Why Nollywood respects AMVCA and Afrobeats doesn't respect The Headies [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

Nollywood's AMVCA and Afrobeats' The Headies is pretty much the most popular entertainment awards in Nigeria. Let's take a look into the growing disparity in the respect accorded to the AMVCA and the Headies.

Why Nollywood respects AMVCA and Afrobeats doesn't respect The Headies [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

On Saturday 14th May 2022, the eighth installment of the African Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA) was held in Lagos, Nigeria. In its usual manner, the show attracted attention online and it was keenly followed.

This year, the award retained the glitz and spark which had Nigerians on Twitter channeling their inner Joan Rivers.

Unlike the Headies, many must have noticed that the AMVCA didn’t attract lots of disparaging and polarizing comments, which is the most recognizable award in Nigeria’s illustrious music industry. The spectators’ attention was entirely focused on the glamor, the stars, the music, and the curious fashion choices.

When considering why the AMVCA generated more respect and admiration than the Headies award, we might point to the fact that Nollywood is still a couple of yards behind its more illustrious sibling the Afrobeat.

Hence fans can’t really hold broad polarizing views over movies to which they have limited knowledge. However, if we are being honest, when has limited knowledge ever restricted average Nigerian Twitter users from dropping their two cents?

We might be drawn to observe the absence of central figures in the movie industry with unique fan bases locked in constant opposition. Unlike Afrobeat, Nollywood stars share similar fans who appreciate their art and are not clouded by sentiments.

Another notable factor to consider is the role played by the movie stars. These movie stars respect the AMVCA and display this respect by showing up and conducting themselves accordingly. All these stars - both the nominated and the non-nominated - approach the event with grace and mutual respect. They make a conscious effort not to feed fans with negativity and propaganda that can bring disrepute to the AMVCA.

Lastly, we will have to consider the organizers who have displayed a mastery of putting together an event so glamorous and impeccable that it’s beyond reproach or mockery from stakeholders and spectators.

To better understand the reason for the disparity in the reception and respect between The AMVCA and the Headies award, we must examine the factors responsible.

The competitive nature of awards

The Headies was created in 2006 as a way to celebrate the talents in the Nigerian music industry. The Headies, which was first christened The Hip Hop World Awards, was created to fill the need for a recognizable award that gives credence to the fast-growing Nigerian music industry. Since its creation, the Headies Award has been held 14 times, en route to becoming the biggest music award in Nigeria - nigh Africa.

The Headies has been hosted by some of Nigeria’s finest MCs, actors, and artists. The award has the spice and competitiveness needed to propel it and there was no shortage of upset as is the case with any reputable music award.

With no other music award in the country measuring to the standard of the Headies, Nigerian artists quickly developed a reverence and desire for the award.

Several upsets can be readily remembered during the rich history of the Headies awards. Some of which are;

⦁ The audience might still remember the image of a disgruntled Burna Boy exiting Oriental Hotel after he lost the Next Rated Category to Sean Tizzle in 2013.

⦁ Many will still freshly remember the 2015 Headies award where YBNL’s Lil Kesh lost the Next Rated Category to Mavin’s Reekado Banks - and the Kanye West moment that followed.

⦁ In the same year, Shaydee’s 'Smile' inexplicably defeated Darey’s 'Pray for me,' and Wande Coal’s 'Superwoman' to win the Best Male Vocal Performance.

⦁ In 2019, Teni’s 'Uyo Meyo' lost the best R&B Single category yet won the record of the year and Best Vocal Female Performance.

⦁ In 2019, Burna Boy’s critically acclaimed album, Outside lost album of the year to Falz's Moral Instruction. Then Burna Boy's Grammy-nominated album African Giant, lost the Album of the Year Category to Fireboy’s Apollo. Then, Fireboy, the night’s most-nominated and awarded artist, wasn’t nominated for the Artist of the Year. And Brymo’s Album of the Year nominated Yellow lost the Alternative album category to Cavemen’s ROOTS.

These upsets are not peculiar to the Headies and even Grammy awards which is the biggest prize in music has a history of mind-numbing upsets.

At the 2012 Grammys, Kanye West’s legendary album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy wasn’t nominated for the Album of the Year category. Then in 2014, audience favorite Kendrick Lamar lost the Best Rap Album award to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

And these are just a series of recent Grammy upsets in a long history of upsets. This is to point out that upsets in awards are inherent to the concept of awards irrespective of the field.

