Your favourite Heartbeats’ editors have compiled a list of stuff that made 2015 bearable. We are so excited to also share year-end faves from some our friends and HDB alumni. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do. More melanin coming to ya in the new year.
Love, KC & VS
~LISTEN TO OUR APPLE MUSIC MIX96 JAMS ~ <— SONGS FROM OUR LISTS
(spotify coming soon sowee)
KAREN CAMPOS CASTILLO //
- Purpose, Justin Bieber. Have you accepted Bieber into your heart? It went from initial shame about loving the first singles (Sorry, What do you mean?) to getting acquainted with a really solid back catalogue and maybe being bummed out I didn’t run into him at the mall. Fave tracks: Love yourself, Sorry, The feeling
- Hasta la Raiz, Natalia Lafourcade. Mexican singer-songwriter-type. She mixes in a lot of traditional Mexican instruments and sound that remind me of Mexican pop my parents listened to in the 80s. Plus, she’s quite poetic. Listened to this a lot. Fave tracks: Hasta la raiz, Nunca es suficiente
- Wildheart, Miguel. Sexy AF and kinda emo so he covers a lot of ground with really great production that’s actually a lot less RnB than I was expecting. Fave tracks: Coffee, damned
Revival, Selena Gomez. There are some really solid beats and production on this Selena album. You do have to get past lyrics that are very much about being 22 and involved in pretty toxic relationships. Can’t blame her—we’ve all been there and you know it. Fave tracks: Same old love, Hands to myself.
I listen to a lot of music in Castellano (Spanish). Most of it is top 40; the kind of stuff that makes me think of hot bus rides back in El Salvador or the way my people keep warm up in here in the cold winter months.
- Ginza, J Balvin
- El perdon, Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias
- Sorry (Latino Remix), Justin Bieber & J Balvin
- Alright, Kendrick Lamar
- Where are u now, Skrillex/Diplo/Bieber
- Blessings, Big Sean & Drake & Kanye
- Throw Sum Mo, Rae Sremmurd feat. Nicki Minaj
- Know Yourself, Drake
VIVEK SHRAYA // web
- What Happened, Miss Simone? Easily the best movie of 2015. I can’t recommend it enough. Riveting, heartbreaking, educating. The fact that I had previously not heard about Simone’s important activism as part of the civil rights movement is evidence of my own ignorance and perhaps another disturbing example of the erasure of black women.
- Far from the Madding Crowd. I can’t remember the last time I saw a period film this satisfying. Also totes in love with Matthias Schoenaerts.
- Court. Learning about the Indian legal system through different class and gender perspectives was informative but ultimately, it was the cinematography, the beauty of India that made me ache.
- Creed. Hollywood take note: Old tropes or old franchises CAN BE successfully revitalized—just drop the white leads. This movie could have easily been cast with Channing Tatum or some other white guy in the main role and I am so grateful this wasn’t the case. And how fucking lovely was it to see black love on screen? The scene of Jordan playing with Thomson’s hair? Breathtaking.
- Carol. I am biased, ok? I could stare at Cate Blanchett all day. But going to see a mainstream gay movie can be a bit stressful, wondering how Hollywood will misrepresent us this time around. No spoilers but I left Carol smiling. Beautiful and perhaps even radical.
- Inside Out. A genuinely original movie—rare.
- Mad Max: Fury Road. Heralded as a feminist masterpiece, but as time has passed I wonder if this is just another case of setting the bar too low. That flamethrower guitarist tho!
- Chappie. Saw this as a joke but didn’t expect the joke to last so many months after I left the theatre. I didn’t talk about any movie in 2015 more than I talked about Chappie. Also might have experimented with Chappie roleplay during sex..
- Trainwreck. Hilarious.
Reality Show, Jazmine Sullivan. Although Jazmine Sullivan has been around for awhile, I really fell in love with her third record. She has a powerhouse voice but it’s also her lyrics, melodies and harmonies that shine here. I haven’t felt ~fannish~ about a musician in a very long time. Even debated going to Philly to see her on New Years Eve. There is still time!
