Dave’s Chart Awards Part 4

The big finale, as we review the final four award categories, and conclude with the Big Two – Album of the Year and Song of the Year.

BEST NEW ACT

AVEC SANS
BLACK FOXXES
DAYA
HAELOS
RAY BLK

Acts qualify if they have had no Top 40 singles or albums before November 30th 2015, and no chart singles or albums of any description before November 30th 2014. We do not have the sort of nonsense here that the Grammys perpetuate with their much feted Best New Act award – nominees this year include The Chainsmokers (whose annoying single ‘#Selfie’ came out in the summer of 2014), and last year included Meghan Trainor who was nominated for Song of the Year the year before that! The most obvious omission in this category is Gnash, but competition was very tough – Hannah Lou Clark, Nieves, Alan Walker, Sara Hartman and Skyes also missed out. The nominees cover a range of genres – favourites Haelos and Avec Sans represent top notch electro music, Black Foxxes are a rock band par excellence and Daya proved much more than an Alessia Cara-lite pop singer with a really classy debut album. Ray BLK must be the outsider here, the only nominee who did not release an album in 2016 – but the quality of her No 1 ‘My Hood’ suggests that major things are ahead for her too.

BEST GROUP OR DUO

DAUGHTER
HAELOS
LANTERNS ON THE LAKE
PHORIA
THE JEZABELS

In terms of chart performance, there can be only one winner here. Daughter had a spectacular year, with two No 1 singles (‘How’ and ‘Youth’), two more Top 10 singles (‘Numbers’ and ‘Doing The Right Thing’), a fifth single which looks sure to make the Top 10 (‘The End’), a No 1 album (‘Not To Disappear’) and a memorable live show at Brixton on their list of achievements. Phoria did extremely well too – their No 1 album ‘Volition’ yielded four Top 20 singles in ‘Evolve’, ‘Saving Us A Riot’, ‘Loss’ and ‘Everything Beta’. The Jezabels’ ‘Synthia’ was one of the biggest albums of the year, yielding the massive No 1 single ‘Come Alive’, and we have already spoken several times about the excellent year enjoyed by Haelos. And then there is my favourite band, Lanterns on the Lake. They had two No 1 singles in ‘Faultlines’ and the year’s longest running No 1, ‘Through The Cellar Door, and their massive album ‘Beings’ remains in the album chart Top 10 a year after its release.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

BAT FOR LASHES for ‘The Bride’ (No 1 for 3 weeks)
BLACK FOXXES for ‘I’m Not Well’ (No 1 for 2 weeks)
CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS for ‘Chaleur Humaine’ (No 1 for 1 week)
DAUGHTER for ‘Not To Disappear’ (No 1 for 1 week)
HAELOS for ‘Full Circle’ (No 1 for 1 week)
PHORIA for ‘Volition’ (No 1 for 1 week)
RADIOHEAD FOR ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ (No 1 for 3 weeks)
SHURA for ‘Nothing’s Real’ (No 1 for 1 week)
THE JEZABELS for ‘Synthia’ (No 1 for 10 weeks)
THE SLOW SHOW for ‘Dream Darling’ (No 1 for 3 weeks)

SONG OF THE YEAR

GNASH AND OLIVIA O’BRIEN for ‘I Hate U I Love U’ (No 2 for 6 weeks)
GRIMES for ‘Flesh Without Blood’ (No 1 for 4 weeks)
HAELOS for ‘Pray’ (No 4 for 3 weeks)
JESS GLYNNE for ‘Take Me Home’ (No 2 for 2 weeks)
LANTERNS ON THE LAKE for ‘Through The Cellar Door’ (No 1 for 9 weeks)
NIEVES for ‘Broken Oars’ (No 3 for 2 weeks)
RAY BLK AND STORMZY for ‘My Hood’ (No 1 for 5 weeks)
SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS for ‘Open Your Eyes’ (No 1 for 2 weeks)
THE JEZABELS for ‘Come Alive’ (No 1 for 8 weeks)
THE SLOW SHOW for ‘Breaks Today’ (No 3 for 2 weeks)

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Dave’s Chart Awards Part 3

Two more of the genre categories to cover here before we move onto the big awards for acts themselves. Let’s kick off with a genre category which is always entertaining.

BEST HARD ROCK / METAL SONG

I’m not going to go into detail here about how one distinguishes a hard rock song from a metal song – I ‘just know’ the difference! Hard rock doesn’t often do that well in my charts, particularly in the singles chart (we have had a No 1 album for Iron Maiden and a No 2 album for Metallica in the last couple of years) – but the nominations for this award are always reliably powerful and ear blasting.

