Why Colvin and Clinton should unite, plus the songs that will get you out of your seat.
All right, I’m going to skip the exposition about how all-around awful 2017 was and get to the point. Here’s what I watched, read and listened to this year:
Given that Beverly Hills, 90210 reruns are a mainstay in the Berkon home, they deserve the briefest of shout-outs here. As far as relatively new programming, This is Us made me cry, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend made me laugh, The Handmaid’s Tale made me paranoid and Insecure made me pick up the phone and call my closest girlfriends.
The memoirs I could barely put down this year were brought to us by Shawn Colvin and Hillary Clinton, icons that should consider uniting for a feminist concert and lecture series. I also tore through Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (and Why We Don’t Learn Them from Movies Anymore), which should be on high school reading lists everywhere, right next to The Great Gatsby.
The best magazines (besides our own, of course) have New York in the title, or at least those are the ones I looked at the most this year. I can’t say I’ve religiously read every 2017 issue of The New Yorker and New York, but I can say I’m a subscriber, so that at least speaks to intent. My two favorite issues from New York this year: the work issue (with a retro-fabulous cover) and the 50th anniversary issue, which includes an illuminating Q&A with subway riders.
With a daily three-hour commute, I’ve got ample time to explore the world of podcasts.
For all things Beverly Hills, 90210, which just can’t be mentioned enough in this post (or ever), turn to The Blaze with Lizzie and Kat. With a deep bench of special guests, from Dave Holmes to Charles Rosin, they painstakingly dissect every episode from the series’ inception. In a similar vein, recording artists dissect their own work on a musical level on Song Exploder. And for more big-picture music analysis, turn to Rolling Stone Music Now.
A motivational podcast or two is also nice to throw into the mix, like Awesome with Alison, which starts with an uber-catchy theme song and reminds you that “you’re already as awesome as you need to be” (a similar sentiment is discussed in the TED Talk seen here). The Hidden Brain is also a great one for exploring human behavior, including your own mental tendencies.
I made 18 playlists this year, which apparently was nine fewer than last year. So clearly, I need to step up my game in 2018. To boil down this year’s listening:
1. “Bummin’ Cigarettes,” Maren Morris. In addition to the message on personal reform, you can’t beat this chorus.
2. “Chained to the Rhythm,” Katy Perry. I refuse to take sides in the Perry vs. Swift debate, as they’re both irritating, but the quality of their pop music is undeniable.
3. “Drag,” Day Wave. Jackson Phillips is to guitar as Wilson Phillips is to three-part harmony.
4. “Emilia,” Young Gun Silver Fox. You can’t convince me this band isn’t actually from the ’70s.
5. “God Bless This Mess,” Jillian Jacqueline. A piano ballad that rivals “Sign of the Times.”
6. “I’ll Let You Know,” David Hazeltine. After a stressful knot of a day, this helps loosen things up.
7. “A Long and Happy Life,” Delta Rae. Add this to your workout playlist.
8. “New Friend,” Ry-Lo. A stellar road trip song from a Nashville starlet.
9. “On,” Your Song Is Good. Your morning O.J. in musical form.
10. “Only Us,” Paperwhite. The first 10 seconds of this takes you right out of any 2017 malaise.
11. “The Outfield,” The Night Game. The song title naturally reminds me of the ’80s band The Outfield, which naturally reminds me of their ’80s hit “Your Love,” which naturally reminds me that I love ’80s music.
12. “raingurl,” yaeji. Listen to this before a public speaking engagement and you’ll knock it out of the park. (Oh yeah hey dog, hey what’s up?)
13. “South of the River,” Tom Misch. Sheer exuberance from this British multi-instrumentalist (whose debut album comes out next April).
14. “Sunshine,” KYLE feat. Miguel. I’d lost interest with Miguel post-Kaleidoscope Dream, but he’s got me back with this little la-la-la riff.
15. “Would You Mind,” PRETTYMUCH. A hopeful sign that the New Jack Swing revival has begun in earnest.
16. “Yourself,” Aaron Espe. In a nod to the artists who opt for a minimalist ballad as the last track on an album, I’m doing the same with this playlist. May you have a peaceful (and exuberant) 2018.