Just when you thought I couldn’t drag this party out any further, here are my top 10 random favorites of 2016!
While I enjoy things like music, and podcasts, I just don’t have enough of them that I really loved from 2016 to make a proper 10 ten list. So, I figured I’d gather then all into a list of random favorites. Unlike the previous lists, this isn’t a countdown. Instead, the items are grouped by category.
Hamilton– 2016 was the year I bit the bullet and jumped on the Hamilton train.The reason I had held off for so long? I’m not really a hip-hop fan, and felt that I would judge the show based on musical preference, rather than the quality of the work itself. Fortunately, Hamilton is just one of those musicals that transcends genre. As someone who’s a fan of the American Revolution, I couldn’t help but fall in love with it: the characters, the songs, everything. Hamilton is proof that sometimes you’ll come across a work that truly is worth all of the hype it receives. The more I listen to it, the more I love it. I hope that one day, I’ll get to see it on stage.
Lindsey Stirling– Inspired by a post in Speculative Chic, in 2016 I really delved into the work of Lindsey Stirling, a crazy-talented violinist, composer, and dancer. Now, I own and love all three of her albums (my favorite one is constantly changing), have watched the DVD of her London concert, have seen most of her music videos (there are a lot of them!) and have read and enjoyed her memoir. Lindsey Stirling’s music is enjoyable on multiple levels. The more dance focused tracks can really get me energized, and because her songs are mostly instrumentals, I find them to be perfect background noise while reading. I know that she typically releases a new album every two years, but I really hopes that she breaks tradition and releases one next year. After gorging myself on all of her music at once, waiting for something new is just torturous!
Utada Hikaru- Fantome– Sometimes the best albums aren’t the one that grab you right off the bat, but the growers. This is the perfect description for Utada Hikaru’s long awaited 6th Japanese album. The songs themselves are deceptive. With the exception of the opening track, “Michi,” they’re not the catchy electronic-fueled tunes that Hikki has become known for. Instead, Fantome is an emotionally complex album, written in the wake of great tragedy (the suicide of a mother), and cause for celebration (the birth of a son). Fantome shows that despite her years away from the spotlight, Hikki continues to grow and develop as an artist. And the results are as high quality as always.
Writing Excuses– I’ve been a big fan of the Writing Excuses Podcast for years, but last year they brought things to a whole new level with their “Elements of Genre” series. This series did a fantastic job of breaking down genres to their basest elements and figuring out what made them tick. If you’re a fiction writer and haven’t listened to Writing Excuses yet, do yourself a favor and check out this series. You’ll have to go all the way back until January of 2016 to start, but from then you’ll have a year’s worth of helpful podcasts to dive right into.
Dear Hank and John- When it comes to the podcast I listen to, I ultimately want to laugh, be informed, and spend time listening to likable people. This is something that Dear Hank and John excels at on every level. This “comedy podcast about death” is put out by John and Hank Green, the masterminds behind vlogbrothers and oodles of other youtube channels. If you enjoy vlogbrothers, or any of those other channels, you are going to love this podcast. Highly recommend.
Pokemon Go Radio– I’ll get more into the mobile ap that has consumed my heart and soul since August this year in a bit. Until then, let’s go into my favorite Pokemon Go podcast. Much Like Dear Hank and John, Pokemon Go Radio is put out by two brothers, and is incredibly funny. The podcast succeeds in both being a fun community show, a great place to learn about the latest updates to the ap, as well as a place to trade tips and tricks for gym battles. You can play Pokemon Go just fine without listening to this show, but if you want to play smart, then listen to Pokemon Go Radio.
BlackNerdComedy- There’s a lot of great nerd-focused content on youtube. From SuperCarlinBrothers and their love for everything Disney/Pixar, to EmergencyAwesome‘s great coverage of comic book TV. But Andre from BlackNerdComedy has to be my favorite. He just brings this wonderful sense of genuine enthusiasm to the topic at hand. It doesn’t matter whether he’s talking about the latest big comic book movie trailer, or the so-bad-its-good movie Nine Lives (seriously, watch this video, it’s one of my favorites), but Andre’s nerdy/nostalgia fueled content is always a joy to watch. I look forward to see what he releases in 2017.
MyGreenCloset- I’m a bit of a sucker for beauty/fashion vloggers, but am not a fan of the excess that can come along with the genre. The perfect cure for this is Verena Erin’s MyGreenCloset. This minimalist shows that you can be excited about beauty without posting a single haul video, and care about fashion without sacrificing your ethics. Verena has recently upped the amount of videos that creates, and I enjoy watching every single one she posts. There’s just something so wonderfully calming about the way she speaks.
Pokemon Go– I know this is showing up on a lot of “worst of the year” lists if because of how many people have jumped ship. But I’m still here! Despite the fact that it can get pretty buggy, I am OBSESSED with Pokemon Go. It’s gotten me out of my house, and forced me explore new parts of my community Hell, I even bought a new phone so I could play (RIP Nancy’s old iphone 4). Months later, I am still completely on board with this game, and have 125 Pokemon in my Pokedex. The question is now, will I be able to complete my North America Pokedex before gen 2 is launched? The race against time is on!
Speculative Chic– This one is a little self serving, but Speculative Chic isn’t a project that I would be committing too, week after week if I wasn’t really excited about it. Speculative Chis is a fanzine that I, and several other awesome geeky ladies contribute to. We review books, discuss the latest movies, as well as make posts about TV shows. comics, video games, music and more. This year, I wrote several columns about comic books and superheroes, edited a weekly column called “My Favorite Things,” and contributed to many great group posts. You can find an archive of all of my posts here. Going forward, I will be sharing my posts here on Picking up the Pen as well (I’m thinking about doing an “in review” type post at the end of each month), but there are plenty of great posts that I have 100% nothing to do with. So do yourself a favor and check out Speculative Chic in the meantime. Even if I wasn’t a columnist, I would still be a fan.
Honorable Mentions: instagram (ap), Garnier Miceller Cleansing Water (skin care), Sword and Laser (podcast)
And that’s it! I’m closing the door on 2016. Doing these were a lot of fun, and helped to motivate me to dig into this blog again. I promise not to abandon you for several months again. One of my 2017 goals is to blog here at least once a week, after all. As far as the rest of those goals, well that’s going to be a future post. See you then!