Albums of the Year:

Album: Only Built For Infinity Links

Artist: Quavo, Takeoff

Why: I am a huge Migos fan, but I really love the way Takeoff raps and his whole vibe. I love the way Takeoff is always rapping about taking care of his family, it really resonates with me. May he rest in eternal peace, his death was a huge loss to Hip Hop as a community.

  • Michael Leyva

Album: MOTOMAMI

Artist: Rosalia

Why: Rosalia began as a flamenco artist. Her album from 2017, Los Angeles, highlights her beautiful singing with classical guitar. Rosalia uses her flamenco background to make electronic dance music, and it works! MOTOMAMI is a unique blend of flamenco vocals, various latin beats and experimental electronic flourishes, and the result is an energetic album.

  • JD Alibrando

Album: Indigo

Artist: RM

Why: As someone who has just entered their 20s, RM of BTS calls this album, “The last archive of my twenties.” Having this album express the feelings that most people in their 20s feel such as loneliness, boredom, no sense of purpose, etc. brings great comfort to those who are trying to figure it out. Knowing that someone with a huge platform and an enormous following has been through burnout yet has found a way to bring himself out of it, is truly inspiring. Although ‘Indigo’ was released on the 2nd of December, it instantly became my favorite album of the year due to its messages, variety of genres, and the many musicians featured. Anderson Pak, who is part of the music duo Silk Sonic, features on the track ‘Still Life’ which carries a funky sound and talks about choosing life over death. On another note, the track ‘Hectic’ featuring Colde, a South Korean singer, has a more city pop sound and speaks about those times when meeting the same people and having the same routine can become boring. However, you keep doing it because it’s familiar. These messages make the album relatable as well as a good listen.

  • Karla Moran

Album: Midnights

Artist: Taylor Swift

Why: “Midnights” is a perfect synthesis of our late-night thoughts. It captures every single one of our feelings, sadness, excitement, confusion, and everything in between. It’s songs take you on an emotional rollercoaster, regardless if you’re ready for it or not. It’s tonal whiplash in the best way possible and will leave you in tears, positive tears, but still tears. Like the rest of Taylor’s discography, it has to be listened to in order to get the full experience. Words just simply can’t capture the very personal feelings this album is trying to portray to the listener.

  • Samuel Valencia

Album:  SOS

Artist:  SZA

Why:  Few albums have managed to capture the cockiness and insecurities that define our twenties quite like “Ctrl,” SZA’s debut LP.  Five years later, she returns with a sophomore effort long steeped in that same duality.  Across 23 tracks SZA muses about relationships and rejection, growth and decline, independence and interdependence.  “SOS” is the best album of 2022 for anyone who spent the year adrift.  These are songs from the deep end.

  • Kam Sheikhalmolooki

Songs of the Year:

Artist: Fuerza Regida

Song: Sigo Chambeando

Why: A song in Spanish about suffering but working to make your life better, it has been the soundtrack to a lot of double shifts where I thought I couldn’t keep going, and so did Sigo Chambeando.

  • Michael Leyva

Artist: Mitski

Song: Working For The Knife 

Why: Mitski’s lyricism is oft-praised by contemporaries and peers, including Iggy Pop who once called her the greatest lyricist of her generation. In my opinion she proves this true with her anti-capitalist anthem about the soul-sucking nature of creating art purely for consumption as a woman of color in a white world. 

  • Avory Baur

Writer: Samuel Valencia

Artist: Taylor Swift

Song: Anti-Hero

Why: I’m still a blooming swiftie admittedly, but when I say that this song read me like an open book I mean it. It perfectly captures the serious effects of imposter syndrome and how it affects just about every facet of our lives. It creeps in and slowly drags you down with it, which can be hard to overcome. This song by no means glorifies the concept but tackles the idea head-on. Given Taylor’s very high-profile career and success, it’s no wonder this song features on an album about being kept up at night over those endless thoughts. Feelings like these are the #1 contender for reasons I can’t sleep.

 

Writer: Casey Redd 

Artist: Animal Collective 

Song: Prester John 

Why: Five years after their last album release, “Prester John” was one of Animal Collective’s singles before their album “Time Skiffs” was released this year. It’s a harmonic and psychedelic listen with a touch of the group’s innate experimentalism. At around 5 minutes, the rest of the track melds into another melody that is reminiscent of sounds you might hear while playing a video game. The tracks fit together in a way that feels natural, and it’s fun to listen to every time.

 

Writer: Anjanette Gile

Artist: Charli XCX

Song: Twice

Why: The closing track off of her 2022 album “Crash” serves as a welcome reminder after the last 2 years to not let fear of failure, the unknown, rejection, or even the end of the world take control over enjoyment of life. It’s simplistic, bubbly pop sounds emphasize the idea to take life in as it happens with all of the joy and even pain that it brings rather than living a life full of regret.

