-looking and charming and had really, really great action scenes. I LOVED that women were smart, complex, and ATE FOOD WITHOUT BEING WEIRD ABOUT IT! I love that Holtzman was coded so clearly as queer and that she was so incredibly hot and that it wasn’t intended for men! It subverted so much of what people have come to expect from action-comedy and media in general and it did it while making a really fun, watchable movie. My only disappointment is that I know there is another version of this movie that is funnier and sharper and a little bit darker that was supposed to exist and I know that it was strangled by studio dudes who wanted to make something really marketable and family-friendly. That sucks for everyone who made the movie and it sucks so so much for everyone who didn’t get to watch the movie they really wanted to make.
3.Captain America: Civil War – Crystal and I saw Captain America: Civil War twice in two days, one of which was in these goofy things and both times I mostly just quietly cried to myself while murmuring, “Bucky… Buckyyyyy…” over and over again. Good action, good story, good pacing for the most part, super funny, and extremely re-watchable. I was surprised to really L-O-V-E every new character and how well they folded into the existing universe. I am disappointed that the comic didn’t get translated as directly as I’d hoped (SAD TROMBONE, WHAT A UNIQUE COMPLAINT) and I am STILL frustrated about the lack of development/transparency about the content and political impact of the Sokovia Accords because I’m a nerd and the details of that document are VERY IMPORTANT. Without them, choosing Team Cap or Team Iron Man is MEANINGLESS given the limited information given. Sorry I’m going to be an angry nerd forever.
2.Crashing – Crystal picked this on Netflix on a whim one night while I was working in the other room and watched the first episode and then came in yelling at me, “YOU HAVE TO COME WATCH THIS SHOW.” And so I did and then we watched it all in a night because it was so charming. It’s not groundbreaking comedy, but it is a really unusual living situation populated with interesting people, funny, awkward conversations, and super weird stuff. Not all of the characters are likable which was VERY HARD for me, but I still wished there were way more than six episodes to watch. I mean, I often argue that TV shows need to know when to end and that we should move toward the British model of short, unpredictably aired seasons, but there’s something to be said for having 22 episodes to watch each season.
1.Stranger Things – Maaaaaaaaan was this an easy #1 to choose this year. Stranger Things is a giant, fun, moving, awesome homage to everything I grew up loving. I didn’t really expect to love it that much because I’m not really a scifi or fantasy person — I’m a horror movie nerd! — but MAN did I love it. Winona Ryder is so, so good and every teen, tween, and child actor in this is UNBELIEVABLY good. It’s beautifully shot and set-designed, the creature design and world-building are amazing, and it’s fantastic that it manages to tell a complete and satisfying story in just eight episodes. I was really hoping that it would end up being an anthology series, whether that was with the same actors in a new situation/era or with new actors in an expansion of the existing universe, so I am a little bummed that it’s coming back as a regular second season, but also pretty excited about it because it was great, obviously. VERY EXCITED.
Things I Have Learned While Trying to Buy a House:
1. Don’t buy a house. It’s terrible. Find somewhere with rent control and stay there forever.
2. Real estate agents vary widely and you should probably not pick one based on the recommendation of your very polite coworker.
3. Loans are stupid. There are lots of words that are totally nonsensical and even by the end of the process it is unlikely that they will ever actually make any sense to you. Math is stupid. Money is stupid. Interest rates are nonsense.
4. People are gross. Everyone’s basement is stupid (No doors on the bathroom! Five-foot ceilings! Literal tree roots coming through the concrete!) and no one’s bathroom is clean enough.
5. It’s stupidly hard to come up with names for houses so that you and your buying partner know which stupid house you’re talking about at any given moment.
So, yeah, hi! Crys and I are trying to buy a house right now and it’s honestly my worst gentle nightmare. We’ve gone to see one place twice and are trying to make an offer on it, but business in North Dakota often works on some sort of time-space continuum that we have not yet been invited to join. The real estate market is super weird here right now, so it’s not that I don’t partially understand, but like, we saw this place for the first time more than a month ago. Momma’s tired. Momma’s ready. Let’s have a house now, thanks.
Today is six months since Crystal and I got hitched!
I am still honestly amazed by how much I L-O-V-E-D getting married. A group of forty people I really love who all showed up in the same place at the same time to stare at and listen to me talk? What a fucking dream!
I honestly don’t know how I got lucky enough to not only find a woman who has loved and adored me for more than eight years (and finally got her shit together and figured out she was actually in love with me eight years ago this month!) but also agreed to stand up and declare her love for me in front of a big group of people and then also promised to stay with me forever? When she hates public speaking and attention focused on her? What a champ, what a gift, what a wife.
And forty people who showed up to Las Vegas on a Friday the 13th for a 7pm wedding to cheer us on and throw confetti and get drunk and eat mad delicious burgers with us until midnight? I’m drowning in heroes over here.
The year of planning up to the wedding was mostly fun, but also torture. I learned a lot of stuff in that year, most of which can be summed up with: shit happens. And all those things that seemed huge and difficult at the time ended up either working out fine or not mattering at all in the end. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.
If you’re planning a wedding I have only one piece of advice: ELOPE. J/K. Mostly. Fuck it, nail it! It’s something I saw on a wedding blog (A Practical Wedding, probably) and immediately wrote on a post-it note I stuck to my computer where it still lives. It’s sort of become my life mantra, tbh. Need to make a decision? Say “fuck it” and nail it down.
And if you’ve found your person and you want to marry them? Do it!
PS: I uploaded a million more pictures and planned to make a way longer post with vendor info and all that jazz and I will (truly!) but we’re house-hunting right now and it makes me wish I lived in a cave with wifi, so you’ll have to forgive the continued delay! plz&ty you are the best
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