The year of our Lord 2015 was bad, and 2016 will be worse. I know this on a personal level, because someone asked me what some of my more serious work was in 2015, and almost all were essays about different mass shootings. But this isn’t about me. On a universal level, we’re all a year closer to dying. You might have started dating a good person, but they’re going to die too, and that job you like now will hound you to your grave, especially if you’re a ditch digger or practice the mortuary arts.
It is with that grim can-do spirit that I ask you to join me now in hauling out the bodies while they’re still warm. 2016 will be dead soon enough, and it’s going to take a lot of people with it, so we might as well get started.
1. We’re going to keep fucking up the planet.
We’ve only got one, but we keep treating it like there’s an extra in a box in the garage. Obama can sign all the climate accords he wants, but America’s wallet is still controlled by a conservative-dominated Congress whose climate ideas amount to, “If global warming is real, why is it cold?” We’ve reached the point where doing anything is a huge accomplishment, but when our big-deal benchmarks amount to half measures, it’s like getting your car interior detailed 72 months after your last oil change.
2. If you’re middle aged and your favorite childhood musical artist creates anything during this calendar year, it will be bad.
Nostalgia is a powerful force. Just enough pastiches of songs you liked or callbacks to beats, guitar tones or vocal tricks that amped you up can make you convince yourself that this new thing is good. This can even catch you early: I spent a teen year trying to trick my brain into thinking The Division Bellwas an OK album instead of doing better things with it, like nitrous.
There are artists who are exceptions to this, of course, but a small enough number to prove the rule without overturning it. Most artists run out of ideas after a decade or so of success, or they move on to bad ones for virtue of novelty. And there you are, trying to recreate the adulation and wonderment you could feel as a teenager, wanting to touch that vitality so much that you’ll argue yourself into this record even as your soul knows it’s the sonic equivalent of a girdle or spray-on hair.
This category is mostly just shooting barreled fish with a howitzer, but this is the only way I could think of preemptively coping with the fact that Luke Haines is probably going to release another 40 minutes of him rasp-talking over four songs of “concept album,” eight tracks of “things he remembers from being a kid” and one good guitar riff instead of releasing another Now I’m a Cowboy.