Not just because I was such an obnoxious writer back then. My own experience and feelings obviously still troubled me so much that I caked the whole experience under layers and layers of pop culture references, intentionally pointless tangents and terrible jokes. Seriously around a third of this book may as well be a fucking Family Guy episode, and you should never take such serious accusations lightly Later on, I obviously got a lot more depressed while writing it, and it actually improves markedly when I’m far less happy. In the end, I do think that it’s a really good book by the end, and if 40’000 words were cut it might be brilliant.
But it was mainly a mistake because reading through this book again was really traumatic. I don’t just go through the agonies and trauma of this one experience, but touch on the absolute worse moments of my life. It’s been horrendous for my to revisit it. I really feel this book finally getting published represents the end of something. I haven’t quite decided what that end is yet. This is such a startling outpouring of everything that I seriously don’t know what to do with myself. I lacerate myself and bleed all of myself into this. And it’s painful. And depressing. Fuck. I am considering what there is left of my brain to ever even communicate. My everything is now all out there. I know I’ve considered/threatened this before, but Necessary Evil 2023 will be the tenth year end list on this blog. And it mightbe the last.
Anyway, here it is, 130’000 (mostly…) unedited words. It’s out there now. And now I don’t know what to do.
The last ten years have taught me two main lesson that I feel qualified enough to pass on.
The first is that you will adapt. You all have natural skills to adjust and work within almost any situation that life puts you through. If you ever catch yourself thinking to yourself or even expressing out loud that you could never imagine yourself surviving a certain event, or that you could never pick yourself up after some traumatic experience, or that you could never live with a certain physical condition that you try not to stare at as you pass someone in the street. Trust me, you almost definitely could. I’m a weak willed toxic mix of Generation X’s chronic apathy and the Millennials’ fragile narcissism. I wasn’t able to survive two days without my phone while it got fixed last week, so had to desperately insert my SIM into a friend’s spare phone just so I could WhatsApp my latest vacuous opinions to as many people as possible. I couldn’t survive anything. And yet here I am. Will you like you’re new circumstances? Maybe not. But you’ll survive. Your dumb body and your subconscious mind will force you to make the best of the situation, even if you’re not consciously trying to. You’ll survive.
Right, so I’ve just taken on another huge list without anyone asking? Cool.
And the overall quality of this list is… pretty mindblowing, as you’d imagine. It was a painful experience getting it down to just 101, and the strength of the competition has meant that proper Necessary Evil alumni like Sharon van Etten, Christine & the Queens and Lykke Li couldn’t fit in. And speaking of harshness, strictly (kinda strictly) only one entry per artist, which has meant that even some former Legit Boss winning songs failed to get in simply because the artist did an even better song in a different year. And remarkably few of the Necessary Evil albums of the year are represented.
And I’m not trying to spin any narrative here – these aren’t the 101 songs that I can link back to my disability in any way, I’m not saying that these next 101 songs were all important to my recovery, or that these 101 songs saved my life in any way (though they all did, as music can do that), just the scientific fact that these are 101 songs released since Mat 4th 2013 that simply slapped hardest.
At the very least, these 101 songs make up the greatest YouTube and Spotify playlists of all time, and the quality of these next one hundred and one songs is going to be headspinning.
Beginning with the least headspinning to the most, yeah? You know how this goes:
Wooooo! It’s the first ever Necessary Evil content extravaganza! A whole ten years as a cripple! You know I’m going to exploit that for as many cheap clicks as I can! It’s time to have a fuckin’ partaaaaaaaaay!
Exploit it for a classic Necessary Evil depressing whinge post? One post?? Listen, clearly you’re all amateurs when it comes to commodifying your own personal tragedy for sad validation, so sit down and let the adults talk, OK? Think of this as just an introductory post to the exciting events we have coming up to commemorate The Night the Line Was Crossed. I have lived as an able bodied and disabled person. As an alcoholic and a lame, sober, party pooper. These changes weren’t completely correlated, but the causation is clear. It’s going to go to some pretty dark places, but I honestly believe the lasting impression will be one of lowkey inspiration. I will joke (constantly) – because I am British and incapable of serious emotional honesty for any long periods – but I do honestly believe my experience since that day in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China on 04/05/2013 is one worth telling. And, most importantly, it is worth many, many clicks. Don’t forget to like and subscribe.
