We’re at, undoubtedly, the bleakest time of year. Short days, bad weather, skint from Christmas, January and February see us cashing the cheque that December wrote. But there’s no need to crawl into a ball and hibernate. There are loads of good things to look forward to in the first couple of months of 2016. Here are our top picks of music, film, TV and more to get you through these grim wintry months.
While surprise, no-notice releases may still be in vogue (new records from Kanye, Rihanna and Frank Ocean could arrive any time now), it’s David Bowie who delivers the first big-hitting LP of the year. Out on Friday (January 8) to mark the chameleonic singer’s 69th birthday, NME has already given it a listen and can confirm ‘Blackstar’ to be “a restless, intriguing album that sprinkles stardust at every turn” and one that shows its creator as someone “positively allergic to the idea of heritage rock”. Promising, eh?
Elsewhere, fans can look forward to new albums from former NME Godlike Genius prize winners Suede (‘Night Thoughts’, January 22) and London post-punks Savages (‘Adore Life’, January 22), while photophobic and elusive pop sensation Sia will also mark her return with ‘This Is Acting’ (January 29). One of the most unexpected success stories in recent times – sixth album ‘1000 Forms Of Fear’ was her first chart-topper after 20 years in the game – Sia’s new music was recently penned for Adele and requested for use by Rihanna, which should give you an accurate picture of what to expect from the upcoming release.
The first few months of 2016 sees several acts making the step up to arena status, with massive tours coming up from Foals (February 12-20), The Libertines (January 21-30) and Adele (February 29 – April). Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis has promised that their stretch will be “savage and special”, while Doherty and co’s tour of UK’s biggest venues looks set to be their most epic yet. If they can hold it all together by then, that is.
Adele, meanwhile, spent the last part of 2015 breaking virtually every sales record out there. Kicking off her first UK tour in over three years in February, she’ll be aiming to smash some live concert records this time around. AC/DC, you’ve be warned.
January also sees the return of the NME Awards tour, steered by Bloc Party and featuring support from Drenge, Rat Boy and grime newcomer Bugzy Malone. The annual outing will begin in Cardiff, before stopping off in Southampton, Bristol, Nottingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Cambridge and London before a final gig on February 12 at Birmingham’s O2 Academy.
One movie everyone will be talking about this year is western epic The Revenant, and not just because Leonardo DiCaprio may or may not get “thrust by a bear” during one particular scene. The film tells the story of a lone frontiersman trying to survive in the 1800s wilderness, sort of like an extreme version of Castaway but without added friendly volley ball. Directed by Oscar-winning Birdman filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and out January 8 in the UK, it’s already up for four Golden Globes and you can bet Oscar nominations to follow suit too. Another western worth queuing up at the cinema for is Tarantino’s latest flick, The Hateful Eight (out January 8).
While superhero films have been long criticised for being male-dominated and heteronormative, Marvel’s Deadpool (February 4) looks to change all this with the usually poe-faced Ryan Reynolds portraying the titular character as a “pan-sexual”, wisecracking anti-hero with the sort of humour that tends to get lost in comic-to-screen adaptations.
Then there’s Zoolander 2 (February 12), which already takes this year’s award for the most inexplicable cameos: Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Macaulay Culkin, Lewis Hamilton, Mika, just to name a few. Will it be great? Will it be terrible? There’s just one way to find out.
Nostalgia lovers and UFO hunters alike will be glad to see the return of The X-Files (January 24), with Mulder and Scully returning for a six-part revival series coming more than ten years after the original run concluded. A lot seems to have changed – trailers show that the pair are no longer an item, which had led to plenty of Ex-Files puns – but it’ll be interesting to see how the show fits back into today’s gritty or glitzy, ‘golden age of TV’ climate.
Other must-sees include American Crime Story (February 2), the latest truly WTF offering from American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, but this time focusing on the real crime story of OJ Simpson’s trial. It stars Cuba Gooding Jr as OJ and John Travolta as his lawyer, of course.
Elsewhere there’s a new season of Girls airing from February 21, plus new sitcom Angie Tribeca (January 17): a sort-of cross between The Office and Parks and Rec, with Rashida Jones in the lead role and Steve Carell as executive-producer. Quite the supergroup.
Didn’t get anything good to chain-watch over Christmas? Fear not, as the latest season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the final series of Parks and Recreation are arriving on Netflix in early January, along with Judd Apatow’s return to TV with new Netflix original series Love. Premiering on February 19 and already renewed for a second season before even airing, the latter show promises a “down-to-earth look at dating”, which probably means to expect Tinder product placement a-plenty.
Of course, there’s a new season of Serial – which is so far very different to, if not just as good as, the first. But if you’re wanting to dig a little deeper, why not take a listen to something in the same vein with Mystery Show. Produced by Gimlet Media and hosted by This American Life alumnus Starlee Kine, the podcast aims to tackle a different mystery (one unsolvable by a simple internet search) each week. There’s already a first season to catch up on, featuring such mysteries as Jake Gyllenhaal’s height (really, nobody knew it before this show) and how Britney Spears came to read an unknown author’s forgotten book.
NME‘s own columnist Katherine Ryan is about to head out on tour from January through to March on her Kathbum tour which has already seen comparisons made to the late Joan Rivers. A great way to laugh off your New Year blues.