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The 2023 Headies Award shows promise despite recurring flaws [Pulse Review]

A review of the 16th Headies Award.

A review of the 2023 16th Headies Awards

On September 3, 2023, the 16th Headies Award took place at the Cobb Energy Performing Art Centre in Atlanta, Georgia USA. The award attracted Nigerian superstars and notable figures in the local international entertainment and corporate society who gathered to celebrate the various feats achieved in the past year.

This is a review of the events that unfolded at the 16th Headies Award.

Let's face it, We all care about the Headies despite the recurring heartbreaks it gives us.

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Every year, we all gather to watch the award ceremony, and this year, we hoped that it would be better than the last. The 16th Headies which made a return to Atlanta was better than the last despite its disappointing recurring flaws.

  • Pre-award event 

The pre-award event started at 7 PM which was exactly when it was scheduled to kick off.

Starting the event on time helped set a positive tone for the night and the red-carpet hosts did a decent job interviewing the guests. Although there were one or two blushes, we must credit the red-carpet hosts for standing for nearly 4 hours while coming up with different angles to keep the conversation going.

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At the 15th edition, the Headies hosted a poorly organised fashion show as part of the pre-award events. This year, viewers got a clip of the events of the past editions and this helped fuel the nostalgia and set the tone for the night.

  • Presenters 

As simple as presenting an award can be, the Headies has consistently struggled to get the right people on stage. However, this year there was a significant improvement compared to the absurdities of the 15th edition.

The American presenters without context of Nigerian music read the teleprompter and kept it short. Those with context offered some words and also stuck to the script.

Although there were some technical glitches like when the screen failed to roll out the nominations and a presenter stated that he refused to be set up, presentations mostly went hitch-free. Of course, there is the embarrassing mix-up for the Best Alternative Song which will be addressed in the negatives.

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  • Attendance 

We shouldn't be celebrating the presence of our superstars at the one industry's biggest nights but this is where we have found ourselves in the industry.

The 16th Headies had in attendance both veteran and new stars whose presence added prestige to the event. It was also positive that most of the potential winners of most of the categories that were awarded at the event were present.

  • Production 

Overall, the coverage of the event was an improvement on the last edition which was marred by several glitches.

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While the 16th edition was hitch-free as the audio and video fluctuated on different occasions, the viewer experience was an improvement on the previous edition.

  • The Best Alternative Song Mix-up 

There was a sort of 'Lala Land' and Steve Harvey moment at the 16th Headies Award when Obong Jayar's 'Tinko Tinko' was announced as the winner of the Best Alternative Song category while the screen displayed 'Earth Song' by Wizard Chan as the winner.

The confused presenter was hurriedly ushered off the stage and the events swiftly moved on. However, that shouldn't have been the case.

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It's embarrassing that there was a mix-up between what the technical department put on stage and what the presenter read, but what's more embarrassing and unforgivable is the failure to correct it.

At the 2017 Oscar Awards when 'Lala Land' was mistakenly awarded the biggest prize of the night (Best Picture) over 'Moonlight', the recipient corrected the error on stage.

When Steve Harvey mixed up the Miss Universe winner in 2015 by declaring Miss Colombia the winner instead of Miss Philippines, he quickly corrected himself and took responsibility.

What the Headies should have done was to have the presenter correct the error on stage and give Wizard Chan who was present the chance to accept his award in person.

It doesn't speak well of the Headies to gloss over the embarrassing moment only to correct the error on its social media page later.

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  • Performances

There's no mincing word. The night was filled with poor performances except for KCEE, Black Sheriff, and Asake who all offered decent showings.

Whether it be the tacky choreography during ODUMODUBLVCK's 'Declan Rice' performance, Seyi Vibez performing 'Chance' with a funny accent, or Young Jonn's flat performance, the night was filled with mediocre performances.

  • Boring Atmosphere 

The atmosphere at the 16th Headies didn't have the pulsating energy of Afrobeats nor the poise, class, and ambiance of a prestigious award.

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Viewers didn't get a glimpse of the guests' fashion choices and the presenters kept asking the guests to make some noise like it was some university freshers party.

The atmosphere didn't carry the electrifying feel the Headies used to have and this might be due to its location or the inability of the hosts or performances to lift the mood.

For most viewers, the 16th Headies Award was a boring watch.

The major highlight of the night came from the superstar Rema who delivered an iconic speech on why Nigerian artists need to support local institutions and grow the ecosystem.

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While accepting the Best Music Video for 'Calm Down' on behalf of Director K, Rema stated that Nigerian artists need to support the local institutions that allow them to enjoy the success they have.

The hitmaker reminded the audience that Afrobeats is at risk of losing its gain if the ecosystem is neglected in pursuit of personal glory.

In a stellar moment that echoes the sentiment of fans and stakeholders back home, Rema stated that even fans are reluctant to get tickets because they're not sure artists would show up.

Rema's speech comes at a timely moment when Afrobeats' gains are at risk of being eroded in pursuit of personal glory from superstars who have failed to appreciate the role domestic players have contributed to their success.

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The speech has been hailed as insightful, brilliant, and courageous by fans and industry figures who are impressed that it took a star born in 2000 to state the facts that are painfully lost on superstars who should know better.

Another highlight of the night is Asake's historic feat that saw him become the first artist to win the Next Rated and Album of the Year on the same night. He also joined Kizz Daniel (New Era), Simi (Simisola), and Asa (Asha) as artists to have won the Album of the Year with their debut projects.

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