It’s that time of year when everyone is making lists of their favourite songs and artists of 2016, and me being me, this blog will be no exception. I will spend the next four posts announcing the nominations for the awards, starting today with the initial few categories. We will take the genre nominations in Part 2, the artist nominations in Part 3 and the Big Two Awards (Song of the Year and Album of the Year) in Part 4. The awards are based on songs and albums that enter the chart after November 30 2015, and which spend the majority of their chart stay in 2016. The awards year ends on November 30 2016, which enables me to announce the nominations now, and the winners as near to January 1st as I can. So, let’s go through the first group of awards.
Daughter for ‘Youth’ (single)
Snow Ghosts for ‘A Wrecking’ (album)
I introduced this award as a special award last year, when four major chart hits were actually revivals of songs from the past. The winner, Stine Nordenstam’s ‘Murder in Mairyland Park’ was 20 years old! The field is less competitive this year, but pits two massive successes against each other. Daughter’s 2013 track ‘Youth’ is currently No 1 in the singles chart after its stunning performance at their O2 Academy Brixton show in October, while Snow Ghosts’ debut album ‘A Wrecking’ finally hit the chart this year in the wake of their No 2 single ‘Vetiver’ and went all the way to No 1.
Chase and Status featuring Slaves for ‘Control’
The Duke Spirit featuring Mark Lanigan for ‘Wounded Wing’
Gnash featuring Olivia O’Brien for ‘I Hate U I Love U’
Ishi and French Montana featuring Raekwon and Wale for ‘We Run’
Ray BLK featuring Stormzy for ‘My Hood’
This award is designed to recognise where a collaboration between artists leads to a result which is greater than the sum of its parts. There are two nominees here that stand out in terms of chart performance. ‘My Hood’ spent five weeks at No 1, and ‘I Hate U I Love U’ spend six weeks at No 2. Both are great songs, but maybe fairly standard collaborative fare (a singer and a rapper, and a boy / girl love song respectively). So there may be a chance for one of the other nominees – the stunning treble / baritone work of Leila Moss and Mark Lanigan on ‘Wounded Wing’, a classic pace changing hiphop classic in ‘We Run’ and maybe most interestingly of all, the fusion of Chase and Status’ electro dance music with Slaves’ punk vocal in ‘Control’.
BEST LIVE ACT
The Slow Show
Five of the best gigs we attended this year. Halsey dominated the almost exclusively female audience at Brixton with a power packed, potently confident set. Mt Wolf demonstrated that electro indie acts can be outstanding live with a beautifully melodic show at Hackney’s Oslo. The Slow Show’s idiosyncratic indie rock, led by the barefooted and completely charismatic Rob Goodwin was a huge success at the Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush. But the two main contenders here must be Daughter after their show at Brixton (the audience reaction to ‘Youth’ was the most extraordinary reception I have ever heard a song receive), and progressive post hardcore band Black Peaks who celebrated their excellent debut album ‘Statues’ by blowing away Soho’s Borderline. Vocalist Will Gardner and lead guitarist Joe Gosney are consummate live performers.
MUSIC FUTURES AWARD
This is one of my favourite awards. Acts qualify if they have not had a Top 40 single or album before November 30 this year, and no hit at all before November 30 last year. Laurel beat Lapsley to the 2014 award, while Kacy Hill won last year, going on to have two Top 10 hits with ‘Arm’s Length’ and ‘Foreign Fields’. I will write some more about this year’s nominations in a separate article, but a quick summary. The Amazons have now posted their first Top 40 hit with ‘In My Mind’, and are clear favourites. Australia’s Julia Jacklin spent much of the last three months establishing various records for Bubbling Under longevity before ‘Pool Party’ finally broke through into the Top 100. Pumarosa have recorded one Top 100 hit in ‘Cecile’ and a second single, ‘Honey’ has just failed to make the breakthrough. And then we have two acts who have not recorded a Top 100 single. New York’s Wilsen have been around for three years and came to my attention when supporting Daughter in Brixton – but current Heatseeker ‘Centipede’ is the kind of gentle grower that only hits the heights when heard in its recorded version. And current Heatseekers No 1, ‘Jailbird’ by Londoner Shells is a perfect slice of pop beauty.