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
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)
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.