Hey y’all. I worked three days this week (was crazy, back to back calls during the Christmas season wha…?) and then felt good enough during the next two days of vacation time to sit down and make a year-in-review playlist again. For some reason I skipped this tradition last year — probably having too much fun in my time off? Previous installments here for reference: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.
So if you’re on Apple Music, here’s L–R 2022, featuring cover art made with Midjourney, in a year dominated by generative AI improvements.
Quick liner notes:
- I was happy to see Utada Hikaru returning with a new album, and such a good one at that. I went with Bad Mode as the featured song but there are many great cuts. Aside: we finished the First Love series on Netflix. It fumbled the ending after a pretty good buildup. The last three episodes should be deleted and replaced with a new take.
- I discovered Stromae this year (I somehow missed the 2009 club mega hit Alors on danse) and what a singular talent he is. With his knack for melodies, writing (albeit translated for me) and intricate beats, and a great singing voice, he deserves to be so much bigger.
- There was much to be thankful for in hip-hop, with new material from Black Thought, Kendrick, the RZA, Anderson .Paak, Stormzy!? If only Donda 2 were a real album on real channels, I would have included a track but oh well Ye does Ye.
- Drake and 21 Savage stepped on a Daft Punk classic with Circo Loco but I can’t hate it. Another contender that didn’t make the list was DJ Khaled’s Staying Alive also with Drake, but if you’re gonna rip off a song at least sample it too.
- Local band Sobs did an incredible cover of Gwen Stefani’s Cool which I thought rivaled the original in deserving to exist. I heard them play it live in October at the Esplanade too.
- I cheated a little with the inclusion of Jens Lekman’s Black Cab but hey it’s a new recording! He’s deleted the originals and reworked a couple of albums (I still have the old MP3s thankfully). The song is one of my eternal favorites, firmly planted in the mental territory of my mid-20s.
- It all ends with one of my favorite tracks from the new Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff album, the most beautiful quiet evening at home vibe to ever be captured in a studio.
I sorta finished two games this week and started on a new one.
Robotics;Notes was a real letdown of a visual novel: lots of filler writing to trudge through, and an opaque system of affecting outcomes. I won’t explain, but it’s basically impossible to play out the different paths without a walkthrough. For fans only. I abandoned it after completing the first ending.
Indie darling Unpacking was a lot more fun, despite being literally a simulation of unpacking boxes after moving homes. It was satisfying to see how much narrative they managed to suggest just by having you handle a person’s belongings over a couple of decades.
On Jose’s suggestion, I picked up Citizen Sleeper for the Switch (currently on 30% sale for the holidays) and was blown away by how immersive a text-driven RPG game can actually feel in 2022. It’s a sci-fi story set on a space station, if that helps you decide any.
Related to gaming and growing up empowered and inspired by games, I started reading Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow after encountering a passionate mention of it in Dan Hon’s newsletter, and so far so great. If you grew up in the 80s and feel that games shaped your experience of the world, put it on your list.
I later discovered that it won Goodreads’ user-voted best fiction work of the year award, which is astounding because no one else has mentioned it to me?!
We had good Christmas Eve, Day, and Evening meals in various family configurations over the weekend with no accidents or cooking disasters, apart from several items of food getting forgotten in the fridge (beef brisket, gingerbread houses, etc.), which were probably signs of excessive ambition and unnecessary procurement anyway. I’m deathly full and ready to skip a few meals in the coming week (spoiler: we’ve got a staycation planned on Monday and it involves eating out).
See you next week.