Entertainment of 2014-03-12

VGMA 2014: Matters arising

Nominees for the 2014 edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) have been made public. Some of the nominees are not happy with the list that is out because they were not placed in categories in which they had so much faith they could win. Others also feel they ought to have been in more categories than they found themselves.

Others too were also excited with their nominations regardless of where they were placed. This is normal and very much expected. In any case, there are musicians and songs that were left out. I will go to that shortly. Now, let’s get some education first.

The annual Vodafone Ghana Music Awards can be likened to the FIFA World Cup which is a tournament every footballer wants to take part in. It is considered as a big platform for big players, and any player who is not able to be part of the party is left disappointed.

In Ghana, the VGMA is the biggest event in the Ghanaian music calendar that every musician looks up to. At present, the awards have become the yardstick for measuring the country’s standards in music. There are still musicians who do not agree with the ways the nominations are done. For such people when nominations are announced and they are overlooked, they get angry and start throwing tantrums at the organisers.

Musicians are careful with their lyrics, and so anything that goes against the rules and regulation of the awards will debar a song from contention in the year under review. Every category in the awards list has a category definition and stringent rules and regulations that ensure that songs with bad lyrics do not get nominated for awards.

The Vodafone Ghana Music Awards has three specifics that go to determine who gets nominated, who gets ignored or disqualified and of course which song is not going to be considered for review because of one reason or the other. Let's briefly look at the three matters.

Good songs

The first of the three is, good songs. There are facts and opinions. What this means is that, in as much as listeners of music have their preferences, it ought to be noted that, a good song is a good song no matter the listeners’ preference.

Who determines or what constitute what a good song is? Going by the rules set aside for the awards, a good song should not be interlaced with vulgar language. The lyrics and the composition of such a song must be on point. The lyrics must be appealing, sensible and devoid of insults and personality attacks.

In addition, while a good song can contain ‘adult language’, it should be used tastefully, maturely and masterfully. Kwabena Kwabena’s Adult Music featuring Samini comes to mind. Even though it has adult content in it, this was done in good taste. Now, before I go to the two other points, don’t think that every good song gets nominated automatically, no. The name of the game is ‘popularity’.

Good and popular songs

There are good songs that are extremely popular. Songs in this category contain all that has been discussed above. In addition to being popular, it should be a song that was released in the year under review.

The song should have generated the most excitement during the year. If your song is pegged in this category, you are certain of multiple nominations and confident of going home with an award on the awards night.

Does a certain song, ‘Dancehall King’ from Shatta Wale come into the picture? I bet, it does! The song grabbed multiple nominations because the Board believed it is a good song and extremely popular.

Lyrically bad but popular songs

The last list of songs are those with very bad lyrics but which are extremely popular than those in the first two categories. A basic category definition of the awards is that a song or an artiste should be adjudged the most popular song released in the year under review and must have generated the most excitement during the year.

Or the artiste behind the song must have the highest audience appeal and popularity and must have released a hit single/album during the year under review. Per the definition, songs in this category merit nominations.

But regardless of the popularity of these songs, it’s difficult for the VGMA Board to nominate such songs because they are at variance with the set rules of the awards.

Now you will understand why songs such as Linda by then Batman, Ajeei by R2Bees, Give Me Blow by Asem and the rest were axed from the awards?

According to s section of the media, Kwabena Kwabena’s Adult Music and Joey B’s Tonga should have been axed from the nominations citing vulgarity of the lyrics, but the Board thought otherwise.

Having had insight on the three specifics for the awards, this is how an artiste can get nominated in the prestigious awards; your song must be as good and make sense like Nas’s, I Can and be extremely popular as Akyeame’s Mesan Aba.

But, it doesn’t end there. After a musician has managed to grab a nomination, there is one obstacle that must be crossed to improve ones chance of winning and that is to win votes from the Board, Academy and the general public. The votes from the general public can be manipulated legally to favour a particular musician, provided the musician in question has the financial power.

As a matter of fact, I’m shocked as to know that the musicians below didn’t make it in the nominations.

‘Woara’ by Okyeame Kwame

This song by Okyeame Kwame featuring Raquel was one of the biggest songs of 2013. Before the nominations were made public, many people had pegged Woara for a number of categories forgetting that the song was on Sika, an album for which the artiste had picked the ‘Songwriter of the Year Award. Per the rules, the song didn’t qualify but it was one of the biggest tunes last year. I guess the people forgot about the rules because the song was such a great hit.

‘Illuminati’ by Sarkodie

Without qualms, Sarkodie will pick the album of the year. But why wasn’t Illuminati nominated? This is confusing, because Illuminati was one of the biggest Hip hop songs of the year. There is no justification for excluding this track and unless there is a tangible reason from the Board, I suspect foul play.

‘Enter The Net’ and ‘Everybody like my thing’ – Shatta Wale

The current rules guiding the awards has not been reviewed, which means two songs from the same artiste cannot be nominated.

I win – Cwesi Oteng

Cwesi Oteng’s I Win was not strong enough in the year under review, but it certainly merits a nomination in the ‘Gospel Song of the Year’.

Questions are also being asked why Kofi Kinaata and Wiyaala didn’t make the list? Why do some categories have ten nominees while other categories suffer to get even five, not to talk of three? Should the Board put a cap on some categories and allow other categories to swell up? Well, that will be a topic for another time.