Another chaotic end to another chaotic year. It’s hard to believe that any period of 2021 could be considered an especially “good time” to be reflected on fondly, but in the present circumstances we have to take what we can get.
To be fair, it wasn’t all bad. Some really good TV came out. There was a brief moment in the middle of summer where it felt like you could have a can in the park without much drama. Mostly, though, the silver linings were small and personal; everyday things that got us through the year one warm moment at a time. Certainly that’s what came back when we asked some of VICE’s most talented friends what some of their favourite things of the year were.
So pour yourself a nice, entire bottle of wine or crack open a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice, and read through their responses below. Someone literally said “sleep”, so you can’t feel too bad about yourself by comparison.
Jamie Demetriou of ‘Stath Lets Flats’
Photo: Stath Lets Flats / Channel 4
Saying things like “you just have to do what makes you happy” or “I’ve reached a point now where I just need to back myself and my decisions a bit more”
I can only assume that’s a favourite thing of mine, as it’s basically the only thing I do now. No idea who I’m saying it to, TBH. I have most certainly not put either of those mantras into practice.
In February of this year, I received a notification on the app – “Congratulations, you have been on Twitter 13 years today! Celebrate with a tweet!”
I celebrated by deactivating my account. Thirteen years of guff. Devastating. I know it’s considered smug to even mention that you’ve left a social media platform. But this is a list of favourite things, and I can’t think of anything more favourable than ceasing to literally shred years of your life. I actually had my first glance at it in about eight months recently, to see if I still felt the same rush. Thankfully not. It was like glancing at my shit in the toilet to see if I wanted it back in my arse.
The level of smug in this paragraph is convincing me that I will definitely be rejoining Twitter by the end of year.
I have been defined by my disinterest in football my whole life. I’m shit at playing, bad at FIFA and I’ve always thought it was really cool and smart to say it’s all stupid and pointless. But when I found myself in lockdown on the other side of the globe with months of missing home ahead of me, I sought a TV series with no end, that reminded me of home and didn’t make me stress about my own TV writing being crap. The Premier League ticked every box. I inhaled it. Watched every match twice. I am now obsessed and see that it is in fact I who is stupid and pointless, not football. I’m a season ticket holder and it fills my life with fun and gentle meaning. I highly recommend binging.
Photo: Megan Barton-Hanson for VICE, by Clara Casas
Becoming a podcaster with You Come First
I had never hosted anything before, but it’s fascinating. I really enjoy researching each guest and asking questions that listeners want to know the answers to. As it’s my own podcast, I can be truly unfiltered and it’s been an incredibly eye-opening process. The subjects discussed have been so taboo for so long and finally women are able to discuss openly what has been hidden behind closed doors forever. I’ve had an influx of messages thanking me for starting You Come First, and it really means the world that such big names have come on and shared their unique and wonderful stories. It has become a real community.
It’s a Sin
I watched It’s a Sin with Ollie from Years & Years, which was released this January. It was so eye-opening! I laughed and cried – it was amazing! It really educated me on the Aids epidemic of the 1980s, and how bad homophobia was then; it was heartbreaking and really made me want to do more for the LGBTQ+ community. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing community and support system around me and I feel we all deserve that.
Season 2 of Megan’s podcast You Come First is out now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Dana Margolin from Porridge Radio
Photo: Porridge Radio for VICE, by Chloe Shepperd
I’ve chosen my favourite archival BBC documentaries that I watched this year. Look, I know they weren’t “from 2021”, but they were from my 2021, which was kind of shit in many ways. They got me through some incredibly miserable days.
Architecture at the Crossroads
A series where they bitch out modern architecture but in the 80s.
A Passion For Churches
An extremely slow documentary about churches in Norwich did such good things for my brain.
Heart of the Angel
This one’s about Angel tube station in 1989 before it got renovated. I LOVED it.
Photo: ArrDee for VICE, by James North
Dropping “Oliver Twist”
This was my first solo single and it went to number six in the official UK charts. I was so happy by everybody’s reaction to this track, and ‘cause this was one of my childhood favourite films.
Doing The Big Narstie Show
My first time on national TV and it was a lit experience.
Performing at the Capital Jingle Bell Ball at The O2 Arena
This was my biggest show to date, the crowd reaction was crazy. This was the day I knew I was really getting somewhere in my music career! Sick experience.
Photo: Dream Wife
Alice Go, guitarist and vocalist: 2021 has opened my eyes to the miracle that is a solid eight hours of sleep. Giving your mind and body that time to rejuvenate can be a revelation and foundational to other elements of self care and also self respect! Your body works so hard for you every day – treat it right.
Walking in the woods
Bella Podpadec, bassist and vocalist: Spending time amongst tree friends is such a grounding and nurturing experience. It's a reminder of the ways in which all life is intrinsically connected and direct way of getting in touch with the spiralic nature of life on this 'lil rock we call home. It’s the master system! The trees know!
Summer Of Soul
Rakel Mjöll, lead singer: The film Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), directed by Questlove, was the most incredible cinematic experience to witness this past year. I went to see the film at the Rio Cinema, which is the heart and soul of the community in Dalston. The word “community” feels ever so more present now in my life than before. Thinking about the community-led campaigns saved the Rio from being sold off last year, sitting there watching the most electrifying concert film that shows unseen footage of the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969 and the community that put it all together.
The film shows footage from a course of six weeks during that summer, as thousands of people attend the festival to celebrate Black history, culture, music and fashion. The last concert with Nina Simone sends chills down my spine just thinking about it. A truly incredible earth-shattering performance. It’s pretty difficult to sit in your seat for the duration of the film because you just wanna stand up and dance and clap.
Kiell Smith-Bynoe of ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Stath Lets Flats’
Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images
Let’s discuss air fryers. Like an oven, but smaller, better and more likely to dehydrate your grapes. Maybe that’s just mine. My air fryer is the best purchase I have made this year, and I will not stop banging on about it. It’s a 9-in-1. NINE. IT DOES NINE THINGS. There’s a setting for Yoghurt. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS. We haven’t used the oven in 11 months, poor thing.
I remember Cleo Sol from a small open mic night called Ad-lib that used to be in Shoreditch on a Sunday night. She was incredible then, is incredible now. Last year’s album was perfect, then she managed to go above and beyond in 2021, with Mother. Her voice is like satin. I look forward to hearing her sing live again, no doubt in a much bigger venue than Adlib.
I’ve always liked George Clooney. Before Ocean’s Eleven, since From Dusk Till Dawn, when I was way too young to watch it. He also seems like a nice chap, coming round your house and making coffee. Bring your own pods, mate, I’ve heard how much Nespresso pay you. He’s done a lot of great things, but I reckon the best thing is Casamigos tequila. Oh boy, that is my shit; an absolutely glorious concoction.
I’ve possibly been through 14 bottles this year, but that’s because of my house rules, where every guest has to try it. The boiler man hated it - probably because it was 11AM. I’ll get him round again to see if he feels differently about the Reposado. To be honest, they’ll probably send a different guy; after the shots, I spoke to him for 25 minutes about my air fryer. I don't know why he wasn't into it, IT DOES NINE THINGS.