Toy Love and the NZ Music Awards

05:00, Nov 01 2012

So, yeah, apparently Mumford & Sons are making an appearance at tonight's Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards in Auckland.

''Beware the anodyne din of these nice men with mandolins...''

Why they're at an awards ceremony for Kiwi music is anyone's guess.

The corporate takeover of our nation's music awards continues this year with categories such as the Westpac Hotpoints Breakthrough Artist of The Year Award.

Is this what the so-called best celebration of New Zealand music has come to? Naming rights? PR companies? 

I was invited to be one of many judges in this year's New Zealand Music Awards but I'm not going to tonight's awards.


The way judging works is you're given a password to an online account which shows the finalists in each category and you judge them in order of preference from 1-5 - 1 being your favourite, 5 being your last option.In some categories I struggled to find three, let alone five I wanted to vote for.

There were also finalists whose albums I wasn't completely familiar with.For example, in what I consider to be the ridiculous category ''Best Gospel / Christian Album'' I hadn't heard any of them. (Question - why is Christian music separated into its own category??)

In my defence I would be the same if the VNZMA's had Best ZAP Album or Best Buddhist album categories.

Anyway, because I take the whole judging thing seriously, and in the interests of fairness, I purchased each of the albums shortlisted for the Best Gospel / Christian Album category and listened to each of them five times in a variety of settings.

Unfortunately by the time I had done this the online judging had closed so I didn't end up voting for anything at all.

I don't know how the other judges managed to listen to all the finalists' albums in the narrow window of judging time but perhaps they are all extremely familiar with all forms of Christian music.

I'm also not going to tonight's awards because although I was asked to judge this doesn't mean I get given a free ticket - just 50% off. This is fine if you live in the North Island, it's not a great expense.

But in the south, by the time you pay for airfares, accommodation, 50% of an awards ticket etc it ends up being a reasonable wad of dosh.

Although a man I've never met did email me earlier this week offering me a free ticket and asked me to sit at his ''VIP table'' which was nice of him but, well, I thought about it and decided, all things considered, I really didn't care to go.

(In case you're interested, the finalists in the Best Gospel / Christian Album are Parachute Band - Matins:Vespers, Rapture Ruckus - Open Your Eyes and The Ember Days - Emergency. I hope Rapture Ruckus wins).

I've been involved with judging these awards for a few years now and there are always nominations who I feel excited about voting for, however they rarely seem to make it through to become finalists or award winners.

Judges are generally told that when making our selections we should take into account ''commercial success'' of the ''product'' and, well, that just doesn't sit very well with me.

Music isn't a product to me and commercial success means nothing to me when contemplating art.

When it comes to the overall finalists this year there are a few I hope win accolades - Home Brew, Opossom, Annah Mac, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, I'd like Head Like A Hole to be equal first with Clap Clap Riot (although I love the Checks they've broken up now so it all seems a bit null and void), Special Problems are a dead cert to take out the Best Music Video Award (ha, of course) and I hope Whirimako Black and Richard Nunns take out the Best Maori Album award with Te More. But most of all I'm pleased to see Toy Love receive the Legacy Award.

Weirdly, as I was writing that sentence, my friend Sally dropped off a set of 24 Toy Love poster postcards from The Random Factory (thanks Ian! Pictured is my favourite one).

In many ways Toy Love sum up everything that the VNZMA's 2012 aren't and should be.

Otherwise the awards are full of the industry-acceptable commercially-approved faces you'd expect - Stan Walker, Gin Wigmore, Six60, Kimbra (who will surely clean up tonight) et al.

To me the Tuis are now less a celebration of New Zealand music and more of a "celebritisation".

Expect to see past and current Shortland Streeters trotting along the red carpet, yawn.

Tonight I'm going to stay home, crack open a beer and listen to my current favourite album by a Kiwi band that'll probably never win a music award or sell a lot of copies yet I love it anyway.

After that I might watch the awards on TV and laugh at the way announcers mispronounce musicians' names and over-excitedly talk about being backstage. 

It seems appropriate to end this blog with words from Toy Love's Death Rehearsal - ''Sex and drugs and rock and roll, we're huddled together in a bottomless hole''....

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