2015 was a tumultuous year, personally, but at least I had music, wrestling, and pop culture to keep me busy. From Seth Rollins cashing in at WrestleMania to Coheed and Cambria’s perfect new album to marriage equality, here are a few of my favorite things from 2015.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s EMOTION
I really really really really really really loved this album. (Sorry. Had to.) Jepsen provided THE pop album of the year. With tunes such as the stupendous LA Hallucinations and the poignant Black Heart, EMOTION is undoubtedly the blueprint for future pop albums to follow.
What makes EMOTION different from all other pop albums released this year? Its heart. Jepsen manages to intertwine realistic love stories with heartbreaking lyrics and bouncy beats; it’s pure, ravishing magic.
Marriage equality, haters gonna hate
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Nothing I write will be as powerful as what Justice Kennedy wrote for the closing part of SCOTUS’ ruling for marriage equality. It still gives me chills every time I read it, and makes me incredibly happy whenever I think about it.
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract
From the moment the main event for WrestleMania 32 (Roman Reigns v. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship) was announced, wrestling fans were mostly divided. Most fans (including myself, I regretfully admit) thought that Reigns was being shoved down our throats, and his win of the title seemed inevitable.
Reigns’ subpar booking and Lesnar’s contract negotiations before the event didn’t help, and it seemed that entire thing would end up being one of the most disappointing ‘Mania main events in history.
In the end, blood, sweat, and a briefcase saved everything.
Reigns and Lesnar put on a killer match; Reigns certainly proved his haters wrong by holding his own against Lesnar’s abusive and merciless F5s and German suplexes, and Lesnar seemed to be having the time of his life. The match was entertaining, brutal, and most importantly, Reigns’ booking and character were finally believable.
And just when it seemed that Reigns would walk away with the title, Seth Rollins’ music started playing. The audience was shocked as the Money in the Bank briefcase holder ran down the ramp, ready to cash in. And after momentarily incapacitating Lesnar and applying the now-banned curbstomp on Reigns, Rollins emerged as the new WHC.
It was a beautiful moment if you had been following Rollins’ career from the beginning; Rollins holding up the belt and then swinging it around like he used to back in his indie/FCW days brought tears to my eyes.
Although 2015 wasn’t the best year for WWE booking/storyline-wise, it had so many great moments. Rollins’ unprecedented cash-in, Sasha Banks and the rest of the ladies involved in the Divas’ Revolution, Cena’s U.S Championship Open Challenges… Yes, not all was bad.
Fingers crossed for 2016.
Coheed and Cambria’s The Color Before the Sun
Coheed is one of those bands I have always listened to, but never considered myself to be a huge fan. Their 2015 release, The Color Before the Sun, completely changed that.
Color is perhaps Coheed’s most mainstream-friendly album to date, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exceptional. Claudio Sanchez’s voice is still one of the most expressive ones in the business, and every note can either make you want to punch a wall or cry your heart out.
The album’s content ranges from cynically buoyant (You’ve Got Spirit, Kid) to lovesick (Here to Mars) to rancorously aggressive (Eraser), and it is magnificent.
Ben Whishaw was everywhere
I’ve been in love with Mr. Whishaw ever since I saw his adorable face for the first time in Perfume: Story of a Murderer. Luckily for me, Whishaw starred in pretty much everything in 2015. Spectre, The Danish Girl, In the Heart of the Sea, are just a few examples.
Whishaw’s best role was his portrayal of troubled Danny Holt in the chilling BBC thriller London Spy, which I wrote and constantly tweeted about. (I’m still angry about that ending! Hmmph.)
During 2015, Whishaw demonstrated over and over why he’s one of the best actors of his generation. If 2015 was this great, I can only imagine what 2016 will bring.
The second season of You’re the Worst was the best
Dysfunctional love stories have been done before, but never as brilliantly as in You’re the Worst. Season 1 set the foundation for Jimmy’s and Gretchen’s utterly fucked-up relationships (with each other and their friends/family), and yet, I couldn’t help but root for them.
To say that season 2 was a rollercoaster ride would be an understatement; Gretchen’s convoluted and suffocating emotional state made Jimmy realize a lot of things, not only about their relationship, but about himself. The way clinical depression was portrayed in the show was flawlessly executed and harrowingly realistic; as someone who has struggled with mental illness for 10+ years, I was very pleased with how Gretchen’s depression was handled.
Although the show tackled a touchy subject during the majority of the season, it managed to keep its original biting, derisive humor intact. Can’t wait to see what season 3 brings.
My unironic love for J Balvin’s Ginza
I’m the first one to admit that reggaeton isn’t my favorite music genre. But after reviewing a J Balvin show a few months ago, I’ve learned to appreciate it… kind of.
Balvin has brought this genre back to the spotlight, via the extremely-catchy Ginza. Sure, it’s not a lyrical masterpiece, but it’s the perfect song for raunchy, unapologetic dancing.
Oh, and it also gets stuck in your head for days. Fair warning.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is actually pretty damn great
At first glance, one would think that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is just another misogynistic show making fun of “scorned” women. My roommate and I started hate-watching this show when it first aired, thinking that we would make fun of it and move on. We were wrong.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is actually the complete opposite of a misogynistic show. The show focuses on mental illness in a very digestible and (gasp!) comical way, explores the many layers of friendships (yay! female friendships!), and ultimately, is self-aware about the main character’s actions being wrong and unhealthy. It’s all about the journey to recovery in a very, very funny way.
Did I mention that every episodes includes at least one hilarious musical number? They’re fantastic, I swear.
Panic! at the Disco’s Victorious
It’s no secret that Panic! at the Disco has been my favorite band for years. Brendon Urie could probably release a Nickelback covers album and I’d buy it. And love it.
Victorious represents a new era for the band, in which Urie is now officially the only original founding member left. And this is not a bad thing at all. Urie has managed to keep things refreshing and innovative ten years after their debut album, and this song is the ultimate example of their constant, fascinating evolution.
Ike Reilly delivers the best album of 2015
You don’t know who Ike Reilly is? 1. Shame on you. 2. You can still fix this.
Reilly is one of the most gifted storytellers ever; his songs are intricate bar anthems, a combination of bad-luck stories with philosophical undertones.
In Born on Fire, Reilly shines like never before, slightly more optimistic, but still cynical and clever. Best song? The wistful, yet crushingly hopeful Let’s Live Like We’re Dying, in which Reilly ponders: I used to want to die young/ but it’s too late now/ I wanna live, wanna live, wanna live now forever.
Well, Mr. Reilly, with music and talent like yours, I also hope that you’ll live forever and ever and ever.