Best Podcasts of 2019

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I continued my regimen of podcast listening as usual in 2019, so here’s a quick rundown of the audio shows that were tickling my ears and my brain the best the past year.

1. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
2. Black Check with Griffin and David
3. How Did This Get Made?
4. Harmontown
5. Judge John Hodgman
6. The Ron Burgundy Podcast
7. Pop Mom
8. Pop Culture Happy Hour
9. Unspooled
10. Good One: A Podcast About Jokes

Honorable Mentions
R U Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: ME (Always a transcendent pleasure, but only released four new episodes in 2019.)
Comedy Bang! Bang! (Released plenty of episodes, but I only listened to a few of them.)

Best Albums of 2019

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It’s been a few years since I’ve made an Albums of the Year list, but I really felt compelled to make one for 2019. Here are the audio compilations from the recent past that really made an impact on me:

14. Camila Cabello, Romance – Fun and bouncy.
13. Harry Styles, Fine Line – I like where Harry is headed.
12. Beck, Hyperspace – Reliable Beck.
11. Brittany Howard, Jaime – Great, big rockin’ voice goes solo.
10. The Black Keys, Let’s Rock – They never stopped rocking.
9. Ariana Grande, thank u, next – Lots of adventure from Ari.
8. Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold – Band broke up, music’s still great.
7. Tyler, the Creator, IGOR – I feel so comfortable inside this album.
6. FKA Twigs, MAGDALENE – FKA reminds me of Bat for Lashes.
5. Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride – Those Vampire Weekend guys have still got a hold on me.
4. Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell! – What a soundscape!
3. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? – Just plenty of fun.
2. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You – I love you, too!
1. The Chemical Brothers, No Geography – Apocalyptic concept album.

Best Songs of 2019

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CREDIT: Tove Lo/YouTube Screenshot

The following are the singles that had enough of an impact on me in 2019 to make me go, “I’ll have to mark that one down for posterity.” A few of them were originally released before 2019, but they didn’t reach their full cultural impact until 2019. And for the first time in the decade or so since I’ve been doing this, I’ve got a repeat winner, as I also coronated Tove Lo in 2017.

1. Tove Lo – “Glad He’s Gone”: Such friendship, such storytelling. We are all so blessed to have Tove Lo in our lives.
2. Lana Del Rey – “Mariners Apartment Complex”: Four minutes of musical madness that feels like hours of bliss.
3. The Chemical Brothers – “Eve of Destruction”: If you think the world’s gone to hell, have a dance party!
4. Vampire Weekend – “Sunflower”: There have been multiple (good) songs named “Sunflower” the past few years; this is the one that’s most likely to make you feel like a sunflower waking up in the morning.
5. Lizzo -“Truth Hurts”: 100% that mix of references that clearly hold deep emotional resonance for Lizzo.
6. Gary Clark Jr. – “This Land”: Can tasty guitar solos solve racism? Can’t hurt.
7. Hozier – “Dinner and Diatribes”: A galloping piece of soulfulness.
8. Dua Lipa – “Swan Song”: An original track from Alita: Battle Angel, and clearly the sound of future sci-fi feminism.
9. Sara Bareilles – “Armor”: Listen to Sara Bareilles getting down with her jazzy bad self and the rest of us getting down with her!
10. Kimbra – “Lightyear”: Space wonder Kimbra has a message to beam down to us earthbound folks.
11. Shaed – “Thunder”: One of those indie rock “This is who we are!” statements of declaration.
12. Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy”: Billie sings about the joys of being devious, but by all accounts, her personal life is quite wholesome. I think that’s a great way to live.
13. Meg Myers – “Running Up That Hill”: I’m just glad that Kate Bush covers are on the radio in 2019.
14. Lana Del Rey – “Doin’ Time”: Is Lana the current Queen of Remix? She just knows how to summon the past into her modern legacy.
15. Tones and I – “Dance Monkey”: We can always use some monosyllabic shouts amidst the more word-like lyrics to convince us to get up there and bust a move.
16. Camila Cabello – “Cry for Me”: Sometimes you need to make an insistent demand for emotional connection to get the message across.
17. Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road”: The epitome of Gen Z’s total lack of recognition of genre constraints.
18. Absofacto – “Dissolve”: A little skitter-skatter of chillax rock.
19. Benny Blanco, Tainy, Selena Gomez, and J Balvin – “I Can’t Get Enough”: A pleasure moan produced into nugget-size song form.
20. Starcrawler – “Pet Sematary”: It really is the perfect unassailable opening guitar riff to kick off some opening credits, no matter which version.

2/15/20 UPDATE: In the spirit of comprehension, I may have overlooked a few songs that I loved enough to be top 20-worthy from a band that had already made the cut. So, to correct the record, some more-than-honorable mentions go to “MAH” and “Got to Keep On” by the Chemical Brothers.

Best TV Episodes of 2019

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CREDIT: TBS

If you were cryogenically frozen in suspended animation for all of 2019 and want to get caught up on all the great TV you missed as efficiently as possible, well boy, do I have some suggestions for you…

1. American Dad!, “Rabbit Ears”
2. Watchmen, “A God Walks Into Abar”
3. South Park, “Band in China”
4. Barry, “ronny/lily”
5. Mr. Robot, “whoami”
6. Documentary Now!, “Batshit Valley”
7. The Other Two, “Chase Drops His First Album”
8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Chokes”
9. The Twilight Zone, “Blurryman”
10. Pose, “Never Knew Love Like This Before”
11. The Twilight Zone, “Replay”
12. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Thunder Gun 4: Maximum Cool”
13. American Dad!, “Top of the Steve”
14. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Texts”
15. Momma Named Me Sheriff, “TV”
16. John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch
17.
Riverdale, “Chapter Sixty-Five: In Treatment”
18. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Inescapable”
19. mixed-ish, “Let Your Hair Down”
20. Legion, “Chapter 25”

The 10 Best Movies of the Year and How They Made Me Feel

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PHOTO CREDITS: Courtesy of the Studios

For my ten favorite movies of 2019, I have decided to ascribe each of them an emotion or a way of looking at the world that reflects how they made me feel to my core.

But first! – here are some other movies from the past year that I quite enjoyed that didn’t quite make the top 10:

Apollo 11, Avengers: Endgame, Fighting with My Family, Hail Satan?, Hustlers, Isn’t It Romantic, The Irishman, Little Women, Ma, Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, The Mustang, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Rocketman, Toy Story 4, The Two Popes

Now for the Top 10 … (Drumroll, if you please)

10. Knives Out: STRAPPED-IN AND ALONG FOR THE RIDE – Here’s a wonderful idea for a murder mystery: give away the answer at the beginning … and then add more surprises along the way!

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The 53 Best TV Shows of 2019

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Amazon; Disney; Pamela Littky/FOX; Rhys Thomas/IFC

Under the known laws of physics, it is currently impossible to watch every TV show (or even just every good show) airing new episodes in a given year. But for those of us who treat televisual consumption as a transcendent pursuit, we do our best to fit in as many programs as possible, which means that there are more than ten or even twenty shows worth recognizing in an annual best-of list. So this year, I decided to rank as many shows as I thought were worthy of recognition and provide blurbs for the ones where I really needed to say something.

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