From the Grammys to the Oscars, to the EMMYS, and Screen Actors' Guild Awards, entertainment awards are littered with unpredictability. Be it public voting or a panel of judges, it’s impossible to achieve a result that will please everybody. All that matters is that the Headies academy gets it right more than they are believed to get it wrong.

The competitive nature and importance of the Headies award meant that several artists took the defeat to heart. With their ego bruised, these artists began to display passiveness toward the award.

Perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back was the stunt Olamide pulled on stage at the 2015 Headies. The aftermath of that event significantly hurt the Headies' reputation and turned fans against the award.

At the 2016 Headies, both parties in the fracas decided to boycott the award over the spat at the last edition. There was also a notable absence of several top artists from the award and this ushered in an unfortunate decline for the Headies. A decline that was propelled by the inability of Nigerian artists to show respect, appreciation, and sportsmanship.

But things started to look up at the 2020 award, when a significant amount of the new school Nigerian artists attended the show, and even performed. A lot of that was down to the freshness of zeal from that set of Nigerian artists. In a few years, the Headies could lose them too.

But as noted earlier, a lot of that will be due to artists and their egos - nothing more. Since Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West have had things to say about the Grammys, all of them have been back to the award as winners, honorees and more. Respect for an indigenous award only comes from the artists.

But then, maybe the only reason American artists go back for the Grammys is due to the absence of another prestigious award like the Grammys. A lot of these artists show a similar nonchalance towards the BET Awards, but not the Grammys. Perhaps Nigerian artists only disrespect the Headies because of an oft-delusional dream to compete for a maximum of three categories at the Grammys.

Organizational relapse

In recent years, the Headies have struggled with poor organization and they have experienced a decline in audio and video quality. Also, the gap in 2017 didn’t help its reputation.

Likewise, the lack of clarity and uniformity in the award calendar created confusion as to the eligibility and credibility in nominations. However, despite this unfortunate decline in quality and structure, a bulk of the fault for the Headies' decline will fall at the feet of the artists who made a conscious effort to snub, disrespect, and turn their fans against the Headies.

Whatever we have to say, the Headies' nominations have been more inclusive since the 2019 edition.

While average music fans might be eager to point accusing fingers at the Headies if their favorite lost, it is the actions of these artists that fanned the public disrespect that Headies suffers in the Afrobeat scene. The reputation of the Headies has been battered by Nigerian artists so much that music fans trip over themselves to post disparaging things about what is supposed to be the biggest award in Nigerian music.

While movie stars show up in their best to adorn the AMVCA with style and glamour without any assurance of winning, the big names in Afrobeat will rather casually stroll in midway into the Headies or not even show up at all. Who can forget the schedule clash between a major show abroad and the 2019 Headies award where the show carted away all the big names in the industry and torpedoed the biggest award in Nigerian music.

Nigerian artists have failed to emulate their colleagues in the movie industry who show up, play their part, and take their losses with a stiff upper lip. Instead artists with success, huge fan bases, choose to act like small-minded individuals whose overbloated egos need to be placated with participation trophies.

Where do we go from here?

Lets face it, awards mean a lot to artists and losses can be painful. Award is capable of inspiring a feeling of being snubbed, overlooked, and sometimes even disrespected. An emotional reaction to loss is human and understandable.

However, artists need to understand that the Headies awards is a tradition that elevates the relevance and status of artists and the music industry. Therefore, it's superior to the bruised ego and emotions of the artists that congregates the industry. Artists, no matter how big, need to understand the need to put their egos aside and show some deference to the same award that propelled them to fame.

In awards, the better material can lose. Such is the nature of awards. Be it a public vote or a panel decision, it’s impossible to deliver a verdict that will be cheered in all quarters. At the end of the day, all an award needs to possess is fairness and transparency.

Who’s to say the Grammy wasn’t without flaws in its early days? Is the Grammy even perfect today? After all, this is the same Grammy that didn’t even care to nominate The Weeknd’s After Hours. However, does this momentary lapse in judgment take away from its essence? The answer is no.

Nigerian artists believe they are bigger than the Headies and they have displayed this through their acts and body language. However, they should know that such a belief is a shortsighted one that will see them destroy an award with so much potential for no other reason than that they can.

Their actions might get applauded today by their fans and admired by their peers but they must be reminded that posterity won’t look favorably on them.

Perhaps, the Headies should also invest in artist relations.

The Headies 2022 nomination list is set to drop on Tuesday, 24th May 2022 and hopefully, this year's Headies award ushers in a new dawn for the prestigious award.

*Pulse Editor's Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Pulse.

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