Tuesday, December 29, 2015

my 2016 to-do list

for my list this year -- the sixth annual -- i pared it down a bit from 2015's 50 items, since i've only accomplished like 18ish of 'em. ugh. there are a few repeats here; mostly ones from my 30 before 30 list, which i've bolded. five months left for those. what do y'all want to accomplish next year? LEGGO!

1. submit an essay to the new york times' "modern love" column
2. have high tea in london
3. drink coffee & eat a croissant crepe at a sidewalk cafe in paris
4. visit an amsterdam coffee shop
5. finish reading sloane crosley's the clasp
6. take a contemporary dance class
7. see the neighbourhood in concert
9. complete my book manuscript
10. celebrate my 30th birthday in style
11. ride a bike
12. take a day/weekend trip to providence and/or newport, RI (i've never been, somehow??)
13. attend a music festival (maybe firefly, so i can also cross off #7)
14. whiten my teeth
15. sing karaoke (preferably a rap song)
16. make my own pasta
17. buy a t-shirt at a concert
18. sleep under the stars
19. watch live jazz
20. buy myself a bouquet of flowers
21. give a toast
22. go meatless for a week
23. eat at one of the roxy's grilled cheese brick-and-mortars
24. see a double feature at the capitol theatre
25. go skinny-dipping
26. visit 3 new states (to reach 30 states visited...this will be tough since most options are in the midwest and west)
27. see the mona lisa at the louvre
28. learn this dance routine
29. take a ski lesson
30. have breakfast in bed
31. buy something handmade from etsy
32. buy a home (???)
33. organize my gmail inbox (and get to 0!)
34. order a tasting menu
35. attend the big e
36. learn conversational french (ideally before my trip)
37. visit montreal
38. stay in a cabin or cottage
39. see blue man group
40. take a writing class or workshop at grub street

Sunday, December 20, 2015

the renaissance of justin bieber

it began as a whisper.

"3, 2, SWAG."

some will debate me on this, but i hold that the seeds of justin bieber's ultimate comeback were planted at the 2012 release of his slick, hip-hop flavored single "boyfriend."

most of us who weren't 13 year-old girls kept mum about our enjoyment of the song, but secretly grooved along in our cars and apartments with very palpable shame. still, there was something bubbling beneath the surface. something substantial. something ... swaggy. something not unlike the hot fondue that sir biebs speaks of consuming while chillin' by the fire in the song.

although this was well before the era of the makeshift mop bucket urinal, the anne frank faux pas, the fast and the furious 25: bieb takes miami, and his infamous angelic mugshot, there was still a general sourness and animosity towards JB. the image of his middle school bowl cut and smug smirk, plastered on the bedroom walls of our younger siblings and cousins, remained etched in our minds as the everlasting image of a perpetual spoiled brat whom we had no desire to welcome into our reasonable, mature lives.

oh, how the tide has turned. i can't pinpoint the exact moment in time when our collective grinch hearts grew three sizes for the little punk, but i'd estimate that it was somewhere between martha stewart's cougar come-ons at his comedy central roast and the soulful, mumbled plea of "be more straightforward" in his recent release "what do you mean?" then, just as we were all amped up and frothing at the mouths and joining hands to celebrate our newfound acknowledgment of the human jam factory, the VMAs rolled around.

during his redemptive performance, bieber flew over the stage like a goddamn angel with asymmetrical, bleach-blonde hair, and promptly burst into tears upon his perfectly-orchestrated landing. sympathy, whether warranted or not? check. he didn't stop there, though. "sorry," the lite club banger of our dreams, exploded onto the scene shortly thereafter, and nobody went wilder for it than notoriously pretentious brooklyn hipsters. like a musical santa claus, spotify knows who's been naughty, who's been nice, and who's listening to excessive, 19-song albums by reformed canadian pop stars.

even selena gomez, who's almost as famous for breaking the lil' guy's heart as she is in her own right, isn't immune to his charms. rumblings of a romantic reunion have been swirling around the blogosphere -- and as the saying goes, where there's smoke, there's probably justin sharing a joint with selena in a VIP booth.

who knows how long this precious embrace will last, but i plan to ride the sweet bieber wave until i wipe out, man. the pop culture climate is forever changing and incredibly fickle, and tomorrow could bring with it a renewed hatred for our regrettably-tattooed knight in shining supras. so for now, let's just hold onto a moment in time. the fleeting period, however brief, that encourages us all to unapologetically announce to the world that not only do we believe ... but that we're beliebers.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

my top 15 songs of 2015!

playlist: HERE.

honorable mention: 
taylor locke - "don't be a stranger"
holly miranda - "all i want is to be your girl"
shawn mendes - "stitches"
the weeknd - "the hills"
justin bieber - "what do you mean?"

15. PHASES - "i'm in love with my life"

a total throwback to the synth-y, keyboard-driven dance pop tunes of the '80s, "i'm in love with my life" is just a really good time. it's the type of song that would probably play in the opening sequence of a movie, where you're just looking good, feeling good, and nothing can bring you down. the band features a couple familiar indie faces, like z berg from JJAMZ and the like, and alex greenwald from phantom planet. it also has one of the coolest videos i've seen in a long while.

14. hailee steinfeld - "love myself"

speaking of love, there's no, um, skirting around the fact that this song is totally and completely an ode to double-clicking your mouse. i mean, she's wearing a shirt that says "self-service" in the music video. but when you think about it, isn't that the ultimate message of empowerment? sing it loud, ladies.

