N.M.E.aningless: The Awards

Robyn Wainwright laments the results of the 2016 NME Awards and urges the magazine's readers to understand that popularity doesn't equate talent

Robyn Wainwright
12th December 2016

Looking back at the history of the NME awards makes me undeniably sombre. Previous ‘Album of the Year’ winners include Bob’s Dylan’s Desire, David Bowie’s Heroes, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Oasis’ Definitely Maybe. These albums personified NME Magazine, not only in the choice of controversial artists, but also in their aptitude for choosing talent amongst the waves of mediocrity. However, this year’s choices reflect not only NME’s reliance on popularity as a main factor when deciding talent, but also their sell out to the ‘pop’ genre. Although the music scene has undeniably changed since the 1970s, there’s still a vast array of talent on the outskirts of the mainstream, that NME could have chosen to celebrate.

The 1975’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it named ‘Album of the Year

NME described Healy as ‘fabulously nonchalant’ when hearing the news that the band had won ‘Album of the Year’ 2016. Healy said ‘But it’s a bit, like so-reee, isn’t it- for that time you called us the worst band in the world (NME Music Awards 2014).

"There is a feeling of surrender about the whole thing"

‘The world needs to hear this album’, Healey told NME. A bold statement, even for someone of his personality. It is undeniable that there are some well written and popular songs on this album and yet I still find myself disappointed with this result. The 1975 are very good at what they do, yet their music does not reflect the NME that I remember reading as a young scamp. There is a feeling of surrender about the whole thing.

Rihanna’s ‘Work’ named ‘Song of the Year’

I was particularly excited to write about this decision. Although I don’t 100% agree with the choice of The 1975 for ‘Album of the Year’, the album still has merit and NME’s reasoning behind it is justifiable. HOWEVER, NME’s very limited and almost hilarious justification for Rihanna’s song ‘Work’ being chosen for the ‘Song of the Year’ is utterly disappointing.

"Popularity does not mean that something should be deemed critically superior"

NME described ‘Work’ as ‘the downbeat dancehall anthem…the hottest thing to hit 2016 - a mating ritual set to music’. It may have been a popular song but that DOES NOT make it the best song of 2016. ‘Work’ was popular but then so was X Factor contestant Honey G! Popularity does not mean that something should be deemed critically superior. The ‘Song of the Year’ decision rounds off an utterly lousy year, with another lousy decision that was out of our hands. Good riddance 2016.

I don’t think either of these decisions will fit particularly well with the NME readership. Although The 1975 ‘Album of the Year’ wasn’t the worst decision ever made, there were undoubtedly other worthier candidates. However, Rihanna’s song ‘Work’ being named the ‘Song of the Year’ is simply a sell out to chart popularity. I think these decisions reflect the change of direction of NME in recent years, and I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide if they’re happy with that.





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