It is the New Year and time for me to once again put together my life in the last 12 months in form of top 5 lists. It is based on the idea from the Los Campesinos song ‘My Year In Lists’. So here you have it my 2015 in lists.

Top 5 Albums

1) Madonna – Rebel Heart

2) Will Young – 85% Proof

3)Years & Years – Communion

4)Kodaline – Coming Up For Air

5)Passenger – Whispers II

2015 was quite a good year for albums. A lot of my favourite artists (Madonna, Will Young, Mumford & Sons, Frank Turner, Muse, Scouting For Girls, Coldplay and Adele) returned with albums and there was finally an album from The Lake Poets as well. I also discovered some new artists such as Years & Years and Wolf Alice and got into Adam Lambert, Imagine Dragons, and Jack Savoretti.

The top album of the year though is Madonna ‘Rebel Heart’. It probably didn’t do as well commercially as some of her albums even with the publicity from the cape incident at the Brits. However there are some great songs on the album and it is personal album where Madonna mentions her vulnerability and the image people have her. The song ‘Joan of Arc’ is a beautiful song and in my top 5 Madonna songs of all time. It also sums up my life in 2015. Other stand out songs on the album are title track ‘Rebel Heart’, ‘Ghosttown’, ‘Illuminati’, ‘Iconic’ and ‘Veni Vidi Vici’. Madonna is the reinvention queen and at the moment she needs to reinvent to gain the younger followers but her large fan base will be happy with this album. In second place and helped here a bit by his tour is Will Young and his album ‘85% Proof’. It has been a few years since his last album but when he does release one it always goes down well. I think this is due to him producing music he wants to produce and not what has to produce. His videos are important to his music particularly for the song ‘Brave Man’ which opens the album. Other stand out tracks are ‘U Think I’m Sexy’, ‘Gold’, ‘Joy’ and ‘Thank You’. It is also the first album for a long time from Will to be more positive instead of dealing with personal issues. He is obviously in a happier place than he was and this comes through in his music. I look forward to the next one. In third place is a new group called ‘Years & Years’. It seems funny calling them new as they were the biggest band around in 2015 but they are new to most people in the last 12 months and were formed back in 2010. Stand out songs include ‘Shine’, ‘Worship’, ‘King’ and ‘Desire’. It is just one of those albums you can listen to at anytime and had cheered me up a lot on my commute to work. In fourth place is the return of Kodaline with the album ‘ Coming Up For Air’. There last album was back in 2013 and it made 5th place in my top five that year. This time the album is a place higher in 4th place. Kodaline don;t seem to get lots of airplay in the UK which is a shame as they are a great group and produce good albums. I hope to see them live sometime. Stand out songs from the album include ‘The One’, ‘Autopilot’, ‘Better’ and ‘Everything Works Out In The End’ this last song has been a very reassuring song to me with everything going on in my life. If you haven’t listened to Kodaline before then give them a try today. Finally in fifth place is Passenger with the album ‘Whispers II’. This is a sequel to ‘Whispers’ which was also fifth in my top 5 albums for 2014. Passengers vocals with storytelling lyrics is a perfect combination and helps it just make my top 5 albums. Stand out songs include ‘A Thousand Matches’, ‘David’ and ‘Words’. So there you have my top 5 albums of the year. I hope 2016 is a good year for albums. I hope to see albums from Lady GaGa, Kylie Minogue, and maybe even Michael Buble.

