Before we do this, let’s listen to this. TRIBE 4EVAH y’all.
Ok. So I made a list of 50 pop cultures that I loved in 2016, but before I tell you about them, let’s close out this ball-kicker of a year right quick.
There was this one time, when my dad was still alive but very sick, where I talked to him on the phone and I said, with concern: how are you? And he said, in an unexpected sort of joke: NOT DEAD YET! And we laughed hard, kind of surprised. It was so not funny, but yet, jeez louise, it was. It may have been the last truly hearty laugh we shared, pops to kiddo, kiddo to pops.
In the time since he’s been gone, there are a few things that have changed about me. For one, my sense of urgency has gone way, way up. I want my days to be as full, my eyes as open, my mind as awake as can be (insert Morgan Freeman voice get-busy-livin quote here). Life is so, so short, y’all. Time is ticking and we are in a sprint. No dicking around! And now, with the world all fucked up and on fire like it is, my shit is even more ramped up in the urgency department. So, now is the time to say the things I want to say, hear the things I need to hear, do the things that are right to do, find the joy, see the art, create, be a good friend, face the painful stuff, listen, make justice happen, organize, and love: truly and deeply and persistently.
My sweetheart and I will sometimes clink glasses and say to each other, as my dad said to me: “NOT DEAD YET!” like, instead of “cheers.” It’s still funny. And not. I look at that beautiful, kind, steadfast partner of mine and feel deep down in my gut how many years we have been together (it’s a lot of years), how fucking great he is, how short it all seems already, how much I want time to stop for us, and how much it can’t. We have things to do, all the things. So let’s get doing.
50 Pieces of Art That Gave Me Joy in 2016
Lizzo Coconut Oil EP is perfect.
And speaking of perfect: Moonlight.
Atlanta! Donald Glover is the only Donald I want to deal with, honestly. See also: Have Some Love, Childish Gambino.
Blk Girl Soldier by Jamila Woods is the kind of song that makes me feel better about the world, which maybe you need right now too, just guessing?
Insecure. Watch the first season and then let’s fight about how we thought things should have turned out.
Your Best American Girl, Mitski. “Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me, but I do, I finally do.”
Queen Sugar is beautiful on so many levels but I will just say this: is there a finer man than Ralph-Angel? Good god. FOINE.
Kiss the Sky by Jason Derulo is like, primo wedding reception dancing music. Your kid brother and your grandma will love it.
The night I went from big fan to rabid Beyhive was during the Formation concert tour.
Nadiyah Hussein from Great British Baking Show, I JUST LOVE HER, thas all.
Cranes in the Sky: is there a Solangehive because I would like to join that also.
Two Dope Queens. Your dream BFFs. Or mine, anyway.
I am so Sorry the Beebs makes bangers but we have to stop fronting like he don’t.
Sooo Many White Guys podcast. I may have a medium-to-heavy obsession with Phoebe Robinson.
All We Got, Chance the Rapper. Actually the whole dang album, front to back. Hiphop artists are really bringing the concept of a cohesive album back.
There are so many ways our shit is broken and most of them intersect in OJ: Made in America.
Too Good, Drake ft Rihanna. Work-chair head-bob dancing, wut wut.
I saw Ghostbusters in a movie theater full of 13 year olds, which was kind of the best way to see it.
My parents came from tiny places and did things outside of power structure expectations. Queen of Katwe made me think about that.
Lie 2 My Face. Kari Faux takes me to a very JJ Fadd place, and I love that place. I could live in that place.
Mainstream American Comic, Hari Kondabolu. “Some people ask me why, when I do impressions of my parents, I don’t do their accents, and the answer of course, is ‘fuck you, that’s why.'”
If you said goodbye to some people in your life this year, like I did, Alaska by Maggie Rogers fits the bill.
SJP is so great at being horrible in Divorce. Actually everyone in this show: GARBAGE. Plus the 70s soundtrack is to die.
All Night, SG Lewis. On repeat.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople. THIS KID.
Who’s a muhfucking Starboy? Me.
Loving. This basically happened five minutes ago, history-wise, and we better not forget it.
Spotify science tells me that I listened to Into You by Ariana Grande a lot, and I can’t argue with that. I apologize in advance to those who go to karaoke with me in the future.
Don’t Think Twice. Or as I like to think of it: “I regret everything, party of one.”
Hotline Bling, covered by Ceresia. This was my walk-into-work-from-busstop-song for a few solid months.
Sister Wives. I CAN GIVE YOU A CLASS ON WHY THIS IS A GREAT SHOW BUT YOU WON’T BELIEVE ME SO JUST FORGET IT.
What am I doing Here is a universal feeling sometimes, amiright.
Weiner. Ugh, this guy. But also, ugh, this system. And also, ugh, us, all of us.
Southside with You. People of color don’t get a lot of movies that just show us just dating, romancing, or talking about things as the main plot points.
Death, Sex, and Money are things we should talk about more.
There are lots of things to criticize the Kardashians about, but most people focus on the wrong ones entirely. I hold all the knowledge on this, trust me.
This is cheating because although I Am Not Your Negro was in limited release in 2016 I will not see it until its wider release in 2017 but I CANNOT WAIT.
13th. As an American, this is devastating, required watching.
Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce on BET awards. HOOOOO LORDY
Luke Cage. Bulletproof hoodie-wearing black man superhero? HECK YES.
Get all your cathartic rant needs met via Full Frontal w Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Please watch The Fits so I have someone to talk about it with.
Judge John Hodgman is usually right about everything, is the thing, and while always funny, is also often moving in his wisdom.
I Can’t Give Everything Away, David Bowie. *sob*
And this wasn’t released in 2016 but Sometimes It Snows In April. *double sob*
Two days after the election my friends and I had a religious experience dancing to Freedom 90 where George Michael convinced us for a few minutes that we would maybe be ok. *triple sob STOP DYING, CHILDHOOD*
Another Round podcast. If you haven’t listened to these, I am jealous that you get to start.
Lion ALL OF THE TISSUES IN THE WORLD HAVE BEEN USED BY ME BECAUSE OF THIS MOVIE AND MY FACE HAS LEAKED OFF COMPLETELY
Would you like some joy? Here’s some joy. Down by the Singing Sea video by Walter Martin.
Hey, everyone, I guess this is in question these days but SCIENCE IS A THING, LIKE A REAL THING. Listen to Story Collider for stories about it.
2016 out, 2017 in.