NZ Music Awards detritus

20:55, Nov 04 2012

Did you watch last week's Vodafone NZ Music Awards? Or maybe you were there at the live event?

I tune in and catch the awards most years - occupational hazard. It would be easier, probably, to ignore them - they mean so very little to me. None of my favourite bands are acknowledged, and if, by fluke, a band I support is a finalist they don't ever win. Occasionally there's a live performance worth catching or an ever so slightly irreverent speech but it really is a bland and predictable event to watch on the telly.

The other year I was insulted by how crass Gin Wigmore was in her spoilt-brat acceptance speeches. "Yes, yes! I f**king deserve this," went one of them. She was almost wearing a dress at the time...

A few ships must sink on the night of the NZ Music Awards - vulgar acceptance speeches, awkward pauses, vague stabs at arrogance. But I'm set off by the pre-show Red Carpet preview. This, to me, sums up how far off we are in this country from having the culture to support this - and from having the support for this version of a culture.

Nobodies paraded down the carpet to be interviewed by nobodies about nothing. It was only a 25-minute show but I checked the clock three times while watching it. And I was fast-forwarding...

This is why I stopped writing about the NZ Music Awards - I realised a couple of years ago that I am not the right person to be covering this event in any way. It's best I just let it happen, it's - sadly - never going to stop. And its audience are there for the drinks. It's a big annual back-pat, in the worst possible way; a circle-jerk even. It's nothing but an embarrassment. Everyone can turn up again the following year, get sloshed, mark it down as one giant piss-up.


We know that. I know that. Many of you know that. But still we watch. And that means we can comment...

So the reason I thought to write about the show/awards this year is because a couple of things stuck out; seemed worth mentioning.

1. I was crucified for suggesting that we trump up an artist - prep them, let them sweep the awards one year and then they're essentially forgotten. It happened though - again. It always happens. Six60 had their year this year. They will not win a thing next year. Just as Gin Wigmore had her moment the other year - lacking any form of grace or humility. And this year she went home empty-handed, despite announcing as part of the Red Carpet show, with trademark arrogance and lack of any awareness, that she would win. She would beat Kimbra. And of course that was not the case. And Kimbra, along with Six60, was a major winner this year.

That means she'll be forgotten next year. Now I'm all for Kimbra receiving recognition for international success. It did happen. It's worth mentioning. And good on her. But this is the problem with this style of show - it's all flash-in-the-pan. Even if she goes on to bigger/better things - and that's arguably not going to happen - she will be forgotten about at the local music awards.

2. Speaking of forgotten about - The Checks won the Best Rock Award only after the band announced its break-up. This group - and for what it's worth I thought they were talented - could not survive in New Zealand. They could not make it work. So they announced a split. Now, as if it were a golden handshake, they are given an award, essentially a posthumous award/reward. Ridiculous. You could see it in the faces of the three band members who bothered to show up. They were bemused. Baffled, even. They were quite possibly embarrassed to have won the award over actual (working/existing) bands.

I could argue for Head Like a Hole here - I do think they fit the category better than their competition. So for that, maybe, they should have won. But no, the NZ Music Awards decided to honour a band it had never really supported while it was struggling to make a crust. A backhanded apology, really; we know you couldn't make it - but here, have this!

And this is my biggest issue with the awards - this message it sends to the young and impressionable, or for that matter to the old and senile: that it's not only viable to make a career in New Zealand music but you can be "a star". This is almost always not true. Artists capable of brilliant shows and albums really struggle to fit the career around the boring day-job, but day-jobs can't be mentioned on the red carpet! It's a joke. A sad - ridiculous - joke.

3. I liked Home Brew. I liked their performance. And good on them for offering something in the manner of a breath of fresh air; these awards deserve to be satirised and Home Brew did that - while they were happening.

4. Campbell Smith accepted another award on behalf of one of his acts. It was bad enough when he stood alongside Brooke Fraser a couple of years ago, announced the award and then stayed standing there almost as if to give her speech a final proof-read to ensure that he was mentioned. This year his walk-on role - just to remind you all who is really running things - came about because Opossom could not be there to accept their award. So Smith was announced as accepting on behalf. He muttered one line and kept walking. Smug. Arrogant. Unnecessary. This man is killing our culture. His stranglehold on events, bands, awards ceremonies - it's the reason we have these uncomfortable back-pat sessions that, with a sponsor's branding, are dressed up and called an awards ceremony. I know he's stepped down from the head-of-RIANZ gig now. But the damage has been done.

5. I thought The Black Seeds were so boring as to seem as though they were covering Six60, rather than how it seemed last year - i.e. the other way round.

6. The hosts were, once again, truly awful. Some people praised Taika Waititi for bringing some laughs to the mix, but I'm not so sure about that. He played a bro-card to suit. And was milking it.

7. Hey, fantastic that Toy Love was honoured. Right in time for the coloured vinyl to fly off the shelves over the weekend. Toy Love - good stuff. But would they have ever even made the list at a music awards back in the day? Not a chance.

That's what I took from the awards this year. That and the fact that it continues to be a crime that bands nominated have to pay to attend, the judges who help pre-select and whittle down the nominations are asked to pay, though, lucky, lucky, their "prize" for sifting through the truly horrendous music is a half-price ticket. Pay $100. Organise your own flights and accommodation, or your travel across town. That's your payment for helping with the process.

These awards continue to be a sham, a sad reminder that we are bypassing so much of our real talent in order to reward the stunningly average, the truly mediocre, the flash-in-the-pan wannabe pop-stars.

Did you watch this year's awards? What did you think of them?

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