The NME, that bastion of indie-cool, has just held its annual award ceremony. A time to reflect on the past year’s musical highs, and to stick two fingers up at the corporate back-slap fest that is the previous week’s Brit Awards. Except, as has been a worrying trend for the past few years, the NME has failed to make any such gesture. Instead we are treated to a procession of winners at both awards that are pretty much interchangeable, and most worryingly they are nearly all signed to the big four major labels.
So, the big awards are going to the big four labels at both the mainstream and the alternative award ceremonies leaving the underground scene and the struggling indie labels where exactly? Left to scrape away at the public consciousness like an errant beggar scrounging for coins whilst overpaid banking fatcats nonchalantly stroll past on their way to another meeting, brunch or mutual masturbation session.
The NME should be ashamed of itself. Here is a magazine that celebrates in its position as the first port of call for young music fans to discover the artists (yes I’m pretentious enough to consider musicians artists) that will have a lifelong impact on them, yet the magazine is more than happy to get into bed with the major labels whilst they collectively stick their heads beneath the covers and praise each other’s rancid farts.
Now, of course, the majors are more than capable of sticking out a half decent record or two, it would be churlish to suggest otherwise. The Kings Of Leon proved it by winning awards across the board for their breathtakingly created fourth album ‘Only By The Night’, whilst Elbow were also honoured by both the Brits and the NME in a long overdue acknowledgement of their consistently high contributions to the UK music scene. However, although you can forgive The Brits for their inability to see beyond the gleaming towers of the West London music industry (they are part of the same system), why is it the NME fails to offer a credible alternative? There’s plenty of great music out there that would relish the exposure and yet the New Musical Express chooses to play it safe with an almost identikit selection of winners to is supposedly more mainstream cousin.
Here’s a rundown of the major winners at both:
Godlike Genius/Outstanding Contribution – The Cure/Elbow (NME) Pet Shop Boys (The Brits)
Best British Band – Oasis (NME) Elbow (The Brits)
Best International Band – The Killers (NME) Kings Of Leon (The Brits)
Best Solo Artist – Pete Doherty (NME) Paul Weller/Duffy/Kanye West/Katy Perry (The Brits)
Best New Band – MGMT (NME) Duffy (The Brits)
Best Live Band – Muse (NME) Iron Maiden (The Brits)
Best Album – Kings Of Leon (NME) Duffy/Kings Of Leon (The Brits)
Best Track – MGMT – Time To Pretend (NME) Girls Aloud – The Promise (The Brits)
Tip for 2009 – The Big Pink (NME) Florence And The Machine (The Brits)
What strikes me the most about this list is that once you really take it all in it appears The Brits have actually made the ballsier choices. Perennial godfather of whatever scene the indie kids are chattering about Paul Weller over tabloid-courting walking mess Pete Doherty, Kings Of Leon over The Killers and their maddening descent into U2-esque pretention, Iron Maiden over fucking Muse again! (I hate that band), Elbow over Oasis – all much more surprising choices for The Brits Academy. And don’t get me started on Girls Aloud winning best single. A brave, wise and thoroughly deserved choice (and no, I’m not joking). But that’s what The Brits is there for – to celebrate the big mainstream acts and let the folks that watch it on ITV and only buy 2 albums a year know what they should be putting on their Xmas list. The NME shouldn’t be following suit, it should be looking further afield, should be supporting the very underground scene that helped it blossom into the world’s leading music weekly, should simply be better.
Who would I have picked? Well – I’m still gonna go quite safe and there’s still a spot for a few major label acts but I think the following would be a whole lot more interesting and would give some well deserved exposure to a few less well established acts. Except Radiohead of course, they deserve something just because they rule…..
Godlike Genius – Super Furry Animals
Best British Band – Radiohead
Best International Band – TV On The Radio
Best Male Solo Artist – Beck
Best Female Solo Artist – Ladyhawke
Best New Band – Neon Neon
Best Live Band – Les Savy Fav
Best British Album – Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel
Best International Album – No Age – Nouns
Best Track – Fucked Up – Year Of The Pig
Tip for 2009 – Pulled Apart By Horses
Rant over. Let me know what you think.