Things That Gave Me Life in 2016

Shades of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy year.

Flickr / The Overtime Illustration

Everyone’s said it — 2016 has been and continues to be an unbelievably cruel year. From major celebrity deaths to devastating worldwide elections, it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. But, some good stuff happened. I promise. Here is a brief list of stuff that made me happy in 2016.

Beyonce’s Lemonade

I’ve always liked Beyonce, but this year’s surprise visual album made me absolutely love her. Although I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the target audience of this album, I appreciated so much about it — the journey, the scenery, the anger, the pettiness, the love, the tears, and most of the all, the woman who turned something that could have undone her into art that revived her. Girl power and all that. Plus, there is something wonderful about blasting Sorry in the car.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama was simultaneously the MVP and VIP of an otherwise blood-thirsty election. Her class was unrivaled, as she gave two of what might easily be considered the most memorable speeches of the entire cycle. The first was at the DNC, in which she coined the now-famous slogan “when they go low, we go high.” The second came from a podium in New Hampshire following the leaked tapes of President-elect Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault. In both speeches, the First Lady never said his name, but we all knew. She spoke for Americans on both sides of the aisle without resorting to fear tactics or anger. She spoke to the best parts of us as a national community, and I will forever be grateful for it.

Joe Biden Memes

Following that same devastating election cycle, like many, I felt a onslaught of negative emotions. Depression. Fear. Anger. Hopelessness. And then came the Joe Biden memes featuring everyone’s favorite ice cream-lovin’ OG Vice President. The attribute that made these memes so great wasn’t just that they played on the epic bromance between Obama and his right-hand man. It was the way that many of the creators took that same fear, anger, and hopelessness many of Americans were feeling and found a way to make me laugh at it.

A Moon Shaped Pool

I love Radiohead. Like, I really, really love Radiohead. I became a fan during the OK Computer era and worked my way backward, then forward again. There are, however, definitely albums that aren’t my favorites, and 2011's The King of Limbs was one of them. But when A Moon Shaped Pool dropped this year, I remembered why I’d fallen in love with the group in the first place. This album takes bits and pieces from every era and weaves them all into a heartbreaking, hauntingly beautiful album that makes me want to write novels or spend hours staring at my ceiling. From fan favorite True Love Waits finally getting the studio treatment, to the long-hinted-at Burn the Witch and my personal favorite Identikit, this album is utterly perfect and easily my favorite of the year.

Boaty McBoatface

This year, a website opened to take name suggestions for a brand new research ship. Did we learn nothing from the Lay’s Potato Chips #DoUsAFlavor campaign? It shouldn’t surprise us that “Boaty McBoatface” became the clear favorite atop a list of more conventional names. Although the polar research vessel was ultimately named after Sir David Attenborough despite the popular poll (something’s fishy with these popular polls this year), the entire Boaty McBoatface naming saga was the Internet at its finest.

2016was clearly a good year for music, certain members of the Obama team, and boats. While the year appears to be ending on a sad note for many, it is once again vital to remind the public of the good in our lives and shared culture. Music, art, writing, and humor are here to stay and will continue to serve as uplifting forces in the face of perceived darkness. Here’s hoping to less darkness in 2017.

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