Thursday, August 25, 2005


You might have thought the Mobo awards were little more than an annual opportunity to snort "how black is Joss Stone, exactly?" But, no, it's more than that; it's about poorly-written press releases on their website, too:

In 1996 the MOBO Awards show had attending, today it is a global brand and independent organisation that champions, celebrates and platforms music of black origin.

I think we can take the (sics) as read, can't we? The trouble is, even when they're coherent, they're just stuffed full of meaningless buzz-phrases: how does one "platform a music", exactly? Is it like lagging a watertank? Or do they simply mean promote?

It's disheartening to watch what sounds like a worthwhile initiative sink into stodgy prose which uses cliche when it should be inspired, and coins new words when something accurate and workable already exists:

Dedicated to the development of young people, the MOBO organisation has produced a Student Tour in line with the Enterprise Initiatives national campaign, 'Enterprise in Young People' and Lloyds TSB's 'Note for Note' projects. Taking place from September to November 2005 the Student Tour will visit universities and schools across the country, with the aim of using creative, fun and un-traditional mechanisms to both inspire and encourage young people to pursue their dreams and achieve success.

We're not sure what un-traditional means, and how it's different from the non-traditional, and why, if what they really mean is 'something different and inventive' that "creative" hasn't already covered that. And we have no idea what a "fun mechanism" might be, but we think things are going to get worse:

The MOBO World page is an 'Edu-tainment' section providing both historical and career-related information on the music industry.

Ah, edu-tainment. The last time we heard that clunker, it was being applied to Jezebelle, an Atomic Kittenesque Liverpudlian group whose management gave them the edutainment mission to justify why the band was getting public money to keep their lips synching.

Anyway, we're sure it;s nothing that can't be fixed with a twenty minute rewrite; just a pity they didn't do it before they put the site live. We'll get back to the edu-tainment mission and bring you the nominations for this year:

Best African Act (New Category for 2005)
(Voting will happen in Africa only)
1. Baaba Maal
2. Femi Kuti
3. 2 Face
4. Ladysmith Black Mambazo
5. Youssou N’dour
6. Yvonne Chaka Chaka

We're not sure why voting is being restricted to Africa on this one - it makes it look a little tokeny. We wonder if the inspiration came while someone was watching the complaints about Live 8 supposedly being about Africa while not featuring (m)any African artists. We're also a little puzzled why the Africans are being coralled into one group - there's not one single African style of music, and yet a continent seems to be being treated as if it was a genre.

Best Album
1. Common Be Island
2. Kano Home Sweet Home 679 Recordings
3. Lemar Time To Grow SONY BMG
4. John Legend Get Lifted SONY BMG
5. Mariah Carey The Emancipation of Mimi Def Jam

Mariah Carey? We know the reasons why she's included here, but with all the black artists making music around the world, they couldn't come up with something a little less... cheesy?

Best Hip Hop Act
1. 50 Cent Interscope
2. Blak Twang Wall Of Sound
3. Roots Manuva Big Dada
4. Sway Dcypha Productions
5. The Game Interscope

Best Jazz Act
1. Abram Wilson Dune
2. Lizz Wright Verve
3. Madeleine Peyroux Verve
4. Rhian Benson DKG Music
5. Soweto Kinch Dune

Best R&B Act in association with Choice FM
1. Ciara Sony BMG
2. John Legend Columbia
3. Lemar Sony BMG
4. Mariah Carey Def Jam
5. Terri Walker Def Soul
6. Nate James One Two

Best Reggae Act
1. Damian Marley Welcome To Jamrock Island
2. I-Wayne Can't Satisfy Her VP/Atlantic
3. Richie Spice Earth Ah Run Red Jetstar
4. Sean Paul We Be Burnin Atlantic
5. Daddy Yankee Gasolina Interscope

Best Single in association with Galaxy
1. Amerie 1 Thing Columbia
2. Lemar If There's Any Justice Sony BMG
3. Lethal B Pow (Forward) Relentless
4. Mario Let Me Love You J
5. Snoop ft. Pharrell Drop It Like It's Hot Interscope

Best UK Club DJ
1. Dodge
2. Manny Norte
3. Matt White
4. Semtex
5. Shortee Blitz
6. Steve Sutherland

Best UK Newcomer in association with Evening Standard
1. Kano 679 Recordings
2. Lethal B Relentless
3. Nate James One Two
4. Roll Deep Relentless
5. Sway Dcypha Productions

The Evening Standard? This does offer the hope that the Daily Mail might sponsor the Best Reggae act next year...

Best UK Radio DJ
1. George Kay Choice FM
2. Gilles Peterson Radio One
3. Jigs Choice FM
4. Masterstepz Choice FM
5. Ras Kwame 1Xtra
6. Ronnie Herel 1Xtra
7. Semtex 1Xtra
8. Shortee Blitz & Big Ted Kiss 80
9. Steve Sutherland Galaxy
8. Tim Westwood Radio One
11. Trevor Nelson Radio One
12. Zane Lowe Radio One

Why are there so many nominations for best radio dj? Surely not a cyncial attempt to fuel the publicity machine, is it? It does seem extraordinary that they can only think of four decent albums, but a dozen djs. And Zane Lowe?

Best Video in association with MTV
1. Jamiroquai Feels Just Like It Should Sony BMG
2. John Legend Ordinary People Columbia
3. Lemar If Theres Any Justice Sony BMG
4. Missy Elliott ft. Ciara Lose Control Atlantic
5. Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell Drop It Like It's Hot Interscope

Best World Music Act
1. Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate World Circuit
2. Amadou & Mariam Because Music
3. Daddy Yankee Interscope
4. Miguel Anga Diaz World Circuit
5. Zap Mama V2

World Music not including Africa, of course.

UK Act Of The Year
1. Estelle J-did
2. Kano 679 Recordings
3. Joss Stone Relentless
4. Lemar Sony BMG
5. Roll Deep Relentless

It's not the most exciting line-up of nominations, is it? A ceremony with the threat of Lemar going up to the podium five times suggests nothing more than Music of Black Origin (at least in its official form) is in a bit of a creative slump.


richard said...

I rather like the idea of the geographically limited voting... think of it this way; if the American Academy Awards (Oscars) had a category for "Best European film" and it wasn't voted on by a bunch of stuffed suits in Southern California? It would be refreshing to see films voted on that didn't have commercial appeal in North America rather than the "safe" films that tend to get nominations in the "Best Foreign Film" category.

Robin Carmody said...

The Standard sponsoring an award is nothing - do you remember when the Daily Telegraph (the Telegraph!) sponsored, I think, the Best Garage Act award?

simon h b said...

Richard: I can see what you're saying, but clearly the shortlist has been drawn up by someone in an office in London who listened to Andy kershaw a few years ago - what might have been more interesting would have been to ask Africa to draw up the shortlist, and then get the rest of the world to vote...

Robin: I'd love to know if that ever shifted their sales in any direction at all...

Anonymous said...

a great new set of world music releases from Chris Blackwell, Palm Pictures and UMe. The latest release, which is in stores now, is entitled “Baaba Maal,” Senegal's shining star - considered the voice of his people. Crafting a distinctive sound that fuses traditional African music with pop and reggae elements, Baaba Maal lead the way in what was to be termed 'Afro-pop'. This compilation showcases the master's music in various stages of his esteemed career.
The website is at

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