Opinion / The NME Awards 2016

It’s award season, people! The Oscars, Grammys, BAFTAs, BRITS and everything else in between have been awarding the ‘very best’ within the film and music industries in the last month or so. While I think that me going into depth on something like the Grammy’s is just only going to get me a ton of unwanted aggro, there is one thing I can comment on: this year’s NME awards. Last night saw them take place, and along with it came the usual disappointment and disagreement. What a surprise.

As per usual with the NME, a lot of their decisions on award winners last night were underwhelming and in turn, caused a lot of talk from bemused and disappointed fans. It seems that no matter what they do at NME, they are going to be talked about, and for all the wrong reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the winners:

Best New Artist

Nominees: Rat Boy, Hinds, Halsey, Yak, Låpsley, Formation

Winner: Rat Boy

Who should have won: Låpsley

So here we go, another NME-favoured artist wins an NME award. Funny that, isn’t it? I’m not a very big fan of Rat Boy, I’ll say that now, but I cannot believe that despite how much they love him, NME failed to see that Låpsley should have been the real winner of this award. Both are young, yes. However, while one is being touted as a “shit Jamie T” by myself and the majority of the people I know, the other is making wonderful, new and innovative music that is fresh and making waves across the globe. While I respect that they’re very different artists – hell, every nominee above is very different in their own way – I can’t get to grips with Rat Boy’s music being heralded as the best of the lot in this instance.

Best British Solo Artist (supported by Pilot Pens)

Nominees: Adele, Noel Gallagher, Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX, Florence Welch, Skepta

Winner: Charli XCX

Who should have won: Florence Welch

This list was a weird one, and apart from the really obvious choice of Adele, I don’t know if I’d necessarily pick any of these artists as the ‘best British solo artist’ of this year at all. However, I have to say I’m surprised in a way that Florence Welch wasn’t the winner of this – while I know she performs as Florence and the Machine, which could be argued is a group, she’s had a phenomenal year. Releasing her third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, touring arenas across the country, playing and even headlining festivals (did NME just completely forget about Glastonbury?), it seems to me that the obvious winner was overlooked. Probably doesn’t help I’m not the biggest fan of Charli XCX to grace the planet, but there we go.

Best International Solo Artist

Nominees: Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Courtney Barnett, Grimes

Winner: Taylor Swift

Who should have won: Kendrick Lamar

While I listen to and enjoy all of the above’s music (I have Art Angels by Grimes practically on repeat at the moment), I have to disagree with T-Swizzle winning this particular award. Quite an obvious opinion really, but Kendrick has had an amazing year, releasing not only one of, if not the best album of the year (we’ll get to that later) but also proving a couple of night’s ago at the Grammy Awards just what an incredible live performer he is. He raps with a purpose, he raps with a vision, and gives a fresh perspective on a lot of topics which made To Pimp A Butterfly such a great album. Taylor’s done a lot this year, particularly when it comes to feminism and musician’s rights on streaming services, but while she is a very enticing performer in all aspects of her work, I just don’t really get how she won in this particular category of artists.

Best International Band (supported by Austin, Texas)

Nominees: Tame Impala, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, The Killers, Run The Jewels

Winner: Run The Jewels

Who should have won: Tame Impala

I like all the bands in this category, and Run The Jewels are pretty damn good but all I have to say is this: Kevin fucking Parker.

Best Live Band

Nominees: The Maccabees, The Libertines, Foals, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Royal Blood, Wolf Alice

Winner: Wolf Alice

Who should have won: All of them?

I’ll be totally honest, I’ve only seen three of those nominated live: Royal Blood, Foals and Catfish and the Bottlemen. Due to particular reasons, be that clashes or anything else, I was unable to see Wolf Alice and The Maccabees like I was supposed to last year, and I’ve heard many a wonderful review of the pair. However, having seen Foals perform so well that I still recount their live show to people to this day, witnessed Catfish and the Bottlemen twice bewitch and send a live crowd both in Birmingham and London into a frenzy, and be able to experience the sheer skill and capabilities of Royal Blood’s live show, it’s hard to understand how anyone would be happy with the winner of this award without thinking, “oh, but [insert band here] are just as good too”. This is obviously a very objective award, and while I have friends who have seen all six bands live and agree with the nomination, it’s hard to pick one out of such a strong bunch.

Best Album (supported by HMV)

Nominees: My Love is Cool by Wolf Alice, Marks To Prove It by The Maccabees, To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, Currents by Tame Impala, Art Angels by Grimes, What Went Down by Foals

Winner: What Went Down by Foals

What should have won: To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

I’m torn by this category, mainly because in my opinion Wolf Alice’s debut My Love is Cool is one of the best in quite a while and holds a great place in my heart (it’s also really good to sing along to when you need a break, but that’s enough on that). However, Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly is a much more deserved winner of this award than Foals. What Went Down isn’t a terrible album at all (hell, I’m seeing it live this week), however it wasn’t the best album of the last year, or the best album that Foals have ever made. TPAB in contrast is much more cohesive, has a clearer vision and both Kendrick’s lyrics and his delivery transcend throughout the LP: I won’t bore you with my views though, my friend Conrad did a much better job of reviewing the album than I’ll ever do. It’s influential (even David Bowie cited TPAB as an influence on Blackstar), it’s innovative and it’ll go down as one of the best rap albums for a long time to come. Sorry Yannis, but Kendrick should’ve had this in the bag. And don’t even get me started on Taylor Swift’s 1989 beating this to the Grammys’ Album of the Year award…

I’m not going to say a word on Coldplay being given the Godlike Genius award because I don’t know why NME a) have an award named something as incredulous as ‘Godlike Genius’ in the first place because it only ever causes a backlash and b) I quite like Coldplay unlike the majority of you that are probably reading this. Also, I’m not at all surprised that they also went for 5 Seconds of Summer being ‘Worst Band’ despite being up against Sleaford Mods, but that’s another story. However, there are some awards I agree on:

Hero of the Year: Dave Grohl

Performing live despite having just broken your leg is no mean feat, and who doesn’t love Dave Grohl, right?

Villain of the Year: Donald Trump

Enough said, surely. However, George Osbourne being in the mix does make me wonder if we could have made the award plural this year, just this once? Okay, I tried. Just click on this and be done with it (trust me, it’s really satisfying): http://trumpdonald.org/

I won’t lie, I don’t actually hate the NME at all: I read it most weeks if I’m able to grab a copy on campus, and I do read a lot of their online articles too. However, another year comes with yet another round of totally expected weird choices, so of course I’m going to comment. Until next year, guys.

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