Top 5 Songs

1) Madonna – Joan of Arc

2) WALK THE MOON – Shut Up and Dance

3)Avicii – The Night

4) Kodaline – Autopilot

5) Will Young – U Think I’m Sexy

 Observant readers will notice that 3 of the songs mentioned are also from 3 of the top 5 albums and these songs played a big part in helping those albums make the top 5. At number 1 it is Madonna and ‘Joan of Arc’. This song has very personal lyrics by Madonna such “I can’t be a superhero right now” and “just hold me close while I cry my eyes out”. The song really struck me and with everything that went on with my Dad I could really relate to these lyrics and this why it is my number 1 song. At number two it is WALK THE MOON and ‘Shut Up and Dance’. This is a total contrast in style to ‘Joan of Arc’ at number one. This song just makes me smile and want to dance. I happy memories of dancing like a mad thing to this with a random person in Powerhouse. It possibly is a one hit wonder but that doesn’t take anything away from the song. At number three is Avicii with ‘The Night’. I thought it would have been a bigger hit in the UK but is didn’t do as well as previous singles. Still I enjoyed it and often found myself listening to it. At number four just like the album it is from is Kodaline and the song ‘Autopilot’. Another strong song from them and is about taking control of your life when things have not gone your way. Once again very fitting for my life in 2015. Finally at number five it is Will Young ‘ U Think I’m Sexy’. This just seemed to be the song from the album that I found myself listening to over and over again. For that reason it makes it into my top five songs.

Top 5 Books

1) Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

2) The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

3) We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

4) Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

5) Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

My reading slump from 2014 has continued into 2015 and I am not sure what the cause is. I have only read 18 books in 2015 and struggled to pick a book up even if it was good. Maybe it’s be cause of all the reading for plays or because of all the stuff going on in my personal life I’m not sure but whatever it is I hope I start enjoying reading again soon. Saying that I have read some good books this year. My number one book is ‘Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. When I heard this second novel was to be published I was very excited but I did have some apprehension about it. I love ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and there was a chance it would change my opinion of the book. However I still read it and it is a great book. There are some errors but that aside it is a very powerful book. There was one chapter in it which just got under my skin and deeply affected me for the rest of the day. At number two it is ‘The Girl On The Train’ by Paula Hawkins. This was big seller in 2015 and I wondered if it was all hype. However I loved it and read it in just over a week which is quick for me especially when I have been struggling to even pick a book up. At number three is ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ by Karen Joy Fowler. This was the first book that I read in 2015 and I loved it. I didn’t see the twist that happened and there were some really strong characters. At number 4 is ‘Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli. This is Young Adult book and tackles the issue of ‘coming out’ and ‘being gay’ in a very realistic way. It is hard not to like Simon in the book and some of the situations that happen I could relate to very well. Young Adult fiction is really booming at the moment and there are some really good authors in this area and they worth trying even by adults. When I bought this book the sales assistant in Watterson’s was so excited about the book I thought she was going to hug me. I didn’t get a hug but I did get a very good book. Give it a go. Finally at number five is ‘Rivers of London’ by Ben Aaronovitch. I have been guilty for having this book for a number of years and only got around to reading it in 2015. It is the first in series of fantasy books set in the real world. If you like detective books and fantasy it is a good blend of the two without being too silly. I hope 2016 is a better year for reading for me.

Top 5 TV Programmes

1) Glee

2) Dr Who

3) Cucumber

4) Downton Abbey

5) Game of Thrones

Only one programme from 2014’s Top 5 remains in this years chart showing how my TV watching habits have changed. NOW TV  and Netflix are now popular ways of watching TV for me as well as traditional channels and this is reflected in this chart. At number one is Glee. Thanks to NOW TV I was able to watch the last ever season of Glee. Recent news stories have overshadowed this but that is just one person and not the show as a whole. It was nice to see what happens to the characters particularly Kurt and Blaine. Maybe they should have a season earlier but at the end of the end day it was a nice ending to the show. At number two (same as last year) is Dr Who. This is the only show to be in the Top 5 from last year and remarkably in the same position. It was a difficult series and at times was too clever for its own good but at the heart of it was some great acting from Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi and the opening two episodes of the series were fantastic. It may have struggled with the ratings but there still more to come from this Doctor but maybe without Moffatt. At number three is a show by former Dr Who writer/producer Russell T Davies. The show was the main programme of three connected programmes. The other two were called Banana and Tofu. Cucumber was about the gay community in Manchester a bit like Queer As Folk but a different age range and background. It was a great show and had some great acting in along with one of the most gruesome and shocking death scenes I ever seen on television (not even Game of Thrones is as shocking). I don’t know anyone who has watched it so i haven’t had chance to talk about it so if you have and know me get in touch or if you haven’t then watch. I think all three programmes are still on Four on Demand (or whatever it’s called). In fourth place is Downton Abbey. It was also the last series of this and thanks to the Christmas special it had a good ending. I think it had run its course but it will be sad not to have Maggie Smith on Sunday night TV. Finally in with place is Game of Thrones. Thanks to NOW TV I was able to watch this series at the same time as everyone else and not wait for the DVD. I love the show and love talking about it with friends. I can’t wait to see what happens this year.

