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Staff Picks: Best of 2016
By Thomas Louis Posted in Culture on December 16, 2016 0 Comments
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2016 is finally winding down to its conclusion. While many will reflect on what was an eventful year (to put it mildly), let the Holyfield staff also help you reminisce on some of the year’s best offerings from music, movies, television, and video games.

Cody Conley

Yes, Blackstar gets extra credit because David Bowie passed away this year. Usually these sorts of extenuating circumstances don’t affect how I approach an album, but it’s impossible to separate Blackstar from Bowie’s death because that’s how Bowie designed it. Who else would release an album with a track titled “Lazarus” months before their expected demise? Also, who else would release an album of alien jazz rock and eerie ambient soundscapes, and then throw a crypto-trap song in for good measure, complete with a Young Thug impression? As if we needed further proof that Bowie’s daring vision and grinning love of fate, we are lucky to have an album like Blackstar.

Top 10 Albums of 2016:
1. David Bowie – Blackstar
2. Frank Ocean – Blonde
3. Mitski – Puberty 2
4. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
5. Solange – A Seat at the Table
6. Angel Olsen – My Woman
7. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
8. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
9. Blood Orange – Freetown Sound
10. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Favorite Movie: Arrival
Favorite TV Show: BoJack Horseman
Favorite Video Game: I didn’t even download Pokemon Go

Premal Bhatt

Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo is exactly what Yeezy fans were looking for: an album that incorporated elements that have made each of his prior albums great – all blended into one. The four-track stretch from “Waves” to “Wolves” is one of my favorite album stretches ever, utilizing the likes of Chance the Rapper, Chris Brown, the Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, and Frank Ocean to perfection. Kanye has always, consistently, put out versatile records. The Life of Pablo has the ability to have listeners be able to play back the entire album, or pick out particular tracks when it’s time to turn up. The true sign of a great album is the desire to have multiple listens. To say Pablo was the most played of 2016 for me would be a massive understatement.

Top 10 Albums of 2016:
1. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
2. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
3. Travis Scott – Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
4. Solange – A Seat at the Table
5. Rihanna – Anti
6. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
7. Rae Sremmurd – ScremmLife 2
8. Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
9. The Weeknd – Starboy
10. DJ Khaled – Major Key

Favorite Movie: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Favorite TV Show: The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
Favorite Video Game: NBA 2K17

Matthew Thomas

2016 was a weird year for music, at least for me personally. From the drama surrounding Kanye West’s album release, to a surprise release from Bon Iver, to a band like Weezer giving us good music, to a band like Blink-182 giving us not-so-good music. It’s only fitting that my favorite album of the year comes from a band that not only had I never heard of prior to the release of this album, but one that I needed to do a double take when I heard the band’s name. Enter: Car Seat Headrest’s Teens of Denial. At certain moments on this album, frontman Will Toledo feels inexplicably lame. At other times, Toledo feels invincible. At no moment on the album, however, is Toledo not absolutely relatable and wonderfully imaginative. Teens of Denial is jam-packed with crafty lyrics and infectious melodies, tucked inside some of the best indie rock instrumentation in recent memory.

Top 10 Albums of 2016:
1. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
2. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
3. Frank Ocean – Blonde
4. Every Time I Die – Low Teens
5. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
6. Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere
7. Against Me! – Shape Shift with Me
8. Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
9. Glass Animals – How to Be a Human Being
10. Weezer – Weezer (White Album)

Favorite Movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Favorite TV Show: Daredevil (Season 2)
Favorite Video Game: Pokemon Go (duh)

Grant Evan

Robert Ellis is doing something in the country genre that I wish every artist in every genre would explore more: blatant truthfulness. Ellis is channeling the old country greats on his self-titled third album, while also forging ahead and snagging elements of other stylings along the way. Any fan of country (or even just music) will find something sonically pleasing while being accompanied by Ellis’ smooth Nashville tenor. Where this album excels, however, is in the storytelling and the complete exploration of human intimacy. Subject matter ranges from thinking a person is perfect because we’re hard-wired to think that of our partners (“Perfect Strangers”), to a track from the perspective of a woman who lost someone she thought she’d always have (“California”), to the realization that one will only ever find monogamy to be strange if your own relationship is failing (“Elephant”). This album is a no-brainer for top album of 2016 for me and I want everyone who has ever thought about a relationship to listen to it.

