As we enter July, it seems that the first six months of 2016 have flown by without us even noticing. This first half of the year has provided us with so many gems in the entertainment world; with there being TV shows, films, games, and media sensations, that have brought the world joy amongst the craziness that has been 2016. Although there are still six months left of the year (months in which we expect a lot of cool entertainment tidbits); this week’s Closer To The Edge, which comes in two parts, has given our writers the opportunity to look back. These are what we’ve picked out as the entertainment we think best sums up the first half of 2016.
After his shock departure from One Direction last year, the world was left wondering as to what exactly Zayn Malik was going to do next. After months of speculation and rumours and the whispers in the wind that he was recording new music; January 2016 was when his long-awaited debut single ‘Pillowtalk’ dropped.
The song was a complete contrast from the pop and boyband hues that come associated with anyone from an X-factor band, and it was surely a welcome surprise. The super sexy and slick R&B track was the music that Zayn said he always wanted to make, and damn, are we glad that he did. With this first single from his debut album Mind of Mine, Zayn Malik proved that he was going to make a real go of going solo, and he was going to dominate it. The song debuted in the charts at no. 1, and broke hella records stateside in the Billboard charts.
What Zayn sparked with this song was interest in him as a solo artist. He showed that he had grown up, and was unafraid to be brash and explicit in his music, but also managing to handle it in a way that showed it wasn’t just for the sake of it. Zayn Malik has gone from a pop boy to an R&B man with very little effort basically.
words by Rehana Nurmahi
American Crime Story
American Crime Story kinda came out of nowhere. A dramatization of the infamous O.J. Simpson murder case really seemed a little unnecessary; especially given the fact that some 20 years have passed. However, American Crime Story delivered and it delivered in a big way.
Entitled The People v. O.J. Simpson, season one of the new crime anthology show, stormed right out of the gates with a fantastic cast, some excellent writing, and stellar direction to deliver what stands as one of the best TV shows of the year so far. It’ll be hard to see anything knocking it out of at least the top ten come December. The case was examined in great detail and explored the many facets of the tumultuous year of events such as O.J.’s (Cuba Gooding Jnr.) loyal fan base and defenders, head prosecutors Marcia Clarke (Sarah Paulson) and Christopher Darden’s (Sterling K. Brown) credentials, and most vitally, race relations in not only California, but in the United States at large.
American Crime Story season one was a total success, lets hope that with a different story, season two can be just as good, if not better.
words by David Mitchell-Baker
Quite possibly the best blockbuster of the year so far, Deadpool has won over audiences from all over the world with his fourth wall breaking meta-humour, darkly comic wit and mega-violent action sequences. After the travesty that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans were desperately eager to see their favourite Marvel anti-hero get a film that would do him justice; and oh boy, did Tim Miller’s film do him justice.
On his second attempt of playing the character, Ryan Reynolds brought charisma by the bucket full, bringing Wade Wilson to life with all the animated vigour and crude mischief you could ask for. The supporting characters – from Ajax, Weasel, Vanessa and Colossus to Blind Al, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and the vengeful taxi driver Dopinder – were also given some really great one-liners; made all the better in their interactions with ‘Mr Pool’ himself.
On a personal, slightly more subjective note, Deadpool was one of those rare movie experiences where I just had so much fun watching it – it didn’t bore me or lose me in places, it just left me with a grin on my face. And, like Kingsman: The Secret Service (one of the only other films that just had me), it continues to bring me joy whenever I watch it. Oh, and it’s soundtrack is amazing. “Wham!”
