New Zealand Music Awards 2017 predictions: The Spinoff vs Spotify

The Spinoff vs Spotify. Narrative vs Data. Heart vs Head. Who can predict more winners of tonight’s New Zealand Music Awards – The Spinoff’s Henry Oliver or Spotify’s team of (probably) Stanford-educated computer-geniuses?

A year ago, I proclaimed myself New Zealand music’s Nate Silver and made (not) data-driven predictions about the outcomes of the 2016 VNZMAs. I got exactly 50% right which isn’t good but also isn’t total shit. So, I’m trying again, this time pitting myself against the actual data-driven predictions of Swedish music streaming service Spotify which has used New Zealand streaming data from the VNZMAs’ voting period, Spotify ranked artists, songs and albums to predict who will take home the top awards (note: they didn’t list picks in all) based on highest amount of streams for each category.

Album of the Year

Aldous Harding – Party
David Dallas – Hood Country Club
Fazerdaze – Morningside
Lorde – Melodrama
SWIDT – Stoneyhunga

The Spinoff: Imma just come out and say it: Lorde is going to win a lot of awards tonight. Therefore, I am going to predictably predict that she’s going to win a lot of awards, including Album of the Year. As much as I loved the others – Party and Stoneyhunga in particular – Melodrama is that rare combination of the utmost craft and artistry with undeniable mainstream commercial success. There aren’t many records that both go to #1 on the Billboard charts and are almost universally beloved by critics in the way Melodrama has been, and certainly none of those few have ever come from New Zealand. Simply put: Melodrama is a historic album in New Zealand music and cannot not win Album of the Year.

Spotify: Lorde – Melodrama

Single of the Year

David Dallas – ‘Fit In’
Ladi6 – ‘Royal Blue’
Lorde – ‘Green Light’
MAALA – ‘In My Head’
SWIDT – ‘Player Of The Day’
Theia – ‘Roam’

The Spinoff: Again, Lorde. I saw her at the Powerstation last night and when she played ‘Green Light’ the room went wild in ways you just don’t see that often.

Spotify: MAALA – ‘In My Head’

Best Group


The Spinoff: The Most Electrifying Rap Group in Entertainment… SWIDT! Great album, amazing live show, what’s not to love?

Spotify: Shapeshifter

Best Solo Artist

Aldous Harding
Nadia Reid

The Spinoff: Lorde. As above.

Spotify: N/A

Aldous Harding. Photo: Steven Acres

Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Aldous Harding
Nadia Reid

The Spinoff: This is a tough one. I think TEEKS is out of the running (no album, no extensive touring) and it’s a toss-up between the other three. This year, Aldous Harding became a cult star around the world, Nadia Reid kind of did something similar but via a different route (more UK than US, and more UNCUT than Interview), and Fazerdaze has had an amazing string of tours following her album release too. But, to make a pick, I’m going to go with Aldous Harding.

Spotify: Aldous Harding

Best Rock Artist

Clap Clap Riot
Graham Brazier

The Spinoff: Shit, I don’t know. I’ve written about my issues with this category before. And given that I can’t pick Fazerdaze, whose Morningside is probably the best rock album I’ve heard from New Zealand this year, I’m going with Graham Brazier, who made a solid record and it will be a nice and appropriate thing to award him after his passing.

Spotify: N/A

Best Pop Artist

Mitch James

The Spinoff: Guess who? Lorde!

Spotify: N/A

Best Alternative Artist

Aldous Harding
Nadia Reid

The Spinoff: Ah shit. I ranted about this one earlier too. Even though I picked Aldous Harding above, I’m going with Fazerdaze here because she’s the only artist of the three who makes music that is undeniably “alternative”.

Spotify: N/A

Best Soul/RnB Artist

Tommy Nee

The Spinoff: Ladi6! Her Royal Blue 3000 EP is amazing and deserves way more attention. Simple as that.

Spotify: N/A

Best Hip Hop Artist

David Dallas

The Spinoff: SWIDT! They were kind of awarded the equivalent of this award last year, but not only do they deserve it, the win would serve as some sort of awards karmic correction.

Spotify: N/A

Best Roots Artist

Israel Starr
Sons of Zion
Tomorrow People

The Spinoff: I liked the Sons of Zion EP – especially when they had Aaradhna singing! – so I’m going to give it to them.

Spotify: N/A

Best Electronic Artist

Chaos In The CBD

The Spinoff: To be honest, Chaos In The CBD are the only one of these artists I’d actively listened to before writing this and I like them a lot.

Spotify: N/A

Te Māngai Pāho Best Māori Artist

Alien Weaponry
Maisey Rika

The Spinoff: The world is in love with Alien Weaponry right now and with good reason. Fresh off their Maioha award at this year’s Silver Scrolls, it just seems like Alien Weaponry’s time.

Spotify: N/A

Best Worship Artist

Curate Music
Josh & Amberley Klinkenberg

The Spinoff: First up I’m going to say that it bums me out to no end that “Worship Artist” basically means “Christian Artist”. Sure, the panel may have honestly believed these to be the best three artists entered, regardless of faith, but I still think this is effectively the “Gospel/Christian” award with a more inclusive name. Anyway, from a bit of a click around, Curate Music sounded ok. The Klinkenbergs want Jesus to come into our schools, so that’s a no from me, and Juliagrace’s album isn’t readily available on streaming services which is fine by me (get them website sales!) but means I haven’t heard her latest work so can’t really comment. So, yeah. Go Curate!

Spotify: N/A

Best Classical Artist

Jenny McLeod
Te Kōkī Trio

The Spinoff: We’re not told what output they’re nominated for in terms of output (one of the downsides of the awards going from albums to artists) which is more complicated for classical than it is for the popular music categories. Still, I like Jenny McLeod, Michael Houstoun and Deirdre Iron’s album 24 Tone Clocks so I’ll give it to her.

Spotify: N/A

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People’s Choice Award


The Spinoff: Kings. I’m gonna try and one-up Spotify’s data geniuses here. Kings has the biggest social media following other than Lorde. But I didn’t see Lorde mobilise her ‘network’ to try and take this out, whereas Kings definitely did. Ergo: Kings!

Spotify: Lorde

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