Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The 2009 Brit Awards: I Know I Shouldn't Bother, But I Will Anyway
I already did a fairly comprehensive rant about last year's Brit Award nominations, and when I first saw the Brit nominations for this year, I just expelled a huge sigh and asked myself, why bother wasting my energy again over a year that clearly mirrors last year's nominations and many of the preceding disappointing years? Then I had another think, and figured "because it could be funny." And in these supposedly dark times, I would like to spread a little vitriolic cheer. With the customary practice of giving all the nominations to a select few artists, there's rarely any hope for variety and/or fairness at the Brit Awards, but that will not stop my commentary. In the spirit of a Jarvis Cocker bum in the air, I will plod through the sodden flotsam and jetsam that has washed up on the shores of this year's Brits and give it a good go-over with the metal detector (preferably a Bill Wyman brand one) to expose the worth in the detritus and then confirm that those ones won't win anything.
British Male Solo Artist
I wasn't even aware the Mancunian monkey man had a record out last year - to be honest, I haven't really followed him since the dissolution of The Stone Roses, and I'm thinking most of the press hasn't either. I have a feeling the people doing the nominating recognized his name and figured he was old, and thus somehow credible. Then there's James Morrison, who hails from the same school of bland balladry as James Blunt (maybe he is actually James Blunt - it's a mere difference of surname and I've never seen them together in the same place). The Modfather himself makes an appearance as a nod to his legendary, previously lauded status at the Brits, and frankly, he's the best on this list. To stay hip with the kids, the Brits nominated The Streets (AKA Mike Skinner) even though no one, including the kids, probably cares anymore about his overwrought, self-pitying rap narratives. And finally, there's Will Young, the King of All Pop Idols, who seems to have the resilience of a cockroach and even managed an appearance at Glastonbury last year - I have to give him credit for his tenacity even though his music tends to hit me like globs of unsalted oatmeal.
British Female Solo Artist
In the event of Amy Winehouse's incapacitation, Adele and Duffy have valiantly stepped forward as retro Brit darlings for this year. Then there's more non-descript r&b/pop from Estelle, and what I figure is AOR in the form of Beth Rowley in order to represent the Diana Krall set. The only one out of this pack that I would give a vote to is MIA, but somehow I don't think she or I would win.
British Breakthrough Act
The Last Shadow Puppets
Scouting for Girls
The Ting Tings
Guess who? More of the dueling Winehouses. And then some indie/mainstream from the frontman of the illustrious Arctic Monkeys (well, if the Arctic Monkeys can't be nominated for the bazillionth time, they have to find alternatives), and the equally irritating Scouting for Girls and The Ting Tings (I only just realized that Scouting for Girls were the people behind that grating She's So Lovely song and Elvis is Dead, which gets played on our indie radio station without obviously making any proper impression on me, but enough to make me remember that I hate it).
I'm still trying to work out the wonky rules for who qualifies - I feel like Radiohead's album came out too long ago to be considered for this year (despite the fact they deserve the accolades more than most on this list). Man-boy-band Take That have seemingly slipped under the wire with a new album (practically sharing a title with Britney Spears' comeback album), allowing them to be nominated yet again this year; they, too, have something of the cockroach about them. I will admit I did get a kick watching the music video for their lead-off single, Greatest Day, where Gary Barlow sings while the rest merely go "oh oh" and windmill and stomp in the background like they're having epileptic fits or a very bad case of pins and needles. Elbow is here because the Brits don't want to be outdone by the Mercury Prize while Coldplay is here (and leading the pack for nominations) because they've somehow mesmerized the masses with a whole new level of stadium-ready wallpaper paste complete with pseudo-spiritual fumes (the same kind U2 has been using for the last couple of decades). And last but I don't even think least, is Girls Aloud, the pop group that it's okay for hipsters to like. I'm still not a fan of the girl group, but at the very least they could snap Chris Martin in half like a twiglet. And feed him to Gary Barlow.
British Live Act
Scouting for Girls
I haven't seen any of these bands live, but we get more repetition with the likes of Coldplay, Elbow and Scouting for Girls (I was always of the opinion that I would fall into a deep coma at one of Coldplay's shows - for me, Chris Martin has the charisma of an inclined plane). Then there's a slightly bizarre addition of Iron Maiden, who I have a feeling put on a better live show than The Verve.
Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
Duffy - Rockferry
Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Radiohead - In Rainbows
The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
No surprises here. While Elbow or Radiohead should get it, I have a feeling Coldplay or Duffy are the main contenders. I would love to be proven wrong, though.
Adele - Chasing Pavements
Alexandra Burke - Hallelujah
Coldplay - Viva la Vida
Dizzee Rascal/Calvin Harris/Chrome - Dance Wiv Me
Duffy - Mercy
Estelle feat. Kanye West - American Boy
Girls Aloud - The Promise
Leona Lewis - Better in Time
Scouting for Girls - Heartbeat
X-Factor Finalists - Hero
I tried to make a concerted effort to listen to all of these, but after Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis, you cannot expect me to even attempt a song by X-Factor Finalists, too. I'm only human. Not dancer. Perhaps Adele thought "Snow Patrol did really well with Chasing Cars...hmmm...what goes with cars? Oh yeah, pavement. No wait that should still be plural even though it doesn't make any sense." Dance Wiv Me is yet another hip-hop song about female bodies, dancing, sex, etc. augmented by Calvin Harris's retro electro stylings and deadpan singing - it doesn't do a ving for me. When I bothered to listen to American Boy, all I can think is that I've heard it on an advert somewhere - apparently it did nothing for my recall of either the song itself or the product being sold. Then there's our favourite nominee Coldplay with their perfect-for-emotional-news-program-montages Viva La Vida (we get it, you like bombastic syncopation). Additionally, there's Duffy's version of Rehab. And now I can rest assured that Scouting for Girls is definitely more teenybopper drivel in indie hipster clothing.
AC/DC - Black Ice
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
The Killers - Day and Age
Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Here we get some elder statesmen of rock with more of the same style all these years later, but who likely strike a nostalgic chord. And what list would be complete without the ubiquitous Fleet Foxes? I would also like those responsible for nominations to know that it is not obligatory that The Killers be nominated every year when they've lost their honourary Britishness a long time ago. My pick this time is MGMT, and because of their mainstream crossover appeal, they may have a chance. Then again, Kings of Leon have probably had one of the biggest crossovers of 2008 centred on their hit song Sex On Fire - I can't speak for the rest of the album since I've never listened to it.
International Male Solo Artist
Of course Beck has to be nominated as the token avant-garde guy while Jay-Z and Kanye West have to be nominated to represent hip-hop. Nothing shocking here and nothing worth more commentary. But who is Seasick Steve? Neil Diamond is looking pretty good right about now.
International Female Solo Artist
We get the pop songstress regulars like Beyonce and Pink, along with Katy Perry, who somehow comes across cheaper than the pin-up girls she's emulating. I had to look up who Gabriella Cilmi is (defying the laws of pronunciation, I still keep seeing her last name as an invitation to murder), and lo and behold, she also sounds like Amy Winehouse, but with some Anastacia as well. If pressed and if it mattered, I would pick Santogold for this category.
Kings of Leon
I see. Someone thought, well, we already have a list of International Album nominees - how about we just use the exact same people for this category? No one will notice.
And finally, the Critics Choice Award has already been handed out to Florence and the Machine, who sounds like Kate Nash attempting to do The Long Blondes. I've had enough of these acts that look like they stepped out of the NME Cool List. I'm frankly just bored by it all, and I'm close to throwing out all the striped stockings I own.
Admittedly, the hosts for the Brits are better this year (last year, Ozzy had his family practically propping him up with a broom); this year Kylie will be hosting alongside Gavin and Stacey stars James Corden and Matthew Horne as they make further rounds as music awards hosts. And this year at least I'm not offended by the choice for Outstanding Contribution to Music: Pet Shop Boys. In addition to Pet Shop Boys, performers announced so far are U2, Kings of Leon, Duffy, Girls Aloud, Coldplay and Take That. I think U2 and Coldplay should have a pomposity-off, spastically circling each other until they combust in a fiery ball that takes out Third World debt. And I wouldn't mind seeing if Gary Barlow remains glued to his piano seat while the rest breakdance around him. Or maybe they'll all just windmill like a human mini-golf course. Well, now that I've got all that off my chest, I feel much better. I'm a bit surprised that even the Brits got tired of Kaiser Chiefs, and there's no mention of Oasis. Maybe there's a glimmer of hope after all.
Pretty Boring - No and the Maybes
Peggy Moffitt Look-Alikes - Mikrofisch