Top Twenty Itunes Plays (alphabetical order):
- 1999, Active Child
- Love Yourself, Justin Bieber
- Longer, Clare Bowen & Sam Palladio
- What is Love, V. Bozeman
- Conqueror, Estelle & Justin Smollett
- The International Sound (Part. II), GENER8ION + M.I.A.
- Sledgehammer, Fifth Harmony
- No Sleeep, Janet Jackson
- Love Ain’t Enough, JRDN
- 28 Thousand Days, Alicia Keys
- Borders, M.I.A.
- James Joint, Rihanna
- FourFiveSeconds, Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney
- Do Something With It, Serayah
- Get No Better, Serayah
- Baltimore, Jazmine Sullivan
- Youth, Troye Sivan
- All Day, Kanye West (feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney)
- Only One, Kanye West (feat. Paul McCartney)
- Drip Drop, Yazz and Serayah
ANDIL GOSINE //
- Champagne Kisses, Jessie Ware. Perfectly scores the dreamiest parts of my 2015.
- Water Under the Bridge, Adele. The rest of my 2015.
- Trini dem girls, Nicki Minaj.
- No Place In Heaven, MIKA. A massively underrated Opus.
- Unbreakable, Janet Jackson. The janet/Velvet Rope trilogy is complete, finally.
- Power in the Blood, Buffy Sainte-Marie.
- Tanya Tagaq at Massey Hall.
- Stromae at Echo Beach.
- Jessie Ware, Anywhere. I’d rank a spin of either of her records at a café in the Top 3.
- The Good Wife. I don’t even notice Kalinda’s gone.
- The Mindy Project. Deserves none of the criticism, more acclaim.
- Master of None.
CALEB LUNA // tumblr
2015 was definitely the year of Carly Rae Jepsen for me.
2015 was also the year I had several people ask me, “in what way do you like Carly Rae Jepsen?”, presumably to see if my interest is ironic (the only acceptable way to enjoy pop music) or not. I kept responding with, “I like her enthusiastically and sincerely– why do you ask?” Since she burst onto the public radar with her infectious hit Call Me Maybe in 2011, she has become a figurehead for presumably shallow bubblegum pop that people love to hate for its frivolity, dismissing and minimizing what it could offer. Hating pop music is one of many culturally acceptable ways to express and indoctrinate generations of young people into hating women—a trap I fell into in my early years, when I feared, hated and actively avoided any association with pop music, which I now recognize as the rejection of feminine-coded things as a defense mechanism from the closet.
As an adult, I recognize this popular disdain for pop music as function of the patriarchy, as pop music is usually made by and geared especially towards young women
(and— honestly—queer men, especially as these stars age). As an adult, a queer person, a femme, and a feminist, I avidly love pop music and seek it out. And this is partly why I loved Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 release, E•MO•TION, but not entirely. Her lead single, I Really Like You, was released early in the year and had me hooked with its lighthearted earnesty. And when her full album was released in June, it proved itself to be a well-crafted endeavor with more depth it was given credit for—aside from the many, many articles (which I loyally read) positing why such a brilliant album didn’t much mainstream success. From the saxophone solo hook that opens the album on Run Away With Me and frames the album as an 80’s throwback, to the sweet and subtle intimacy of Warm Blood, the leave-that-loser anthem that literally everyone needs that is Boy Problems, the painful honesty that mirrors real life a little too closely (or maybe it’s just me) on Your Type, and wrapping up with I Didn’t Just Came Here to Dance, which has a beat reminiscent of the early 90s dance club music I miss so much, and an unrequited romantic storyline that feels like a prequel to Robyn’s seminal queer heartbreak cult classic Dancing On My Own— E•MO•TION is truly riddled with gems that I constantly find myself appreciating in different ways, fit almost any mood I’m in, and call to me throughout the day. This is an album that pulls me back all the time and I keep coming back to knowing there will be something new for me I didn’t catch before. E•MO•TION is, hands down, the defining album of the year for me, and Carly Rae Jepsen is truly not the pop star we deserve, but the one we need.