BLACK FOXXES for ‘Whatever Lets You Cope’
BLACK PEAKS for ‘Glass Built Castles’
FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES for ‘Snake Eyes’
LONELY THE BRAVE for ‘What If You Fall In’
TELLISON for ‘Wrecker’

The first key fact here is that Lonely The Brave’s ‘What If You Fall In’ spent longer on the singles chart in 2016 than did any other record. The song peaked at No 7 but spent 23 weeks on the chart. The highest singles peak for any of these songs is Black Foxxes, who reached No 5 with ‘Whatever Lets You Cope’ (the song is still in the Top 10). But there may be two better examples of pure hard rock in the post hardcore excellence of ‘Glass Built Castles’ and ‘Snake Eyes’. Both deliver the kind of hard rock that I really like – rock with melodic tunes and decent singing, rather than shouty old rubbish. The outsider of the field is Tellison’s ‘Wrecker’, well constructed, slow building and grungey.

BEST DANCE / ELECTRONIC SONG

HAELOS for ‘Pray’
PHORIA for ‘Loss’
SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS for ‘Open Your Eyes’
SNOW GHOSTS for ‘Vetiver’
THE CHAINSMOKERS FEATURING ROZES for ‘Roses’

This was a dance based award in the past, but the prevalence of electro has overtaken the category this year. The best dance act on the planet, bar none are clearly The Chainsmokers, and they duly garner a nomination via their biggest hit ‘Roses’. We have discussed ‘Pray’ before, ‘Loss’ was a superb, seven minute centrepoint for Phoria’s superb debut album ‘Volition’ and ‘Vetiver’ was a strong enough song to propel Snow Ghosts’ debut album ‘ A Wrecking’ into the chart and all the way to No 1. But the big favourite here is ‘Open Your Eyes’, a hauntingly beautiful tribute to School of Seven Bells and the late, much missed Ben Curtis.

BEST MALE ARTIST

DAVID BOWIE
ED HARCOURT
GNASH
JACK GARRATT
JAMIE T

I always find this a difficult award to give – as generally male singers do not cross my radar much at all. You will all know that female singers (and bands with female singers) tend to be much more my interest. So the chart achievements of this group of artists are not that strong. I often use the album test to decide who to give the artist awards to (her very successful album ‘The Pinkprint’ was the main reason why Nicki Minaj beat Laurel to the Best Female Artist award last year) – and on that basis, David Bowie’s No 1 album with ‘Blackstar’ must give him a strong chance. Aside from the obvious emotion associated with his death earlier this year. Other nominees with strong chart showings are Jamie T (‘Trick’ peaking at No 3 in the album chart) and Jack Garratt (‘Phase’ reaching No 8). But maybe the favourites are new men on the scene Gnash and Ed Harcourt. Gnash did not release an album, but had by far the most successful single of this group with the massive No 2 hit ‘I Hate U I Love U’, while Harcourt has a No 4 album in ‘Furnaces’ and a Top 20 single in the title track under his belt.

BEST FEMALE ARTIST

BAT FOR LASHES (NATASHA KHAN)
CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS (HELOISE LETISSIER)
GRIMES (CLAIRE BOUCHIER)
INGRID MICHAELSON
KATE JACKSON

The biggest surprise here is that neither Lapsley or Laurel have got a nomination. A year ago I confidently expected the award to be between these two, possibly my favourite female artists, but Lapsley’s debut album maybe didn’t make quite the impression expected (there were too many familiar tracks on it) and Laurel still hasn’t released her debut album. We do instead have five of the year’s biggest albums, each of which produced at least one major hit single. Strictly on performance, Grimes and Ingrid Michaelson should have the edge, as both have had a No 1 album and a No 1 single this year. ‘Art Attack’ and ‘Flesh Without Blood’ were the Grimes album and single respectively, while ‘It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense’ and (just yesterday ‘Light Me Up’ did the trick for Michaelson. Bat For Lashes may have produced the best album in the stunning concept work ‘The Bride’, but might suffer from the lack of a truly massive single (having said that ‘Joe’s Dream’ did make the Top 10), Christine and the Queens demonstrated that songwriting and performing pure and simple can win a massive audience without any marketing gimmicks, and Kate Jackson’s return to music with the excellent ‘British Road Movies’ and its pair of Top 10 singles ‘The End Of Reason’ and ‘Metropolis’ means that although the outsider, she is no forlorn hope.

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Dave’s Chart Awards 2016 – Part Two

Next up in the review of the Chart Awards let’s take a look at the nominees for the genre song awards. Several of these songs will of course appear in the running for Song Of The Year (both this award and Album of the Year have ten nominees, whereas the other awards in general have five).

