After a break in 2017, the most important award show in Nigerian music is back to regular scheduled programming.It’s Headies season 2018! The academy released their perennially contentious nominee list last week and reactions have been pouring in.
For those who question whether the award ceremony still carries any of its historic significance, the proof was in the rants of displeased artists who felt left out and were just short of pulling a Charles Okocha and screaming: “We deserve some accolades”, with their fans and handlers as their hype men.
In my opinion, however, this year’s list was one of the better put-together lists in the 12 editions of the award show. But there were still some oversights, mostly around technicalities.
For instance, being that the Headies didn’t hold in 2017, the year in review was understandably extended to 18 months: July 2016 – December 2017.
But even though an album like BrymO’s Klîtóris and singles like Timaya’s “Dance” and Nonso Amadi’s “Tonight” were released outside the window, they were still considered for nomination.
Also, “Next Rated” is arguably the most hotly-contested category, so I believe the rules need to evolve to reflect the way many music projects are released nowadays.
In an era where newer artists increasingly use EPs, mixtapes and playlists to introduce themselves to their audience, having a full-length album alone may not be the best metric to determine who doesn’t belong in this category.
In the future, we’ll see more and more new artists like Maleek Berry, who technically doesn’t have an album out but has an album’s worth of music contained in 2 EP’s, going head-to-head with “tear-rubber” artists and complicating the field.
With that said, these are my predictions on how the night will go:
Best Recording Of The Year: “Ponmile” by Reminisce – Great song, even better message. Reminisce showed he’s more than just an accomplished MC.
Best Pop Single: “If” by Davido – Helped to propel the pon-pon wave and breathe new life into Davido’s career.
Best Producer: “Maradona, Come Closer” by Sarz – Sarz helped provide the soundbed for Niniola’s trademark Afro-house sound and produced one of the
biggest songs of the past year, internationally.
Best Reggae/Dancehall Single: “Come Closer” by Wizkid – A Drake feature, millions of streams and positions on international charts.
Best Rap Album: “The Playmaker” by Phyno – The right mix of pop records, street anthems and straight-up bars!
Best R&B/Pop Album: “Simisola” by Simi – Sweet voice, girl-next-door charm, crossover appeal and highlife nostalgia, Simisola was a near-perfect record.
Best Music Video: “Been Calling” by Maleek Berry – A thematic music video with an actual storyline. But being that this is actually a voting category, a more popular artist will probably win.
Best R&B Single: “Tonight” by Nonso Amadi – From SoundCloud to the mainstream, “Tonight” was in the top 20 most played songs of 2017.
Best Collabo: “Juice” by Ycee (ft. Maleek Berry) – One of the songs that announced Maleek as the go-to guy for features and re-introduced Mr. Jagaban.
Best Rap Single: “You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives” by MI – The most important rap song of recent times. Period.
Best Vocal Performance (Male): “Love U Baby” by Banky W – The compelling soundtrack to arguably the biggest love story of the past year
Best Vocal Performance (Female): “Butterflies” by Omawumi – Searing performance from an elite vocalist who was more concerned with critical-acclaim than commercial acceptance on this go-around.
Next Rated: Maleek Berry – Maleek’s growth has been phenomenal, but being that this is actually a voting category, Mayorkun could steal this, especially if Davido puts his considerable weight behind him.
Hip-hop World Revelation: Adekunle Gold – Adekunle continues to flourish even after leaving YBNL. He also dropped one of the most impressive and unique
debut albums in recent times.
Lyricist On The Roll: “Industry Nite” By Erigga – Expertly-told stories about the harsh realities of the music business, from the perspective of an up-and-comer.
Best Street Hop Artist: “Penalty” by Small Doctor – Small Doctor created a new bridge between the streets and the mainstream that allowed shaku shaku and other waves to cross over.
Best Alternative Song: – Confused by what “alternative” means, I’ll let the voters decide.
Album Of The Year: “Simisola” by Simi – In time, we might call the album a classic.
Artist Of The Year: Davido – The comeback kid produced hit after hit, completed the highly successful 30 Billion tour and launched the careers of artists on his label.
Song Of The Year: “If” By Davido – The most played song on Nigerian radio in 2017.
African Artiste: Sarkodie – For remaining one of the most sought-after guest features in African music for 10-plus years, Sarkodie deserves some accolades. But based on recent form, Nasty C has a good chance.
Headies Viewer’s Choice – Will let the viewers decide, this is clearly based on popularity.
Best Performer – Flavour mixes sex appeal with vibrancy on the stage, and ups the ante with his live band.
Rookie Of The Year – Will let the voters decide, although I’m somewhat disappointed that no artist from the so-called SoundCloud generation was nominated.