On the weekend that we celebrate 20 years of democracy, the South African Music Awards celebrates 20 years of existence. As usual, Therese Owen sticks her neck out to predict who should win and who will actually win…
A few of last year’s winners at the Samas were shockers. How Toya Delazy won Best Newcomer over The Muffinz is anyone’s guess. The Muffinz have five incredible vocalists while Toya Delazy has, erm, none.
And how Kelly Khumalo won Female Artist of the Year is also a mystery. Yes, the chick can sing, but she is far better suited to being a soloist in Joyous Celebration than being a celebrated solo performer releasing her own music. The words bland and boring are more entertaining than Kelly Khumalo.
However, this year’s female artist category has five deserving nominees in Dear Reader, Judith Sephuma, Naima Kay, Zahara and the return of Rebecca Malope. It is a tough category but my bet is on Naima Kay taking it. She had a highly successful first year in the industry as a solo artist and will probably pip her main rival, Zahara, at the post.
Naima is also nominated in another tough category – Newcomer of the Year, competing against Gangs of Ballet, iFani, MuzArt and Nakhane Toure. Gangs of Ballet have five nominations overall, which is rare for a rock band at the Samas, while Nakhane has four. MuzArt are a bit of an overhyped bore with no songs and too much diddly doo wop. Theirs is the type of music that many Sama judges just lurv.
As Nakhane Toure’s Brave Confusion was Tonight’s album of the year last year, he should take this one, we hope. His music is a mixture of Prince meets Bowie with hints of traditional Xhosa rhythms and a passionate voice that resonates with emotional angst to elation and back again.
In the Male Artist of the Year category, Nakhane goes up against his Just Music stablemate, Matthew Mole, as well as Kabomo, Vusi Mahlasela and the lesser known Connell Cruise. Again it is a highly competitive category with Nakhane and Mahlasela the two most likely to win.
Gangs of Ballet have a difficult time in Best Rock Album which is the strongest category this year. Shadowclub, Black Cat Bones, The Parlotones and Van Coke Kartel are their competitors.
Shadowclub’s second album Goodbye Wild Child is brilliant while Van Coke Kartel’s Bloed Sweet & Trane is their best yet. In fact this category is so good that a prediction is out of the question.
In other popular youth categories, Best Rap should be won by either iFani or Kwesta as L-Tido and AB Crazy lean far too much to the American twang twang side of the genre. Molemi is the dark horse.
Best Kwaito, always a favourite, is not that strong this year. Big Nuz or Character should win over Alaska, Mandoza and T’zozo.
Best Dance is a difficult category: DJ Kent, Lulo Café, Mi Casa, Uhuru and Zakes Bantwini are the nominees. Uhuru have revolutionised the South African dance scene with their West African-influenced Afro house.
Zakes Bantwini understands how to bring jazz elements to his house sound and Mi Casa know how to bring the hits. Mi Casa will probably take it but Kalawa Jazmee’s Uhuru is more cutting-edge.
This category, however, raises the question – where are Goldfish in all of this? Three Second Memory is their best work ever. The duo are internationally recognised. The album was a commercial success. It is well produced with excellent dance tunes and yet they are only nominated in two categories, one of which is Best Music Video.
Tut, tut, Samas, tut tut. And to add insult, Toya Delazy is also nominated in this category. Other nominees for Best Video are Mi Casa, The Parlotones and Khuli Chana, and The Muffinz.
In this category, The Parlotones are the equivalent of Rebecca in the gospel categories, they just keep on winning and winning.
Sticking with things visual, Best Live DVD reflects the rainbow nation with Nataniël, Skouspel 2013, The Soil, Unathi and Zonke all nominated. As with Record of the Year, it’s anyone’s guess!
Record of the Year is done by public voting and closes on the night of the event with the live broadcast encouraging viewers to vote.
Now the thing about public voting is that if artists are on top of their social media campaigns they are more likely to win than those who aren’t. Record of the Year is not a reflection of the most popular song of the year and therefore should be renamed Record of the Year by The Artist Who Conducted the Best Social Media Campaign. That would mean that if peeps like Bonang, Gareth Cliff, Helen Zille and Chester Missing recorded songs, they would win.
One of the big songs of last year was Uhuru’s Y-Tyukuja which did not make the top 20 nominations in this category yet the lesser-spotted BlackByrd’s I Feel Good Today did. Sigh, yet another mystery.
The competition should be between Mi Casa’s Jika, which is the biggest crossover hit since Mandoza’s Nkalakhata, and Mafikizolo’s Happiness and Khona. One could not go anywhere without hearing those three songs in 2013.
Overall, Mafikizolo and Mi Casa have six nominations apiece and should dominate the Samas between them. But the Samas are generally an unexpected kettle of fish which is one of the reasons they are so interesting.