On October 1, 2019, Nigeria's premier music awards, 'The Headies' announced nominations.
ALSO READ: Full list of nominees for the 2019 Headies
The roll-out includes 23 categories. Burna Boy led the way with 9 nominations and Teni followed with 6. As Pulse revealed yesterday, it is the most inclusive Headies list of nominees ever.
The Academy put in work and they deserve their plaudits. However, since no awards can satisfy anybody, we will always have objections.
On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, Pulse highlighted some of those objections, but the arguments were too limited. This article is meant to throw light on some of those arguments.
While Naira Marley's omission is understandable, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage shouldn't have received artist of the year nods. This writer feels the academy placed excessive premium on reputation and brand over actual music-propelled performance during the year in review.
It is reminiscent - but not as - shambolic - as the - results of voting at the recently concluded FIFA Awards. Lionel Messi controversially got named Player of the year and Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe got named in the FIFPRO 11 over Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Bernado Silva.
Granted, awards have a tendency to be a popularity contest, but they shouldn't be. Awards were created to fairly reward success over a designated period of time. Yes, reputation and popularity can be compelling, especially from a viewpoint of brand, but if brand and the optics win over fairness, then humanity has failed.
Wizkid out, Zlatan in
Let's get serious, Wizkid was a second-rate superstar in Nigerian music between January 2018 and June 2019.
The only reason he got some features was due of who he is. His two biggest claim to hits are 'Soco' and 'Fake Love,' both of which are credited to Starboy.
Yes, 'Soco' was possibly the biggest hit of 2018. 'Fake Love' also started the Duncan Mighty-features continuum or mainstream renaissance - if you will. However, the only point anyone will have to support Wizkid is 'Soco.'
'Fake Love' was a wave that slowed down within three months alongside the Duncan Mighty wave it awakened. If we're being honest, the Duncan Mighty effect is a reason why the song got big in the first place. It was cool for a while, then it became cliche.
Expectedly, a lot of people will mention the word, 'Fever' and that will just reek of ignorance and entitlement. Granted, 'Fever' was a PR masterstroke that aided a song stuck in the doldrums, but we're judging on the music, not optics and PR. Sometimes, they can be the same thing or least, complement each other, but there's no way 'Fever' is a hit.
The song was dead on arrival alongside, 'Master Groove.' It only got noise in December 2018 due shock value. Yes, it's video has healthy numbers on YouTube - close to 40 million views. Yes, that's to be expected - he's Wizkid.
Even the terrible nonsense of 'Joro' will do great numbers. 'Fever' also had a video with Tiwa Savage as lead model. Both acts directly gleaned hot tabloid rumours that they were 'together' - in more ways than one. They smooched and did everything else, but kiss.
Within 48 hours, the video had three million views. However, that wave died within two weeks. Wizkid's reputation drove its radio rotation, but the song never resonated with the Nigerian mainstream. It died as fast as the Tiwa Savage-dating-wave launched it.
On the other hand, Zlatan is the new king of the Nigerian mainstream. As we speak, he's the go-to-guy when you need a hit. Suffice to say, he's the one who hands out 'keys to the streets' like a bonafide Mayor.
'Soco' might a bigger and more durable song than 'Leg Work,' but impact is how 'Leg Work' wins this battle. Not only did it start what is currently Africa's biggest dance wave, it was the highest template for the sonic wave currently gripping the Nigerian mainstream - call it 'zanku sound.'
If we're keeping it 100, zanku is still here, Wizkid's last two singles have tanked. 'Low' by Larry Gaaga tried, but even heavy radio rotation couldn't help it. Only Wizkid FC will argue that it's a hit. But we all need to chill on how we ascribe 'hit' to songs. The use of that word has become too loose.
Equally, 'Fake Love' is neither a bigger nor more durable song in the Nigerian mainstream than Zlatan's 'Jogor.' However, we don't have the YouTube views to back it up because the Nigerian mainstream downloads from blogs.
Look at it this way, if Wizkid made 'Jogor' and/or 'Leg Work' and they have this kind of acceptance, their numbers will be off the charts on YouTube. As things stand, even 'Killin Dem' has 16 million views compared to 39 million views for 'Fever' or 'Soco' with 59 million views.
As we all know, only ignorant people will argue that what obtains in the Nigerian mainstream is sine qua non. The mainstream is not Twitter and 'Jogor' is a mainstream darling.
It doesn't have the shock value of 'Fake Love,' but numbers might be a lazy way to justify things in Nigeria's dysfunctional music clime where only a few people can pay for music and afford internet.
Yes, Wizkid's fan base is an advantage, whichever way. However, sometimes a huge fan base can pump numbers that have aren't a reflection of truth - especially in a dysfunctional industry as Nigeria's.
All of Wizkid's features in the year under review are dwarfed by 'Able God' and 'Killin Dem.' In the period that 'Fever' was meant to take off, 'Able God' was the anthem.