Top 5 Films

1) Star Wars : The Force Awakens

2) Home

3) Spooks : The Greater Good

4) Inside Out

5) Jurassic World

It hasn’t been too bad a year for films in 2015. There haven’t been any films that have been 5 star but some have come close. Also I didn’t see many terrible films either. Most were average run of the mill films. At number one it is of course Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was going to take a major problem for this not to be number one. From the beginning with the rolling credits I was excited and became a small child all over again. It wasn’t perfect but it also wasn’t like one of the prequels so we have to be glad about that as well. I hope Disney continue the success and I will be interested in the spin-off movie ‘Rogue One’ which is due out in December 2016. In second place is the animated movie ‘Home’. This is a charming animation and I cried buckets watching it. I didn’t think I would like it at all but it just really touched me and it is worth a watch whatever your age. At number three it is ‘Spooks: The Greater Good’. This film slipped my radar until just before its release and I was really excited to see it. I loved the TV show and would love it to come back and this just wetted my appetite even more. It worked well as a stand alone film but for fans of the TV show like me it had great references in. Also Kit Harrington was a welcome addition. At number four it is another animation but this time from Pixar. The film is ‘Inside Out’ and shows what goes on inside the mind of a child. Pixar get the balance between child and adult right. As an adult it is a fascinating way of explaining psychology but not sure how much of this a child would understand while watching it.  Finally in fifth place is Jurassic World. It wasn’t great but on the whole it wasn’t bad either. Yes we all saw the best bits in the trailer and yes it was ridiculous that we was running through the jungle being chased by dinosaurs in high heels but did we want a realistic film? It had nice references to the original but still had something new as well. There were no terrible films that I saw this year but the closest I came was ‘We Are Your Friends’. Apparently this had one of the worst opening box offices in years which is harsh. It wasn’t brilliant (didn’t even have much shirtless Zac Efron) but it wasn’t as bad as some critics made out. I hope 2016 is a good year for films. The movies I am looking forward to seeing are Captain America: Civil War, Star Wars: Rogue One, Star Trek Beyond, The Secret Life of Pets, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them and of course Independence Day: Resurgence and Suicide Squad.

Top 5 Live Acts/Performances

1) Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man

2) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

3) The History Boys

4) Will Young

5) Wicked 

Most live acts/performances that I went to in 2015 were theatre productions and only one of my top five is concert. It has been a good year for theatre visits probably my best but this has come at the expense of live music events. So at number one it is Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man. I have said it before and I will never get bored with saying it (you might get bored with hearing it but Matthew Bourne (sorry I mean Sir Matthew Bourne) is a dance genius and this latest production was no exception. It was hot, energetic,very sexy dance production featuring some top dancers and male nudity. The principle male dancer Jonathan Olivier was sensational as always and little did any of us know that only a month or so later he would be killed in a motorcycle accident while on his way to the final performance of The Car Man. It was an honour and a privilege to watch him dance in this show. We even saw Sir Matthew Bourne himself in the audience which was just an added bonus. At number two it is ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’. I saw this at Newcastle Theatre Royal and I was impressed by the acting and the set design. Many years I had read the book and enjoyed it but I forgot some of the plot so it was nice to rediscover the story on stage. At number three it was ‘The History Boys’. Although a very famous play and film by Alan Bennett I had never seen it so was glad to get the opportunity to see it on stage this year. Once again it was a great cast and a very thought-provoking piece of theatre. At number four is the only live music in the top five and that is Will Young. I have been a fan of his since Pop Idol but never seen him live until now. It was a good show although the venue could have been better but the important thing was the music and it was good. It was a nice mix of old and new material and was over too soon. I hope he doesn’t leave it too long until the next tour. Finally at number five it is Wicked. OK I know I have seen this show before but before I started my blog so it hasn’t featured in My Year In Lists before. Sometimes seeing a shower a second time means you enjoy less but not with Wicked I enjoyed it more than when I saw it in London. Great music, great cast, great set what’s not to like.