I don’t talk about immigration law much on this blog. At all, actually. Firstly, it’s my day job, and jobs suck, right? I don’t want that shit leaking into my leisure time. It’s a freaking Saturday right now, and you vultures want me to talk about immigration law?? Can’t a playa like myself get days off occasionally?? And anyway, it’s pretty much never relevant: it’s rather difficult to respond to the latest Unknown Mortal Orchestra album while referencing the five stages approach set out in Razgar ( UKHL 27).
Your first reaction might be “Hey, that’s pretty fucking shitty! And that Rwanda deal is some gross colonial bullshit!”. And that’s OK, it’s a free country (if you’re a white European) and I applaud your engagement. However, that is obviously an emotional reaction based on philosophically debatable matters such as ‘morality’, ‘decency’ and ‘human fucking rights, you bunch of fucking ghouls‘. That’s all well and good, but I don’t wish to debate this from ethical standpoint. Up yours, woke moralists. I’m just going to examine the bill, examine the implications, examine the logistics and examine the thinking from a purely unbiased and ideologically untarnished viewpoint. I would just like the calmly and inarguably point out how this is one of the dumbest fucking things ever, and evidence of such chronic smooth brain thinking that I am genuinely worried about the mental health of its adherents. Legally speaking, this bill is as thick as pig shit.
The bill is absolutely that potent mix of cruelty and stupidity. I’m just going to concentrate on the stupidity, that’s all. As I really don’t think enough people are aware of how stupid it is.
Elle Gilliam has had ‘the feels’ mastered for a long time now. A proven guru of cerebral boo-hoo anthems. She was first mentioned on Necessary Evil when I declared the sublime song Novel by her previous project Helltown as one of the best songs of the first half of 2019 that you might not have heard. Dudes, it’s been more than three and a half years since then, if you still haven’t heard it, then I think you might be past saving, seriously. And the name of that surrounding Helltown album, ‘Picture Perfect Depression’ really describes the music that she absolutely perfected with the project: incisive and often devastating explorations of her own personal demons set to absolutely pristine (initially) acoustic gorgeousness.
Changing musical projects wasn’t the only major adjustment that Elle had gone through recently. No spoilers, but check the pronouns on those Helltown reviews. I was, obviously, desperate to interview her, and said so in my Efficax review (“if you don’t see an interview with Efficax sometime early next year it means she hates me and by extension everyone reading this”). Luckily, Elle is obviously vulnerable to emotional blackmail, so agreed.
Fair warning, this interview goes to places. Remember how Elle is so good at articulating her emotional self through her lyrics and music? Yeah, turns out she’s really good at that in her normal voice as well.
You can make a lot of easy assumptions about people based on their feelings toward Psalm One.
Not in the sense of whether they like her or not – ain’t nobody not liking Psalm One! It’s psychologically impossible – more in the sense that they’re likely to give one of two answers.
Either they’ll say “Ermagod! I love her so much! She’s been one of the most notable underground hip-hop acts of the 21st century! More than two decades of critically adored music while being one of the genre’s most central voices on the experiences of a queer person’s struggles with the industry/world’s patriarchy! Her Twitter bio describes her as a ‘National Hip-Hop Treasure’ and, folks, where’s the lie?? Most importantly though, the woman drops banger after banger after banger after banger!”
There were only 121 of these bastards last year!! Extraordinarily poor planning on my part. There’s a lot of work to do, so I am not going to spend a lot of time on this intro. I will just say though… This list was named after a Sasha Banks catchphrase in WWE, and now she’s left that company… can I just have it?? Is it 100% mine now??
Anyway: Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else: 2022’s 154 best songs.
Thirteen different artists have won Necessary Evil since it first started in 2007. Maybe fourteen, depending on your take on 2013’s infamous Arctic Monkeys/Hjaltalín controversy. No artist has ever finished first twice. Until now. 070 Shake’s ‘Modus Vivendi’ was the greatest album of 2020, and the 2022 follow-up is unquestionably the greatest album released this year, with its only viable contender being a 1982 masterpiece widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. These are the only two albums she has released.