words by Anneka Honeyball
David Bowie– Blackstar
Usually a work of art takes years to develop profoundly new meaning, thanks to changing contexts. Tragically, but also profoundly, less than three days after Blackstar’s release it changed permanently. David Bowie’s death was shocking and sudden, and entirely in line with his private lifestyle. As the world reeled from it, Blackstar became more than a mercurial, audibly magical, and incredibly unique work of music – suddenly it was a parting gift. A testament to both his genius level of creative spirit, and to his love of his fans and music in general. Bowie stared a terminal illness in the face, and said “I can use this.” The album is strange, and because it shifts so much and so unexpectedly, the overall impression is hard to pin down. I’ve listened to it three times, and though my love amplifies with each listen, I still feel like there’s something I’m missing. It’s a rare album that can make you return because it feels like a direct challenge – the closing track’s title, ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ being the most apt expression of this. Maybe he doesn’t, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try to find it out.
words by George Seabrook
Miike Snow- iii
Pretty much every year, for me, produces one great album. It’s never objectively the ‘best’ album of the year; but it’s always one that clicks with me, that’s perfect for what I use music for, and that lodges itself as sturdily and with as much necessity as a brick in a wall into my iTunes libary. 2013 gave me Iron & Wine’s Ghost On Ghost, which is brought out during every piece of coursework. 2015 was the Hamilton soundtrack, which doesn’t need much more said about it. But 2016’s forever gift to me came in March, with the release of Swedish indie-electro pop band Miike Snow’s iii.
From the jive-inducing ‘Genghis Khan’ and it’s cracking music video, to the swooping and orchestral ‘Heart Is Full’ which layers synth base over stunning 1960s sound, the album is a grab bag of musical styles which are only just tied together, with the thinnest of threads, to nonetheless make a rich tapestry. When reviewing the album, I was forced to give it 4/5 stars for this reason – everything it did, it did well, but with such diversity every track wasn’t going to please every listener. But me? I love them all. There’s a track for every mood, or a whole album to just stick on when driving home. It’s a new cornerstone of my music library, and it isn’t going anywhere soon.
words by Camilla Cassidy
Captain America: Civil War
The highly acclaimed thirteenth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was central to all superhero type hype ever since its announcement all the way back in 2014. Rumours of its title, some kind of inter-Avenger-type conflict, and the inclusion of a certain arachnid-esque superhero surrounded the Marvel fandom, with its two-year later release date driving many fans mad with anticipation. Fast forward to the April 2016, and opening night sees many of its big screen debuts sold out; brimming with fans excited to the point of near painful expectancy. The lights are dimmed, the screen lights up, the titles roll. Fans are hushed, holding their bated breath.
An explosive 147 minutes and each screen empties its pack of Marvel radicals, each now converted to at least basic level of superhero fanaticism if not completely enthralled by the MCU; each with some kind of totally stupid, totally gleeful smile plastered over their faces.
Civil War was, without a doubt, one of the best in the long line of films in the MCU. Pairing the Russo Brothers’ talent for direction and Christopher Markus’ killer screenplay with the combination of our favourite Avengers (minus a sorely missed Bruce Banner and Thor) resulted in two and a half hours of laugh out loud wit, genuinely heart-breaking moments, and the most tension ever built up in a mere Marvel film. The wait might have been long, the anticipation heavy, but boy oh boy, was it worth it.
words by Sophie Trenear
On May 19th 2016, Candace Payne, a 37-year-old mother from Texas, went to return some clothes to Kohl’s, an American department store. She came out of the store, having returned the clothes, with a new purchase: A simple mask of the character Chewbacca from the Star Wars films. Candace then proceeded to broadcast live on her Facebook to her family and friends to simply show them her new mask and warn her kids that it was hers, not theirs.
158 million views later, Candace Payne, AKA Chewbacca Mom, is a record breaking viral sensation.
Every year, there are viral trends and hits and frequently they’re limited to the likes of ‘Damn Daniel!’ and ‘What are those!!!!???’: therefore it’s incredibly refreshing to see a video like Candace’s. She’s wearing a mask and laughing. Simples. It’s infinitely watchable and hilarious. The video now stands as the most viewed Facebook live video of all time and Candace quickly became an overnight household name and sensation. The outcome of her fame has resulted in appearances on The Late Late Show with James Corden with Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams, a visit to the Facebook headquarters and her own “Chewbacca Mom” action figure. The whole time, Candace has been laughing along with everything and having the time of her life, remaining humble and down to earth.
