It’s that time of year when Tonight dishes out its best and worst in South African music over the past 12 months. Our judges’ decisions are final but in the spirit of democracy, all comments are accepted.

The Where Did She Come From and How Did She Sell 300 000 Units in Such a Short Time? Award.

Zahara wins this one because six months ago no one had heard of this young singer and her guitar. Then TS Records released her album and ‘Loliwe’ became the biggest song probably since Brenda Fassie’s ‘Vulendla’. And in a time when CDs just aren’t selling, she manages to shift 300 000 units in less than four months.

The It Couldn’t Have Happened to a Nicer Bunch of People Award.

TS Records wins hands down. Known for their “unconventional” business dealings in the industry, TK and DJ Sbu were in a wee bit of trouble with their record company before they discovered Zahara. And as for the controversy about just exactly how they managed to sell so many CDs, well…

Best Live Act Award.

At this year’s Metro FM Awards, Tira rocked da house. He, Big Nuz and L’Vovo put on an excellent show. But, at the end of the day, it was Tira who was the focal point of the performance.

The amount of energy he throws out is intense and it is clear he holds the power in that crew. It’s his style, his attitude, his confidence, his creativity that makes him the Best Live Act of 2011.

Best Newcomer Award.

Sales wise, it should be Zahara, but Tonight knows a far better and far more rocking guitarist in the form of Machineri’s Sannie Fox. She also has an interesting vocal range and intense blue eyes. This Capetonian three-piece has put out one of the best albums of the year. Think blues meets punk meets Patti Smith meets Led Zeppelin.

Babe of the Year Award.

This is a tie between Kabelo, who is looking so ripped in that tight body, and the sexy house singer, Bucie. She has oodles of sweet, sassy babe- magnet appeal.

Video of the Year Award.

The Frown did a vaudeville video for the MK’s Music Video project. Suffice to say The Frown has indeed entered the realm of the SA alternative music conscience with this video. Watch out for them next year. Check out the video on MK.

Tjop of the Year Award.

The MTN Samas win this award for two totally tjop reasons. First, they moved the Samas from Sun City to Montecasino and then put on the worst Samas in living history. Second, they thought it would be a great idea to decrease the categories by 27. This included putting kwaito and hip hop into one category.

Obviously the public and industry outcry was so huge the organisers had to retract that decision and bring back Best Kwaito, while hip hop is now called Best Street Urban. Whatever that means.

Rock Star of the Year Award.

Our dear, darling Spikiri celebrated 25 years in the industry. He has worked with everyone, from Chicco to Lebo Mathosa. He has shaped many artists’ careers, from Thandiswa Mazwai to Kabelo and Mafikizolo. And he has done so from a rebellious, uncompromising space.

Yet when he is in the studio creating music, it is a beautiful spiritual experience. And then, of course, there are the parties afterwards.

Coolest Kid on the Block Award.

Not only did he release one of the best albums of 2011, ‘Alter Ego’, but AKA also cleaned up at the Metros where he won three awards. AKA is a breath of fresh air in hip hop, which is busy eating itself up in its obsession with bling and ego.

Song of the Year Award.

Again, on sales and popularity it should be Zahara, but Tonight believes Kabelo’s ‘Amapantsula Ajabulile’, featuring Professor, is the bomb. It has the gravity of Professor’s voice tempered by the arrogance of Kabelo’s lyrics. Plus, the groove is so out there.

Album of the Year Award.

Definitely The Shadowclub’s debut album, ‘Guns and Money’. Dirty, sexy rock at its best. Every song is strong. The Shadowclub are the best rock band to have come out of this country since The Springbok Nude Girls.

Artist of the Year Award.

Zahara dominated the latter part of this year more than any artist since Brenda Fassie. Her record sales were huge, her hype even bigger and you know a song is big when all the taxis from Bree Street to Durban’s beachfront are playing it. Zahara deservedly is Tonight’s Artist of the Year.