MY BIG 2017 LIST
One of my favorite things about the end of the year is seeing the lists people put out of ranking things. Like, go ahead, rank anything! I'll probably be pretty entertained by it. Rank albums from the year, or meals you ate, or the things you currently have in your purse or backpack. I'll probably be entertained by it.
I make my own rankings too, at the end of this year. I'm finding that it was a bad year for new music, a good year for bands I already love continuing to impress me, a good year for creativity and inclusion in the movies, and another bummer of a year for pretty much all the sports teams I support.
Anyways, I tend to throw all my rankings together into one big pot. Here they are!
The enneagram continues to be one of my best tools for self-awareness, embracing the upsides of being a joyful, adventure-loving seven while looking out for my unhealthy tendencies. There aren’t any shortage of enneagram materials out there lately, but if you’ve got to pick one, I might recommend Typology. Ian Cron is a fantastic guide, and the mix of guests tends to be pretty great.
24. How To Be Everything by Emilie Wapnick
Okay, you know how I just said I was a seven? In Wapnick’s terms, I’m also a multipotentialite. Someone with an innate curiosity that leads to multiple pursuits: a renaissance man (positive connotation) or a jack-of-all-trades (negative connotation). Many books tend to speak negatively towards this trait in the process of talking about developing an expertise. Wapnick instead affirms the strengths of being a multipotentialite and offers practical tools on how to make it work for you. If I was still “searching for a career” this might’ve ranked even higher.
This was a rare straight-to-Netflix movie that was actually pretty good. It was also ultra-bizzare, but it was a good year for those types of productions with a few other films making this list. Despite how bizarre the dystopian setting of the film is at first, it’s very honest about the current state of corporate food production. Also, I loved the collaboration with some of Korea’s best.
So… I enjoyed this adaptation and remake WAY more than I was expecting too. I went in simply for nostalgia’s sake and left impressed with the way this film develops and creates its world.
21. John Mark McMillan, Mercury & Lightning
When I think of John Mark, I think back to college groups, emotionally saturated worship sets, and a time where trendiness and faith were difficult to unlink. He stood out from the crowd as a legitimately authentic artist, and Ioved his sound. (Christian National, anyone?) This album was creatively rich and Enemy, Love might’ve been my favorite song from all of 2017
20. Maggie Rogers, Now That The Light is Fading
I have a hard time putting EP’s on this list, but I had a substantially harder time excluding Maggie Rogers from it. Young, raw, and still getting better, but tracks like Alaska indicate that we’ve got a lot to look forward to.
19. Justin Baldoni, Why I’m Done Trying to Be Man Enough
Rafael from Jane The Virgin turns out to also be an outspoken feminist and an amazingly speaker. His TED Talk on redefining masculinity was honest, important, and timely all at the same time, and I hope his words become an increasingly common mindset among men of my generation.
18. Stranger Things 2
Why mess with a good thing? Stranger Things managed to build off of everything that worked in their first season, and it worked just as well for their second. I love the fact that it was built like a (good) sequel, that they mixed up character dynamics, and that they played homage to a different sort of 80’s mode in their least popular episode.
17. Handsome Ghost
I was surprised to see that Handsome Ghost didn’t actually release an album this year. It seemed like every month or two they released a new single that I absolutely loved. Maybe they’ll all be on an album next year that should make that list, or maybe they’ve embraced the modern era of music and abandoned the limitations of the album format. Either way, their music will always feel like walking into an air conditioned lobby on an extremely hot summer day.
16. Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, & James McAllister, Planetarium
What is a planetarium? An artificial, indoor replication of natural wonders far beyond the world. In this album that overlays synthetic vocals and beats over orchestral scoring, you get the juxtaposition of the human and the divine, a unmatched blend of ecology and theology. Who else could deliver this package but Sufjan?
15. John Lewis: Love In Action (On Being)
John Lewis continues to be one of my favorite voices from the Civil Rights Era while doing valuable work today in Congress. On Being remains one of my favorite Podcasts and there are a number of episodes that could very easily make a list of favorites. Put those two things together and it’s os, so good.
14. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN
I appreciate Kendrick, but I never felt the attachment to good kid or Pimp a Butterfly the way the world at large seemed to. When DAMN showed up though, it delivered on the acclaim. Songs can both be pump-up jams while containing lyrical sophistication in a way that doesn’t compromise either.
13. Conversations With People Who Hate Me
This was far from the most listened to podcast of the year, but it could be the most important. During a year where everything seemed to be fodder for your next argument, Dylan Marron disrupted all expectations simply by engaging his literal haters with empathetic and productive conversations. So, so refreshing.
12. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
Another important and timely piece. Brene Brown’s already one of the most insightful communicators on the broad but relatable topic of simply being a vulnerable human, and this book gives people a good way forward to navigate times characterized by anger and anxiety.
File this one in the category of weird, genre-bending films from this year. If you liked Get Out, Sleight will also be right up your alley as a black superhero film that focuses on what it really means to escape. Also, Dulé Hill is amazing as the gang-leading antagonist who is definitely NOT Gus from Psych.
10. Fleet Foxes, The Crack-Up
Fleet Foxes release their albums so sparingly, and I appreciate that. It makes it a special event once every 4-5 years when a new album of theirs hits shelves. It also allows them to remain very true to their style that hooked me back in 2008 and instantly makes me feel more thoughtful.
9. Daniel Caesar, Freudian
This album occupied a similar spot on my palate that Gallant did last year. Caesar’s subtly rich but haunting vocals were so well used on this album that it still feels fresh every time I listen to it, no matter how many times that’s actually been.
8. Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis
Okay, it feels kind of weird to have papal writings on a mostly pop-culture list, right after Daniel Caesar and Fleet Foxes, but this was my highest rated non-fiction book this year for deserving reasons. The wisdom found within is some of the most helpful perspective on marriage that I’ve ever received.
7. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
My goodness, Ng continues to assert herself as one of my favorite writers. Everything that was great about her debut, Everything I Never Told You is present and perhaps even sharper in this piece on suburban unraveling. Her ability to handle themes of race and identity without being heavy-handed is such a gift.
6. The National, Sleep Well Beast
I suppose it doesn't surprise me one bit that The National put out my most loved album of the year. It’s totally true to everything I expect from The National, and absolutely gorgeous.
5. Rough Translation
This show came on in August and wrapped up its first season by September. That made it easy to overlook how much I loved its topics of global storytelling with a human heart. The podcast looked at racial perspectives in Brazil, the complexity of storytelling from rape survivors in the Congo, and American surrogate parents for Chinese babies. This was right up my alley.
4. Pachinko, by Min-Jin Lee
This book made me really proud to be a descendant from a long line of strong Korean women. If you’re like, wait, you’re not actually a descendant from a long line of strong Korean women, you’d be correct, but that’s exactly how vivid this book is and how powerfully it crafts each of its characters.
3. Get Out
I don’t know what else needs to be said about Get Out that hasn’t been said already. It’s everything that people say it is, and more. It’s a horror movie where the monster is a little too real and too familiar.
2. Lady Bird
Teenagers are hard to relate to. Even if you’re 20, you often look at a group of high schoolers and you’re like, how was I like that? Which is why when Greta Gerwig puts out a film that makes you go, yes! High school in 2003 was just like that! it’s not small feat.
Look, if you make a movie that makes me cry, then you must have made Coco because no other movie has ever accomplished that. At a time when cultural appreciation seems to face a lot of opposition, a film that celebrates the heart of Mexican families, this film was subversive in its beauty.