Welcome to King Penguin’s Friday Five. Every Friday, we’re gonna pass along five things that inspired us creatively, brought us good vibes, or made us say “oh shit” during the week. This is the stuff that we are sending our friends in group chats. They could be new albums, throwback videos, funny Instagram accounts, or TV shows we started binge-watching. And to kick it off, we are bringing you five things that helped us get through the absolutely brutal year that was 2020. They made our year a little better, and hopefully they can help kick off your 2021 with a dose of positivity.
Logic - No Pressure
We all needed something to inspire us in 2020, and Logic’s final studio album No Pressure absolutely delivered. The album features a number of callbacks to the rapper’s old work, along with his usual combination of deep lyrics, unique beats, and cool samples. “Heard ‘Em Say” stands out as a track all about facing challenges with a positive attitude and staying true to yourself, which was a message that hit especially hard this year. Logic bookends the album by sampling iconic filmmaker Orson Welles, one of the greatest storytellers of all time, in the first and last tracks. Logic goes into a call-and-response with Orson Welles on “No Pressure,” while “Obediently Yours” highlights a powerful Welles speech on social justice that became even more relevant this spring ahead of the album’s release. If this really is Logic’s last album, he went out on a high note, and gave us something to bump on repeat.
The Mandalorian Season 2
Last year, Baby Yoda took the world (and the internet) by storm, providing endless memes and launching one of the most successful Star Wars entries since the 80’s. Season One of The Mandalorian was excellent, but it really broke through to another level this year, balancing Star Wars fan service with classic tropes from westerns, Samurai movies, and war films. Bill Burr even showed up again! But the biggest story (for us) with The Mandalorian is its revolutionary work in visual and special effects. The show is filmed entirely in a warehouse in Manhattan Beach, utilizing wraparound LED walls that make green screens look archaic. Thanks to this new technology, Mando and Baby Yoda can hop seamlessly from planet to planet without the production team needing to travel or build complex new sets. After launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man, director Jon Favreau managed to work his magic again, breathing new life into Star Wars. The Mandalorian is so money, and it knows it.
FKJ Live from the Bolivian Salt Flats
It’s hard to find the words to describe FKJ’s epic live set from the world’s largest salt flat in Bolivia. Visually, it’s stunning. The salt flat perfectly mirrors the sky, and it makes it look like FKJ is floating above the clouds, if not on his own planet somewhere. Even without getting to the music, it’s aesthetically pleasing and calming in a way that was much needed in 2020. Luckily, FKJ delivers with the set, too, putting together a trancy hour-and-a-half that we kept coming back to. You can watch in awe as the French musician switches between instruments on his little island, or just let the music wash over you in the background - either way, it should be in your rotation.
For the better part of 2020, we couldn’t gather with friends to have a drink (or ten). Friday Beers, in their quest to take over the internet, helped to fill that void. Their highly relatable meme compilations hype you up ahead of a weekend, recap a bender, wade into gambling degeneracy, and just generally keep up the Friday mood. Friday Beers is consistently hilarious, and helps us remember a time when a “sneaky bender” wasn’t having one-too-many Moscow Mules on a Zoom happy hour. Whether you’re a Dooley or a Fringe Guy, Friday Beers is guaranteed to add good vibes to your social media timeline.
Gymkhana 2020: Travis Pastrana Takeover
If America is all about hot, nasty speed, then you might as well put this video in the Smithsonian. Travis Pastrana and Co. come out and hit you right in the face with a harbor jump right out of the gates, and the extreme sports legend never slows down in his Gymkhana 2020 takeover. It’s totally captivating, as the signature Hoonigan Media Machine editing style rapidly switches through camera angles you probably didn’t know existed, and the sound design allows the roar of the car’s engine to carry the piece. There’s no music in the video until the credits, and you don’t miss it because of how good the editing is. Pastrana races through “oh shit” moments, like the harbor jump, close-calls with an inflatable crab and the edge of a pier, and some massive air off a backroad jump. Bombing it 150 MPH down Maryland backroads is no joke, but what else would you expect when Pastrana partners with one of the wildest racing teams around? From the opening seconds through an MCU-worth post-credit scene, Travis Pastrana’s Gymkhana takeover is one of the most endlessly re-watchable things we saw in 2020.
Dua Lipa’s NPR Tiny Desk Home Concert - During the pandemic, NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts have shifted to artists' homes, which has led to some really cool set design as performers get creative with their limited surroundings. While there have been a bunch of great performances, Dua Lipa stands out for the dreamy orange backdrop that complements a killer set.
Glass Animals - Dreamland - Glass Animals' new album Dreamland provided some much-needed positive vibes throughout 2020, and featured incredible album artwork to go along with the music. "Heat Waves" is an instant classic, but the visuals in the "Tokyo Drifting" music video jumped out in particular. Some wild set design mixed with a trippy editing style, and old school video game graphics, make this one a fun watch.
The Boys Season 2 - Amazon's The Boys flips the typical Marvel movie on its head, and gives us a fun, violent, gritty look at a darker side of superheroes. It is brutally self-aware, and its social critique doesn't stop at the entertainment industry. The story, the special effects, the style -- all of it made The Boys an exciting weekly release as we got into the dog days of 2020.