LISTS / Writing

Topping 2014

January 2, 2015

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Vivek and me looking back on 2014 with our faves.


In 2014 I saw Rome, icebergs, forty US states, and the home of Anne of Green Gables. I published my first novel. But most importantly, 2014 is the year I felt closest to my true gender.

As a child, I used to watch my mother get dressed up, stars in my eyes. She was the most glamorous, most beautiful. All I wanted was to be her. But surviving this world meant burying this desire so deep I thought I had killed it. This is what boys are taught: there is nothing worse than being a girl. It has taken over a decade to resuscitate that desire and to finally be the brown girl I always wanted to be.

Sometimes thinking about the time and life I have lost saddens me. But mostly I am grateful to have found my way back to myself and am excited for what is ahead. Also grateful to my femme friends who have helped me get here (+ for pro makeup tips).


Nymphomaniac – UMA. FUCKING. THURMAN.

The LEGO Movie – Unlike anything I have seen before. Eye candy X 100…with a message!

Finding Vivian Maier  – My favourite doc of 2014. It would have been easy to create a romantic portrait as we tend to do post-death, but instead an honest depiction was what rendered this movie so compelling.

The F Word – Sincerity + chemistry + heartbreak + Harry Potter + Toronto = Winning romantic comedy formula.

Maleficent – Not only satisfying movie but also important. (PS Whoever thought up the idea of Lana to cover Once Upon A Dream should get a promotion. My most listened to song of 2014.)

Snowpiercer – It would be a disservice to say the best part of this movie was Tilda, who was at her usual 10/10. That’s how good it is.

Whiplash – As someone who dabbles in many mediums, I was left wondering what it might be like to be great at one thing. To bleed for one thing.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Summer blockbuster perfection. Imaginative cast (GROOT!), nostalgic score, great twists.

Nightcrawler – So much better than Enemy. More creepy Jake pls.

Top Five – To quote Karen: “Bae goals: carries hot sauce in her purse.”

Honourable mentions:Locke, Frank & Birdman


Just when we were convinced albums were dead and singles ruled, Beyoncé proved us wrong with her ~visual album~. Very wrong. I have never been so possessed by an album for such an extended period of time, listening to nothing else for months. Standouts: Yoncé, Blow.

Honourable mentions (because after Bey, everything is only an honourable mention):

Journals (Justin Bieber) – NO JOKE. Sometimes when he is singing, I pretend he is singing to just me and maybe I blush. Standouts: One Life, Memphis.

I Never Learn (Lykke Li) – Sadness is a blessing. So is this record. Standout: Gunshot.

In Conflict (Owen Pallett) – The arrangements. The lyrics. Stunning. Standouts: Riverbend, I Am Not Afraid.

Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse (Mariah Carey) – Best Mariah record since Butterfly. Also THAT TITLE. Standouts: Cry, Dedicated.

Channeling India (Shamik) – I love my brother but this record is brilliant in its own right. Standouts: Kuyile Kuyile, The Getaway.

Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack – Sometimes you love a soundtrack because you love a movie, the music allowing you to relive your viewing pleasure. I did love this movie but this isn’t specifically why I love this soundtrack. A fuzzy and often lovely collection of songs that sound like they always belonged together. Standouts: Fooled Around and Fell in Love, I’m Not In Love.

My Everything (Ariana Grande) That opening intro alone.

Too Bright (Perfume Genius) – “No family is safe when I sashay.” Chills. Also love hearing so much Polly Jean Harvey in this. Standouts: Queen, Grid, Fool.

Tough Love (Jessie Ware) – Electronic R&B meets Norah Jones. All my faves on one record. Standouts: Tough Love, Say You Love Me.

1989 (Taylor Swift) – Karen has been trying to make a fan for years. I finally gave in. And it feels so good. Standouts: Out Of The Woods, Bad Blood, Style.

The London Sessions (Mary J. Blige) – There is no voice like Mary’s. After all these years, every note still sounds like real living, real pain and real love. Standouts: Right Now, Whole Damn Year.


Part of my hesitation in compiling a year-end list, besides wondering who would care, was realizing that the way I listen to music is very much related to 6 second Vine videos where a song is more of a punchline. The lack of attention span is depressing but creative youth being in charge of their media is not. Vivek reminded me that Beyonce dropped her album in December of 2013 and that thing consumed us until the spring of this year. There was nothing else for those months and she restored my faith in full lengths and reversed climate change too, I think. Here’s everything after Beyonce.

Songs from Vine that were good songs too:

Rae Sremmurd – No Flex Zone


Bobby Shmurda – Hot N****

My most played songs according to Itunes:

Nicki Minaj – Yass Bitch, No Flex Zone remix, Boss Ass Bitch remix, Looking Ass N****, Pills N Potions, Anaconda
I just loved everything Nicki did apparently.

Beyonce – Flawless remix feat. Nicki Minaj
ONIKA. One of her best verses here too.

Romeo Santos – Odio feat. Drake
Dreezy Drake singing BACHATA en español. I only wish there were an official video for it because these two gorgeous guys. And if you haven’t heard Romeo; dude sold out Yankee stadium so…

Enrique Iglesias – Bailando (Español) ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente De Zona
Probably listened to more Latinx music than ever (thanks, Spotify). This is warm and danceable and has 700 MILLION VIEWS so I’m really not alone at all.

Wisin – Adrenalina ft. Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin
I really mostly like seeing Ricky and Jennifer.

I did like albums not made by Beyonce:

Taylor Swift – 1989
I had to come out as a Taylor Swift fan this year. It was scary, I worried I would be judged but girl can write about her heart in a way that really taps into all the feels for this overly emotional heart of mine. I even ventured into the back catalogue (oh god) and I miss a bit of that old twang sound on this album but you got “Style”, “New Romantics” and “Out of the Woods” which are so damn great that I don’t even know myself.

Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint
I’m just always gonna root for her. Her verses for other people are always pretty magic but I do love that she plays around on her own; she gets so vulnerable on this which is so fucking brave, not only as a rapper, but as a black woman in a really harsh industry. Toughness on “Only” and then takes it down for “Bed of Lies”.

J. Cole – 2014 Forrest Hills Drive
This one snuck in before the new year. I drove around a lot in my hometown and my niece played it over and over again and I found myself missing it. “Hello” and “Apparently” got me right now. Plus, his amazing performance on Letterman needs to be watched.

And lastly, thanks Drake


Rihanna, I miss you.




Karen Campos

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