CASEY MECIJA // twitter
Top 3 Albums:
1. To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar
2. Late Nights, Jeremih
3. But You Caint Use My Phone, Erykah Badu
Top 3 Internet Worm Holes:
2. 2 Chainz Most Expensive Shit Videos
3. Reunion videos
DAINTY SMITH // web
It’s been an interesting year in pop culture from racist people losing their minds that there was a black character in the new Stars Wars film, Charlize Theron owning Mad Max, to the total Thursday (possibly world domination) of Shonda Rhimes, Empire the show that made people like musicals again, Viola Davis’s historical Emmy win and Amber Rose’s Slutwalk. And yes, Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None. I know, I know it’s not without it’s issues. There were some anti-black kinks that needed to be ironed out but I love that the show was fantastically honest and funny and necessary in terms of South Asian representation and reflection. It’s been good, bad and just plain ugly but I am going to go all deep and spiritual and inhale, exhale, let go of the bullshit, and focus on the really good things happened this year. I have a few favourite highlights.
- How to Get Away With Murder. I can’t rave enough about how ridiculously good this show is. How To Get Away With Murder starring Viola Davis is so real. So needed. So miraculous. First of all, Viola Davis is a brilliant actor. She is who I want to be as an actor/performer when I grow up. She is everything. But I’m calling it a miracle because I never dreamed that there would be a show with a dark skinned black woman (over the age of thirty) in the lead. A dark skin black woman who is dangerous in her complexity, sexual, intelligent, messy, confident and unsure at the same time, damaged and yes, strong. This is a show that actually allows for a black woman to be all of those things and more. Plus the sex scenes! Plus the plot twists! Plus the power outfits (Yes Annalise) Plus the heart palpitations!
- Rhianna’s BBHMM. I couldn’t. I couldn’t handle all of the awesomeness and zero fucks given. I still can’t. What’s not to love? A revenge fantasy that finally isn’t a straight white man’s revenge fantasy. I mean really Quentin Tarantino, what the hell do you have to be mad about anyway? I love Rhianna’s unabashed love of money. I love so much that she talks about making money, making her money and not having her money fucked with. As a black woman and a working artist from a working class background. Struggling financially isn’t easy, it isn’t sexy and it isn’t glamourous. Not having money is hard on my heart and affects my health, my stress levels, my sense of independence, my sense of worth. I don’t believe in the starving artist cliché—there’s nothing romantic about struggling or starving. I think we as black women need to have more conversations about money. How make it, how to get more, how to keep it, save it, how to be financially literate. This music video gave me so much life to see a pissed off black woman who is out for blood after having her money messed with. Seeing a black woman not asking but demanding her money. Her self-worth meant everything to me.
- Jada Pinkett Smith in Magic Mike XXL. Who cares that Magic Mike would never be up for an Oscar? I sat for two hours with a giant smile on my face. I was happy with good looking and half naked men dancing for women and for our pleasure. Men centering women’s desires and needs and worshipping women was almost enough for me but Jada’s appearance in the film was a wonderful bonus. She looked gorgeous in the film—that’s just important to say especially since she’s over thirty and fully shows her gown up womanness with no apology. Jada was such a boss in this movie. She was sexy and smart, and ran her own male stripper house and business. A woman in charge of her sexuality and says what she wants. I loved all of what Jada represented.
Those are my top three picks. The really great thing about pop culture is when something hits the mark and it manages to make me feel good. Feeling good sounds like such a simple thing but constantly navigating around misogyny, misogynoir, sexism, capitalism, racism, femmephobia, is exhausting and difficult work which I don’t ever get a day off from. When something makes me laugh, smile, think, feel inspired and actually, really and simply feel good. That means so much for my survival, emotional and mental health. I appreciate it when pop culture gets it right, since it often gets it so wrong. Good pop culture makes a world of difference.
BONUS: Beyonce’s outfit for the Met Gala, yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.
JESSICA KARUHANGA // web
Citizen, Claudia Rankine. I inhaled this book in a day. Or it inhaled me. The vignettes mirrored my own personal memories and bones buried deep. Citizen is timely. In a time where I remain relegated a second-class citizen based on my skin-colour and my literally being a second-generation Canadian. In a time when black lives are relegated as less than human. When a black child invokes the same fear as a mythic monster. This book emerges in the hands of Johari Osayi Idusuyi at a Donald Trump rally. This book containing fragments I hear repeated over and over again by my peers.
