Saturday, December 30, 2023

New Year Lists. Bad Idea, Right?

New Year! Ah... dontcha just love it?  Yeah, me neither.

One thing I do quite enjoy are the recaps and the forecasts, everyone either telling you what was great about the year that's just gone or what's going to be even better about the one that's coming. I often find a lot of stuff I've missed going both directions that way, plus I'm narcissistic enough to relish that sense of affirmation, when someone else points up something I also like, as if somehow that validates my opinion.

I've read of few of those lists already. Looking backwards, there's

Elton John's Favorite 15 Songs of 2023 

Stereogum's Best Pop Songs of 2023  

Kieran Press-Reynold's Top 10ish Songs of 2023

Looking forwards, we have

The BBC Sound of 2024 Long List 

MMO Bomb's 22 Upcoming MMO Games Releasing in 2024 

Massively OP's Most Anticipated MMO Award 

and our very own Naithin's Coming Games of Interest.

I'm absolutely certain there'll be plenty more when we hit the turn of the year but for my purposes those are plenty already. I did consider doing my own, comprehensive retro and prospective lists but frankly that's a lot more research than I feel like doing right now. Instead, I thought I'd just riff off those and beef the whole thing up with a couple of easy wins of my own. Never say I don't take this sort of thing seriously!

First up, it's self-congratulation time. Not that many years ago, I was almost completely out of touch with contemporary music. MMORPGs had eaten all my available bandwidth. I could have told you far more than you ever wanted to know about which massively multiplayer games were failing, flailing or flourishing and I'd have been able to give you some solid leads on potential entrants to the field worth following. 

At the same time, not only could I not have told you what acts were tearing up the Top 40 charts, I wouldn't have been able to recognize more than a handful of the names if you'd told me. To my shame, the decade and a half from the turn of the millennium to around 2014 or so is a blank void in my memory when it comes to popular music. As someone who'd previously never felt out of touch with the prevailing trends in thirty years, realising how far I'd let myself fall behind was a traumatic moment of self-discovery.

It explains why I feel so smug now, when I see names and songs on these lists that have also appeared in posts here throughout the year. Well, that and the unfortunate fact I can be a smug git about these things at the best of times. Still, I can't help seeing it as a recovery from near-disaster. I'll never get those lost years back but at least I've stopped the rot.

We Can Be Anything - Baby Queen

Among the artists I've enjoyed in 2023, who also appear on one or more of the lists linked above, are Baby Queen, Chappell Roan, PinkPantheress, New Jeans, Caroline Polachek, 100 Gecs, Charli XCX, Feeble Little Horse, bar italia and The Last Dinner Party. All of those have turned up in What I've Been Listening To Lately posts this year, some of them more thah once. 

Ahead of them all, though, and topping two out of three countdowns above, comes Olivia Rodrigo. Like Wet Leg the year before, Olivia released a string of electrifying singles, all exploding with infectious energy and studded with smart, scintillating one liners. Best of all was the exhillarating, addictive, anarchic Bad Idea, Right? I'm not going to pick a song of the year but if I did...

What I am going to do is list the ten songs featured in those WIBLTL posts that I went on to listen to even after their moment had passed. The bittersweet truth about almost all pop music is that it's ephemeral by definition. It's joy is in the now. When I look back at the posts I wrote this year, I barely even remember some of the songs at all. As for humming the chorus of most of them (Assuming there ever was one.) - forget it.

The following ten, though, I remember very well indeed. I listened to them all, over and over, around the time I wrote the posts and plenty of times since, too. In no particular order, they are

Candy Necklace - Lana del Rey Feat. Jon Batiste

Engine - Slaughter Beach, Dog

Speed Drive - Charli XCX

We Can Be Anything - Baby Queen

New Jeans - New Jeans

A&W - Lana del Rey

What Was I Made For? - Billie Eilish

Alma Mater - Bleachers

Veronica Mars - Blondshell

Bad Idea, Right? - Olivia Rodrigo

Of the ten, the outlier is Alma Mater. I have never liked anything by Bleachers before. It probably isn't going too far to say I've actively disliked the few songs of theirs I've been careless enough to hear. Why I like this one so much is unclear. I'm expecting it to be an aberration. Hoping, really. I'm not sure I could cope with being someone who likes Bleachers.

Veronica Mars is, I think, the only song on the list not from this year. It's from 2022. It's also almost certainly the song on the list I've listened to the most times. For a while I was listening to it every night, right before I went to sleep. I haven't heard it for too long. I'm going to listen to it right now...

Yep. Still just as magnificent. Also, this just in... Joiner, which I very nearly used here instead of Veronica Mars because it's nearly as good and I listened to it on repeat for a good while earlier this year, turns up on Barack Obama's Top Songs of 2023. Now that's a meeting of the minds I would not have predicted!

Obviously I listened to a lot more Lana than those two tracks but here I'm only talking about songs I listened to through the blog itself. Yes, I do go back to the posts and use them to play stuff. Lana, I can listen to on CD. 