BEST DEBUT SONG

DANCING YEARS for ‘Learn To Kiss’
GNASH FEATURING OLIVIA O’BRIEN for ‘I Hate U I Love U’
HAELOS for ‘Pray’
HANNAH LOU CLARK for ‘Cowboy Joe’
RAY BLK FEATURING STORMZY for ‘My Hood’

There are some very strong songs in this category, although you could be critical of a couple of the nominees. ‘Cowboy Joe’ wasn’t really Hannah Lou Clark’s debut song – it appeared on the same single as intended lead track ‘It’s Your Love’ but rapidly outpaced it (being much better). ‘It’s Your Love’ also made the Top 100. Meanwhile ‘My Hood’ was Ray BLK’s debut single, but it wasn’t Stormzy’s. Definite, proper debut songs include Gnash and Olivia O’Brien’s monumentally brilliant boy / girl love song ‘I Hate U I Love U’ (written by O’Brien was she was just 15, can you believe it?), Haelos’ superb, haunting ‘Pray’ (which rapidly established a true signature sound for the band) and Leeds band Dancing Years, whose sorrowful ‘Learn To Kiss’ will have produced more than a few tears. Two of these songs reached No 1, but chart position isn’t always a good indicator of success in this award.

BEST R+B / HIP HOP SONG

DESIIGNER for ‘Panda’
GNASH FEATURING OLIVIA O’BRIEN for ‘I Hate U I Love U’
ISHI FEATURING FRENCH MONTANA AND RAEKWON for ‘We Run’
KATE TEMPEST for ‘Europe Is Lost’
RAY BLK FEATURING STORMZY for ‘My Hood’

This is a category that features songs you might not expect to have been nominated for a hip hop award. There are two proper hip hop classics in Desiigner’s world wide debut smash ‘Panda’ and Ishi’s superb collaboration with French Montana and Raekwon, ‘We Run’ – a masterpiece of lyrical construction and pace variation. Ray BLK’s debut single ‘My Hood’ is a lyrical paean to the London Borough of Lewisham, a place I know personally very well, and features an excellent rap from Stormzy. Then we have the slightly more left field nominees’ Is Gnash’s collaboration with Olivia O’Brien truly hip hop? The original, written as I have mentioned by O’Brien was a straightforward love song before Gnash added in his lyrical verses. And then we have Kate Tempest’s epic and vitriolic attack on Western government, ‘Europe Is Lost’, written in the wake of the Paris atrocities and as powerful a piece of music as you could wish to hear. A song that brought me back to the days when music really drove national opinion, and when songs like ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘Ghost Town’ summed up the social situation of the time.

BEST POP SONG

DAYA for ‘Hideaway’
INGRID MICHAELSON for ‘Light Me Up’
JESS GLYNNE for ‘Take Me Home’
LITTLE MIX for ‘Secret Love Song Part II’
SARA HARTMAN for ‘Satellite’

This was a weakly contested category last year – so weak that a song that isn’t really a pop song, Shura’s ‘2Shy’ was the winner. This year is a huge improvement. All of these songs peaked in the Top 4. Two made No 2 – Ingrid Michaelson, whose superb album ‘It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense’ marked her transformation from an entertaining but predictable purveyor of AOR to a perceptive, cutting, lyrically adept artist is at No 2 as we speak, of course with the album’s lead track ‘Light Me Up’, and Jess Glynne’s haunting ‘Take Me Home’ spent three weeks at No 2 at the start of the year. There is no category this year for Best Video – I plan to introduce this next year – but Glynne’s faltering performance in the video to ‘Take Me Home’ (which she filmed naked), being unable to sing several lines as she was overcome with emotion would be right up there had such an award existed this year. Sara Hartman and Daya both produced debut singles of real class, Hartman’s a pure pop singalong and Daya’s influenced by R+B. But maybe the best of all was Little Mix’s ‘Secret Love Song Part II’ – yes, this is the version without Jason Derulo, and is largely (and quite beautifully) sung by Perri Edwards and Jade Thirlwell almost as an LGBT anthem. Utterly outstanding. A great year for pop music.

BEST ALTERNATIVE / INDIE SONG

THE 1975 for ‘Somebody Else’
THE COURTEENERS for ‘The 17th’
MYSTERY JETS for ‘Telomere’
POLICA for ‘Wedding’
TWENTY ONE PILOTS for ‘Stressed Out’

I used to be a colossal indie fan. This was in the days before Spotify when most of my musical discoveries came courtesy of XFM. My tastes are much more varied now, but indie did achieve one major success this year – a No 1 single in the Courteeners’ ‘The 17th’. This is the clear favourite for this category, but there are some strong rivals. Two bands – The 1975 and Mystery Jets blew away my previous doubts about them with storming singles and solid albums – The 1975 almost placed another song in this category in ‘Change of Heart’. Polica’s ‘Wedding’ proved a notable slow burner, a potent criticism of police brutality. And while Twenty One Pilots seem to have been releasing songs from ‘Blurryface’ for ever, ‘Stressed Out’ was particularly excellent.

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