Artists and/or songs:
I don’t read nor do I technically understand music. I arrive at music and dance more as a feeling. What is moving and what moves.
- Hallucinogen, Kelela. I love the song that shares the album title. The ways it’s sensuousness echoes and reverberates. Also, “A Message”. The single came out shortly after an affair I was in with this dreamy boy ended. I let him in a bit but wary from past hurt not too much. I wanted to take my time and like a typical fuckboi he couldn’t keep up his game. So I am like this east-african sis gets me.
- But You Cain’t Use My Phone, Erykah Badu. This album is sexy AF. This album has me whining hips. I was thirsty for her drop something. That last song though. It got me all teary eyed. To taste a glimpse of collaboration between former lovers. Still generating meaning. Still loving but loving differently. I dream of possessing this kind of growth instead of bitter unfinished ghosts. I grew up feeling a bit like a freak and when my mum first showed me the On & On video and asked, “what do you think about this?” I just remember falling instantly in love. Her wisdom means more as I grow and evolve and as I embrace my black femme magic prowess.
- Architect of HeartBreak, Witch Prophet with Stas THEE Boss. Now back to what I said about feeling. This song has me all feels. It is on repeat like a siren. It is on repeat like a soothing massage through aching. Soon it will fade out and be gone.
- Tangerine. I am here for any #rideharddiehard sisterhood story. I am here for stories and images that are self-made and self-told with all the instruments you possess or are able to conjure.
- What Happened, Miss Simone? Nina is someone I regularly look up on youtube. I could revel in her meditations and rambling for hours on end. When I watch old videos I lose sense of time. I travel back. I imagine being with her in real time and space in here and now.
MAX MOHENU // tumblr
5 Favourite EP’s of 2015:
- Hallucinogen EP, Kelela This came just at the right time. I was itching for something new from Kelela for since her Cut 4 Me mixtape, which still gets a lot of play to be honest. This EP slays from start to finish. Each song takes me to a different place and her vocals are on another level. Fav Track: Gomenassi
- Dark Blue EP, Mizan K. Mizan most earnest moments shine through her deepest anxieties and that’s what made this EP such a big one for me. She’s the latest signing to Terrible Records. 2016 will most definitely be her year. Fav track: Looking For
- Committed Language EP, Laura Groves. Laura Groves is an artist I discovered through my girl Gloria who works for Brace Yourself PR. She’s so dreamy. I love everything about her. Fav track: Dream Story
- I Am Your Protector Now EP, Nadia. This song feels like waking up from the best dream and wanting to live in that world forever. Nadia is part of collective called Phantom Posse, which features ILoveMakonnen, Steve Sobs, and Nicholas Nicholas. I was so stoked when I found out she had a solo project. The whole EP is incredible. Fav track: Survival Mode
- Lace EP, Michael Beharie. Aside from producing my EP, Michael is a fucking genius and has his hands in so many pots. The way he produces and makes sounds is beautiful. Really proud of him and blessed to have connected with him musically. I can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been cooking up. Fav track: Estella
- Garden Of Delete, Oneohtrix Point Never
- Mutant, Arca
- Age Of Transparency, Autre Ne Veut
- Have You In My Wilderness, Julia Holter
- Platform, Holly Herndon
5 Releases I Missed That I’m Gonna Check Out:
- No No, Co La
- Elaenia, Floating Points
- The Epic, Kamasi Washington
- Summertime ‘06, Vince Staples
- Pregnant With Success, Junglepussy
How To Get Away With Murder
I took a trip to New York in June to get some inspiration for my debut EP. I had the best meals, drank 4 coffees a day, chilled with a bunch of friends and met my producer Michael Beharie (we’d met before through friends, but this was our first sober meet-up haha).
Whythe Hotel (Brooklyn)
Soft Spot (Brooklyn)
Holy Oak (Toronto)
- SHOCK VALUE (New York)
- Bruk Out/Shottas (New York)
- Feministry (Toronto)
- Hotnuts (Toronto)
- Essence Brown (Toronto)
Fav “Hotline Bling” meme/vid: The Zelda one.