Speaking of CDs, a format whose demise, along with every other physical format, appears to have been overstated, of the artists listed in this post so far I bought CDs by Lana, Olivia Rodrigo and Bar Italia, or rather I had them bought for me. I also asked for and received an album by someone who doesn't appear on any of the lists - yeule. I haven't taken it out of the shrink-wrap yet.

daizies - yeule

So much for music. How about games? For this I'm going to take the simple solution of listing everything on my Steam Wishlist. If it's on there, I must be looking forward to it, right?

First, though, let's assess the nearly two dozen titles MMO Bomb threw out. There are four titles on there I've already play-tested: Past Fate, Tarisland, Reign of Guilds and Once Human. Past Fate was okay but a bit grim and worthy; Reign of Guilds the same only more so. Both Tarisland and Once Human I really enjoyed (Still am enjoying in the case of the latter.) and plan on playing when they release.

Of the remaining eighteen, the only one that really interests me is, inevitably, Nightingale. I mean, we're all waiting on that one, right? I received multiple emails from the developers asking me to apply for the beta this year, all of which I declined because it has a very strict NDA. I'm not interested in play-testing anything I can't blog about, these days. I'll be there when Nightingale launches, though. So will you. Don't pretend otherwise!

Pax Dei and Blue Protocol mildly intrigue me. I'll try them if they're F2P. The rest either I don't know enough about to form an opinion or they're not my kind of thing at all. Of the games mentioned in the MOP post, nothing else is anywhere near close enough to release to be worth thinking about. 

Obviously I'll be playing the new EverQuest game, if it ever happens, although since I'll be pushing seventy by the earliest possible release date, it had better have some strong accessibility options. Light No Fire also looks interesting but I've managed without No Man's Sky this far so I'll probably pass.

None of the games on Naithin's list mean anything to me except for Baldur's Gate 3. I really want to play that but I haven't yet because a) it's far too expensive and b) I'm not convinced my PC will run it. I'm waiting for a decent sale and then I'll risk it. 10% off in the Steam Winter Sale is a bad joke, by the way, Larian.

If I do get BG3, it'll probably run, just about. I upgraded a couple of things this year and those websites that scan your PC and tell you how crap it is now tell me I can run over 98% of all the games they monitor. A year ago that was more like 50%. Time will keep moving on, though, and technology with it, so I don't imagine I'll be able to say the same this time next year.

That just leaves my final list. All the unreleased games on my Steam Wishlist, which I suppose we could take to be the ones I'm looking forward to for next year. And here they are:


Old Skies

Schrodinger's Catgirl

Sovereign Syndicate

Albert Wilde: Quantum P.I.


Once Human

The last two I've already covered. They're also the only multiplayer titles. The rest are single-player, as far as I'm aware. I'll buy Nighthawks, Nightingale and Once Human on release, at full price; the others when they go on sale, if at all. 

And that's my round-up/look ahead for 2023/24. I'm working all weekend so maybe I'll get a final post in for the last day of the year and maybe I won't. If not, here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year. 

Can't hurt to say it twice.


  1. Bad Idea, brought to you by Clive Barker. (Or at least that's what it seems.)

    Thanks for those videos. Like I mentioned in my comment on your previous post, you continue to expose me to music that I typically wouldn't listen to. I don't necessarily watch the videos (for far too many of them the constant viewpoint changes --not necessarily a montage but you get the idea-- give me a headache) but I sure do listen to them while they're playing.

    I prefer my physical media, not because I'm a snob, but because I can actually own the music on CDs or records. (Or the books/magazines.) the license isn't a "rental" like with digital media, where it can be removed at the whim of the publisher, but I can do with it what I wish. Right now, I do burn MP3 versions of my CDs for ease of portability, but because I do it myself it means I can do whatever I want to do with said media. Given that some of my books and CDs are long since out of print and haven't been seen on digital platforms for ages, I'm glad I have them.

    1. Ten years ago I would have said the future would have been almost entirely free of physical product for most forms of digitized entertainment. I still think that would be the case if the various rights owners and platform operators hadn't become so very greedy while at the same time demonstrating an ever-decreasing interest in either curation or preservation. If people felt their purchases were reasonably priced and safe, then I don't think we'd be seeing such a marked reversion towards physical ownership.

      As it is, though, it's becoming increasingly obvious to most people from Millennials upwards that streaming services, convenient though they may be, can't be trusted and aren't necessarily economical either. I suspect, though, that this won't be the view of many in Gen Z, for whom the ingrained desire to own the product hasn't been cultivated by those same rights holders and producers. Vinyl collectors editions are a different matter altogether, of course. Those are art objects, many never meant to be used.

  2. OK, that AI image is the definition of nightmare fuel...

    1. It's also a very odd response to the prompt, which was "the exhillarating, addictive, anarchic Bad Idea, Right?". How that gets you Hieronymus Bosch crossed with Ed Roth I have no idea...


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