Saturday, 22 June 2013

And the award for???

Due to punk rock in the UK (or globally for that matter) not having much truck with award ceremonies its around this time of year that the two major contemporary heavy rock magazines, Kerrang and Metal Hammer, decide to hand out some gongs. Whilst the majority of the awards are the tried and tested 'Best band', 'Best video', 'Best haircut' votefests there seem to be more and more strangely worded and badly defined categories going around. Of the 34 awards given out between each event (once you take out the non music related ones that Kerrang throws in to be hip with the kids) 11 leave me scratching my head.

On the Kerrang side we have the subtle distinction between being an "Inspiration" and an "Icon", as well as "Hall of Fame" or "Legend" (they got rid of the "Devotion" award this year, possibly because someone forgot what it meant). Somewhat curious but not quite as bad as Metal Hammer who have their own "Inspiration" and "Icons categories, a "Legend" and "Golden God" upgrade combo, and the frankly baffling "Metal as Fu*k" (their censoring, not mine, least mumsie finds you using rude words) vis "Spirit of Hammer" duo of dust-collectors. The 'Hammer' in "Spirit of Hammer" award is an abbreviation of the magazines name, which considering that it spends half the time claiming to be "Metal as Fu*k" (seriously guys?! Its almost as bad as buying a FCUK t-shirt at school to impress your mates) means that these are virtually the same exact thing. Although the "Spirit Of Hammer" award went to Brian Blessed this year as so I'm a bit confused as that surely means the spirit of Metal Hammer is guesting on one power-metal track and appearing in a movie that features the music of a band that inspired a number of metal bands to not really produce the same kind of music. Oh, and climbing up really big mountains whilst actually swearing.

Obviously in the alternative-culture world of freedom-loving self-expression there has to be a good reason for all of this (the alternative being that the journalists came up with a whole load of great ideas for names of the awards and they just didn't want to see them going to waste) and that reason is money, in two highly tempting and sellout forms. Firstly the bulk of these weirdly titled, mostly unvoted for, shelf-toppers has a lovely sponsors cheque associated with it. Yes, lifestyle marketing has come to Metal Metal Land and the blackclad disaffected youth are the targets because The Man(tm) is happy to take any ones cash, especially if they can convince you that buying their product is somehow sticking it to the system.

The second reason is that with more money up for grabs the award shows are getting more and more marketable as TV shows, and for that you need content and big names. Whilst you could put in more awards that reflect achievement in the field of contemporary heavy metal what you really want are well known names that look good in a 'soundbite' advert and that will get people watching (often out of pure curiosity to see that the band members are neither dead nor locked up) and for that you need some impressive thing to hand over to them. You also need consistency & predictability on who is going to win what so that more advertisers will buy into the show earlier, which is again why you are not going to get more awards going to new bands that actually could do with the recognition.

So expect more random awards with nearly pointless names to be coming along, the further dilution of such things into being a two-way split between utterly established acts being given "not dead yet" & "we know who sells out stadiums" lumps of fake gold and the latest flash-in-the-pan youth-rocking act that has enough social media savy to get its fans voting. Meanwhile music will carry on regardless, because everyone knows that outside of the carefully crafted worlds of these lifestyle magazines these awards don't carry half as much weight as they think they do.
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