The Fifth Annual Mildly Pleased Awards

If you’re being honest, do all the non-Oscars movie awards shows matter to you? Do you care about the various guilds’ picks? What about lists from critics, newspapers, and blogs? Certainly you don’t care about the Golden Globes, right? Not really, at least, because all those people are going to be talking about the same 10 or so movies which are undeniably great. And that’s true, to a lesser extent, in pretty much every medium.

That is why, for five years now, the Mildly Pleased Awards have celebrated the “good, not great” works that would otherwise go forgotten. After all, everyone one of us just lived through a whole 365 days of 2016. If we were to just talk about the 10 good days, it wouldn’t really do the year justice, would it? So join us as we count down the most OK video games, music, TV, and film from the last year. Oh, and hit the jump to check out our viral video nominees… They’re fine!

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Sean’s Top 10 Albums of 2016

Is anything even good anymore? This last year has been a real challenge for my assumptions about myself and the world, and my inner turmoil definitely affected my media consumption. The fact that we all pay so much more attention to the news now, and the news tending to be so bad, drove me to spending a lot of time with multimedia comfort food; lots of movies and TV and old video games I didn’t have to think about too much. But music doesn’t have that escapist quality, tending often to be more reflective, as both Colin and John can tell you, which made my search for a joyous sound all the harder. This wasn’t a great musical year for me, is what I’m saying. I think a lot of albums that others would have called “great” were just “good” to me.

That being said, I do have a few honorable mentions. As always, this is a list that reflects my favorite albums based on my listening habits this last year. There are more albums that I liked and better albums that I didn’t spend as much time with, this is stuff from 2016 that I liked most in 2016. Of the five that just barely missed the cut, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, that album from The Walkmen guy and the Vampire Weekend guy, is the one that makes me the most sad, since it would have been on all three of our lists. There are a couple Colin albums I’d like to listen to more, namely Pile by A Giant Dog and WORRY. by Jeff Rosenstock (which I foolishly ignored for too long). Where’d Your Weekend Go? by The Mowgli’s suits only nice weather listening, but “Spacin’ Out” is definitely 2016’s #1 summer jam. Speaking of jams, the title track from Big Thief’s Masterpiece is awesome. That surprise Childish Gambino release “Awaken My Love!” is cool too. Finally, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, which deftly showed off how much Jonny Greenwood had learned doing movie soundtracks, was quite good as well.
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John’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

I’m scared. I’m scared that even the slightest mention of a celebrity right now may inadvertently lead to their death. Less than a week ago my girlfriend and I were talking about Watership Down author Richard Adams (R.I.P. 1920-2016). And how many people had George Michaels “Last Christmas” on the brain before the Wham singer died ON Christmas? And now Carrie Fisher? It’s been that kind of year.

Music has been no exception, quite the contrary, it’s suffered some of the biggest blows. The loss of the Starman affected me the most, but no doubt I felt the loss of Prince, Glenn Frey, Maurice White and more. We lost two-thirds of Emerson Lake and Palmer, Phife Dog from A Tribe Called Quest, and many more talented people. The one silver lining is that we’ll always have the music. Music never dies. With that somber reminder out of the way let’s get to the list.

Honorable Mention
Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Paul Simon – Stranger to Stranger

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Colin’s Top Ten Albums Of 2016

With George Michael’s passing yesterday (just, why?) it has continued to be abundantly clear that 2016 has not only been a hard year to be a human being, but also a hard year to be a music fan.  And yet, even when we get bogged down with some beloved musician’s death or a million different news stories that should fill us with nothing but the utmost despair, music fights back.  Take for instance the fact that even with the year not quite being over, just a few hours prior to the news of the reluctant gay icon’s passing, we also got a new Run The Jewels album that I’m sure will suitably rally us against whatever bullshit is headed our way in 2017.

So when I say 2016 was an overwhelmingly great year for music, it’s hard for me not to think that this was some sort of reaction to all the bad stuff that went down in 2016. Now, I can’t say that artists were making a conscious decision to make great albums this year, since I assume most artists are aiming to make great albums whenever they can. But I suppose it’s possible there was this feeling in the air that this shit really mattered in 2016. For me, music has always been the most immediate, gut-level art form, and so I think for that reason, a lot of musicians felt the need to speak from their guts, which in turn created a lot of albums that spoke to people’s guts, minds, bodies, souls, etc.

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Some Kind of Movie – Ep. 7: Don’t Choke on Your Aspirations

What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become? A listener of Some Kind of Movie, of course! We’re back to talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the ninth film in the franchise to get a theatrical release, and the first of Disney’s off-year anthology initiative. Is it good? Is it fun? Is it ethically sound? We try to answer these questions but mostly try not to be boring. Check it out, and may the force be with you, always.

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2016 Music Requiem: Can’t Die

Chris Farren – Can’t Die

As long as Colin is writing about Jeff Rosenstock, I should probably say something about his Antarctigo Vespucci bandmate, Chris Farren, who also released a solo album this year.

Can’t Die is Chris Farren’s solo debut, but you might also know him from the band Fake Problems or his eclectic Christmas album Like a Gift from God or Whatever. Between all those projects, you’ll get a good sense of Farren’s poppy, introspective, self-deprecating sensibilities, which are fully represented on Can’t Die.

Farren definitely is relatable, as he sings about wanting to be liked, guilt, the realization that the world doesn’t revolve around him and that one day he will die (but it will be OK). I’m with you, brother.

Generally, the music is anthemic, driving, and upbeat. There’s lots of guitars and pianos, but Farren brings the synths when they’re called for too. It’s the best kind of feel-good music, and this year needed a lot of that. If you can’t get worked up over “Say U Want Me,” go to the hospital. You need help.

Favorite Tracks: “Say U Want Me,” “Still Beating,” “Everything’s My Fault”

2016 Music Requiem: WORRY.

Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY.

I would say Jeff Rosenstock’s still-relatively-new album is a pretty good indicator that 2016 was a legitimately great year for music. Because upon first hearing it, I was actively resisting its greatness. Like, we’re almost at end-of-the-year top ten times hear at Mildly Pleased, and my top ten feels so complete at this point and I’m getting sick of rearranging it over and over again. And that’s not even to mention the fact that there are still albums that have been placing high on a lot of music publication’s top tens that I haven’t spent enough time with (mainly the two by those Knowles sisters), and there’s even that Childish Gambino record that I haven’t gotten around to listening to. So an album that hits my pleasure centers in such a potent way as WORRY. feels almost like an inconvenience than another welcome addition to a year chocked full of great music.

But at the end of the day, I just can’t deny the pleasurable potency of this rockin’ opus. Rosenstock is an artist that I had zero prior knowledge of, but apparently he’s been a force on the ska/punk scene in New York for many years, though considering ska’s never really been my bag, I guess it makes sense that I’d never heard of him. But what’s most impressive is just the wide variety of different rock sounds Rosenstock takes on here – from the album’s opening notes, he sounds like an angstier Brian Wilson, which eventually transitions into a fist-pumping, anxiety-ridden sing-a-long like “Wave Goodbye To Me”. Then towards the end of the album, we get to this series of songs were Rosenstock embraces his ska roots and even delves into a little bit of hardcore as well.  The point is, it’s a big mish-mash of sounds that probably shouldn’t work, but totally does due to Rosenstock’s steady hand as a songwriter, and in the process serves as another great antidote to fighting the oncoming dread of 2017.

Favorite Tracks: “Festival Song”, “Wave Goodnight To Me”, “I Did Something Weird Last Night”