Every year when I travel home for Christmas, I reflect over the last year. How did I spend my time? What did I discover that I can’t imagine ever life before it? While thinking over these things, I came up with my Top 10 findings from the year - David Letterman style. There is no form or fashion to these categories. These are just the things of 2016 that stick out to me. Like most discoveries, many of these things were recommended to me by friends… or the internet. My hope is that some of these things make 2017 (or these last hours of 2016) better for you. Without further ado:
Best Pump-Up Jam: Good as Hell by Lizzo
My pal Hunter sent this song to me a la text and I was immediately hooked. He had discovered it from the Barbershop 3 soundtrack, which apparently is a much sadder movie than you would expect. Anyhow, I sent this song to all of my friends like I magically discovered it, and everyone agreed: this song is awesome. It’s the perfect pump-up jam when you’re going out and need a little confidence boost - just check out the chorus: I do my hair toss, check my nails - baby, how you feelin’? Feelin’ good as hell.
Best Album - Good Love by Brasstracks
My pal Quinn sent this album to me and I couldn’t get enough - even making my mom listen to it on a road trip AND making up my own lyrics to one of the instrumental tracks. Brasstracks' name is very indicative of their sound: horns + electronic tracks. I love just about anything with a horn section, and as of the past couple of years, have gotten into electronic music. Thus making it the perfect culmination. The EP is just 30 minutes long, so do yourself a favor and get your groove on with Brasstracks.
Runner-Up: Emotion Side B by Carly Rae Jepsen. I can’t help it, I love ear-candy. And apparently I love all things 80s.
Best Live Performance - The Polyphonic Spree / Club Dada / Dallas, TX
Like I said, I love a good horn section, and The Polyphonic Spree has a great horn section. They also have a kick-ass women’s choir on risers, a cellist, keys, guitars, bass, a percussionist AND a drummer, and others that I am leaving out. I have loved The Polyphonic Spree since I was in high-school and have been to at least 10 shows. This October, I got to take some of my favorite Nashville gal-pals to see Polyphonic in Dallas. They had no idea what they were getting into. Like always, I had the best time at the show. But what made this show outstanding is that all of my pals embraced and loved a band that they had never listened to before. And then, after, we got the greatest selfie with the lead singer.
Runner-Up: Alessia Cara. Saw her twice this year and left inspired. She is full of positive energy and hope and has an amazing voice.
Best Destination - Los Cerritos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
My oldest brother Brent and I have birthdays 4 days apart, so this year, we decided to do a birthday trip for ourselves … to MEXICO! We decided to go to a little surfer village north of Todos Santos in Baja California. We stayed in an Air BNB bungalow, made friends with the stray cat, drank cervezas y margaritas, hung out on the beach, ate fish tacos, and hugged cacti. The only stressful part of the trip was driving through Cabo San Lucas (which sucks - don’t go there). I was fortunate to go on several great trips this year, but this one tops the list, even though my email got hacked while I was there and I came home with the gift of Montezuma’s Revenge.
Best Beverage - Topo Chico
Perhaps the best gift that trip gave me was the joy of Topo Chico. This magical sparkling mineral water from Monterrey is found everywhere in Mexico and I couldn’t get enough. When I returned home, I ventured to find it in Nashville - and soon had two colleagues addicted to it to the point that we started a group text to alert each other where it was in-stock. If you like La Croix, keep drinking it, because I don’t want to share the limited supply of Topo Chico in Nashville.
Best Movie - Don’t Think Twice
I saw this movie with average expectations - expecting a good laugh and to leave the theater with a smile on my face. I saw this movie and it was the most I’ve laughed in a theater in years. It follows the highs and lows of an improv troupe as the members try to “make it” - collectively and individually. I don’t know what else to say but the movie just felt perfect. Produced by Mike Birbiglia and Ira Glass, I guess you shouldn’t expect anything less than. It wasn’t just funny, but was also heartfelt and resonant in a world where we all live in comparison to one another.
Runner-Up: The Little Prince. This movie got shafted from theaters and was released on Netflix. It’s a little long, but the story, art, and music are beautiful, so much that it made me cry.
Best Series - Stranger Things
I’m not going to try and name an obscure show here because we all know and agree that Stranger Things was the hit series of the summer. There’s something about the setting of the 80s, those kids, aliens, government conspiracy theories, and synthesizers that just all came together and made the perfect show. Thank you Duffer Brothers. In a world of 10s, be an Eleven.
Runner-Up: The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Because it’s the best way to fall asleep.
Best Purchase - a BICYCLE!
This summer I moved into a house with three girls in a neighborhood that is walkable and bike-able. Thus, I used this as an excuse to buy a bike. I bought a used one from the good folks at Halcyon and was on my way. I do not call myself a cyclist - but I love riding around the neighborhood and not having to drive my car. Maybe it’s because I feel like Dustin from Stranger Things. I highly recommend buying a bicycle if you want to feel like a kid again. But get a light and wear a helmet!
Runner-Up: A Grill. Because apparently I’m a dad.
Best Online Quiz - Pottermore Sorting Hat
Let’s be honest, we all take these quizzes on Buzzfeed and the likes. I won’t get into the psychological reasons why. This year, I somehow managed to get many coworkers, all of my roommates, and more - to sign up for a Pottermore account and get sorted into their Hogwarts house. Go do it, because it will tell me a lot about you. P.S. I’m a Ravenclaw.
Best YouTube Video - Can’t Stop the Music / Emu's Pink Windmill Kids
I first stumbled upon this video when someone posted a meme of it on Facebook with the 30-second intro of all the kids introducing themselves. I could not look away. I played it over and over again until I found the full-length video, and then I started playing that over and over again. Soon enough I had favorites in the cast - Catrina, first and foremost, and Joe. My co-worker found Catrina on LinkedIn and let’s just say she is now in my professional network. I hope this video brings joy to your life - it continues to bring joy to mine.
2016, you were full of great surprises. Here’s to 2017 and just as many great surprises.