For me personally, 2016 was a total write-off. I feel like I sleep-walked my way through most of this year. I hardly managed to do any writing, I didn’t do enough exercise, and financially I seem to be worse off than when I started. These last couple of months have been better, because back in late November I decided to ditch the antidepressants I’d been prescribed since 2012. This was because I noticed a direct correlation between taking these tablets and my lethargy levels, which have impacted my weight, work and overall mood. The withdrawal symptoms have been truly godawful, but these have lessened now (if not entirely gone) and my energy levels are way, way up. I still have Bad Brain-Chemistry days, but seeing as my anxiety and depression is active, not reactive, that will always be there; it’s just that I am now armed with the means to deal with it more easily than I was before.
On that positive note, it’s worth remembering that there were some really good things about 2016 amidst all the depressing celebrity death and political upheaval. I list a few of these things below in my annual sum-up (you can read 2015’s effort here). So, without further ado…
1. Album that surpassed all others:
Dirge For The Archons by Diabulus In Musica
The Spanish symphonic metallers actually managed to out-Epica Epica this year with their stunning fourth album, Dirge For The Archons. Old-school, stripped-back symphonic goth-metal at its absolute finest.
Favourite tracks: ‘Marble Embrace’, ‘Earthly Illusions’, ‘The Hawk’s Lament’, ‘Zauria’
2. Most missed artists:
Of the numerous celebrity deaths that have occurred this year, none have hit me quite so hard as the very first that was announced. The world is a much bleaker place without David Bowie in it ♥
Also the late Andrew Sachs, whose brilliantly quotable work as Manuel in Fawlty Towers continues to take-up a disproportionately large amount my dialogue.
3. Album that really surprised me:
Lemonade by Beyoncé
Where on Earth did this album even come from? It’s rock, it’s roll, it’s blues, it’s full of rawness, empowerment and badassery and I love it. As if that wasn’t enough, it even has contributions from Jack White and the Weeknd on it. Not every song is my cup of tea, but I can totally appreciate every single one of them. Excuse me please, I’m off to join the Beyhive.
Favourite tracks: ‘Formation’, ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ feat. Jack White, ‘6 Inch’ feat. The Weeknd, ‘Daddy Lessons’
4. Person I would most like to have tea with:
I’ve really missed my Southern belle gal pal Lindsay this year. It’s completely rubbish that there is a whole ocean in the way between us. Personally, Lindsay, I think you should take advantage of the rubbish exchange rate and visit Jamie, Jasmin and I in the UK asap!
5. The things I’ve completely had enough of:
The EU Neverendum, Brexit, the Labour Leadership crisis and the US Presidential election, all of which I’m happy to lay the responsibility of at the feet of our loathesome, unregulated press for bigging up the most vile, odious little toad that ever stepped foot on the political stage: Nigel not-even-an-elected-MP fucking Farage.
Also a lack of funds, but that’s just an inherent part of life that I am slowly learning to live with.
6. The thing I wish I had bought myself but didn’t:
One word: shelves.
This is a tough one for me to pick this year… My reading habits were largely dictated by the Mr B’s reading subscription that Mark bought me for last Christmas so I didn’t read as much as I normally would have. One book really sticks out in my memory though, and that’s because it had such a profound impact on the way I think about the meat industry.
Under The Skin by Michel Faber
Click here to read my 3/5 star book review (although looking back on it now, I’d definitely rate it higher).
8. Album that stirred my soul:
Paper Dolls by Ayria
Released early in 2016, Canadian industrial act Ayria’s fifth album was almost prophetic in its pessimism of the year to come:
“You’ve broken her,
Crushed her will,
Maybe for all future generations.
It’s too late to say that you’re sorry
For taking her down with mob mentality.
She could have ruled the world,
But we fed her to the wolves
Because we all abhor it,
Our vanity, it kills.
We left her there as a warning in case it wasn’t clear.