“It’s the simple joys…”
words by David Mitchell-Baker
Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
Chance The Rapper’s third mixtape is one of the year’s best rap and hip-hop albums thus far, of course. Its spot on this list however is important because of the cultural impact that it had, or at least that it was convenient enough to be released around. In June, less than a full month after the release of Chance’s album to various online streaming platforms, the Recording Academy implemented new guidelines that made streaming-only album releases eligible for the Grammy’s. Streaming is reaching the cultural tipping point – just look at Beyoncé and Kanye West’s latest albums, initially available only via Tidal – so this rule change came at exactly the right time. Chance had previously made fervent calls for the Academy (not that one) to consider free music for recognition, and whilst the rule changes are not quite that, they still prompted Chance to say this about them, which made him all the more loveable a rap artist, in a genre which often intimidates outsiders. Back to the album, it’s gorgeous: Coloring Book is vibrant and richly metaphorical, such as on the track ‘Same Drugs’, and it’s joyful in its incorporation of African-American gospel and choir music traditions, present from the opening Kanye-featuring track ‘All We Got’, and single ‘No Problem’ is a majestically good time, and a good place to start shading.
words by George Seabrook
Alright, we all know that this topic has been covered in multiple articles on the website. This is exactly why it would be somewhat mad to not mention it in the round-up of the first half of 2016.
#OscarSoWhite was the hashtag given when discussing the Academy Awards this year, when for the second consecutive year, not a single person of colour was nominated for any of the acting categories. This was met with, completely understandly, outrage, with some black actors even boycotting the event.
Diversity in the industry has been a hot subject recently, and the failure of such a prestigious event and organisation to acknowledge this and work to fix this, has stirred a lot of anger.
However, recently, the Academy have actually implemented plans that will help invoke change. The world sees that we need it, and hopefully producers will start seeing that soon too.
words by Rehana Nurmahi
Game of Thrones: Season 6
This year has seen what is perhaps the most satisfying season of Game of Thrones so far. Of course, that isn’t to say that there weren’t any heartbreaking deaths, because hey, this is still Game of Thrones; but in terms of tying up loose ends and really setting up the endgame that we’ve all been waiting for, it was incredible – and damn good television to boot.
The last two episodes were especially great; ‘The Battle of the Bastards’ saw the gritty, embittered showdown between two of the show’s most complex characters, Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton. The tension that was built and maintained throughout was breathtaking; Jon’s loyal heart and sense of nobility proved just as problematic in the battlefield as Ramsay’s cruel arrogance; and while the focus may have been on the eponymous bastards, the battle was ultimately won because of Sansa Stark- setting up an interesting conflict between Jon and Sansa. It also meant that, despite their monumental losses, House Stark is finally rising back to the top; winning back Winterfell and the North and vanquishing House Bolton for good.
The finale, entitled ‘The Winds of Winter’, was the real triumph though. After two seasons of watching King’s Landing buckle under the strangely barbaric hold of The High Sparrow, the faith militant was finally vanquished as Cersei’s audacious plot to engulf the Great Sept with wildfire was realised to great effect. Of course, Cersei’s victory came at a price, as her son Tommen, having witnessed his wife Margaery perish in the green flames, threw himself from the Red Keep. Childless, solemn and fiercer than ever, Cersei is now sat upon the Iron Throne – but she needn’t get comfortable as Daenerys, with Tyrion as her hand and her dragons overhead, has finally set sail for Westeros. And as if all that wasn’t tantalising enough, through the prism of Bran’s weird warg-y visions, the franchise’s most speculated fan theory was finally confirmed; R+L most certainly does = J. Though, for now, it’s only Bran that knows it, the truth of Jon’s true identity promises great things for the seasons ahead. The end is nigh, as the thrilling final round in the Game of Thrones approaches…
words by Anneka Honeyball