Okay, so I meant to do something other than music for this post, since you just did it, but it was the anniversary of David Bowie’s death this week and so I have music on my mind. But when I was thinking through what albums or songs I’d talk about, I also kept thinking of other things I started listening to in 2016 that aren’t music: podcasts, audiobooks, etc. And so this post is more of a Best Audio of 2016 rather than a Best Music of 2016.
First off, clearly, we have Blackstar, Bowie’s final album. I’m not sure what to say about it beyond that it is poignant and beautiful and it’s a farewell from him before we knew he was dying. Lazarus is my favorite song on the album; the music video is haunting. (I have a Spotify playlist of some of my favourite Bowie songs to serve as an introduction to Bowie if you want to take a listen).
I started listening to Lemonade WAY after it was released, and proceeded to listen to it non-stop for weeks. It’s a triumph. You’d think that I would have been more on the ball with this one. I mean, Beyonce releases an album about marriage, grief, power, and forgiveness, and I wait months to listen to it? Ridiculous.
I also somehow listened to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Bring It On: The Musical enough that it appeared in my Top 25 Most Played playlist on iTunes for this year (I usually erase my listening history sometime in the beginning of the year so that it sort of represents my listening over the year, although Spotify makes it much less accurate). What can I say, Lin-Manuel Miranda worked on it and it’s hella catchy.
There are three standouts from the year, although I’ve been listening to one of them for longer. The three are: My Favorite Murder, Friendshipping, and The Adventure Zone.
My Favorite Murder is NOT FOR EVERYONE. Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff are both big true crime readers/watchers, and they each bring a true crime murder story to the podcast every week and tell the other one about it. There is LOTS OF MURDER, but it is still somehow hilarious and is listed as a comedy podcast. AND it’s insightful. AND it makes me very excitedly tell Josh about murder stories which he definitely doesn’t want to hear, he’s very long-suffering.
Friendshipping has been around for about two years and I love it. Gentle and compassionate friendship advice, with plenty of laffs. This podcast has made me a better person.
The Adventure Zone is a podcast about Dungeons & Dragons. The McElroy brothers of podcasting fame and their dad play D&D and it’s endlessly delightful. It makes me want to play D&D. I listen to it with Josh, and we sometimes can’t hear it because we’re laughing so hard.
Here at the end of my letter I’d like to include a general recommendation for audiobooks of all stripes, but especially for World War Z / Max Brooks which, yes, is a zombie book and zombies are kinda overdone (in more ways than one, am I right), BUT it’s a full-cast recording and I’ve listened through it probably three times since the beginning of 2016. It is excellent. Also a sort-of recommendation for the audiobook of The Witches / Stacy Schiff, which enabled me to FINALLY and AT LAST get through a giant, kinda boring tome about the Salem Witch Trials. I’ll talk more about audiobooks when I tell you about my reading in 2016, probably.