Top 10 Albums of 2016:
1. Robert Ellis – Robert Ellis
2. BeyoncéLemonade
3. Tyler Glenn – Excommunication
4. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
5. Joey Hines – Oh Ho
6. Watsky – x Infinity
7. Drive By Truckers – American Band
8. Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me
9. Mitsky – Puberty 2
10. Bon Iver – 22, A Million

Favorite Movie: Deadpool
Favorite TV Show: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Favorite Video Game: Fire Emblem Fates

Berto Gonzalez

I’m a sucker for good hip-hop; more specifically: good, lyrically-smooth, beat box booming, bass-grooving hip hop. Pete Rock has been an absolute fixture in the rap community since the early ’90s with his turntable mastery. Smoke DZA is a part of the new wave of talented lyrical tricksters such as Big K.R.I.T., A$AP Rocky, T.D.E., and Curren$y. This cool wave of throwback and kickback fusion flushed over me as it entered my ears and into my mind in a very pleasing manner. I highly recommend this album for those in the mood for a retro DJ booth with the turntable scratch sound, and also some raw cypher poetry flow. You know, whichever comes first.

Top 10 Albums of 2016:
1. Pete Rock & Smoke DZA – Don’t Smoke Rock
2. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
3. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
4. Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
5. Schoolboy Q – Black Face LP
6. A$AP Mob – The Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends
7. Ab-Soul – Do What Thou Wilt
8. J. Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only
9. Travis Scott – Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
10. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book

Favorite Movie: Deadpool
Favorite TV Show: Atlanta
Favorite Video Game: NBA 2K17

Matt Bram

Accompanied by a brilliant hour-long film, Lemonade is a journey through stages of grief, ultimately leading to acceptance. Incorporating elements of funk, blues, trap, country, pop, and rock, this is by far her most diverse and personal record to date. This is her most accessible and relatable album, despite often going against the heavy pop-influences she has had in the past. On the album, she provides us with some of the best songs that country, R&B, and pop music has to offer this year. The film, which should be interpreted along with the album, is just the icing on the cake.

Top 10 Albums of 2016:
1. Beyonce – Lemonade
2. Camp Cope – Camp Cope
3. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
4. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
5. The Hotelier – Goodness
6. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
7. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
8. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
9. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
10. Solange – A Seat at the Table

Favorite Movie: Moonlight
Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones (Season 6)
Favorite Video Game: DOOM

Thomas Gironda

Coloring Book was Change the Rapper’s most anticipated mixtape, and it still managed to exceed the hype, something exceedingly rare in music today. The album details Chance’s evolution into a better human being for his daughter and his girlfriend. Coloring Book is Chance’s most diverse album yet, moving away from Acid Rap‘s sole theme of rapping about drugs (as the name indicates) to a broader amalgamation of both different themes and different music styles. Chance stepped out of his comfort zone on songs such as “Juke Jam” and “Same Drugs,” and did not disappoint in the least. The album incorporates the successful aspects of Acid Rap while expanding Chance’s musical styles into gospel, soul, and pop. The diversity of Coloring Book, its personal message, and its symbolism of Chance’s personal growth make it the clear cut best release of 2016 for me.

Top 10 Albums of 2016:
1. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
2. Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
3. Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
4. Kings of Leon – Walls
5. Frank Ocean – Blonde
6. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
7. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
8. David Bowie – Blackstar
9. Van Morrison – Keep Me Singing
10. Young the Giant – Home of the Strange

Favorite Movie: Hell or High Water
Favorite TV Show: Atlanta
Favorite Video Game: XCOM 2

Want to tell us your favorites from 2016? Join us on the forums.

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