2016: In Music and Video

Don’t mistake this for a “Best of.” This is pretty much the extent of my audio and video intake for the year. On the other hand, with the exception of one, they were all highlights of this year for me. So.

“Hamilton.” Is Amazing. Even if it’s not “your thing”, you can’t deny its brilliance. And if you think you can, I think you should truly examine why.

The Original Broadway Cast Recording woke me up. Honestly. It shook loose the shell of apathy that was doing its damnedest to encase me. I wrote a paper about A.Ham in grade school. Though they were called book reports at that level. Anyway. I wrote it and I don’t know whether we were supposed to have visual accompaniments, but he was on the $10 bill, so I wanted to include it in my report. But it’s illegal to reproduce legal tender in such a manner, so in lieu of photocopying, I drew it. It’s this, more than any of the facts I learned, that keeps the first Secretary of the Treasury in the back of my mind. And it was this fond memory that made me care in the least about some musical based on his life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals, but “Urinetown” exists, so there’s just some…interesting things people feel the need to sing about.

I had never heard of Lin-Manuel Miranda and really didn’t know much else about “Hamilton” except that it was. So when I finally listened to it, I was swallowed whole by it. I didn’t even resist. The life of a founding father told through a variety of music styles, but specifically and primarily hip hop. And not just that, but presented by a cast of persons of color. Are you kidding me? However, there are times when even great efforts fall flat, but not this. It worked. It did nothing but work. It was spectacular. And I’ve only listened to it. Yeah. And I am this moved. I’m not kidding when I say that “Hamiliton’s” existence gave me hope for the future. What it means for the arts, for people of color in the arts, for young people of color, in particular. I fell in creative and intellectual love with LMM almost immediately.

Alt-J – This is All Yours. This wasn’t life changing or anything, but it filled the space in my head during a time when nothing but stressful things would. Funny thing is, their first album, “An Awesome Wave,” did the same thing for me when I was depressed and lonely after breaking my ankle in 2014.

“Hamilton – The Mixtape.” Everything can’t be perfect. But it can come close. Dessa’s “Congratulations,” which was Angelica having more of her say post-“The Reynolds Pamphlets,” was my least favorite track, but I don’t even hate it. I just don’t like it much. But if nothing else, “Immigrants.” And that’s really all I need to say.

A Tribe Called Quest – “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service.”  Like an old friend I haven’t spoken to in a long time. We’re both a bit older, a bit wiser, and just done with shit in general. Though, still hopeful despite it all. From start to finish. Good. Like “This is All Yours,” it sustained me, but in a different way. Calling on nostalgia to give me perspective in regards to the here and now and the future as well.

Listening to “Black Spasmodic” and “Lost Somebody” makes me sad. Particularly “Black Spasmodic,” because they are coming at you from Phife’s perspective. “Kids” (“spicy Popeye’s”), “We The People” (nasty beat), “Melatonin” (“I just want to sleep, I want to be at ease”), and “Movin Backwards” (nice to meet you Anderson .Paak). These songs really hit me.

BØRNS – “Dopamine.” I wanted to listen to something, but I didn’t know what. Found myself on Prime Music. I decided to listen to the Broken Bells station because I liked the way they looked. Though I didn’t really look at them, because if I did, I would have realized that I knew who they were. It took longer than I care to admit to find out. There’s something to be said for whims. Their station featured Alabama Shakes, Alt-J, Gorillaz, Weezer, Hozier, and Jack White among a bunch of other bands I did and didn’t know. So, I was totally happy. Anyway. The station quickly became a go-to. After a few listens, I started switching back to the tab to check on the songs and voices I didn’t know. “Electric Love” had me bouncing and bopping in my seat. And it was a short trip from there to “Dopamine” on repeat.

It’s a fun and sensual album. He’s managed to mix a bunch of styles to such a degree that it’s hard to pinpoint the specific influence. It’s like early 80s crossover synthpop R&B, stadium rock, glam rock, and fantasy chill with a side of disco. The arrangements are tight and the lyrics are creative and provocative–such imagery.

“Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” When we were younger, my BFF lived and breathed “Dawson’s Creek”. I, on the other hand, could not understand devotion to a television show. The sentiment missed me by a nautical mile. Then, years later, a show called “Gilmore Girls” changed that. It was a good show and something my mother and I would watch over the phone together. I was and still am a big fan of “Gilmore Girls.” So, it kind of breaks my heart that the four-episode mini-series has failed me.

At this point, I haven’t even finished it. I watched the first two with my mother a few weeks apart. It takes a lot for me to watch something. I don’t enjoy watching things by myself and since I’m by myself most of the time, I can go months without watching anything. An animated short here and there, but any more than that is asking for a lot. So, giving up an hour and a half to what they were trying to pass off as… I don’t even know… was a waste of time.

Three things. The cast chemistry was not entirely absent, but it was definitely lacking. The writing was almost campy. And the worst part… So I’ve heard a bit about the lack of diversity in the show even with Michel, Miss Patty, Caesar, and the Kims. And, okay, but I’m not getting into that right now. However, it seems like the producers thought it would be a good idea to make up for that this time around.

God, it’s awful. Particularly in this social climate. So there was the unidentifiable ethnicity and language of the house staff at Emily’s in the first episode. Some variety of Latino, I’m assuming. And in the second episode there was the international food fair which, on the surface, seems like a very Stars Hollow kind of thing, but you could tell they were making a joke out of it and not the kind where everyone laughs. Sadly, that was followed by the push to have a gay pride parade. But the town didn’t have enough gays. Like, that’s not even commentary, that’s script. And it just makes me so angry. Really, I’m kind of down playing it because I don’t want to dig too much into it here, but, if you saw it, you would understand. Or you maybe you wouldn’t, but, in that case, just take my word for it. It was grotesque.

“Hamilton’s America.” At least 2016 had “Hamilton.” It takes at look Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast and crew leading up to the opening night. Inspiration, history, hope. One of the best behind-the-scenes documentaries I’ve ever watched. And not just content, but also editing, too. So, one of the best documentaries. Period.

“Yuri!!! on Ice.” So, I didn’t actually watch this. I will, though, but. Anyway, I watched it on Tumblr and it was the most satisfying second hand emotional investment I’ve ever had. For the most part, the fandom has been so well behaved, but there are two things that I just don’t understand. The first is how, at this point, can anyone deny that Viktor and Yuri are canon. The second is… Well, I saw a post on Tumblr that, in regards to “YoI’s’ pioneering, that had about 100 notes boiled down to, “‘Yuri!!! on Ice’? Yeah, but ’10 Dance’ did it first.” And I don’t know what to do for those people.

“YoI” is not BL. Just because it’s a Japanese production the features a relationship between to males does not automatically make it BL. Inoue Satou’s 10 Dance, which is about ballroom dance, is serialized in Reijin, so there’s no mistaking that. Yeah, it took three volumes for the leads to kiss, but it was inevitable, the story is about the developing romantic (eventual sexual?) relationship between to males. “YoI” is a sports anime that illustrates the growth of the leads through their performance in their roles with a developing romantic relationship as a secondary vehicle for highlighting certain aspects of their progress. However, the tone of the post leads me to believe that they were being contrary for the sake of being contrary. Though people are free to engage in their media how ever they like. I just don’t see the point in that.

That aside, it has been such an experience watching the show and reading the meta and witnessing the overall reaction to the series. I hope there’s a second season.

“Doukyuusei.” I forgot to include this when I first published this post. Better late than never.  I was supposed to meet up with Lucy, but it didn’t work out. The skies were AMAZING on my way to see it in Jersey, which is next door to me, state-wise. The idea of watching a BL film in a theater is still a bit surreal. Well, going to the theater at all is more than I can usually handle. The movie was great. Exactly what you’d expect: good, funny, sweet, and just a skosh heartbreaking. Getting home after the movie was a freakin’ adventure and a half. With rain! I want to cry just thinking about it. But before I set off back home, I had a picnic in my car after and read “Fast Connection.” In the end, it was worth it.


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