Here’s What We Yelled About Most in 2017

Was it just us, or did this year feel like a trash can fire? And yet in what felt like the gradual erosion of everything we love and hold dear, we could still bop to jams, cry in theatres, and watch the entirety of “Terrace House” in four days. This year we loved pop culture, and, god, did pop culture love us back.

Music

LORDE’S “MELODRAMA”

Idk about you but the gun-cock sound in “Perfect Places” is everything I’ve ever dreamed of (gif credit)

“Melodrama” taught me what it felt like to love a pop megastar: I know that there are a hundred people and millions of dollars backing up New Zealand’s Ella Yelich-O’Connor, but it still feels like she’s speaking only to me. In this album, Lorde does whip-smart teen girl made achingly cynical by a brush with first love so well that it made me feel like I was walking around with my twenty-year-old self like a halo around my body. How can you not love the brandishing know-it-all arrogance of “The Louvre”, the young-bodied invincibility of “Homemade Dynamite”, the moment in “Hard Feelings” when she sings, as if remembering, “these are what they call hard feelings”? How can you not love a girl who wrote, on her twentieth birthday, that she had spent her life “building this giant teenage museum, mausoleum maybe, dutifully wolfishly writing every moment down”?” Answer: you can’t. 2017 was Melodrama. -K

I HATE catching feelings and being emotionally vulnerable, so thank God for Lorde’s “Melodrama” for soundtracking my 2017. From “Homemade Dynamite”‘s electric rush to the painfully tender “Liability”, Lorde articulates in exquisite and excruciating detail what it feels like to be a young 20-something falling in and out of love. A reminder to brush off heartbreaks with grace, and to remain clear-eyed during the good times, “Melodrama” makes for a wonderfully cathartic, existential dancing-inducing experience. -C

CARLY RAE JEPSEN’S “CUT TO THE FEELING”

In a truly great year for music, I keep coming back to this one piece of pop perfection. It’s the feeling of pure, uncomplicated, triumphant joy transmuted into song. You physically can’t listen to it without some vigorous shoulder-dancing at the VERY LEAST! We screamed our way through it at karaoke and it was the highlight of my year. Carly Rae deserves one billion thinkpieces written about her perfection and I am here to write them all!!! -T 

IU’S “PALETTE”

This mv is iconic and if you haven’t seen it then we’re sorry (gif credit)

THE paean to turning 25 – that delicate middle ground between self-assurance in the individual you’ve grown into, and the potential you aspire to. There are no overblown sentiments or exuberant celebrations here; instead, IU muses on her changing personal tastes (“Rather than hot pink, I prefer dark purple now”) and quietly declares, “I think I know a little bit of myself now”. Also, bonus points for the aesthetically-pleasing, pastel-hued MV, and for releasing the song on my actual 25th birthday. -C

Books

MARGARET ATWOOD’S “HAG-SEED”

This year more than ever I actively sought out pop culture that was devoid of the bleak, the gritty, or the cynicism that has, for some absurd reason, become synonymous with “deep”, meaningful art. And I found hope and uplift in a lot of places, but “Hag-Seed”, Margaret Atwood’s reworking of “The Tempest”, was a standout. It follows a theatre director brimming with frustrated ambition and plays with (ha ha, pun intended) a familiar story in new ways, without ever feeling gimmicky or too on-the-nose. Reading it felt  both completely new and comfortably, warmly familiar, like watching a new staging of your favourite play in a beloved local theatre. I also researched the Hogarth Shakespeare retellings and found that Gillian Flynn (!!!) is doing a version of Hamlet (!!!) in 2021 (!!!) in case, like me, you want to set your countdown timers… -T

ELIZABETH WEIN’S “CODE NAME VERITY” 

You know how sometimes you look at something very bright, look away, and then there’s a negative image floating in your eyes, and for some time you blink, slowly, trying to regain your vision, but the memory of what you’d seen takes forever to fade away? Some books are like that, and “Code Name Verity” is one of them. It’s about two young women, one a spy and another a pilot, set in World War I, and it will break your heart. Like a black hole, I can’t talk about it but only talk around it. Go and do yourself a favour and read it, and then text me your crying face emojis, because that’s the extent of the discourse I can entertain about it. I love it too much. -K

ANNA PITONIAK’S “THE FUTURES”

This year was kinda mediocre for me literature-wise 🙁 I can’t believe that the literary event of the year for me was the release of “Rich People Problems” (very Extra and indulgent, read it!) but I thought I’d pick a Classic Cat book to recommend. What is a Classic Cat book, you ask? Think of the mood you find yourself in after listening to a sad Lana del Rey song – do you feel like lounging around in your dressing gown, indulging in ennui and champagne? Then this book is for you. The story treads familiar ground: boy meets girl at college, boy and girl move to NYC after graduation, boy and girl wonder why they’re not living happily ever after even though it’s the gilded life they’ve always dreamed of. Nonetheless, “The Futures” is a comforting, easy read, especially for those living the sobering reality that is Adulthood in the first few years post-graduation. Even as everything changes, the kids will be all right. -C

Film and TV

THE LAST JEDI 

Here comes the general. (gif credit)

