This year, I had my ups-and-down with pop culture. But I am happy to say that by the end of 2013, I have come to terms with a lot of my demons and accepted a new outlook on most of them.
1. Kanye West
Kanye West was a big let down this year. I thought Yeezus was underwhelming and unfocused. But it wasn't West's latest album that had me bumming big time; it was the ego-maniac, Kim Kardashian-obsessed monster that he turned into.
I've learned to love Kanye based solely on his music because his attitude is garbage. I feel West was dealt a difficult card when he lost his mother in 2007 and has been grasping for sanity ever since. I was hopeful this year, with his album being hyped as one of his best, but the trainwreck that followed now has me feeling otherwise. I even got to witness "Yeezus" live in concert at the Wells Fargo Center; how could that show be disappointing? Well, it was. If you weren't sitting on floor level, or in the 100 section, you probably had a terrible view. I saw Beyonce in the 200-level just months earlier and that show was phenomenal! Kanye's stage set-up was angled in a way that gave pricier seats the view advantage, making it one of the least enjoyable shows of my life (Note: I have seen Kanye twice before. Both shows were oustanding.). But mostly, it was his oversaturated presence in the media – there were more negatives than positives. Rants, Kim Kardashian, birth of baby, album, rant, lawsuit, rant. Enough already. Give me my moderately pissed off Kanye back! I'm now just waiting for the Kim breakup album.
I've always been indifferent about men's facial hair. Some people see it as a requirement when looking for love; but when it came to my personal preference, a five o'clock shadow was the most I'd put up with. This year it seemed like everyone around me was participating in "Movember," including my boyfriend. So he started to grow this prickly beard and it poked my face and I hated it. Months later, it's not the spotty white trashy beard I had grown distain for; it's now become one of my favorite things about him. Hurrah for beards – I'm embracing men's facial hair!
3. Obsessively checking my phone
There really is more to life than your screens and I've learned that more than ever this year.
I made a huge effort to stop staring at my phone and computer so that I could instead focusing my energy on other things. What with constantly checking work e-mail, a constant stream of social networks and making sure I'm on top of everything else, it was starting to really drain me out. Now when I'm out at a bar or restaurant, I keep it tucked away or turn it upside-down until the end of the meal or when I have a moment to myself. When I come home from work, instead of hopping back onto my laptop, I'll do some house chores and spend some time relaxing in the living room. I know it may seem like a silly revelation to some, but as technology starts to become more of a norm in daily life (which it already is), it becomes harder to unplug and walk away.
Let me tell you something; me and my girl Bey had a rough year. If you sat through that snooze of a HBO documentary – Beyoncé staring at herself in a mirror – and came out thinking, "What the heck was that?" then we're on the same page.
I've always been inspired by Beyoncé's powerful message of girl power and self-reliance. Whether or not you like Beyoncé's work, you have to admit that she's a powerful singer and one of the better female role models out there. But the Queen is kept on a tight leash and that was exposed, for the worse, over the course of this year. First it was the news that she hoards all things Beyoncé, then it was the unflattering Superbowl photos (which caused her to ban outside photographers from her shows), and that was all capped off with the documentary. Redemption came months later when I saw her live in concert (where I cried my eyes out), followed months later by a surprise album that showcased a more vocal, opinionated female figure who gave a giant middle finger to the industry by crreating and releasing music in a totally new way. This doesn't change the fact that her documentary was blah-blah, but we've all had our ups and downs.
5. Dance music
I definitely had my EDM-phase in college. I was all about going to dubstep shows and being the girl in the front of a hometown Diplo show with a silly bandana wrapped around my head. But that was before "rave culture" imploded onto itself. Now it's all about neon, drugs, and lights – lots and lots of lights. Basically losing yourself and not really enjoying what's in front of you. Luckily, there is some hope in this hopeless land of a genre: dance music. Disclosure, a UK production brother duo, released their beautiful album Settle in May of 2013. At first listen, I was cautious and unsure of their simplified melodies that wandered into pop, disco, and house territories; but it grew on me so much that it's become one of my favorite albums of the year. It has also opened me up to world of other great artists of a similar breed like Kaytranada, Sam Tiba, Nick Wisdom and other names you've probably never heard of.
What the heck happened? I used to get my daily chuckles from Buzzfeed. In fact, back when they frequently took contributions, a post of mine went viral. The site had something going for it in the beginning. Sure, it was basically a more visually appealing, dumbed down version of redditt but they generally had the best pop culture and news posts of the day all in one place. But then, the evolution of "the list" happened and all went to hell. I can't go on there without seeing something like "The 40 Most Important Corgis of 2013" or "14 Times Sofia Vergara Was Absolutly Flawless." Maybe I'm just being a big grump about it.