Between music releases, concerts and a plethora of movies, I was continuously distracted from the anxiety-inducing news cycle.
2017 saw some friendships blossoms and others fizzle out; I graduated from college and moved to a new city for three months for an internship and then returned home. Overall, 2017 was an experiment in using self-love to cast out self-doubt.
I’m an absolute music snob, in that I’m very particular about the music I listen to and am terrifyingly defensive of my favorite artists and the music they release. In addition to the following list of my five favorite albums from this year, I attended two concerts. First was Panic! At the Disco on March 3. Panic! was a fantastic emo time, with the musical powerhouse of a band showcasing its vocals and instrumental talents.
The second concert was Lady Gaga (my queen and favorite solo artist; her documentary, Five Foot Two, made me cry my eyes out) on her Joanne World Tour in November. Going to see Gaga was something I’d fantasized about since I first saw her perform on So You Think You Can Dance? in 2008. She’s one of my heroes and the concert she put on … it was an experience.
After Laughter by Paramore (released May 12)
Paramore has been my No. 1 favorite band in the entire universe and beyond since I was 12 years old. After Laughter, the band’s fifth album and follow-up to 2013’s Paramore didn’t disappoint. It dropped in the midst of my college graduation and provided me with a soundtrack to navigate the new world I was entering. After Laughter is a stunning, heartbreaking and relatable look into lost relationships, anxiety and depression, which hit me hard while holding me close in a camaraderie-like embrace. I’ve been singing the praises of this album since May and Paramore as a band for over 10 years, and honestly? I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Revival by Eminem (released Dec. 15)
I love Eminem. Like, a lot. And yes, I’m a huge fan of one of the most polarizing rappers in history, but Slim Shady does hip-hop like few others can. I mean, the man fought an almost-fatal drug addiction and directly references it in a two-song sprawl that relives that night. There have been numerous Eminem albums that were initially slammed (Encore) only to be applauded literally a year later. Revival is one of his best albums, beautifully and tragically melding the controversy of Slim Shady, the lyrical genius and awareness of Eminem and the tragic stories of Marshall Mathers.
DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar (released April 14)
I only listen to a few hip-hop artists because I truly feel their music. Kendrick Lamar is one of those transcendent artists. Somehow, I didn’t know DAMN. was out until one of my closest friends asked me if I’d heard it yet. I’ll try not to go on about how much I appreciate this album, but Kendrick designed it so it can be played backward. Backward! And when you do so, it tells a completely different story that leaves you in awe at his prowess.
Harry Styles by Harry Styles (released May 12)
OK, so I never liked One Direction. Except for when I’m playing Just Dance 4 on my Wii and doing the choreography to “What Makes You Beautiful.” When 1D broke up and announced all the solo projects, I didn’t care—until I was driving around Harrisonburg with one of my friends and “Sign of the Times” came on. The bridge hit and I screamed (verbatim) “Who is this and why haven’t I married him yet?” I was shook when I learned it was Harry Styles, and that’s about when my (healthy) obsession with him started. Styles is a newer-age connoisseur of soft and classic rock and I’m here for it. I will never be above scream-singing “Kiwi” in my car.
Beautiful Trauma by P!nk (released Oct. 13)
I’ve been waiting for P!nk’s follow-up to the underrated concept album The Truth About Love since 2013, which is a nice, complimentary year after it was released. For all my waiting, she delivered. Beautiful Trauma is another stunning concept album that kicks you in the face with the touch-and-go socio-political state for women and other marginalized groups in our country. It’s dazzling, a one-two punch of softer pop hits and edgier rock stomps. I love P!nk and that’s about all I can say.
TV + Movies
TV is easy. There’s my reality shows: Survivor, because I love hearing Jeff Probst yell “Come on in guys!” twice every episode; and the Real Housewives, because I love watching fabulous women lead drama-filled lives. I have my serious dramas and thrillers in Scandal (I want to be both Kerry Washington and Olivia Pope sooner rather than later), The Walking Dead (it has not lost its luster and we don’t deserve Norman Reedus’ character Daryl Dixon, he’s perfect) and Game of Thrones (where is the sixth book, I’ve been waiting for three years). And finally, my favorite dark, stupidly smart, yet socially aware comedies: BoJack Horseman, Rick & Morty, South Park and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Since I’m obsessed with Batman, The LEGO Batman Movie was one of my favorite films from 2017, with an actual plot (and heart to boot). Get Out was the BEST movie this year and it being relegated to the comedy category in the Golden Globes is a crime; after watching the movie, I jumped every time I heard a spoon clink against a teacup. Alien: Covenant was a fantastic addition to the Alien prequel series. Wonder Woman was everything I’ve ever wanted to see from a superhero movie based on the empowering Amazon. Girls Trip was hilarious, real and didn’t fall into the all-female-comedy-conflict trap that most movies do. The It remake was unbelievably well-done in an admiringly terrifying way. Blade Runner: 2049 exceeded my expectations and made it through with a solid storyline that picked up from the original, while Thor: Ragnarok was hilarious and saved the franchise. I don’t care what the critics say, Justice League was fantastic and DC Comics will always be superior to Marvel. And, finally, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Does anything more really need to be said?
Books + Podcasts
Yes, I finally got into Serial … three years after the fact. Still, it kept me intrigued and often left me with a creeped-out feeling.
In September I discovered Sleep With Me, a podcast that literally puts you to sleep. Drew Ackerman takes on his alias of Dearest Scooter, and with his monotone voice, penchant for meaningless tangents and inventive imagination, tells tales that are “interesting enough to keep your brain engaged, but boring enough to lull you to sleep.” I’m not kidding when I say these stories knock me out about five minutes in.
With more time on my hands, I caught up on one of the latest books by my favorite author, C.J. Box. Off the Grid transported me back to Wyoming, Joe Pickett and his friend Nate Romanowski (my favorite character) as they took down some terrorists. This series and Box himself are phenomenal.
I also took in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp’s 2003 advice book The Creative Habit (it inspired to get back on the creative wagon). Oh, and there’s the new Barnes & Noble Kitchen 10 minutes from my house, so that was a highlight of late 2017.
Journalism + Potpourri
In early 2017 I set up a separate email for newsletters, my favorites being The Washington Post, New York Times, Politico and Next Draft. I took a deep dive into The Post’s Snapchat and its breaking news app as well.
I recently started training with Lumosity every day. It’s a great way to take a break when the world gets too heavy, while also training your brain’s memory and mental sharpness. After knowing how to play the more low-key Spades and Hearts, I was finally taught how to play Bid Whist and I have to say, I’m pretty good. Luckily, there’s an excellent Bid Whist app that I use to keep my skills sharp. Additionally, I took a lot of Buzzfeed quizzes and explored my obsession and appreciation (and belief, I guess?) with astrology further.
I got into the habit of quitting Twitter and Facebook for a few weeks when I really needed to. They can be toxic, and it’s much easier to scroll through the nice photos on Instagram than be bombarded with the “our-world-is-falling-apart” environment on Twitter and Facebook. I’m proud to say that in 2017, my biggest act of self-care came from not caring that I only checked Facebook twice a month and Twitter once a week.
Finally, the biggest relief came in the form of a YouTube channel. One of my best friends introduced me to Funhaus on New Year’s Eve 2016. By February, I was obsessed with the self-made YouTube channel on which the core six talents played and reviewed different games (both old and new) and movies, with truly hilarious comedy scattered throughout. Honestly, I owe my escapist 2017 to them.