It's the last day of 2021, and we are feeling nostalgic. In King Penguin tradition, today's Friday Five is a compilation of the best (in our opinion) things we highlighted throughout the entire year. So sit back and enjoy our favorite movies, music, shows, and art that got us through 2021! Enjoy, and Happy New Year!
Probably our favorite movie of 2020 was also our favorite movie that we highlighted in our 2021 Friday Fives. The Andy Samberg-Cristin Milioti time-loop comedy is laugh-out-loud funny, and definitely got a few rewatches throughout the year. The movie and soundtrack are both bright, fun, and relaxing, and Samberg’s ever-present Hawaiian shirt matches the vibe we constantly strive for. Milioti matches the Lonely Island star joke-for-joke, and their combined dance number is something we pull up on Youtube any time we need a little pick-me-up. JK Simmons also headlines an outstanding supporting cast of family members and wedding guests that populate the idyllic Palm Springs weekend. When Palm Springs debuted at Sundance nearly two years ago, there was no way of knowing how repetitive the next few years would feel. But because of the circumstances, the comedy has turned into a nice comfort watch for us, and is the one Friday Five movie from this year that you should drop everything to go watch.
Honorable Mention: Another Round
Another outlet we turned to when we needed a laugh in 2021 was the Showtime hit Black Monday. The dark comedy completed its third season over the summer, and it was one of the few shows we properly binge-watched this year. After exploring exclusively the excesses of the 1980’s and the Stock Market in Season One, the show has advanced through the years and continues to get funnier. The writing is incredibly sharp, and doesn’t pull any punches as it satirizes all aspects of the upper echelons of society. In addition to the writing, the cast is absolutely stacked, and is hilarious top-to-bottom. Don Cheadle gives a knockout performance as the show’s star, but Regina Hall, Paul Scheer, Casey Wilson, Yassir Lester, and Andrew Rannells, among others, all help push the show to new heights as well. Just make sure you carve out a significant amount of time, because once you start watching, you won’t want to stop. All we can hope for now is that the most underrated comedy on television gets renewed for a Season 4.
Honorable Mention: Gangs of London
Mt. Joy - Live from Red Rocks
We’re constantly on the hunt for new music to keep us going, and after a slow start to the year, there was a great late surge of new albums to close out 2021. Start to finish, our favorite album of the year came from an old favorite: Mt. Joy. The Philly band turned one of their shows at Red Rocks Amphitheater into a live album, and it didn’t disappoint. A majority of the show came from their hit debut album, and it’s awesome to hear new takes on some of the songs that we love. The electric crowd brings a great new element to songs like “Jenny Jenkins” and “Astrovan,” and there’s a real sense of euphoria as each track begins. You also get to hear the stories behind the songs, giving new context and meaning to already-familiar lyrics. The band extended “Julia” into a seven-minute jam that features a cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which is just another fun twist that you can only get on a live album. Red Rocks has produced some of our favorite live albums in the past, and Mt. Joy is yet another band that can chalk up a successful record to the magical Colorado venue.
Honorable mention: The Record Company - Play Loud
Tai Verdes - A-O-K
There was no shortage of great singles in 2021, but one of our Friday Five tracks stood out amongst the rest. Tai Verdes’ “A-O-K” is just so upbeat, and was a much needed reminder to always stay positive in a tough year. It’s definitely more a warm weather/summer jam-type song, but since we reside in a warm climate, that suits our listening habits just fine. “A-O-K” could come on at any time and we wouldn’t complain. Whether we are working, exercising, drinking, or lounging at the beach, the track just hits. The positive lyrics match light, upbeat instrumentals to create a really fun, energetic, relaxing vibe. Aside from a peppy guitar part and a familiar-sounding summery beat, there are some cool auxiliary sounds that really take the track to the next level. There are whistles, stomps, claps, and vocal effects that all add to the light-hearted fun of the song. As you can see from our end-of-year playlist, we had a lot of music in constant rotation this year. But above all else, “A-O-K” is the one track that we keep coming back to.
Honorable Mention: Jackson Breit - Straight Shooter
2021 was the year of the NFT, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t find a way to get it on this list. And no artist better represents the NFT boom than Beeple. The designer and visual artist went from a certain level of obscurity to the cover of Time Magazine, and if that leap isn’t inspirational, we don’t know what is. We’ve been following Beeple since long before NFTs existed, and certainly before he was breaking digital art sales records. As artists, we were inspired by Beeple’s “Everydays” project, where he has posted a new design or piece of art every day for 14 years. It’s an incredible streak of consistency, and maybe most remarkable, it wasn't all perfect at the beginning. We found a lot of motivation just from watching an artist put himself out there like that, and it's so cool that we got to see his growth through his work. In March, an NFT called “Everydays,” featuring the first 5,000 days of Beeple’s project, sold for a record $69 MILLION. Safe to say, Beeple has come a long way from posting his work on the internet for free. NFTs dominated the headlines in 2021, and Beeple was the leader of the pack.