MusicNovember 17, 2016

New Zealand Music Awards: Finalists and regrettable predictions


Henry Oliver embarrasses his future-self with probably-inaccurate-and-on-the-internet-forever predictions for tonight’s New Zealand Music Awards.

The biggest night of the musical year – the New Zealand Music Awards, brought to you by some communications services company – is tonight! And just in case there’s still a market for predictive data-driven (okay, not really) journalism after a year-and-a-half of presidential elections, I thought I’d put my hard-earned reputation as the Nate Silver of New Zealand Music on the line with a bold prediction for every category (except the quantitative ones which you can just google for yourself). How could this possibly go wrong?

Album of the Year

Aaradhna – Brown Girl
Broods – Conscious
Fat Freddy’s Drop – BAYS
Hollie Smith – Water Or Gold
Tami Neilson – Don’t Be Afraid
The Phoenix Foundation – Give Up Your Dreams

Aaradhna. Brown Girl is an excellent, super-relevant album in content with multiple musical sweet spots. Plus, it’s perfect time to reward an artist with a decade of excellent releases. Even though she won big three years ago and those big nights rarely strike twice, I see a big night for Aaradhna in my crystal ball.

Single of the Year

Aaradhna – ‘Brown Girl’
Broods – ‘Free’
KINGS – ‘Don’t Worry Bout’ It’
MAALA – ‘Kind of Love’
The Naked and Famous – ‘Higher’
Shapeshifter – ‘Stars’

‘Brown Girl’. Sorry for the obvious – it’s just a fucking great song of politics and pathos. Check out our interview with Aaradhna where she talks through the songs and all the issues surrounding it here.

Best Group

Broods – Conscious
Fat Freddy’s Drop – BAYS
The Phoenix Foundation – Give Up Your Dreams
Sol3Mio – On Another Note

My head says Broods – because they’re super successful and most strongly represent the hopes and dreams of the New Zealand post-Lorde slip-stream – or Fat Freddy’s Drop – because they’re Fat Freddy’s Drop and New Zealand loves Fat Freddy’s Drop – but my heart says The Phoenix Foundation, particularly off the strength of the album’s title-track, which perfectly sums up, in a way I hadn’t heard before on a rock album, that moment you realise life’s not going to be everything you thought it might. As someone who’s given up on many dreams, it struck a chord. But, still, the judges probably don’t care about the striking of my chords, so … Broods.

Best Male Solo Artist

Avalanche City – We Are For The Wild Places
Dave Dobbyn – Harmony House
Lawrence Arabia – Absolute Truth
MAALA – Composure

Lawrence Arabia – he doesn’t seem to love awards, but awards judges love him. And so do I.

Best Female Solo Artist

Aaradhna – Brown Girl
Hollie Smith – Water Or Gold
Ladyhawke – Wild Things
Tami Neilson – Don’t Be Afraid

Aaradhna. As above. Every year, one act wins an armful of awards. I’m putting my money on this being Aaradhna’s year. If Broods and Tami Neilson (another judge’s fave) win all the categories, I’ll have to crowdfund the settlement of my gambling debt.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 21: Aaradhna poses with the award for album of the year during the New Zealand Music Awards at the Vector Arena on November 21, 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Jason Oxenham/Getty Images)

Breakthrough Artist of the Year

KINGS – ‘Don’t Worry Bout’ It’
Leisure – ‘All Over You’
nomad – ‘Oh My My’
SACHI – ‘Lunch with Bianca’

Um… Leisure? Everyone seems to like them way more than I do but, hey, you can’t argue that they haven’t had a ‘breakthrough’ kind of a year. Their singles have been blogged about endlessly by bloggers on their blogs and their deluxe LP has been available for purchase at (at least one of) Auckland’s coolest cafes. Maybe it’s not them, it’s me.

Best Rock Album

Beastwars – The Death Of All Things
Jordan Luck Band – Not Only… But Also
Villainy – Dead Sight

Beastwars. The opening riff of ‘Call the Mountains’ should win this award on its own.


Best Pop Album

Avalanche City – We Are For The Wild Places
Broods – Conscious
MAALA – Composure

Honestly, I’m not sure. These are all capable, skillfully made albums, none of which lit a fire anywhere near my ass. Let’s just call it for … Broods. People still love Broods, right?