Top 5 Most Played Songs on my iPod

1)  Madonna – Joan of Arc

2) WALK THE MOON – Shut Up and Dance

3) Avicii – The Nights

4) Kodaline – Autopilot

5) Cast of Pippin (Broadway Recording) – No Time At All

This top five is made up of my top 4 songs of the year which I have already discussed above. The only difference is that Will Young misses out on fifth place and is replaced with the Broadway Cast Recording from Pippin ‘No Time At All’. I did;t know this musical very well but discovered this song through Glee and I just loved its positivity and you just want to sing a long to it. 

Top 5 Personal Disappointments/setbacks

1) My Dad’s illness

2) Not Moving out

3) Still being single

4) Not having a holiday

5) Letting myself go

All years have good and bad things and I fell it is important to look at these as well. I will do the disappointments/setbacks first and then end my blog on the positives. It goes without saying the biggest setback in 2015 was my dad’s illness. It was a huge blow to all the family and it was a very tough period and still is. I couldn’t be myself as all I could focus on was home and supporting my parents and this meant I let other aspects of my slip. My dad’s illness was out of all our control  and we just had to manage as best we could. At number two is one that is becoming a regular in list each year and that is not moving out. My Dad’s illness was some of the reason behind this but not all of it and I need to get myself back into the position I was over a year ago and just go for it. I need to for own piece of mind because the street I live in has not been a good place to live due to neighbours and it doesn’t do me any good at all. At number three it is being single. To an extent this is out of my control as I can’t force people to go out with me but I could do more. I did go on some dates but I could have made more effort. One of the issues is confidence and I am not a naturally confident person and this year I let things go and this made me even less confident in some areas of my life. I need to start again and work on my confidence and getting dating. At number four it is not having a holiday. I  did manage odd nights away but nothing more and I have fallen into the habit that holidays just get in the way and that is the wrong attitude to have. Holidays should be about taking time for me and recharging my batteries and hey maybe living a little. I haven’t done this and I need to change this. Finally at number five it is letting myself go. OK this sounds a bit more dramatic than it is but I haven’t focussed much on my wellbeing both physical and mental and this is frustrating as in 2014 I made a lot of progress in these areas and I have let them slip and put on weight and run myself down a lot. 2016 is about getting back in shape physically and mentally.

My Top 5 Personal Highlights

1) Family and Friends

2) Going to Newcastle Film & Comic Con

3) Continuing my acting

4) Organising owls for work

5) Taking part in my first Pride march

So I think it is only right that I round-up my review of 2015 with highlights. At number one at the risk of sounding corny it is family and friends. I can’t say enough how much my friends and family have meant to me in the last 12 months. Even when they have had tough things going on they still helped me and my parents get through the tough days we had in 2015. It wasn’t big gestures it was just talking, listening spending time with us that meant so much. So thank you once again to you all you were certainly the best thing about 2015. At number two it is going to Newcastle Film and Comic Con. I had always wanted to go to one and when I saw the line up I realised I could not go. I got to meet Gareth David Lloyd (Ianto from Torchwood), Ray Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars) and my ultimate favourite Bonnie Langford. I hope to go back this year guest list depending. At number three is continuing my acting. I was into plays in 2015. I played Sir Hugh Evans in ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ and Johnny in ‘Still Life’. I do love acting even though it is very time-consuming and I feel as if I becoming more confident in this area of my life. There will be more plays this year so watch out for more details of this in future blog posts. At number four is a bizarre entry and that was organising owls for an induction event at work. It is an on odd task force at work but in October I had to book for some owls to come to the library as part of our Harry Potter themed induction. I did have help but I was quite pleased with how it all came together. Finally at number five it is taking part in my first Pride march. 2014 saw me go to my first Pride but in 2015 I managed to take part in the march. It was a very special day and the support from the community was fantastic. There has been so much hatred in the world in 2015 so it was nice to see something nice for a change.

So there you have it my review of 2015 with the help of some lists. I am excited about 2016 and what it will bring and I hope to turn some of 2015’s disappointments into highlights in 2016.

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