The end of 2022 is nigh, and in just a few weeks time, we’ll begin another 12 months around the sun.
2022 has been a lot; a cocktail of good and bad, with tastes of everything else in-between. Thankfully, there’s been more highs than lows, and I’m lucky enough to be leaving the year’s biggest struggles behind me.
New Year’s Eve is much like Valentine’s Day – overhyped and impossible to get a booking. So I tend to just not bother. Nothing wrong with Jools Holland’s hootenanny and a home measure of rum and coke.
It’s a cliche, but I do enjoy making roundup lists. I cringe as much as the next person at a ‘New year, New me x’ instagram post, but there is something wholly refreshing about a fresh start. For all you sulkers reminding me that time is just a construct, and that a new mindset doesn’t require you to ‘start on Monday’… you’re right. But you can’t deny the delight in starting on a blank page.
I’ve compiled some of my personal ‘cultural highlights’ (who the f*ck do I think I am) of 2022 to share. The majority of these didn’t come out this year, but they represent the last 12 months to me. Either they’ve only just entered my life this last year, or I’ve fallen back in love with them. Either way, they’ve made an impression on me, so I’m not going to gatekeep!
What I’ve been listening to
My top 5 albums
1. Caroline Polachek – Pang
After binge listening to ‘So hot you’re hurting my feelings’ last year, I decided to delve further into Polachek’s musical universe. Her voice is truly her instrument, and the control she has over it is breathtaking. It’s hypnotic and constantly evolving; a true siren. My top track constantly changes, but at the min, I’d say listen to ‘Go as a dream’ and ‘The Gate’.
2. Charli XCX – Crash
I’ve been a Charli fan since her first album, ‘True Romance’; growing up adoring her music and pretty much copying her whole look between the age of 18-19. Crash, for me, is the perfect Charli XCX album. Combining the hyper-pop she is known for with funk and dance music. Every track is a bop, but my stand-outs are ‘Yuck’ and ‘Constant Repeat’.
3. Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
The first Stones album I fell in love with. Seeing them in Liverpool this June (more on that later) brought this LP back on my immediate radar, and I couldn’t get enough. ‘Moonlight Mile’ is definitely in my top 5 Stones tracks of all time, and ‘Can’t you hear me knocking’ is another stand-out.
4. Rosalia – Motomami
I love flamenco, and when I first heard Rosalia, I was enamoured with how she blends genre – incorporating traditional flamenco with pop and reggaeton. If you’ve never seen a video of her singing live acapella, watch this and prepare to be moved. My favourite Motomami tracks are probably ‘Saoko’, ‘Hentai’ and ‘La Combi Versace’.
5. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Kevin Parker is a genius. I don’t know if this is my favourite Tamw Impala album of all time, I think that title is reserved for ‘Lonerism’ or ‘Currents’ (still can’t decide!) But for some reason, I hadn’t really dipped my toes into this 2020 release until earlier this year. Obviously, I loved it because it’s made this list. Personally, I don’t think any track tops ‘Lost in Yesterday’.
What I’ve read
My top 5 books
1. Brit Bennett – The vanishing half
I read this book very early in the year, and it’s partially responsible for me finally enjoying fiction again. I don’t really like to read blurbs before I start a book, I like a surprise. This one did come into my life as a recommendation after I enjoyed Evaristo’s ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ – and I’d actually say it surpasses it. It’s a multi-generational story that tackles racial identity, companionship, and family ties – give it a read!
2. John Cooper Clarke – I wanna be yours
After appreciating Clarke’s poetry for a good decade now, I snapped up his autobiography as soon as I spotted it on the book store shelf. God has this man lived a colourful life. The memoir deals with some heavy matter (a LOT of heroin was consumed), but it’s always dressed up in humour, light hearted quips and a pair of his signature dark sunglasses.
3. Kim Gordon – Girl in a band
If I’m being honest, I’ve never dipped my toes in Sonic Youth’s back catalogue before reading this autobiography. But, being one for a cliché (I love anything ‘women in rock music’), I saw the title and thought this was for me. Gordon’s tale is tumultuous and inspiring – with her marriage to bandmate Thurston Moore at the heart of it. I really enjoyed listening to the discography of sonic youth chronologically as I made my way through the book. As music often does, it ended up catching the feeling of her life as I moved through the written years; given me a newfound appreciation for the band.
4. Taylor Jenkins-Reid – the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo
The cover of this book made me shudder a bit. It’s giving Nana on a beach holiday working their way through a Danielle Steel. But, as true to the phrase as you can get, do not judge a book by its cover. This book had me SOBBING (not that it takes much). I didn’t want to put it down, so much so that I ended up reading the last 100 pages or so into the early hours. No spoilers from me, just read it, please.
5. Emily Ratajkowski – My Body
Anyone that isn’t already certain that Emily is more than just a pretty face (she’s jaw-droppingly stunning)… read this book. This anthology of essays explores everything from sexuality and power to the ethical dilemmas that social media poses. I love reading anything about gender politics and lived experiences of womanhood (I’d love to write something longform on the subject myself one day), and this is a must-read for young women trying to define and explore their own feminism.
Which gigs I loved most
My top gigs
1. Arctic Monkeys – Port of Burgas, Bulgaria
My fourth time seeing AM was memorable to say the least. Set with a backdrop of Eastern European naval ships and blistering hot sun, it was one of those moments I’ll never forget. It was before they’d debuted any new tracks, and the excitement for their return was electric. The pints weren’t bad either.
2. Florence + The Machine – o2 City Hall, Newcastle
This was Florence’s first gig post-lockdown, and it felt so special to share in her excitement of playing live again. The rumours about her being an ethereal elven princess are definitely all true, with her vocals being as enchanting live as they are on the studio versions.
3. Haim – Millennium Square, Leeds
On a blistering hot day in mid-July, I travelled to Leeds with my sister and cousin (our very own version of Haim) to go and see the trio for the second time. We first saw them together at Alexandra’ Palace London in 2018, and I went into this gig thinking the evening could not be matched. But, this was up and close and personal, incredible.
4. Rolling Stones – Anfield, Liverpool
I never thought I’d actually get to see the Stones. From a teenage borderline obsession with Richards and Jagger and hours spent watching every documentary, listening to every track and reading all the books – I was finally stood in front of the boys in the band (albeit, I was stood a good few hundred metres away). They were unbelievable, with all the energy and fight of a band a quarter of their age. One off the bucket list.
What a year it’s been. I’ve been lucky enough to have so many incredible experiences and, more importantly, share them with the people I love. I love people.
Early Happy New Year from me, and a reminder that keeping lists is a great way to bring you back to those golden moments; a written photo album of life’s highlights. Cheers.