The art and people we love that saved 2016 from itself.
25 - The Hike by Drew Magary
When you read a book prominently featuring a talking crab, you don’t expect to find profound lessons within, but it demands attention to the last page. The Hike is one book you won’t soon forget. - Andy Newman
24 - The Omega Men: The End is Here by Tom King
Mixing the colorful space opera environs of Guardians of the Galaxy with the grim, political upheaval of our history in the Middle East, this series completely blew me away this year. - Joey Cruz
23 - Genius
22 - Swiss Army Man by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Sometimes it takes a farting corpse to show you the simple beauty of life, love, and happiness. Swiss Army Man is one of the most original and utterly enjoyable movies of the year. - Matt Wigham
21 - The Outline
What would you get if you mixed Snapchat with The New Yorker? You’d have The Outline, the first publication built for the modern age.
20 - Miss Sharon Jones! by Barbara Kopple
Awe-inspiring look into the life of one of the best and hardest-working artists I’ve ever been lucky enough to see. It was incredibly sad to lose her this year, but jamming her stuff helps! - Rachel Gollay
19 - Bon Iver’s “22, A Million”
Ever since hearing new tracks at the inagural Eaux Claires festival in 2015, I was hooked. Musically, there’s a lot of new territory being explored (even inventing a new instrument, called “the Messina”), but the experimentation doesn’t stop there. The album is full of obscure song titles, artwork , and lyrics that pulled me in and forced me to spend more with the album. Justin Vernon also ditched the traditional press interviews this time around - bringing in journalists from all over the world (even a few super small town Wisconsin newspapers) to a new boutique hotel in his hometown of Eau Claire for a listening party and a Q&A. The liner notes feature a “dream team” of sorts of past and present Eau Claire artists and musicians. It’s clear how crucial the collaborations were to the final release. - Nick Endle
18 - Always Shine by Sophia Takal
Alfred Hitchcock would be proud.
17 - Angel Olsen’s “MY WOMAN”
Every song on this album feels like an instant classic. After one listen, chances are you’ll find yourself singing along to each song like it’s an old familiar tune. From losing her twang to developing a more full sound, this record sounds like a woman who finally found her voice and isn’t afraid to fully express it however tender or intense it may be. - Vanessa Wardy
Listen to this and more in our Best of 2016 playlist.
16 - How Art Can Transform The Internet
Chris Gethard’s refreshingly unique podcast featuring: “1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred.”
14 - Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book”
13 - Thunder Road by Jim Cummings
12 - Still Processing
Listen to Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham work through the biggest stories from the week before, and wish they were your best friends.
11 - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
I was a kid at the time, but still have a lot of memories of the O.J. Simpson trial: the car chase, the glove, Marcia Clark’s hairstyles. As an adult, it’s fascinating to see the case unfold (and unravel). The series is perfect for someone who gets hooked on every true crime podcast (ahem, me). - Sarah Anderson
10 - Frank Ocean’s “Blonde”
It was worth the wait.
9 - A Tribe Called Quest’s “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”
When an artist I love returns from a long absence, I’ve been conditioned to expect disappointment. Sometimes the spark has gone, the context in which the artist first emerged has changed, or cash rather than artistry is driving the project. A Tribe Called Quest avoided those pitfalls. Their album crackles with creativity and purpose, sounding contemporary, vital, and unmistakably like them. - Richard Laing
8 - Not being on Facebook
Sometimes you just need a break from the likes and pokes.
7 - David Bowie’s “Blackstar”
Described by its co-producer Tony Visconti as a “parting gift” for his fans, Blackstar was released just two days before David Bowie’s death. Bowie’s work has always been defined by innovation and reinvention, challenging himself and his adoring audience. Blackstar received widespread critical acclaim, hitting #1 on the US and UK album charts - Bowie was in full control of his stage, inspired and relevant to the end. - Richard Laing
6 - Arrival by Denis Villeneuve
Every year there’s that one Sci-Fi film nobody should miss. This year, it was Arrival. This story about humanity’s first contact with alien life struck a nerve with audiences and critics alike, and it’s no wonder why! Arrival explores a deeply humane story that speaks to the values of collaboration, communication, and empathy. Director Denis Villeneuve, star Amy Adams, cinematographer Bradford Young, composers Jóhann Jóhannsson and Max Richter, and writers Ted Chiang and Eric Heisserer came together to bring us a film that is at once optimistic, heart-breaking, and inspiring. A meditation on human (and non-human) resilience in the face of impossible choices. - Joey Cruz
5 - Solange’s “A Seat at the Table”
Solange has arrived and she has something to say. It feels like she’s perfected the creative process, through which A Seat at the Table quietly became one of the year’s most compelling and necessary releases. - Andy Newman
4 - Stranger Things
A retro-wave soundtrack, kid heroes, Dungeons & Dragons, monsters and psychics, and lots and lots of wood paneling. The dream of the 80s is alive in Stranger Things. - Joey Cruz
3 - New babies in the Big Cartel family
Hi Kate, Ryder, and Murphey!
2 - Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”
Lemonade (the film) or Lemonade (the album) alone would’ve been a breakthrough display of artistic vision. With both, Beyoncé solidified herself as one of the strongest voices of our generation. - Andy Newman
1 - Moonlight by Barry Jenkins
Director Barry Jenkins took eight years to discover and create his latest film, Moonlight. Moments within can be devastating, but it always finds beauty in the struggle. Moonlight is a testament to the power of empathy and telling stories that aren’t often told. - Andy Newman