While Wizkid has kept struggling, Zlatan has become one of Nigeria's three hottest acts of the past 18 months. Also over the past eight months, Zlatan has also been whom everybody wants to feature - not Wizkid or Davido.
Like Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido are now hustling to have a share of Zlatan's terrain. 'Gucci Snake,' Wizkid's claim tanked. After Zlatan got released from EFCC custody, '4 Days in Okotie Eboh,' his freestyle went bonkers.
I guess some people will point to Wizkid's international clout. Yes, artist of the year is also about a summation of factors. But if music, its impact and its ability to propel an act aren't at the forefront of any criteria, then what are we doing?
Some people will point to events like The Lion King: The Gift. For one second, let's forget that 'Brown Skin Girl' was a terribly average conception that ran in a crippling cliché. Let's focus on the song's status in the Nigerian context - The Headies is a Nigerian award - 'Brown Skin Girl' is as big a flash in the pan as 'Fever.'
In Nigeria, 'Ja Ara E' is a bigger and better song. The Headies might be as much an award to celebrate Nigerians as much as happenings in Nigeria, but happenings/excellence in Nigeria shouldn't take a backseat to celebrating artists for what they did abroad with little to no impact on the home front.
The award is about 'Artist of the Year,' not 'brand of the year.' An artist's performance might be inclusive of his brand, but his brand is not a sum of his artistry and performance.
Sometimes, they overlap and influence each other, but when brand wins over exploits of the music, there's a problem. That's why Wizkid's nomination as artist of the year is problematic. He might be a bigger brand, but he has not been a better, hotter or more musically popular act than Zlatan over the past 18 months.
Tiwa Savage out, Teni in
Tiwa Savage's nod is even more ridiculous than Wizkid's. It's the classic case of 'brand over music' and everything associated with it.
Yes, Mummy Jam Jam is amazing and we all love her. She featured on the street anthem that was 'Diet' and jumped on the Duncan Mighty-wave for 'Lova Lova,' but of the two, only 'Diet' was a huge hit.
A lot of people will call 'Lova Lova' a hit, but it's not. However, it was very close. These days, we ascribe 'hit' to songs way too easily. Even if it was a hit, it was barely hot for 14 weeks.
'Fever' was not a hit. Her features on The Lion King: The Gift were not huge hits. However, this writer's thinks 'Keys To The Kingdom' is a better song than 'Brown Skin Girl.'
A Universal Music Group deal is not the music. It's a confirmation of status, but status is brand, not the music. Yes, the music got her status, but it's not the music within the year in review. She performed at the O2, but that still isn't the music.
Moreover, Teni was wrongly left out of Next Rated for reasons this writer thinks is because 'she got too big for next rated.'
If she got big, then she has had a better year in review than Ms. Savage and it's not even close. Asides ascending to become the new heartthrob of Nigerian millennials - the generation that determines hits anyways - and the mainstream, Teni had 'Wait,' 'Askamaya' 'Case' and 'Uyo Meyo.'
Granted, 'Wait' was a sleeper hit, but the remaining three songs are mega-hits. 'Askamaya' was also a mega-hit for about six months. Asides that, as Pulse revealed in September 2019, only Falz and Zlatan have had more excellence on features like Teni.
Let's keep it real, DJ Spinall's 'Dis Love' which featured Tiwa Savage is a lower song to Skiibii's 'Daz How Star Do' which features Teni.
Let's talk brand; Teni has been successfully touring for the better part of the last nine months. Her social media is more engaging than Tiwa Savage's because of her goofy content.
Her avant-garde sense of style resonates with current times of culture shift we live in, and she keeps racking up endorsement. She sang the very resonant 'Gele' for Airtel and has another song for Tom Tom.
Tiwa Savage's nod over Teni is ridiculous. This conversation shouldn't even happen.
Now, next rated
Teni and Peruzzi missed out, but they should have made it for the following reasons;
1. Yes, Teni now has touring and has endorsement bag, but if this award was held in December 2018, she wins the award. It's also funny how Zlatan, who is currently a bigger and hotter star than Teni made it and Teni didn't. To this writer, both should have made the list.
Zlatan should also have gotten endorsements within the year in review. He's not getting them due to his association with Naira Marley and an obviously terrible management. He is big enough.
2. Peruzzi isn't even as big as Teni and Zlatan. He also released an EP, not an album. He was also hot throughout 2018. Rema, Joeboy and Fireboy have only been hot for four months and they rightly got nods.
Finally, Lyta should have been rookie of the year. He has no hits - simple. Davido's co-sign of 'Monalisa' is more ineffectual than the original.
Now, he might have released an album, but his impact is about as sizeable as a walnut.
There is no reason he should get a recognition for Nigeria's premier music awards. He also has no buzz or hits.