Best of 2021 – The Daily Cardinal
TV Show: Only the Murders in the Building
I very rarely stay up after midnight to finish the last episodes of a series, but I absolutely had to know how “Only Murders in the Building” ended. True Crime is one of the only genres of podcasts I don’t actually listen to, but I thought this series was so clever at bringing a classic murder mystery plot into the age of modern media. The dynamic between Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez seems a bit random, but the trio form the perfect blend of comedy and drama. The cinematography is breathtaking and episode seven is such a creative feat that I don’t want to spoil. There were so many surprises packed into just ten episodes, and I’m really looking forward to another season. It’s a witty, fast-paced series that’s perfect for watching the break. —Hope Karnopp
Song: “Be Sweet” by Japanese Breakfast
“Be Sweet” is the title track from Japanese Breakfast’s third album, Jubilee. The track is dense and luminous, with an absolutely infectious chorus. Originally, Michelle Zauner wrote “Be Sweet” to be performed by another artist, but naturally fell in love with it as it became the defining track for the album it is now. “I think the distance of writing it for ‘someone else’ allowed me to take on this sassy 80s night woman persona,” Zauner recalls, capturing the dawn of the song perfectly. . “Be Sweet” struts from verse to chorus and back, oozing the popstar’s confidence. It can often spell disaster when a band strays from their style by intentionally trying to write a pop song. But by disassociating himself first, Zauner created a true pop track without sacrificing his soul. — Seamus Rohrer
Song: “Leave the Door Open” by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak & Silk Sonic
The epicenter of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s An Evening with Silk Sonic, “Leave the Door Open” is a sparkling return to classic soul. It’s slow, seductive and glamorous, and it immediately felt like an important track upon release. The combined talent of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak is off the charts, and it’s on full display on “Leave the Door Open.” From the shimmering harmonies of Mars to the intricate rhythms of .Paak on drums, the duo complement each other in ways only two artists at the peak of their abilities can. — Seamus Rohrer
Movie: No Time to Die
Dispatching Daniel Craig as Agent 007 is a sprawling 173-minute epic. Bond will always be remembered as the slick, feminist characters played by Sean Connery and Roger Moore, but Daniel Craig has given us a stellar 007 since his “Casino Royale” debut in 2006. In his five James Bond films, Craig has was able to simultaneously capture Bond’s spellbinding and ruthless talent as a spy and his deep ardor for those he loves. “No Time to Die” is an in-depth exploration of both.
The film felt more like a cultural event than entertainment, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga clearly understood its significance. Daniel Craig and his colleague Léa Seydoux have incredible chemistry, and the film also boasts one of the most thrilling opening scenes of any James Bond film. The wild and emotional ending is somehow both firm and ambiguous – the audience knows what they just watched, but many questions remain. — Seamus Rohrer
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Album: Small omissions by Julien Baker
Looking at my packed Spotify for 2021, I saw many names you would associate with me. At this point, I might have a bit of a reputation as a Coldplay fan in our office, and as expected, they finished at the top of the list. However, one name that somewhat escaped me was Julien Baker. Seeing her name in my top five – she placed third – took me by surprise, but I remembered the spring semester and how much I enjoyed her album “Little Oblivions” which came out that era. My favorite track on the album is “Hardline”, although you can’t go wrong with the other tracks and the great writing that really makes you feel things, even when your own experiences are drastically different from Julien’s. I like acoustic songs (the style of his earlier music) but this album marked a shift towards an alternative rock sound (especially with “Hardline”) and I found that even more favorable. I certainly regret not going to his concert in Madison last September, but I won’t let that stop me from enjoying the album or recommending it to others. — Anupras Mohapatra
Album: Call me if you get lost by Tyler, the creator
Tyler, the Creator doesn’t do anything halfway. For him, an album is not just a group of songs. He creates alter-egos, directs his own music videos, and even designs fashion, all in the name of maximizing his current aesthetic. He may have a complex vision, but for him everything is very simple. Tyler Okonma does what he wants. So what did he want to do after producing seven solos musical projectscreation and headliner his own parties and win a grammys, all before thirty? “I wanted to rap, like I miss rapping,” Okonma confessed during a HOT interview 97 back in August.
See Call me if you get lost, Tyler’s most recent effort to tastefully mix obnoxious 2000s rap with catchy love songs. Contributors to the record’s raw rap aesthetic include Detroit rapper 42 Dugg (“LEMONHEAD”), one of Tyler’s rap heroes in Lil Wayne (“HOT WIND BLOWS”), as well as the Baton Rouge rapper NBA Youngboy (“WUSYANAME”). But it’s not just the guests who set the tone; Okonma delivers some of his most focused, yet effortless and boastful raps to date. Tyler’s output remains polished, but with a new intensity reminiscent of the aforementioned mixtape style – most notably heard on tracks like “CORSO” and “LUMBERJACK.”
A major storyline throughout the record is Okonma’s experiences navigating a love triangle – explained in detail on “WILSHIRE”. But those complicated emotions translate into moments of beautiful pop-rap, with sounds reminiscent of 2019’s IGOR. Songs like “WUSYANAME” and “SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” show Okonma’s evolving talent for creating catchy but exquisite love songs. —Donnie Slusher
TV Show: Working Inside
With each release, my patience and respect for Netflix Originals diminishes slightly. It’s not that they’re never good – in fact, I really enjoyed shows like ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Love Death + Robots’ and ‘Mindhunter’. What bothers me is the overcrowding of these Netflix-sponsored shows on the streaming service. Go to any Netflix page and you will find that most of the movies and shows you see have the Netflix tag in the top left corner. So when I started the Netflix show “Inside Job” one stupid morning, my expectations were low. I was wrong.
The new adult animated series stars Lizzy Caplan as Reagan Ridley, a young genius who has been given the keys to the Deep State of the United States. Caplan has been a criminally underrated actress her entire career, and she shines as the taut yet entertaining voice of Reagan Ridley. She’s perfect for the role, and she’d be perfect for the same role if the show was live-action.
While “Inside Job” is reminiscent of “Rick and Morty” with its jam-packed episodes and high-tech action, much of the humor comes from the dialogue, which is pleasingly well-written and complex. The large cast of supporting actors, including Christian Slater and Bobby Lee, help make each character entertaining and eliminate any semblance of filler.
Despite the sold-out template of a Netflix original adult animation, Inside Job is worth investigating. The second episode, “Clone Gunman”, is one of the funniest TV episodes I’ve seen in recent memory. Enjoy this awesome Netflix Original while you can. — Seamus Rohrer
Video game: Deathloop
I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I crank up songs and movies if I don’t feel like I’m enjoying them properly the first time around, and I’ll put books aside for months if I’m not in the right frame of mind to read them. Naturally, this habit carries over to other hobbies. Whenever I play a video game, I’m always ready to exit the menu and hit back to autosave, erasing any mistakes I’ve made and starting over. So when I heard about a video game where you, an amnesiac assassin named Colt, are stuck in a mysterious time loop living the same day over and over again, I was hooked. The idea of being forced to restart every time you die is nothing new to first-person shooters. But Deathloop, developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, turns the idea of a “death loop” on its head. Instead of punishing you for your death, the game and its storyline become more complex and explosive as you play. You can learn, adapt, and uncover more information with each rebirth by researching how to “break the loop.” With solid graphics, an intriguing story, colorful main characters, and a robust world to explore, it’s no wonder Deathloop was able to win “Best Game Direction” at The Game Awards 2021. — Addison Lathers
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