Editors' Picks

Best of 2013 (Part One): Music, Videogames and Podcasts

by Marika , December 18, 2013Leave a comment

In the first of a two-part series, some of our favourite Killings contributors highlight their top cultural moments of 2013 – in music, videogames and podcasting. Have they missed any?

Best Music – Chad Parkhill

The Knife

The album that towered over my 2013 was The Knife’s monumental Shaking the Habitual, which saw the Swedish duo eschew the finely-crafted electro that made their name in favour of an experimental, process-oriented method that could generate near-impenetrable polyglot pop (‘Without You My Life Would Be Boring’), anxiety-inducing industrial techno (‘Full of Fire’) and patience-testing ambient interludes (‘Old Dreams Waiting to be Realised’).

Bill Callahan’s Dream River continues where 2011’s Apocalypse left off, and furthers his reputation as one of the very best songwriters in the North American indie scene, while another songwriter operating at the same level, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, took a break from his own melodies and words by recording a beautiful EP of hispanophone Sr. Chinarro covers, Five Spanish Songs. Both Fuck Buttons’ Slow Focus and The Drones’ I See Seaweed were welcome returns to form after long absences. Kanye West’s ‘Bound 2’ may have one of the most controversial videos of any pop song from this year, but its deliberately disjointed production, overt sentimentality, and unblinking self-criticism have made it linger in my mind longer than any other song from Yeezus.

Finally, 2013 delivered two perfectly-crafted nuggets of pure pop bliss: Haim’s retro-oriented ‘The Wire’ (complete with the year’s best West Coast guitar lick) and Miley Cyrus’ surprisingly deep ‘We Can’t Stop’, which captures the melancholia inherent in the heart of compulsive hedonism better than any song since Sade’s heyday.

Read more from Chad Parkhill here

Best Videogames  — Dan Golding

Assassin’s Creed IV

With the looming inflection point of next generation consoles, 2013’s mainstream videogames felt like punches pulled. Big releases like BioShock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V, and The Last Of Us were only the greatest achievements of an outmoded system, unable to transcend insular gaming culture. By now, the big studios have been left behind — critically, at least — by independent or semi-independent videogames. 2013’s included Gone Home (a game of atmosphere and family crisis), Papers, Please (border policing and responsibility), and The Stanley Parable (surrealism and Britishness). Some highlights came from Australia, too — Antichamber (an impossible maze), Stickets (really hard Tetris), and Duet (really really hard Tetris) all did well. Even more exciting was the ongoing explosion of low profile, punkish games, like those at Forest Ambassador, which curates games that are free, that require low time investment, and no specialised equipment or familiarity with games to play.

Yet for my 2013, this familiar story — the decline of the mainstream and the rise of the independent — found a wrinkle in Assassin’s Creed IV. For a series defined by the financial year (a new iteration is pumped out annually, and 2012’s was particularly cynically received), the latest was a creative triumph like something from the golden age of Hollywood — an Errol Flynn simulator on the high seas of the Caribbean, all rope swings, man-‘o-wars, and sea shanties. I have spent more time in Assassin’s Creed IV’s world than I care to mention, and it overcame my own scepticism to prove that there might just be life in mainstream videogames yet.

Read more from Dan Golding here.

Best Podcasts – Jessie Borrelle


I’m a podcast monogamist. I like my radio shows one at a time thanks, single file, or I get a kind of mental rash. I’m also greedy, so most don’t last long in my speakers. I gobble them up really quickly, because when they’re good and perishable, it gets quite compulsive doesn’t it. Like it is with those television shows, it’s hard to stagger them and take it slowly.

So, in my headphones at least, this year really belonged to Roman Mars and his modestly described ‘tiny radio show’, 99% Invisible. Critics call it smug but I don’t really care, I think calling something smug is smugly, and I don’t go in for that, because what a real luxury to call something so artfully crafted and executed smug. But then again, our ears are all tuned separately so I do respect that Roman’s tone won’t suit every listener, but to get stuck on that would mean losing out on a very considered and captivating earworm.

If I have managed to clamber though this post without actually, pragmatically reviewing the radio show then good, and if I made you a little frustrated for not getting a sense of what 99% Invisible is about at all, then I’m glad. Because really, reviews should be done by listeners as they’re listening. Not by writers as they’re writing. Though I did review it this year so you could read that. Or you could just listen.

Read more from Jessie Borrelle here.


Nathan Smith

Letting the Essays Do The Talking: Meghan Daum’s My Misspent Youth

In the introduction to her essay collection My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum writes that as frank as her essays are, they ‘are not confessions’. The personal essay may have long defined Daum, but she is far from a ‘confessional writer’, a title she has long resisted. Read more »


Ilona Wallace

Between You & Me: The New Yorker’s Mary Norris on publishing, editing and insecurity

Mary Norris begins her chatty grammar guide and memoir, Between You & Me, by chronicling the odd jobs she held before she began working at the New Yorker in 1978. She delivered milk – awkwardly calling ‘Milkwoman!’ when she left bottles at each stop – and crashed the dairy truck. Read more »


Chad Parkhill

On judging the Most Underrated Book Award

The chair of the judging panel for the Most Underrated Book Award shares his observations on the award, what it means to be ‘underrated’, and the current landscape of Australian literary prizes. Read more »

ROSEANNE - On set in New York - 10/16/93 
Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy "Roseanne". "Roseanne" is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems.

Rebecca Shaw

Out of the Imaginary Closet: Fictional characters who should have been gay

When you are part of a group that isn’t portrayed in the same way (or only negatively, or not at all) you become desperate for that glimmer of recognition. Here are several characters that I loved as a young person, who became stand-ins for the openly lesbian characters I wanted to see so much. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Rebecca Varcoe

In defence of professional cheerleading

My name is Rebecca and I’m a 26-year-old woman with a shameful secret, for which I refuse to be ashamed any longer. Today I want to confess my obsession and one true love, the subject of many rants and late-night tweeting frenzies: Cheerleading. American, All-Star Cheerleading. Read more »


James Tierney

Bodily Limits: An interview with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film Suspiria suffered from a critical eclipse and a variety of censored prints, and was largely cherished in its original form by aficionados of the field. A reassessment has been building, something sure to be aided by the forthcoming publication of Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ perceptive and elegantly written monograph. Read more »

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Eloise Ross

Existence as Minimalism: Remembering Chantal Akerman

Images of a young woman, emptying her small flat of furniture, blocking the window and sitting in the dark, still. Sitting on a mattress in a bare room, furiously writing letters with a pencil and watching the snow through the window. Meeting with a past lover and reuniting on-screen. I think about Chantal Akerman’s films more often than I can say. Read more »


Anwen Crawford

Throne Of Blood: Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth

For more than four centuries, we have found versions of ourselves in Shakespeare’s plays precisely because his characters are so human in their flaws and follies. At the same time, the arc of these characters’ stories unfolds somewhere above and beyond us, in the realm of grand tragedy or grand comedy, or both. Read more »


Matilda Dixon-Smith

Family Matters: Please Like Me and the Aussie TV family

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the bouncy titles run over three little scenarios: Josh cooks dinner for his mate Tom and his boyfriend Arnold; his Mum cooks for her new housemate Hannah; and his Dad cooks for his wife, Mae. The three of them stir, sip wine and dance daggily around their kitchens in a neat metaphor for this season’s fantastic, cohesive new trajectory. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Alexis Drevikovsky

Have You Ever Felt Like This: Going Round the Twist again

Working from home one day, I took my lunchbreak away from my laptop and flicked idly through the TV channels, hoping for a midday movie with Reese Witherspoon or, even better, an old episode of Cheers. What I found was beyond my wildest dreams. I excitedly texted my mate Alison: Round the Twist is on ABC3! Read more »


Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

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Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

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Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Tom Conroy and Colin Friels in Mortido. Photo credit: Shane Reid

Jane Howard

A Shining Nightmare: Mortido‘s Sydney

Sydney is a city of shine and reflective surfaces. The glint of the harbour follows through to city high-rises clad in polished glass, bouncing off the wide windows of the mansions hugging the undulating land before it gives way to the impossibly deep and wide water. But this beauty that can betray the darkness of the city and its people. Read more »


Angela Meyer

Outrageous Fortune: Seeing Hamlet as a Cumberbitch

Jazz swells, hushing the audience, and the solid black gate of the theatre curtain opens. It reveals the lounging figure of Hamlet, playing a record, sniffing his father’s old jumper. But what I see first is not Hamlet: it is Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more »

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Jane Howard

Great Aspirations: In the shadow of Patrick White

The text of The Aspirations of Daise Morrow is lifted directly from Patrick White’s short story ‘Down at the Dump’. It’s a wonderful thing to hear White’s judicious use of language; to understand the eyes through which he saw Australia; and to see an entire world of his creation brought to life in the theatre. Read more »