Look, it was a year when we needed (new) hope, and at the end of the year, I think the piece of media that resonated most with me is “The Last Jedi”, which I walked into five minutes late, watched alone, and cried throughout. I’ve been curious, verging on horrified, at fan backlash that accuses it of character assassination, deviation from canon (isn’t the movie canon by virtue of being itself?), and the destruction of a generation’s nostalgia. Of course there’ve been several valid criticisms and interesting debates about the film, but for me, “The Last Jedi” felt like watching one of the original trilogy films, and I’ve been talking and thinking about it almost constantly in the days after. It was also a fantastic tribute and elegy to Carrie and to Leia, and it feels fitting that I end my year as I started it, loving and missing her fiercely. -T

THE GOOD PLACE

My little sitcom that could! I’ve loved “The Good Place” since its first season – in typical Mike Schur style, this comedy about the afterlife manages to be quirky without being cloying, and surprising without sacrificing internal logic to needless plot twists. I’ve watched every episode of this show twice, once alone and once with my mother, and laughed so much both times. I’ve also spent a lot of the year having elaborate conversations with friends about what our Good, Medium and Bad Places would look like (for example, my Medium place would have unlimited popcorn, but ONLY the mixed sweet and salted boxes. I am the perfect Architect of my own misery). “The Good Place” is funny and smart and heartwarming and endlessly quotable (PARTIES ARE JUST A DISTRACTION FROM THE RELENTLESSNESS OF ENTROPY!), full of extremely beautiful and talented people, and just really forkin’ good. I want five thousand more seasons. -T

HAYLEY KIYOKO’S “GIRLS LIKE GIRLS” 

This is suuuuper platonic sure (gif credit)

Have you ever seen a little MV called “Girls Like Girls”? Do you not want to experience FULL-BODIED JOY? Watch it RIGHT NOW for a song that is a certified jam (what’s more affirming than wailing “GIRLS! LIKE! GIRLS! LIKE! BOYS! DO! NOTHING NEW!!!” repeatedly?) but also for a classic love story told in three acts that will make you feel ALL the feels. Bonus: also watch Kiyoko’s “Sleepover”, because Kiyoko has the BEST casting, and “Feelings”, for a dreamy neon queer girl subversion of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”. I wish I had one quarter of Hayley Kiyoko’s game. -K

BIG LITTLE LIES

2017 quote of the year? 2017 quote of the year. (gif credit)

This mini-series based on a suburban murder mystery by Liane Moriarty holds the record for being the only TV show I managed to watch in its entirety in 2017 – testament to the skill of its storytelling, riveting performances and the best TV soundtrack I’ve heard in a while (NOTHING can beat “Cold Little Heart” playing over shots of Reese Witherspoon driving over Bixby Canyon Bridge). At first glance, you might be tempted to pigeonhole this series as another Desperate Housewives-esque soap opera – but dig deeper and you’ll find that it’s more than just a suburbia satire or a murder mystery, or even a complex narrative of motherhood and marriage. At its core, “Big Little Lies” is about female friendships, and the fierce, almost primal bond we instinctively share with each other. Who needs men? Certainly not the women of Monterey. -C

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND

I’ve loved “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” for ages, and also often found it painfully difficult to watch – I took an extended break a few episodes into the second season, and only picked it up again towards the end of the year – and now that I’m all caught up, I cannot reiterate enough how sensitively wrought and fantastically clever it is. “Musical theatre romcom that deals with mental health issues” sounds impossible to achieve, but look at the fantastic show writers go! (Side note: Aline Brosh McKenna also wrote the screenplay for “The Devil Wears Prada”, which is honestly what sold me on starting this show.) The show’s protagonist, Rebecca Bunch, is the realest mess, and the references (musical theatre and otherwise!) pitch-perfect. The show has me rooting for the kind of characters I generally hate and is doing so much in terms of representation (throwback to “Getting Bi”, a masterpiece). If you watch one clip from this season let it be the incredible “The Buzzing From The Bathroom”, which parodies Les Mis in a song about a hapless dude who hasn’t realized that his wife’s been faking her orgasms. Also, Donna Lynne Champlin is a delight and a powerhouse and my favourite face onscreen. -T

TERRACE HOUSE

There are already a million thinkpieces extolling the charms of this Japanese Big Brother-esque reality TV show, so all I’m going to add is, watch this for the interior design porn, the biting panel commentary (yes, it’s all very meta, but also the norm for East Asian reality TV), the Austenian drama unfolding within the insanely attractive cast members, and for the most Perfect Man Ever AKA my future husband (you’ll just KNOW when he appears on the show).

Actual texts that we have traded on Yuto Handa god bless him -K

Side note: I made Kel watch “Terrace House” and she finished 30+ episodes in a week. #SorryNotSorry for ruining her life. -C

ETC

SWITCHED ON POP

I never understood podcasts until I found “Switched On Pop”, and, seriously: do yourself a favour and listen to Nate Harding and Charlie Sloan’s loving breakdowns of today’s huge pop hits. Harding and Sloan – one a songwriter and the other a musicologist – take pop music really fucking seriously, and apply critical analysis tools to the stuff we tend to think of as consumable, reproducible, and throwaway. You will never be able to unhear EDM breaks, Taylor Swift’s pop drops, narrative structures, and the effect of sad minor chords EVER AGAIN. Start with this episode of Selena Gomez’s TOTAL JAM, “Bad Liar”. Side note: Harding and Sloan sometimes just devolve into incoherent yelling about Carly Rae Jepsen, so you know they’ve got the correct opinions. (In this house we love Carly Rae.) -K

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