The 2019 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards are just a few hours away and, believe it, we have reckons. Who will win? Who should win? Sam Brooks is ready for some prognosticating.
It’s the biggest night in New Zealand music – the one that’s televised, the one that got (fake) Paula Bennett onstage with Jacinda Ardern, and the one that more often than not causes a stir. People are going to win, people are going to lose, and between all that some people will have a sing.
A few of the awards have already been decided, like the Legacy Award which inducts Th’ Dudes into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, and the Music Teacher of the Year Award, which has gone to Duncan Ferguson of St Andrew’s College in Christchurch. As Whitney Houston said and believed, the children are our future.
But what about the rest of them? Lucky for you, predicting award winners is one of my favourite things to do, especially when I really have no idea. So take these predictions with a shaker’s worth of salt, do not go to the TAB with them, and please don’t @ me when I’m inevitably wrong.
Album of the Year
Aldous Harding – Designer
Avantdale Bowling Club – Avantdale Bowling Club
Broods – Don’t Feed The Pop Monster
Marlon Williams – Live at the Town Hall
Mitch James – Mitch James
The Beths – Future Me Hates Me
Should Win: Designer, a record which only grows and blooms on re-listen. There’s not a bad album among the finalists, though, and it’s nice to see a category that includes both obvious picks (Harding, Beths, Avantdale Bowling Club) and largely overlooked ones (sadly, Don’t Feed The Pop Monster came and went without much attention).
Will Win: Right now, it feels like it’s a dead heat between Aldous Harding and Avantdale Bowling Club, both of whom have picked up major awards this year – Harding won the Silver Scrolll for ‘The Barrel’ just last month, and ABC’s album picked up the Taite Music Prize in June. The only reason why I’d give ABC the edge is that they’re not nominated for Song of the Year, which feels like a much simpler get for Harding than this award.
Song of the Year
Aldous Harding – ‘The Barrel’
Benee – ‘Soaked’
Church & AP – ‘Ready or Not’
Drax Project – ‘All This Time’
Six60 – ‘The Greatest’
The Beths – ‘Future Me Hates Me’
Should Win: The barrel, the barrel, the barrel, the barrel. (But also, I love ‘Future Me Hates Me’ and ‘Soaked’ a whole lot.)
Will Win: The barrel, the barrel, the barrel, the barrel. (But also ‘Ready or Not’ and ‘All This Time’ have been huge streaming hits, which either means that they’re threats to win or the nomination is enough of a nod.)
Artist of the Year
Avantdale Bowling Club
Should Win: Avantdale Bowling Club or Aldous Harding.
Will Win: 2019 feels like Year of the Harding.
Group of the Year
Should Win: All of them, but probably Beastwars. Successfully executing a comeback that reminds everyone why they loved you in the first place is as rare as finding the cassette tape you actually wanted at Real Groovy.
Will Win: Either Beastwars or The Beths. Beastwars, for the reason above. The Beths, for having a truly extraordinary two-year run.
Church & AP
Should Win: It depends. Is this award being judged on whether you’re one of our most streamed artists (Baynk, Church & AP), whether you’re a near-overnight popstar sensation (Benee) or whether everybody loves you and has done so for a few years now (The Beths)? Church & AP seems like the one who combines all three, but that’s just my arbitrary criteria.
Will Win: Church & AP probably, for the above reasons.
Best Pop Artist
Should Win: Benee, because Fire on Marzz is a really great album by someone who is earmarked, bookmarked, everythingmarked for success.
Will Win: Benee, because she’s up against tough competition in other categories, and this is the perfect opportunity to give her an award.
Best Alternative Artist
Should Win: Could this be the strongest category of the entire night? If I had to pick three Kiwi albums of this year to throw into a time-capsule and launch into the future, Designer, Future Me Hates Me and Olympic Girls would probably be the three. I pick any of ‘em.
Will Win: Probably Harding, depending on whether voters decide to spread the love or settle on giving her a Lorde-like hoard of prizes to take home. If not, The Beths?
Best Rock Artist
Should Win: I really loved the title track from Villainy’s Raised in the Dark, but that Beastwars album was chef’s-kiss-emoji.
Will Win: Beastwars, for comeback vibes and for delivering a great album.
Best Hip Hop Artist
Avantdale Bowling Club
Church & AP
Should Win: Avantdale Bowling Club, for an incredible album that feels like the culmination of Tom Scott’s whole career.
Will Win: Avantdale Bowling Club, for the above, and also as insurance in case it doesn’t win anything else. Which seems unlikely.
Best Soul / R&B Artist
Should Win: Honestly, I’d be happy with any of these. Sorry for not being decisive, guys! Wiley’s EP was sensual and chill, Rei’s was lightweight and funny, while Baker’s showed his impressive pipes off.
Will Win: Rei, who seems to be on a roll? But like Candy Crush, it’s anybody’s game.
Best Roots Artist
Lost Tribe Aotearoa
Troy Kingi & The Upperclass
Should Win: I’m biased – just in case you haven’t already figured out that ‘should’ is prefaced by a silent ‘who I think’ here – but I absolutely love Lost Tribe Aotearoa’s ‘Irie’ so I am going to pick the people who did ‘Irie’. Thems the breaks, sorry. I also have a lot of time for Troy Kingi’s Holy Colony Burning Acres, an ambitious protest album, which feels very much like a lost form.
Will Win: I think either of the acts I’ve highlighted above – Stick Together for ‘Irie’ alone, or Holy Colony Burning Acres for ambition and chutzpah, as the third in Kingi’s ten year, ten album, ten genre challenge.
Best Māori Artist
Troy Kingi & The Upperclass
Should Win: Rei’s The Bridge is the album I’ve had on repeat, but it’s hard to deny the ambition of Holy Colony Burning Acres, and Kingi’s 10|10|10 project in general.
Will Win: I have a feeling Kingi & The Upperclass might get this, for ambition, and for just being a really good listen.
Best Electronic Artist
Sweet Mix Kids
Should Win: Pacific Heights for giving us one of last year’s most beautiful, chill albums, A Lost Light. It’s one of those ones you put on your headphones and it makes the world around you feel more chill, whether you’re staring onto a blank screen or out the bus window.
Will Win: This is where we get into categories where I can’t even pretend to have an idea, so… Tali? Sweet Mix Kids, for having bangers but not actually an album?
Best Classical Artist
Michael Houston & Bella Hristova – The Complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas
Simon O’Neill – Distant Beloved
The Linkwood Guitar Duo – Music from New Zealand for Two Guitars
Should Win: The amount of words I could write on classical music would be shorter than two of these album titles. I gave each of these albums a quick listen, and I really enjoyed Music from New Zealand for Two Guitars – it’s very chill, crisp music that is good to write to. So, I guess I pick that one!
Will Win: Probably the guys who did Beethoven sonatas, that feels like a safe bet. But also, a duo who gives great recording of New Zealand classical music is probably tempting to vote for.
Best Worship Artist
Should Win: I respectfully abstain from this category, but probably not one of the ‘Worships’.
Will Win: Given the genre and the name of two of the acts, one of the ‘Worships’.
The Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards will be broadcast live on Three tonight at 8.30pm.
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