Tis the season for listing things for no reason
A lot of my thinking in December is dominated by Game of the Year. With 2021 being the first year of Overlode, and thus, our first Game of the Year, it feels like we’ve been talking about it for ages. We’ve had a master list of all of the games that the team has to at least be familiar with before the deliberations (which you’ll be able to hear in full at the end of this month), and I’ve planning how I’m supposed to host and edit what will likely be about six hours worth of podcasting in one day.
It’s also put me right in the mood to list things. So here’s a list of things that aren’t games. That’s as specific as I’d like to be at this time. It’s worth noting that I basically don’t watch films, so if you’re wondering where X is, I’ll just point to the sign that says “I don’t watch films”. Please don’t make me tap it. Anyway, onwards.
5. tick, tick... BOOM!
I’ve bored so many people over how much I love Lin Manuel Miranda, so I’ll leave that to the side. I was shocked how much I enjoyed this film for a few reasons, mainly, I think Rent, the musical for which Jonathon Larsson (the subject of this film) is known for, is awful. Sure, Seasons of Love is an amazing song and will be part of the musical theatre canon forever, but the rest of it is toilet. So I was a bit nervous about hearing the songs he wrote before that. To my surprise, not only is Andrew Garfield a hell of a singer, but the songs are absolute ear-worms.
Jonathon Larsson was a guy who in the face of absolute rejection and mounting pressure to do something else, stubbornly stuck to this guns and refused to give up on what he wanted to do. That kind of story is absolute catnip to me, and Tick, Tick… Boom! Is one of my favourites in a long time.
4. Get Back
There’s a part in Get Back where The Beatles are talking to one of the crew on the set and one of them says something to the effect of “we’re not young, we’re 27 now” and I just about sent the controller through the TV. 27! Twenty-Seven Fuckin’ Years Old. I’ll be 27 in about six months time and here these four are having written probably 50 of the most popular songs in the history of the English language. (Editor’s note: I’m 27 and I would like to die now, please.)
It’s not just that you’re watching these literal icons come up with stuff on the spot, (although there is plenty of that, Paul McCartney has a terrifying knack for turning random mumbling into an iconic song) my favourite thing about Get Back is that you’re seeing the four of them just fuck about like mates. John Lennon isn’t this deified, if ultimately extremely flawed figure, he’s arsing about while him and Paul make up daft songs. These guys are The Beatles and they’re fannying about like they’re just pals in a music room at school.
It’s eight hours or so and honestly, I could have just sat and watched the 150 that Peter Jackson got his hands on. It’s ridiculous that something can make you have more respect for the most important band in history, but it really does. But it was Macca specifically that I just fell in love with. The way that guys mind works, and the passion he has for what he can see is the final days of The Beatles is genuinely moving.
3. Red (Taylor's version) - Taylor Swift
Red isn’t my favourite Taylor Swift album. Nor is it one of the albums that I think is in most need of a re-record as part of this multi-year journey TS is on to grab back her art from the incel hands of Scooter Braun. But as the initial tracks were released from Red, it was clear that I was wrong. Red was Taylor’s first pop album. Before that she was still firing out Bible-liking maw approved tunes that were good, but not great. Red is a properly brilliant pop album, the likes of which she’s been able to build upon, almost flawlessly (we don’t talk about Reputation, we’ve all had rough times.)
Obviously the biggest, longest and most notable song to come from this album is All Too Well – 10 Minute Version. Beyond this being the most elaborate and melodic diss-track ever released, there’s just some incredible writing on it. I don’t know if all of these lyrics were written when TS first wrote the album, but it feels like a blend of that era and her more modern thoughtful stuff.
“I was never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes,
I get older but your lovers stay my age”
That is such a good dunk that it feels like a group of people should shout “Oooooooooh” after she sings it.
2. Inside - Bo Burnham
A piece of art so good that even the thickest cunts in the world on TikTok couldn’t ruin it. There’s obviously some level of artifice to Inside. If you think that the bit in the middle where he starts crying was entirely real, then I have some tartan paint that I’d love to sell you, but it works because you believe that the moment that’s being recreated is at least representative of something that *did* happen.
The songs are the best he’s ever written that aren’t only funny and bitingly satirical, but also introspective and own up to his dodgy previous work. The direction and use of basic lights is incredible and it’s the kind of thing you’re absolutely fuming you didn’t make yourself.
Also, I always have time for Death Stranding slander. Death Slanding.
1. CM Punk returns to wrestling
When CM Punk left WWE in 2014 in horrible circumstances, I was a bit heartbroken. CM Punk is my favourite wrestler of all time, by some distance. A combination of his electricity on the mic and his wrestling style made me absolute fall in love with him in 2010. In the years following that, he was the only reason to watch an awful WWE product that otherwise would put me to sleep, so when he left, I left too.
I got back into WWE in the NXT era, and I had a new romance brewing with the ultra-talented Kenny Omega, but it wasn’t the same. That’s why when it broke that CM Punk was potentially coming back to wrestling, this time for AEW, I refused to believe it. I’d been hurt before. But this time, it was different. Many people who would know were saying it was going to happen. AEW themselves started teasing it. With one week to go, Darby Allen said the words “even if you’re the best in the world”. A direct call out to CM Punk. It was time.
As I sat up, ready to watch The First Dance, AEW’s Chicago show, there was a buzz around wrestling that there hadn’t been in ages. There’s nothing I can say to describe the feeling when that first riff of Cult of Personality hit. I cried. I didn’t tear up, I was properly crying. After seven years, he was back, and so was professional wrestling.