Don’t misunderstand: we rule by fear.”
Favourite tracks: ‘Underneath The Water’, ‘Feed Her To The Wolves’, ‘Chameleon’, ‘Sticks And Stones’
9. Album that made me smile:
The Shadow Self by Tarja.
It is impossible to listen to the Imaginaerum-esque lilt of Nightwish kiss-off track ‘Diva’ and not smile.
Favourite tracks: ‘Supremacy’, ‘Diva’, ‘Too Many’, ‘Demons In You’ (feat. Alissa White-Gluz)
10. Most stylish person:
This year I have been taking all my style cues from a Epica’s Simone Simons — she was totally rocking the blue lipstick in Epica’s ‘Edge Of The Blade’ video; I have worn Kat Von D’s Studded Kiss lipstick in ‘Poe’ almost exclusively this year as a direct result — and Charlotte Wessels, whose ombre-pink hair I have shamelessly copied in recent weeks.
It feels a bit weird calling a living creature a thing, but that would of course be my new shelter kitten Edgar. Even though he is a brat who wakes me up before my alarm goes off in the morning, perpetually pesters Petra and destroys my beautiful black and white-striped wallpaper, he is also a cuddly, needy, purry little beast and I absolutely adore him.
12. Favourite visual feast:
Gosh, there are so many contenders for this award this year: the music video for Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’; the ‘Pretty Lavinia’ video by American Murder Song, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Rise Of The Tomb Raider and the gorgeous Skyrim remastered edition for PS4…
I think I’m going to have to give this particular award to the final scene of Episode 5 in Game of Thrones, Season 6. I cried to the point of being sick.
13. Best fictional character since Sirius Black:
Lara Croft, aka. the Tomb Raider, who turned 20 this year!
14. Coolest rock star:
The super talented Kat Von D, who finally, finally released her incredible make-up line in the UK this year exclusively at Debenhams. No more international trips to Sephora for my poor put-upon mother! I wear a lot of dark eye make-up and bold lipsticks, so for me her make-up is just perfect, and it’s all completely cruelty-free too ♥
Kat also just seems so super nice and amazingly passionate about everything she does and I love that about her. Plus her cats are just the most gorgeous creatures I have ever seen:
In fact, sorry Kat, but I’m going to name Poe and Piaf as this year’s coolest rock stars in your place. Is that allowed? Too late, it’s done.
15. Best gig:
Delain at the KOKO, Camden (13 November).
So much fun! You can read my review of the night here.
16. Most special moment:
This one ♥
Also going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with my jammy friend Michael who won us an incredible pair of front-row tickets on the Friday Forty back in July:
17. Song of the year:
I’m going to defy convention. There will be no song of the year this year. Instead, there shall be…
17. PODCAST OF THE YEAR!
My Dad Wrote A Porno by Jamie Morton, James Cooper, Alice Levine and Rocky Flintstone.
If you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, oh my goodness, you simply must. The very first episode had me in tears of laughter on my daily commute. Literally, there were actual tear tracks running down my face as I struggled to contain the laughter in public. The really great thing is, everyone around me was doing the same thing. Everyone in London is listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno. Everyone.
Come, join the esteemed ranks of Elijah Wood, Daisy Ridley and yours truly… Become a Belinker today!
18. Biggest achievement:
19. Biggest regret:
The fact that I didn’t put as much effort into reducing my credit card bills as much as I should have.
20. New Year’s Resolutions:
Bonus! Instagram’s #2016Best Nine:
For more information on items, people or bands mentioned in this post, please click the below links.
Theatre, Film & TV:
Style & Beauty:
Note: The original ‘Year In Review’ structure and the vast majority of my questions were shamelessly stolen from a MySpace blog post written by the inimitable Darren Hayes many years ago. So old is it that I’m not even sure the post exists anymore (I can’t find it regardless)! You can find out more about Darren Hayes and his wonderful effervescent self here: