What's happened to the NME Awards? - Articles - Soundblab

What's happened to the NME Awards?

Celebrating the Same Old Scene

Lists, awards, best ofs, and worst ofs. If you've been paying regular attention to the music mags, sites and blogs over the last couple of months, then chances are you've had it up to here with all of that. We know its part of the deal when a year (or in this case, decade) comes to a close, but you'd be forgiven for wondering when it's all going to end so we can start focusing on the future again. Well, don't hold your breath, because notice has been given that the Godzilla and Godzuki of UK music biz awards will once more rise from the watery depths to terrorise us with blanket coverage of pop stars enjoying a free bar and as many trips to the toilet to 'freshen up' as they can manage without getting papped looking like a kid in a sherbet factory. We refer of course to the Brits and the NME Awards. Or, for the one and only time in this article, to the Shockwaves NME Awards 2010. There, and Soundblab needs a shower now.

No one, not even the people who actually watch the bloated, back-scratching parade of fluffery that is the Brits, will expect it to dish out the accolades to anything remotely innovative or challenging that's been released in the last year. It's the only place where Dido can still rock up in a nice frock and expect free sparkling wine and grub for the privilege of her attendance. The Brits has always been thus and thus it shall always be. But the NME Awards… well there was once a time when we might actually have expected something a little different, a little edgy, perhaps even a little trendsetting there. And so we swivel the lens of the Soundblab microscope over this year's awards nominations and what do we see? Seven nominations for The Arctic Monkeys, including Best British Band, Best Album and Best Track; six for Kasabian, for most of the same categories, and four for Oasis, despite the inconvenient fact that they neither released anything in 2009 or, technically, continued to exist.

What would someone time-travelling from, say, 2007 glean about the state of music in 2010 from this list? Well, assuming they gave a toss and weren't just here to prevent their dimwitted son, Marty Jr, from getting arrested, they'd probably conclude that music had progressed not one jot since their time and that in two years almost no new bands or artists had emerged who were worthy of recognition. And yet, that patently is not the case. For many, 2009 was the year of great, genre-defying albums by the likes of Animal Collective, HEALTH and Fever Ray. It was a year of exciting, confounding newcomers like Micachu and The Shapes, Telepathe, Egyptian Hip Hop and Three Trapped Tigers. Sure, there were plenty of releases from established acts and veterans, but where in that list of nominations do we see names like TV on the Radio, Jarvis Cocker, Yoko Ono or LCD Soundsystem?

Hang about, you may squeak indigently, didn't NME print its Best of list at the end of last year, which tipped the nib to many of those luminaries mentioned above. And, you may continue, the awards nominations are voted for by NME readers, so we can hardly blame the magazine for their resulting blandness. And you'd be completely right, except for the bit about portioning out blame. Why? Well, the annual awards bash is the one time NME can guarantee it and the music it spotlights will make the news, and not just news as it exists within our little music fandom bubble either, but the world of the tabloids and broadsheets and proper TV news presented by Huw Edwards. How ace would it be to switch on BBC News and see Dickensian lost girl Mica Levi bounding up to collect a gong rather than carbohydrate rock dullards Kasabian? And rather than giving Liam Gallagher yet another chance to prove that he's a) utterly charmless and b) one of the enduring fashion victims of our time, why not try and coax shy, retiring Karin Andersson out of her hidey hole to collect an award for her work of weirdy genius, last year's Fever Ray album? She'd probably run like hell in the other direction but it'd be worth the effort.

And, yeah, the nominations and eventual winners are picked by NME readers, but where do you think they're getting this taste for music with all the texture and consistency of cardboard gruel? Year in, year out, NME, in common with that other bastion of snooze-rock, Q, gives cover space and precious page count over to the same tried and tested, boring and boorish bands. It's no secret why; the likes of Oasis, Kasabian, Muse, The Killers et al sell magazines. Fine, but this complacency, this willingness to bow down and suckle at the bilious teat of Noel Gallagher's PR in exchange for another dunder-brained, rent-a-gob, Jeremy Clarkson Jr interview, means that when award time rolls round again, all NME's readership can think to vote for are these same headline-hogging berks.

Dissipating, non? Well, to redress the balance somewhat we at Soundblab have decided to host our own awards. Of course, we can't quite stretch to the lavish (if somehow still slightly grubby) bash NME will be putting on. There'll be no Cava on ice, no generously-filled bowls of Twiglets placed enticingly on each table, no pharmaceutically enhanced hangers-on swelling the entourages of assorted 'slebs, liggers and cred-chasing Hollyoaks stars enjoying their annual day release. No, because we're going to do the whole thing online and its going to be all about what you guys have loved and loathed over the last year. Which song made you go weak at the knees when you first heard it on the dancefloor? Which album restored your faith in music? Which band provided the soundtrack to your best gig of the year? And which one made you want to gip and yank off your own ears as a safety precaution? If you're not sure, check out our Best of 2009 single and album lists. You can let us know on here, on our Facebook fan page, http://www.facebook.com/soundblab or by being thoroughly zeitgeisty and tweeting us at http://twitter.com/soundblab. We'll then come back with the nominations shortlist for you to vote on.

So come on, roll up, get involved and have your say. Your views matter, now more than ever. Because a world in which Matt Bellamy from Muse can win sexiest man of the year… Well, that's not a world any of us want to live in.

Richard Morris
Will the dinosaurs of rock pick up another award?
Is Micachu too weird for the current NME readership?
Fever Ray would have been a nice addition to the Best Solo Artist shortlist.

Comments (1)

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Only NME can make people think that Bellamy, Pete Doherty and the hairspray casualties from Kasabian are among the sexiest men alive. Looking forward to the awards ceremony!!

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