Thursday, January 12, 2006

Why the excitement?

I do believe I might have a stomach flu brewing so I shall rant now, lest this thing bring me low in the next 24 hours.

So there was much excitement in local media that Newfoundland artists received 18 nominations. Colleen Power, Duane Andrews and the Novaks lead the way with two each. Great Big Sea has apparently finally entered the Anne Murray/Sarah McLachlan territory of becoming too big for the awards because they received one nod for roots-traditional group recording of the year.

You know, if I wasn't feeling so crappy, I'd backtrack over the last five years or so and see how many nominations Newfoundland artists got each of those years. I won't swear by it, but I'm pretty certain this has to be a new low. I'm sure there were years where Great Big Sea almost got that many nominations by themselves.

Are Newfoundland musicians not as good as the rest of Atlantic Canada? Si the quality slipping from the days when GBS and the Irish Descendents dominated? Is the voting rigged because Nova Scotia essentially gets a double vote (Nova Scotia and Cape Breton are considered separate voting regions, which is bullshit)? Or are the awards essentially irrelevent other than a weak publicity tool to promote regional music to the rest of Canada?

I'd have to say the later, really. Because there are a lot of good Newfoundland artists, they just seem to be overlooked, fairly regularly, at the ECMAs. Unless Newfoundland is hosting it. Then we get a few more nods because it looks bad otherwise. And what was the last act that made it big because of the ECMAs? I have no idea.

I'm looking at some of the nominees. And I like to think of myself as reasonably well informed about music, but I really don't know who a lot of them are. I haven't heard of two of the five nominees in the album of the year cateory (Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier). I've heard of only two of the female artists (Power and Mary Jane Lamond) and so on and so forth.

I understand The Trews. I understand Matt Mays. They both had huge years. They deserve the nominations. As for most of the rest, I literally have not heard these musicians on Newfoundland radio stations, or any mention of them in any national or regional media. I assume they're big in Nova Scotia. But outside of Nova Scotia? Not so much.

(As a side note, it is worth mentioning that most local commercial radio stations suck and barely support Newfoundland artists, let alone play something from the rest of Atlantic Canada. Commercial radio has about 10 years of life expectancy unless they do some radical adjusting. But that's for another time.)

Understand, I'm not saying they're bad. Just that everyone brags of the talent in Newfoundland and we get 18 nominations. Riiiiight Either we're being fed a line about the quality of talent, or the awards might as well be renamed the "Nova Scotia Music Industry Awards with a few scraps for the rest of you."

Anybody in the Newfoundland music industry will tell you, over a few drinks, that the ECMAs are bullshit. That it's all politics and money these days. Maybe Newfoundland musicians are wising up to that and not playing that game anymore. If that's the case, good on them.

But you know what? Let's not go ga-ga over 18 nominations. Let's not think the awards are a great launching showcase anymore, because they're not. And let's not think they're important awards anymore. Because really, I'm getting the same whiff off of them that I get from the Golden Globes.

And I assure you, that's not a pretty smell.

Currentlly playing on iTunes because the latest iPod update has managed to lock up my iPod
Just Like A Vacation - Blue Rodeo

3 comments:

dups said...

I disagree with commercial radio having 10 years. I would have agreed about 7 months ago, but here in Edmonton we managed to get a new "modern" rock station called Sonic. They've been supporting local Edmonton bands and playing good music and indeed music from newer artists for seemingly the "hell of it".

Oddly, though not surprisingly for me, it's become one of the most popular radio stations in the city. I have no clue as to whether it will survive but so far, if you had asked me what was wrong with radio and how I would fix it, Sonic pretty much would have been my answer. Could it possibly be the start of a trend?

As to the ECMAs, I feel hopelessly out of touch. I must go check up. Mind you I never paid much heed to the ECMAs when I lived in NF and I haven't since I left outside the year you covered it. ECMAs have always been just a tool for marketing. Better I think to have awards for each province with the winners having a "band-off" seen by the whole country and forcing them to be new or revived acts of the last year. More publicity, more press, more interest and certainly get some new and wonderful bands from ech province into the limelight.

Anonymous said...

18 nominataions. And how many are there total? Because 18 of 20 odd would be fairly respectable. 18 of 100+ would be pathetic.

towniebastard said...

By my rough count, and assuming we're not counting Industry Awards (ie. Best radio station, best record company) then there were 139 nominations. Newfoundland artists received 18. That's just shy of 13%.

Doesn't exactly wow me all that much.