It’s been exactly two years since I started this blog and the difference it has made to my life has been remarkable. Not the writing part; I’ve always done that. Even when I wasn’t writing for publication, I was wittering away on internet forums or clogging up Facebook with my rantings. No, it’s the inspiration. It’s like being in love. You know, the butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling you get that makes you feel like you’ll just burst if you don’t shout it from the rooftops – that’s how I feel when I hear a great song. It goes far beyond just transforming my mood or giving me an idea. The word “inspiration” is related to breathing, and that’s how essential and natural this process is. I might have a conscious discipline to blog every day, but that just facilitates my discovery of these wonderful tunes – the words that appear on the screen are just a manifestation, a by-product of the process. If I couldn’t write, I’d just have to speak about it, and if I couldn’t speak I’d grunt and gibber. I’d point. I’d take you by the hand and drag you over to the record player. This. Hear it. Now.
It’s been a funny year. I spent most of it pregnant, which is a lot like being really hung over for nine months. Not really conducive to productivity. Now my tiny bundle of trouble is here, blog posts are hastily composed in the few minutes she is able to sleep without being cuddled up on my lap. It’s been a funny year generally, though. There were terrifying natural disasters, tumultuous political events, and a slew of zeitgeisty buzzwords. There were the riots in the the UK, which was the logical result of our filesharing culture: if you tell people that they can take music, films and games without permission, payment or consequence, then of course they’ll just start smashing shop windows and stealing televisions and consoles to play them on – because, really, what’s the difference?
Steve Jobs died, to worldwide mourning, and John McCarthy – who coined the term “artificial intelligence” – died the same month, to little fanfare. Amy Winehouse succumbed to her addictions, and Charlie Sheen miraculously survived his own. A royal couple who actually seemed to like each other got married. Lady Gaga got boring. An American preacher predicted the Rapture – twice – and was a little embarrassed when the dates passed without incident.
And a number of things were released that I rather liked.
I was going to wait until I’d finished Skyrim before delivering my verdict, but I started playing Morrowind in 2002 and can’t really say I’ve finished that, either.
Skyrim is the best game of 2011. I think that goes without saying. The ever-reliable Adam Sessler at G4TV – one of those rare critics whose opinion you can pretty much take as gospel – put it this way: “Skyrim … is the apotheosis, not only of the open-world format, but of what games can accomplish. It is perhaps the finest experience ever made available in the medium.”
Remember I mentioned a couple of days back about the new features on the Xbox 360? Well, you probably knew all about them anyway. So, today I explored the Youtube facility of being able to play back your “Watch Later” playlist, and – on the nice big shiny screen of the TV – it’s like having your own MTV where the music is actually good!
Since I don’t really have time to sit there reading through blog posts any more and clicking on all the links, I just add the Youtube clips to my Watch Later list and can then investigate each recommendation from the comfort of the sofa while I’m taking care of Her Tiny Highness. The list of recommendations I was just exploring comes from Collapse Board’s various “best of 2011” posts, so I would in turn suggest that you add these to your own Watch Later list and play along at home.
It’s that time of year again where we reflect on the best of the year’s new music. Here’s some of my favourite songs of the year, with download purchase links for the songs you’d like to keep.