Best Alternative Album

Lawrence Arabia – Absolute Truth
The Phoenix Foundation – Give Up Your Dreams
Silicon – Personal Computer

I know … I awarded predictive awards to the other two finalists in this category, but if I’m going with the album I’ve just flat out wanted to press play on the most, it’s Silicon’s Personal Computer. I even wrote a profile of Kody Nielson (plug!) while listening to a lo-fi advance stream on this album on repeat for hours and never got tired of it. I’m even listening to it now and it still sounds great – shiny, intense and plain weird.

Best Urban/Hip Hop Album

Aaradhna – Brown Girl
PNC – The Luke Vailima EP
SWIDT – SmokeyGotBeatz Presents SWIDT vs EVERYBODY

Just gonna add to Aaradhna’s armful here, but, even though they’re probably going to lose, you should definitely check out these other two. Local rap music doesn’t get the attention it once did, but these should’ve been more central on people’s radar – PNC the veteran, SWIDT (‘See What I Did There’) the rookies.

Best Roots Album

Fat Freddy’s Drop – BAYS
Rob Ruha – Pūmau
Unity Pacific – Blackbirder Dread

Fat Freddy’s. Fun fact: The Drop hold the best press events in the game – oysters, paua wontons, fried chicken, all made by the band. It’s legit.


Best Electronic Album

Electric Wire Hustle – Aeons
Opiuo – Omniversal
Pacific Heights – The Stillness

Pacific Heights – the solo project of former-Shapeshifter Devin Abrams – gets just far enough away from being ‘New Zealand’s James Blake’ to be a winner.

Te Māngai Pāho Best Māori Album

Dennis Marsh – Maori Songbook 2
Kirsten Te Rito – Āiotanga
Rob Ruha – Pūmau

Dennis Marsh. I need to know more about the connection between Māori music and country music. Shit, did I just pitch myself in public? Maybe. If you’ve got an in on this, pitch me. I’m also obsessed with people who achieve big things at an, um, advanced age and since Marsh released his first album well into his 30s, he’s made like 25 of them and Maori Songbook (the first one, not this one) became his first No. 1 on the New Zealand Album Chart when he was 60. Amazing!

Best Worship Album

Edge Kingsland – Edge Vol. 3: The Common Good
Grace Vineyard Music – Seek You
LIFE Worship – By My Spirit

I’m gonna level with you – I haven’t listened to any of these albums, so let’s take a stab in the dark and say … Edge Kingsland. Why? I like the name Edge Kingsland and ‘The Common Good’ is vaguely admirable.

Best Classical Album

Anthony Ritchie and Ross Harris – Fjarran
Kenneth Young – Shadows and Light
Zephyr – Zephyr

Again, I’ll admit – I’m not familiar with any of these. Let’s go with Anthony and Ross. I like to think of them as best buds who just love making classical music together. (Please tell me I’m right.)


People’s Choice Award

Fat Freddy’s Drop

This award will depend entirely on turnout. Who will go to the polls? Who’s got the most effective ground game? Who’s got the best social media strategy? Who’s micro-targetting the likely voters? If the turnout skews young, Broods have the advantage in a tight race taking the plurality of votes but not the majority. If it leans older, Sol3Mio have 76.8% chance of a majority. If it’s somewhere in between, Fat Freddy’s with a 64.1% chance of taking 43.8% of the vote – short of a mandate, but enough to take the trophy. But, if there’s some unforeseen forces in the electorate, who knows what that could mean for all-caps new-comers MAALA and KINGS.

Legacy Award

I reckon it’s going to be … Dave Dobbyn! Nah, just jokes. SPOILER ALERT: It’s Bic Runga.

Highest Selling Single

You could probably look this up somewhere, but that would spoil the fun, so I’m not going to do that for you.

Highest Selling Album

As above.

Radio Airplay Record of the Year

Same. (Though maybe you can’t look that up. I’m not sure. But I almost never listen to terrestrial radio, so your guess is as good as mine.)

International Achievement

Broods? Broods.

Tune in tonight (8:30pm on TV3) (or come back here tomorrow) to find out how wrong I was.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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