 

Movies of the Year:

 

Writer: Michael Leyva

Movies: The Batman

Why: I really loved Robert Pattinson’s version of The Batman and Bruce Wayne. I spent a lot of time talking trash about him, only to have my foot in my mouth when I was watching the movie. The action, music, suspense, and gritty aesthetics were really spot-on for what is needed in a Batman movie.

 

Writer: JD Alibrando

Movies: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Why: Everything Everywhere All at Once was incredibly fun. As someone who loves a good martial arts movie but can barely tolerate an action movie, I really enjoyed the creative martial arts sequences in this movie. Despite the silliness the movie was also heartfelt. I never thought a movie could make me tear up while watching someone play the piano with their feet. It is not a movie for everyone, but I thought it was both entertaining and thought provoking.

 

Writer: Samuel Valencia

Movies: Scream (2022)

Why: Just like the original being a trendsetter for the horror genre, “Scream” is a trendsetter for the requel era of movies. It does everything “Halloween” (2018) did but better, and its commentary on modern Hollywood is perfect. The main characters being sisters is fantastic and its story is a modern take on the original. The film is also incredibly respectful of Wes Craven and his original quadrilogy. Its care for the franchise at large is incredibly admirable and makes you love the movie even more. If you were looking for an updated version of Craven’s original box office success then you are exactly where you want to be.

 

Writer: Anjanette Gile

Movie: Turning Red

Why: While featuring a familial curse that turns the teenage main character into a giant red panda, this animated feature grounds itself in its representation of Chinese-Canadian culture, puberty, and generational trauma. It succeeds through its genuine discussions of familial issues and emphasis on understanding rather than easy compromises for its younger audiences, lending itself to be meaningful for older audiences as well. As a movie, it shows a more relatable and warm understanding of what being a family means while incorporating magical elements.

 

Writer: Veronica Daniel

Movie: Nope

Why: 2022 has definitely been a year of good movies and ‘Nope’ should definitely be in the great scary/thriller film category. Award-winning Director Jordan Peele has the uncanny ability to create scary unorthodox films filled with symbolism and black voices. With an all star cast featuring Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya the film follows two siblings and their attempts to capture video proof of an extraterrestrial living in their backyard. I enjoyed the film while watching but being able to sit in on a critical theory meeting where Palmer and others explored the symbolisms was definitely the icing on the cake. 

 

TV shows of the Year:

 

Writer: Michael Leyva

Show: Andor

Why: Andor is a beautiful Star Wars story about Cassian Andor, the spark that ignited the rebellion, played by Diego Luna. A masterpiece where the viewer gets a chance to see what the Star Wars galaxy is actually like once the Empire took over.

 

Writer: Erin Kroncke

Show: Undone on Prime

Why: Undone season two picks up where season one left off, but Alma is now in a different universe where her dad is actually alive with only the two of them aware of what transpired to get them to this point in space and time. The second season successfully distinguished itself as a stand alone with its mastery in innovative storytelling. The series follows the concept of “Waking Life” as the characters are in fact performing and later are drawn into a seemingly filtered version of themselves, allowing the plot to explore multiversal concepts of time travel and existential fluidity. Alma’s sister Becca is presented as having her own powers and the spiritual journey becomes a family affair. In spite of the visual allure of the series, the deeper meanings presented are unfeigned moral concepts and timeless narratives. Strongly recommended not only for content but also an optical divergence from standard film formatting. 

 

Writer: JD Alibrando

Show: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Why: Extraordinary Attorney Woo is a Korean drama about a savant attorney with autism. It is light-hearted and can lift your spirit, but the show also deals with some sophisticated legal cases and life situations that challenge Young Woo. The main actor who plays Woo, Park Eun-bin, does an amazing job, and I easily fell in love with her character.

 

Writer: Karla Moran

Show: Twenty-Five Twenty-One

Why: Although this Korean drama took me through an emotional rollercoaster, it is my favorite show of the year. The drama is being told through the journals of Min Chea’s mother, Na Hui Do. The journals tell the story of Hui Do as she navigates through becoming the best fencer and building friendships during her late high school years in the 1990s. While it made me laugh numerous times, it also made me sob as it has a great message of first love. It let me know that first love does not always last, but it is never forgotten. It was written and executed perfectly taking the viewers through the joy of being young to the challenges that life brings as time goes by.

 

Writer: Samuel Valencia

Show: Peacemaker

Why: Despite being about a character I guarantee you no one has heard of, “Peacemaker” is a standout amongst DC’s recent attempts to catch up to Marvel. John Cena gives what I think is a career-defining performance and the supporting cast is just as up to par. The entire narrative is cohesive and all the side plots never take away from the main focus, in fact working in tandem with the main storyline. The jokes are exactly what is to be expected from the brilliant mind of James Gunn and fit right at home with his previous outing “The Suicide Squad”. With a second season on the way, catching up on this show is an opportunity that everybody should take advantage of.

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