Media highlights 2023 (July to December)

Published 22 December 2023 ⋅ Comment on Substack

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Media I enjoyed from the second half of 2023. Previous lists:

Ordering remains arbitrary. Let me know if you find something from this list that you end up enjoying.

Books

I keep track of what I read on Goodreads (some written reviews also live here).

Music

I log most things on rateyourmusic.com. I also have a Spotify with some playlists.

Albums I most recommend from the last year:

Favourite songs

New

Jazz

Electronic and ambient

Classical / orchestral

Pop / dance / hip hop

Everything else

(sidenote: Yes, this is a mess.)

Music on YouTube

(Small discursion) A musical sub-genre has emerged on YouTube of ‘evocative long-play soundscapes plus relevant visuals’.

Typically you get a descriptive title which sells the mood it plans to evoke; something like:

You get some nice visuals, maybe subtly animated: a picture of the rainy cafe you’re supposed to imagine you’re in, an illustration of the video game the music is taking after, or most famously:

Lofi girl

Then there’s the sound: music, often recycled songs, drawn out and processed. No vocals ever. And comforting sound effects like rain or static.

Think of this as a kind of multimodal heir to the role of much ambient music.

If you spend much time in the right corners of YouTube I expect you’ll notice this kind of video as a distinctive phenomenon, otherwise take my word for it. I expect it absorbs far more listening hours than virtually any ambient music labelled as such.

I also notice that so much of these videos are either aimed at evoking nostalgia, or otherwise are full of comments remarking on how nostalgic they feel. For example: 'minecraft music but the nostalgia literally hurts… '. This strikes me as a notable and somewhat new phenomenon: YouTube videos generating vast amounts of nostalgic feelings, especially among young people. What explains that?

Some other favourites:

Films and videos

Films

Didn’t watch many, nor venture beyond the already-widely-highly-regarded. Still:

Special mention to Letterboxd, the website Goodreads could become if it grows up.

Videos

Words on the internet

Websites

Writing and speaking

Please let me know if you picked something up from this list which you enjoyed!

Books (DALL-E 3)



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