13. alessia cara - "here"

a total anti-party anthem for all of you homebodies out there. incredible voice aside, alessia's cheeky delivery of a story we know all too well is compelling enough for me to want to hear it retold again and again. favorite line? "excuse me if I seem a little unimpressed with this/an antisocial pessimist/but usually I don't mess with this." rhymes on fleek, as the kids these days say.

12. DMA's - "laced"

y'all, DMA's are totally carrying the torch for '90s britpop/indie rock. i hear bits of the stone roses, oasis, and lesser-known acts like menswear in here and i love it all. and it's so jangly! another one of my favorite musical qualities.

11. donovan wolfington - "ollie north"

while it may sound like the name of a fancy dignitary, donovan wolfington is actually an up-and-coming garage/skate punk band from new orleans. this song (and video) evoke nostalgia for college parties, aimless summer drives, and the IDGAF attitude of your late teens and early 20s, though the lyrics are surprisingly complex. plus, that riff just brings me such joy.

10. fetty wap - "trap queen"

just two words: YEAHHHH BABY!

oh, and two numbers: 17 38!

9. elle king - "ex's and oh's"

randomly enough, i first heard this song when miss king performed it live at a marketing conference i went to in june. i'd never heard of her before, but soon found myself bopping along and noting the cleverness of the lyric "they always wanna come, but they never wanna leave." men, amiright?! fast forward a couple months, and you can't swing a dead cat without hearing it. i'll forgive the grammatical errors in the name, but ONLY because it's a killer track.

8. major lazer f/ dj snake & MØ - "lean on"

still fascinated that this is the most-streamed song on spotify. i loved it immediately, but couldn't help but think that MØ's voice gave it a really quirky, indie vibe. and what do you know? i recently caught a DJ introducing it on the radio, who said that the song was initially meant for nicki minaj or rihanna, but both passed on it. after MØ did the vocals, she was sure it was too offbeat to be a hit. ha! if you aren't dancing when that beat drops, something's wrong witchu.

7. the front bottoms - "historic cemetery"

brian sella of the front bottoms writes some of my favorite lyrics, and sings them in such a genuine way that it sounds like you're hanging out in a friend's bedroom while he screws around on his guitar. that feeling permeates back on top, the latest front bottoms album, but this deep cut stood out to me on my first listen as miles above the rest. the rap by GDP at the end did initially strike me as odd, but now seems like the perfect finishing touch on the track.

6. joywave - "now"

i discovered this song right when i was trying to get over a terrible dude. i have absolutely no idea what the lyrics mean, but every time i listened, i got a surge of "HELL YEAH!" energy from the slick electro-poppiness that did wonders for my mood and melted my worries into, uh, "tiny pieces that don't matter." the power of music, man.

5. chris brown f/ tyga -"ayo"

leave it to chris brown to release a song that references both "bitches with real hair" and a ménage à trois in the chorus, and leave it to me to name it among my top 5 favorite songs of the year. i'll admit that the lyrics are extremely questionable, but it's just so much fun, guys.

4. kurt vile - "pretty pimpin"

all hail, king kurt. he also topped my 2013 list with the gorgeous "never run away," but in this sleepy, folky number, he turns his attention back to himself. it's a tale of a confusing out-of-body experience in which he goes through the motions of brushing his teeth, but NOT combing his hair -- "never was my style," his voice shrugs.

perhaps my favorite thing about KV is his unassuming dry wit that sneaks into almost every song if you listen hard enough. after all, the title itself is the story's eventual punchline: "i said who's this stupid clown blockin' the bathroom sink?/but he was sportin' all my clothes/i gotta say, pretty pimpin." you can almost hear him smirking.

3. beck - "dreams" 

if you got a problem with dance-rock beck, YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH ME. when this came out, it seemed like homeboy was getting a lot of grief about how upbeat and "radio-friendly" it was compare to his last snoozefest release. i've always been a big fan of happy beck ("sexx laws," "girl," and "loser" are among my favorites), so i was diggin' the MGMT "electric feel" vibes on this one. plus, that "i wanna get me free!" in the chorus is pure, unadulterated joy.

:D :D :D

2. the neighbourhood - "r.i.p. 2 my youth"

aphrodisiacs: chocolate, oysters, and jesse rutherford's voice. my relationship with this song was more of a gradual obsession than an immediate infatuation (like i had with their first single, "sweater weather," which made my 2013 list). for this reason, i strongly suggest you listen to the song twice in a row. i was drawn in by the name due to its relevance to my life, obvs, and i liked it well enough at first. it was really during my september trip to san francisco that its dark, indie pop-meets-r&b brilliance took hold, though. not surprising, since the band's sound just screams california.

i love the weird, evocative lyrics about wearing chanel in one's coffin, the reference to white lighters in the chorus (a nod to the urban myth involving members of the "27 club"), and the incredible, ethereal instrumental at 1:54. the gloomy video perfectly fits the track, and jesse's bizarre kurt cobain-meets-karl-lagerfeld aesthetic is all kinds of intriguing. while i seriously considered their adorable and catchy-as-eff song "single" as a contender for the list as well, this one reigned supreme.

1. circa waves - "t-shirt weather"

back in the day, an old beau and i coined a self-explanatory term we called a "fuck yeah!" chorus. which is what i was describing with the joywave song above, i guess. this year, the ultimate FYC came from british lads circa waves and their bright, bubbly ode to sunny spring and summer days. basically the antithesis of "sweater weather," but just as good. IT'S GONNA BE OKAY!