This year happened whether we like it or not. Fortunately, mass media is here to make us feel again when everything else is like “Nah, it ain’t worth it.” So here’s a list of things I enjoyed that were first available this year, with absolutely no rhyme or rhythm to them.
Janelle Monae is powerful (with a little bit of tender)
Janelle Monae is well good. Make Me Feel is basically a sequel to Prince’s Kiss, appropriate given Prince helped produce the song. So, y’know, if Prince worked on it, it’s probably going to be cool. And it is! Arguably it’s more funky than cool, but that’s an argument that doesn’t need to happen because we can just accept it is all of the positive things. It’s the kind of song that you would do naughty things to, regardless of whom that is. Also, you should watch the film she created that stitches together a load of the songs from the album with an interesting sci-fi narrative. I want her to make a sci-fi film at some point, but until then this will do.
A female GP from up north took us on a trip
Doctor Who since its regeneration with Ecclestone has been a very wobbly ride. It has at part been rather great and others rather not great. I definitely felt ready for a change and this series provided that. Whilst it’s as ever wobbly as I would expect it to be, the change has been incredibly refreshing. The scale has been dialled in which has been something I’ve been craving for a long time, there’s been moments of genuine curiosity that make you go “Oh, huh, I did not know that” and moments of “Oh boy this is, yeah this isn’t great” but its hearts are in the right place.
Praise Satan and have some cheese!
Like many who grew up in the 90s I watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The idea of tackling similar base material that itself had been revised more recently was interesting to me and the cast looked and very much proved to be stellar. Here comes The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina which takes its practices of the dark lord super seriously, to the extent that it all becomes a bit daft in a highly engaging way. Kiernan Shipka excellently plays the teenage Sabrina who is deeply in love with Harvey Kinkle, whilst being in a community where cannibalism happens and is encouraged. So pretty normal for a teenager.
Halestorm made a song about sex. Again.
One of the things I like about Halestorm is when they do one of their many required songs about sex, there’s zero ambiguity to it. Do Not Disturb is a song about having a threesome with some fans, but putting aside just how entertainingly blatant it is they did a music video to go with that was greatly inspired by Rocky Horror. It’s not long, it’s not clever, but it’s juuuuuuust right.
Metric released an album that is both old and new
Why does Canada produce so many musicians? Does the cold make them want to get away and tour round warmer climates? I don’t know the answer to these questions. I do know, however, that I’m rather fond of Metric with their electric-indie-alt-rock…ness. The latest album, Art of Doubt, combines energy and melancholy to present a lovingly rich mix of music and great lyrics. If you’re familiar with their discography you can see where they’ve iterated from and then mixed in their more recent slide into electronic styling. A neat bonus, I think.
A talking yellow mouse had me confusingly excited for films in 2019
Yeah yeah, Reynolds is just doing his Deadpool voice, but you know what? This film actually looks like it’s going to be okay? It might even be good. Hell, everything about it looks so stupid and absurd they have to know what they’re doing and god damnit, I’m going to spend money on it. Yes I am. And you might too. Look how wrongly good it looks!
An old hero returns to remind us that the future exists and is hopeful (hopefully)
Okay, technically, this isn’t something to come back to or really linger on too much because ultimately it’s just an announcement for something, but damn if it isn’t great seeing Sir Patrick Stewart boldly announce that Jean-Luc Picard would be returning to our screens. Picard’s character was a symbol of what to aspire to, part of the whole Star Trek universe’s mythos that optimism wins out in the end. Hopefully that is the message they carry through to the show itself. Of course it could be utterly terrible, but it’s about bloody time sci-fi remembers that it can be fun and hopeful again. I’m pining a lot of hopes on you, television show!
Baddies with Malthusian ideals can make for pretty good protagonists
I fell off the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a while there. It had become a rote affair with little flair for new or interesting, however apparently I’m a sucker for hype and went to see Avengers: Infinity War after a hasty catch-up of preceding films. Punishment to the bladder aside, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed IW. Thanos, an evil purple dude, had a surprisingly strong presence for a villain and whilst his motivation is guided by some thoroughly terrible philosophy, it did prompt some creative scenes and despite its length the film maintained a good sense of pace. Blockbusters are gonna blockbuster, sure, but I was suitably impressed by this one.
A video game battle worth millions went down to the wire
With Fortnite hurtling its way into the mainstream like Thor in the final moments of IW, there may be a greater appreciation for e-sports, that hyper competitive wing of…competitive video games. Yes, e-sports as a title does suck, but that’s what we have and we’re sticking with it. DOTA 2 is one of those e-sport type games, one I play pretty regularly. Each year fans of its competitive scene, as well as those who just like competitive games in general, are treated to The International, a sort of football world cup of teams of players the world over. The final, between two teams of five, would go on to be a wild ride of ups-and-downs. You’ll probably skip over this one and fair enough, but if you don’t think video games can be exciting to watch competitively, I dare you to give this a go.
History remembers a large explosion
Giant Bomb (dot com) is a website…about video games! A smart, fun and eclectic bunch of people make up this wonderful site that is punctuated with its two weekly marquee podcast releases, the Giant Bombcast and Giant Beastcast. Along with the site itself, the former turned ten this year resulting in a special podcast that celebrated the anniversary with notable clips from its own illustrious thousands of hours of history along with commentary from the site’s current staff.
Danny Dyer called David Cameron a twat
Blue blur gets blurrier
Sonic Mania! Gosh, what a bloody treat that was last year. Some extra content was launched for it this year that gave it even more life. It’s always a good sign, I feel, to realise when you’re smiling from pure joy when playing a game and I have worn one all the time I’ve spent with it. Not only that, but they went and did some lovely animations that make you wonder why on earth they’re doing a live-action Sonic when traditional animation can offer so much to it. Good god, those legs.
Brian Blessed interviewed himself
Over the years I’ve very much enjoyed listening to Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, where he brings on (usually) comedians to discuss everything and nothing, broken up by his absurd Emergency Questions. After a long time of clamouring for it, he eventually got BRIAN BLESSED on. What then proceeds is an utterly wonderful sensation of seeing control immediately slip away from a host, who then makes no effort to reclaim it, so that everyone can bask in the absorbing madness that is BRIAN BLESSED. The man is a bizarre treasure.
Human encounters pizza delivering perfect comedic timing
It’s on Twitter and I’m counting that as mass media because at this point it practically is.
Bonus end-of-2017 marvellous entry
The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel is by the creators of Gossip Girl. *Breathes in* An-upper-middle-class-New-York-Jewish-mother-becomes-seperated-from-her-husband-and-starts-a-career-in-stand-up-comedy-which-she-turns-out-to-be-rather-good-at-and-is-surrounded-by-a-wonderfully-colourful-world-that-presents-itself-as-very-authentic-which-would-make-sense-as-something-loosely-based-off-Joan-Rivers’-life-with-a-great-cast-of-characters-that-makes-this-comedy-drama-spring-to-life-effortlessly-and-nails-everything-it-wants to. *Hastily breathes* Of course they don’t speak quite as fluidly as in Gossip Girl, but keep with its sharp pace and it massively rewards you.