A Good List Goes A Long Way: 2016 Edition

So I’ve already expounded on how I always wait for the first of January to compile my yearly lists (though I did cheat with the books this time around), because what if I have an epiphany on the 31st of December. Frankly, it’s never happened, and although I did watch movies on the train this time, none of them made it to the final list in the end. Checking my 2015 round up I also realized that my dream of having more exciting club concerts in Budapest did not come true either, if anything, 2016 was even worse – yes, we all know what an annus horribilis it was anyways, and here I am hurting it further over puny issues such as these Yet it IS endlessly frustrating to see all the cool acts abruptly stop in Vienna, or even worse, skip Budapest for Zagreb or Ljubljana. No offense to Zagreb or Ljubljana intended, but let’s say we’re the bigger city and leave it at that. So the dream lives on: more club concerts for 2017, as the selection of pictures illustrating this post is almost exclusively from Sziget- thank God we have one of Europe’s best and biggest festivals on our doorstep to redeem us from criminal boredom.

I was about to be smug about how I actually managed to crystallize the song list to an actual ten, but then I realized that I will cheat again, because having an act twice on the list is theoretically unacceptable and so are covers- but it’s the last year I can have Leonard Cohen songs included (insert quiet desperation here), and the track is just such a brilliant reinterpretation by The Last Shadow Puppets, therefore the plus one is Is This What You Wanted.

This reminds me that I could do a list of videos as well, but for 2016 that would have been quite boring for it would include lots of stuff by The Last Shadow Puppets, plus a cheat again, as this here is not really a video, but a dance routine, but I just thought it was epic and felt it must be shared with the world. Also, I really do have a Bastille song on the list, and another one featuring Zayn, but at least I’m still standing brave against The 1975. And the Christine and the Queens track is of course from 2014, and I was actually listening to her in 2014, but was weak minded enough to properly notice her only when she went mainstream(er) in English speaking countries as well. Though I think she’ll never be really mainstream- nor will I ever learn.

Choosing the albums always implies more discipline- both for me and for my prehistoric iPod. Come to think of it, I am probably the worst Apple customer in the whole world: I purchased only one of their gadgets, only ever synchronized it with Windows and insist on not replacing it with a newer model no matter what. It is however testament to the occasional sturdiness of iWhatevers that, in spite of a brave but perhaps miscalculated dive into a cuppa of hot tea, the iPod has been my faithful companion for over seven years now, and the worst thing it does is randomly switching to shuffle mode. Hence my struggle to properly listen to full albums, as James (yep, he has earned a name too) will suddenly phase out and usually jump to a track which I always listen to anyways.  The result of our joint efforts is to be seen below, with the same regret about it being the last Leonard Cohen album on a yearly list and the same remark that Chaleur Humaine should have been there much earlier.

  • Bon Iver- 22, A Million
  • MIA-AIM
  • The Last Shadow Puppets- Everything You’ve Come to Expect
  • James Blake- The Colour in Anything
  • Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds- Skeleton Tree
  • Bat for Lashes- The Bride
  • Leonard Cohen- You Want It Darker
  • Jamie T- Trick
  • Christine and the Queens- Chaleur Humaine
  • Savages-Adore Life

I know that these days everyone watches a truckload of series, but I managed to escape unscathed from the hysterias of Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Stranger Things or Westworld. Just enumerating them here tires me endlessly, I shudder to think what actually watching them would do to me. The few series I do watch are usually of the shorter and quirkier variety, and this year I stumbled onto two gems: the Icelandic Trapped (originally aired in 2015, actually), created by Baltasar Kormákur and Paolo Sorrentino’s absolutely superlative The Young Pope, which is, simply put, a sublime UFO of a series with the role of a lifetime for Jude Law- I’d almost given up on him, and then he stages an otherworldly return to form, nicely done, I say. Law is not the only one on a tour de force- Silvio Orlando’s Cardinal Voiello is the perfect complement to Law’s Pope and also the source of some epic comedy scenes.

Speaking of comedy scenes- I will file the party in the nude of Toni Erdmann alongside classics such as the closing sequence of The Big Lebowski and of course the Ralph Fiennes delivered gem of their latest, Hail Caesar. I’m also totally partial to Cristi Puiu when it comes to the Romanian new wave and found Sieranevada, the whole three hours of it, yes, pretty hilarious. My exotic discoveries include a Russian movie about Merya traditions- you read that well, and it’s Silent Souls, and a Welsh language movie with a pretty well-crafted ending, The Passing (Yr Ymadawiad because I know you wanted to get acquainted with the Welsh title in the original) – spoilering that one is almost as bad as doing it to Rogue One, which I found more entertaining than a good deal of the ever growing Star Wars universe. (Favourite spoiler here, click at your own risk).

And as a final sign off, here goes another UFO, somehow a very fitting summary of 2016, a year that was very dark, but oddly uplifting too: I give you Leonard Cohen remixed by Paul Kalkbrenner.

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