As an awards show, Hip TV’s The Headies sits in a precarious position. It is the most prestigious of all the music entertainment awards, with a long history of overcoming several odds each year and essentially anointing each generation of new musical acts. Its Next Rated category is considered sacred, and each year, new artists vying for the honour, put out their best work, initiate micro beef and drum up anticipation for the show. The Headies somehow also holds the honour for being the most consistently problematic awards show in terms of execution. There have a fistfights on stage, artists threatening artists, power errors, less than ideal hosts, guest presenters who had no idea what they were doing on the stage; you name it, the Headies has had to deal with it.
It is clear that the management behind the Headies gave significant thought to the show this year. They moved it from December (where other celebrity shows usually interfered with the success of the show) to October, announced their nominations in ample time for the nominated artists in voting categories to really push their fanbases to vote. They even hired the country’s premier event planning company to handle the logistics. It should have been a great show.
But there were a few things they couldn’t have anticipated. Wizkid, arguably the country’s biggest popstar, chose to hold his annual concert at the O2 Arena on the same day as the Headies. That meant having to choose between attending an awards show in Lagos and earning a lump sum in London was a zero sum. The country’s big three (Wizkid, Davido and Burnaboy) went with Wizkid, as did Tiwa Savage, Naira Marley, Don Jazzy and a host of other A and B-list performers. This severe dearth of performers, meant many of the nominees for the awards were conspicuously absent, replaced by the recently minted Big Brother Housemates.
No big names, means no big name performers and the Headies really had to scrounge to get any buzz. As a live show, this was doubly problematic because nobody is ditching their favourite shows to watch Zakky Adzee, Styl Plus or Sunny Nneji resurrect from the grave of obscurity to lipsync their decades old greatest hits, especially when none of them were nominated. Between that and the less than stellar guest presenter who came on stage in droves to fumble through the show’s 22 categories, audiences at home were completely drained any enthusiasm by the time the ‘Recording of the Year’ awards were presented. Special mention; why oh why, is Regina Daniels mother presenting an award at the Hip Hop World Awards, who vetoed that? Who?
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Rema won the Next Rated category, crowning a year of many wins for him. His performance at the show was also a highlight, energetic and fresh after two hours of enduring greatest hits medley after greatest hits medley. Teni the Entertainer also had her moment in the sun, winning three awards, including a hard to justify ‘Record of the Year’, which was a non-voting category. But to see a woman go toe-to-toe with male popstars and win was delight. Yemi Alade was also a well deserved winner, earning herself a ‘Performer of Year’ gong.
The Headies cant continue to run on legacy for much longer. If anything this year’s show proves that until the show provides real value for our A-listers, they will lose them to other financial prospects.