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UCLA Radio’s Top Picks of 2022 (so far)

Written by on July 19, 2022

Entry One: Clementine Daniel

Old Enough (TV series) by Nippon Television

Old Enough is a Japanese reality television series that has been filming sporadically since 1992, following children as young as 2 years old as they perform tasks and run errands for their parents. Released on Netflix in March of 2022, the show has shocked viewers with the astonishing capacity of the Japanese toddlers to journey solo across distances of up to a kilometer from their families to grocery shop, prepare food, or bring clothing to the laundry, among other quests. The show is charming and delightfully amusing throughout each 10-15 minute episode, despite moments of frustration, fear, and mischief that the children featured may display. Perhaps the best part of the hilariously pure program is the fact that the cameramen follow the children as they go about their task, sometimes so close to them that the children fully see the TV camera in their faces, only to dismiss their followers as electricians and continue about their day. Whether you watch Old Enough to calm your nerves after a horror movie or to cheer you up after a heavy day, you are guaranteed to find consolation in the impressively adept journeyers and the humor with which two and three-year-olds experience the adult world.

Entry Two: Jen Uskolovsky

“Monologues” (EP) by Ogi

While the R&B genre is often criticized for being oversaturated, Ogi’s debut EP “Monologues” stands on its own as a breath of fresh air within the space. “Monologues” is a record that’s , each track being groovy and catchy while oozing with sultry vocals. Banger after banger, this project has cemented the Los Angeles-based artist as one to watch out for. Ogi got noticed by the industry while posting cover songs as a senior at Northwestern University, quickly obtaining a recording deal and opening for Snoh Aalegra’s recent tour. Standout tracks like “Envy” possess clever and savvy lyrics that Ogi croons with angry passion and fervor towards an ex-friend and supporter. “Don’t you know that it’s a sin to covet?”

Entry Three: Daniel Smith

Avante Garde (shoe collection) by Karolina Żebrowska

Karolina Żebrowska’s Avant Garde collection of historically-inspired shoes, brought to life with the help of historic fashion brand, American Duchess, is a new outing for the creator, but certainly one in keeping with her brand. Bold pinks and pastels on shoes may initially cause one to question the historical validity of such a stylistic choice, but are all the more important for calling attention to their historical inspiration. The Polish author and Youtube creator has amassed a growing following from her content that seamlessly integrates humor into videos exploring the depths of historical fashion, especially how it is understood and represented nowadays in popular culture. Her additional talent for being able to physically recreate historical fashion styles especially lends her content an added layer of authenticity. To this end, Żebrowska stands as an important figure in popular history, a bridge able to communicate ideas otherwise locked behind the rigid boundaries of academia to a wide audience. Avant Garde provides an essential reminder of how history not only lays the foundations for the present, but can grant the inspiration to create the future.

Entry Four: Max Dallas

“Pop?” “Rap?” “R&B?” (EPs) by Tierra Whack

Mainstream music periodicals were already in the process of publishing their “best of 2021” lists when Philly-native Tierra Whack dropped three EPs in three weeks last December. Having fallen outside the realm of journalists’ album rankings because of their unorthodox format, timing, and rollout, the nine tracks between “Pop?,” “Rap?,” and “R&B?” were underrepresented from the start. In case you missed them, Whack uses each EP as a genre study, tapping into fluid expression to challenge conventions. Her refusal to establish an overarching sound makes room for her uninhibited meditations on love, death, and success. Although “Body of Water” and “Meagan Good” feature bold, layered production, minimalist instrumentation dominates the projects, placing Whack’s dynamic vocal delivery in the driver’s seat. “Pop?” track “Lazy,” the most stark of the bunch, isolates a two-bar blues guitar loop, over which a slightly auto-tuned Whack remains clever, catchy, and charismatic. Collectively clocking in at 26:22, these three EPs top 2018’s Whack World for the longest body of work she has released yet. Whack remains refreshing as she continues to shape her own space within hip-hop. In her own words, Whack ain’t wack.

Entry Five: Arami Chang

NORCO (video game) by Geography of Robots

Given the interactive nature of video games, game developers usually have to put in the extra effort to fully immerse players into their virtual worlds. By that measure, the Southern Gothic point-and-click adventure game Norco is a grand achievement in immersive worldbuilding. Through its evocative storytelling, vibrant pixel art, and an eclectic lineup of characters, Norco provides a deep exploration of a world being endlessly digitized by the onset of surveillance robots, cryptocurrency, and ever expanding cloud infrastructures. Of course, Norco acknowledges that none of this is sustainable, as it forces players to slog through bayous and wetlands that are decaying at the hands of all this automata. For the amount of natural devastation that the game portrays, it is surprising just how much Norco teems with life. As much as the game is about a place, Norco is ultimately about the people who pump the lifeblood throughout the town. People who hold puppet shows under highways, find salvation in the stars, upload their brains onto hard drives, fight against ecoterrorists (or are the ecoterrorists). It is a game that wants players to know that beyond the protagonist’s sphere of influence is a dying town whose only hope lies in its humanity, making it an incredibly life-affirming debut piece from Geography of Robots.

Entry Six: Kayla Hill

“Unpredictable” (single) by Destin Conrad and Kiana Ledé

The Tampa born singer (and former Vine superstar) Destin Conrad has come to the music scene with something to prove. Gaining fame from the social media app for his singing, and connecting with artists like Kehlani was the platform Conrad needed to grow as a singer.Following his album COLORWAY in 2021, the effortlessly smooth single “Unpredictable” featuring Kiana Ledé is a breath of fresh air within the R&B/Soul genre. The duo navigate a mellow bassline while they talk about new relationships and how they compare to the ones that came before. The 21 and 25-year-old lament on the three minute track with lyrics such as “I miss waking up to the feeling of something unpredictable” and “miss the feeling of a new memory,” providing the perfect soundtrack for sadboi playlists everywhere- just don’t let it give you a reason to call your ex. Please.

Entry Seven: Sonja Stott

Unreliable Narrator (BFK/print collection) by Eleonor Palabrica

While known for her UCLA Radio show Unreliable Narrator, graduate Eleonor Palabrica graces the creative world with prints and stickers as well. Palabrica refuses to make art for the masses, ensuring what she creates is only for her and reluctant for critique regardless if it is constructive. Her art focuses on themes of childhood and struggles with mental health and self harm. While mostly digital, Palabrica’s style takes on a hand-drawn, sketched-out look that makes the heaviness of her messages disguised in an almost playful skin. Selling prints and stickers at house shows, clothing sales and other venues has given Palabrica a platform to share her own struggle with those who can appreciate or relate. She is now working with the UCLA Radio team to design the next wave of radio merch.

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