Hard News by Russell Brown


I'd just like to thank ...

One thing that might not be apparent to TV viewers of the New Zealand Music Awards is that it's sometimes quite hard to follow what's going on from the tables on the show floor. The presenters don't always project, and from the back half of the room, it's quite hard to see them. The floor is hard and reflective, and, of course, the hubbub rises as the bachannale develops. I sat up along the side with the paying public last year, and was able to see and hear better than this year.

This is not to say that I would rather have been elsewhere. Between musicians, fellow journalists, old friends and mad socialites, I had a hell of time. I talked to a few people I hadn't met before, including Karl from Shihad, who seems a very nice man. They're not playing 'Home Again' on the current tour; I reckon they should put it away for another year yet. Their next plan to keep it fresh looks like a crack at touring and playing a single album, beginning to end. Fans will get to vote on what album that is -- we agreed that Killjoy, The General Electric and the "fish" album would likely be the contenders.

Also, you can expect to hear soon about a new music festival to be staged in Auckland's Britomart Square. I shouldn't mention the acts without permission, but it looks like an excellent foreign indie-rock bill and at least one very welcome local reunion.

Having resolved upon a late one, I followed the cool kids to the 42 Below after-after party, for more blathering, an amusingly long queue for the toilets and a really fun DJ set by Andrew Tidball. I met Gin Wigmore, and complimented her on her performance with Smashproof, which was fairly electric in the big room. I was good for very little the following day.

In terms of the results, I'm happy for Ladyhawke. She came here straight from headlining a US tour (sponsored by Perez Hilton, of all people) and she's had an extraordinary year. I still think she's struggling a bit to bridge the gap between the home-studio pop hooks of her album and the rock-band format of her live performances, but she deserves the plaudits. I was a little surprised to see Lawrence Arabia right out of the reckoning (I checked: his wonderful album was within the eligibility period), but he does have that Silver Scroll to clutch close to his man-breast.

But not everyone was happy with the awards ceremony on the telly. There's a river of bile in the comments on the awards thread at Stuff. People whose favourite bands didn't feature (dude, when your favourite bands are Subtract and Tainted, you may just have to give up on the Music Awards), people who were angry, and people who were just a bit confused:

Like an unorganised school prize giving. The height of that was when Anika Moa was on stage WITH BARE FEET reading things out off a few SCRAPS OF PAPER and SWEARING at everyone from the models to the crowd and then the artists. Then she proceeded to do her best Kanye impresssion by making it "all about me" even after she had presented the awards and the recipient was on stage doing their acceptance speech. There is some great music coming out of NZ now. But that show last night was AMATEUR!

Far be it from me to say that this person is irony-challenged, but ... oh dear. I thought Anika was funny enough to deserve her own TV show. I liked the way Savage got political again, with an endorsement of Len Brown for super-city mayor. I danced when the Mint Chicks played 'She's a Mod', and I liked the way Fat Freddy's Drop built up to a big psychedelic throb (no, you didn't see the end on the TV). And I was also most impressed with the confidence of Ruby Higgins amongst the presenters in the C4 coverage.

Anyway, even Mr Litterick is spluttering about the awards, declaring that Ladyhawke "will now never be heard from again and I suppose this is what happens when voting is done by a bunch of industry insiders who call themselves the Academy. They vote for mainstream middle of the road acts with just a touch of cultural cringe."

Actually the Academy voting system has been the making of the awards. It smoothes out the problems you get with smaller judging panels and produces genuine surprises. And no, it's not a real academy, just 150 music and media people, but I was actually a Music Awards judge a number of times, and this system seems better to me.


Saturday's countdown to the 95 best songs, as voted by 95bFM listeners on occasion of the station's 40th anniversary made for a great day's radio. You might not have liked every song (and I'd certainly have had The Clean's 'Point That Thing Somewhere Else' just a tad higher than #95) but it had a sense of event to it. If Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' at #3 remains a bit of a mystery to me, the number one song simply could not have been more appropriate. Take it away, Mr Darcy Clay:


I had a different kind of great afternoon of radio with Kiwi FM on Sunday. Any station that can line up Graham Reid, Michael Higgins and Peter Mclennan has something going for it.

And, finally, the Media7 segment on the media selling Mexican stem-cell snake oil. I think we did good:

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