Album of the Year: My favorite band (Weezer) released a very, very good album this year (The White Album) and it isn’t my favorite of 2016. That’s how competitive the top spot was. Other close contenders were the new albums from Bleached and Margaret Glaspy. The next tier down would be the very solid albums from Lady Gaga, Tegan and Sara, Twin Peaks, Sunflower Bean, and Lucius. So, what beat that group of impressive musicians out? Puberty 2 from Mitski. It is outstanding on every margin – excellent songwriting, crunching guitars, emotional depth, good vocals. Her live show might have been a disappointment, but that album is f-ing perfect.
Music Video of the Year: I’m tempted to pick this re-make of a Weezer classic, but…laser cats:
Cover Song of the Year: This one is easy. Glen Hansard delivered an epic cover of David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” during All Songs Considered’s 16th Birthday Party at the 9:30 Club. NPR video of his set here.
Mitski – “Happy”
Bleached – “Wednesday Night Melody”
Margaret Glaspy – “You and I”
Weezer – “King of the World”
Tegan and Sara – “Stop Desire”
Lucius – “Dusty Trails”
Caveman – “Never Going Back”
Lady Gaga – “Million Reasons”
La Sera – “High Notes”
Mo – “Final Song”
Song That Got Played to Death But I Still Loved: “Cheap Thrills” by Sia. All. Day. Long.
Concert of the Year: The weirdest show I saw this year was clearly Mac Sabbath. I crossed a lot of bands off my bucket list and they were all pretty good (Dolly Parton, Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, The Stone Roses, The Cure, Dresden Dolls, Kathleen Hanna, Buzzcocks). I saw a farewell show (Those Darlins) and album release show (Weezer) from two of my favorite bands. But the BEST of the year? That comes down to two contenders. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins’ Rabbit Fur Coat Anniversary Tour was epic. Even better, I got to see the show at the Mother Church (aka the Ryman Auditorium) from the front row. But I’ll give the slight edge to a band that I’ve been obsessed with since high school and thought I would never see live: At the Drive-In. Thank God that I went to the first night of their two-night stand at the 9:30 Club, as they canceled the tour the next day.
Book of the Year: Abby Wambach’s book is the best sports memoir since Andre Agassi’s. But Chuck Klosterman’s book, But What If We’re Wrong?, was my favorite on the year. It’s humorous, smart, and provocative – like all of Klosterman’s books are. If you never learned how to read, check out Klosterman’s appearance on my favorite podcast here.
Festival of the Year: I only made it to one festival this year (Boston Calling), so good thing I liked it (Robyn’s set aside). Best festival set (probably best any set, really) was from Sia (it’s hard to beat the combination of her voice with the dancing from the crazy good kid dancer). Best festival set from a band that I was previously unfamiliar with was Christine and the Queens.
Internet Meme of the Year: Harambe, obviously. R.I.P.
Sports Moment of the Year: The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl. That is my best ANYTHING moment of the year. Cue Von Miller sack dance. Best Olympic moment was Katie Ledecky’s win in the 800 free. I’m a big swimming fan and I’ve never seen an ass kicking like that. That was the swimming equivalent of the Broncos winning the Super Bowl 200 to 7. But I still pick the Broncos. Sorry not sorry, Katie.
Celebrity Moment of the Year: There was so much to enjoy in the ridiculousness that was the Hillary email leaks. My favorite part is that Tom DeLonge from Blink-182 emailed John Podesta about UFOs.
Person I’m Most Sad That Died in 2016: We lost so many legends this year. Sharon Jones hits home the most for me. She was the most joyous performer that I’ve ever seen. By a very, very wide margin.
Movie of the Year: My travel schedule the past few months has been brutal, so I’m woefully behind on seeing movies during Good Movie season. My favorite movie from Vapid Movie season was Deadpool. The most interesting film I saw was The Lobster. The best movie I saw on a plan during said outrageous travel schedule was Sing Street. And the best documentary I saw was Weiner.
TV Show of the Year: Several of my favorite shows had very good seasons in 2016, including Silicon Valley, Girls, Ballers, Game of Thrones, and Veep. But new shows hooked me in like nothing has in several years. So, as a winner I’ll pick Westworld with honorable mention to the outstanding mini-series O.J.: Made in America and the outstanding tele-play The Night Of.
2017 Pop Culture Moment That I’m Most Looking Forward to: Curb Your Enthusiasm is coming back in 2017. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM IS COMING BACK IN 2017!!!