It’s the last day of the year, and one of my favorite parts of this time of year is making my year-end lists. I like to make a lot of lists in my journal (favorite books of the year, favorite albums, favorite movies and TV shows, even my favorite moments and experiences). I usually share at least my favorite albums from the year. (And in fact, I did recently post a YouTube video with my top 5 albums from 2018.)
I thought since I had this blog that celebrates creativity, art, and expression in all its forms, I would start a new year-end list. So I looked back over all the visual art, performances, and stories I experienced in 2018, and here are my favorites.
It’s hard for me to rank pieces of art because it’s so subjective, and I really would never compare a painting to an album. I don’t even like to compare albums to other albums. I always say art is not a competition! But I’ve ranked my top 10 artistic experiences as well as I could. So here you go!
10. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Admittedly, this was somehow the only live play I saw in 2018 so it’s sort of on the list as a default considering how much I love live theatre. Let’s be real. The plot of this movie/play is not terribly complex, but I don’t think that’s the point. But the thing I loved most about this performance that I saw at the Fox Theatre was the talent of the cast. As someone who used to do a lot of musical theatre, I know how much goes into a production. (And the ones I was in weren’t even professional.) The tap dancing, the singing, the costumes, the scenery, the lighting… all of it was so well done. And seeing how much the audience enjoyed hearing the familiar Irving Berlin tunes warmed my heart.
9. Untitled Paintings by Peter Lang
Okay, okay, Peter Lang is my husband (which is the only reason these paintings are so low on the list) so I may be a little biased, but seriously, there are so many layers to his paintings. They look like Slowdive sounds to me, which is probably the highest compliment I could give a painting. I am constantly in awe of the work that he does, and I’m so excited to see how his art evolves in 2019. How did I get so lucky?
8. Mr. Robot – USA Network
I finally checked out the TV show, Mr. Robot, this year, and I seriously binged all three seasons in like a week. I was glued to the television. This show follows the journey of a vigilante hacker, and the intricate plots and complex morally ambiguous characters are enthralling. If you haven’t watched Mr. Robot yet, I’d definitely suggest checking it out if you’re a fan of amazing storytelling. Rami Malek is also quite possibly my new favorite actor. He was also brilliant in Bohemian Rhapsody.
7. Forever – Amazon Prime
All of the reviews of this show are very hush, hush about the plot so I won’t give it away either except to say it’s the best story I’ve seen recently that delves into what marriage and commitment are all about. So often, stories end when characters get married or get together. I think it’s so interesting when stories explore relationships that are in different stages aside from just the beginning. The performances from Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph are incredible, and the writing is so clever and unexpected. Not to mention it really made me laugh.
6. The Need Series – Carrie Jones
In the first half of 2018, I participated in an online course with The Writing Barn called Write. Submit. Support. The NYT Bestselling novelist, Carrie Jones, led the class, and she was so incredibly helpful. I’d heard of her books but hadn’t actually read them until this year. I listened to this series on audiobook, and it was such an enjoyable experience. I adore stories where I’m able to fully immerse myself in them. Young adult urban fantasy is obviously right up my alley. And any love triangle that can make me root for the second love interest above the first is a love triangle I can get behind. (Netflix – make a Need series happen, y’all!)
5. Jesus Christ Superstar live on NBC
Alright, the live musicals broadcast on TV has mainly been a bust. So I had low expectations when I tuned into Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter, but I was definitely surprised. I’m always super impressed by pop singers who can manage a Broadway show, and John Legend and Sara Bareilles sounded amazing. And Brandon Victor Dixon’s performance as Judas was spectacular. I remember playing this show over and over on my headphones so my husband wouldn’t know how much of a dork I was listening to it over and over. I ended up telling him anyway and making him listen in the car! (Let’s hope this trend of amazing live musical theatre on TV continues with Rent on Fox in 2019!)
4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Audiobook narration by Bahni Turpin
First of all, The Hate U Give is a brilliant book, and I would have loved it no matter which format I read it in. It’s the kind of book that reminds you why books are important. There is a reason it spent so much time on bestseller lists and it won so many awards. Secondly, though, the narration provided by Bahni Turpin made listening to this book a whole experience. I listen to a lot of audiobooks. There are the kind of narrators who do a nice job of reading the story, and then there are the kind of narrators who bring all of the characters to life. Turpin was definitely the latter.
3. 7 by Beach House and Beach House live at The Signal
It’s no surprise how much I love Beach House. They are one of my favorite bands to see live, and I adore all of their albums. They definitely did not disappoint me this year. 7 is another album I can put on at any time no matter what kind of mood I am in, and I’ll want to listen to it. Their live show is incredible. Their light show is perfect for their sound, and they’re so authentic and real. They play their songs exactly as I hope they will.
2. Love is Dead by CHVRCHES and CHVRCHES live at the Tabernacle
I’ve been a fan of CHVRCHES for a few years now, and I adored their first two albums. But Love is Dead is my favorite, I think. It stayed on repeat on my Spotify for months. I listened to the track “Get Out” so many times, my husband jokingly asked me if I was trying to tell him something. I had never seen CHVRCHES live until this past October when I got to see them at the Tabernacle, and it was everything I hoped it would be. They are so full of energy, and they really put everything into the performance.
1. Stars live at Variety Playhouse
I’ve been a fan of this Canadian band for about 10 years, and I’ve fallen in love with their albums–especially In Our Bedroom After the War, The North, and most recently There is No Love in Fluorescent Light. But I had never gotten to see them live. So needless to say, I was pretty excited when I saw they were coming to Atlanta. I was expecting a good show, but I was not expecting it to be this good. It was almost like live theatre–the way Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan emoted when they sang. They both have the kind of stage presence where you just can’t manage to tear your eyes from them throughout the song. I can’t even really explain what made their performances so mesmerizing, but this is a show I’m still thinking about seven months later. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the genuine emotion and passion Torquil had when singing “Alone” or “Trap Door”–the way he poured his entire self into those songs. Or the way he and Amy looked at each other during “Losing to You”–making every small movement seem vitally important. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more authentic, sincere performance. And I really hope they don’t take too long to come back to Atlanta.
So that’s it. Those are my top 10 performances/stories/artistic expressions from 2018.
I of course have my own goals for my own art in 2019, but here are my goals/things I’m excited about in 2019:
- seeing more live theatre – how is it possible that I only managed to see one show this past year?
- reading 50 books – that was my goal for 2018 too and I didn’t quite make it. (I ended up with 37.)
- catching Infinity Mirrors before it leaves the High Museum
- finally watching the last season of Game of Thrones
- making it out to catch some local musicians – since I stopped playing shows, I haven’t gotten out to see many and I’d like to change that
- make encourage Peter to share his art in an art show or at a coffee shop or something – seriously, people need to see it!
So that was my 2018 in art. What albums/movies/TV shows/books did you enjoy?