Posted by Dom
The Christmas prize-giving season kicked off on Monday this week with the Q Awards – the magazine’s annual celebration of the great and the good in music.
Drawing a discreet veil over the unrepeatable attack on Heather Mills McCartney by presenter Jonathan Ross, the big news from the show was the remarkable celebration of music’s ‘old brigade’, who managed to grab a massive share of the awards on offer.
Most shows of these ilk have some lifelong achievement award, normally tied in with an evergreen artist who just happens to have a greatest hits album or tour in the pipeline (we’re a cynical lot here on the homepage), but Q went much further and handed out individual gongs to artists from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s – Smokey Robinson, Jeff Lynne, A-ha, Culture Club and Take That respectively. Long-term mainstays Oasis, U2, Faithless, Manic Street Preachers and Primal Scream picked up awards too, whilst wrinkly rockers The Who scooped the Q Legend prize.
Quite apart from the annoying eccentricity of the categories themselves (which managed to have ‘Legend’, ‘Idol’ and ‘Icon’ as three separate awards – is there actually any meaningful difference between these words?), the major talking point is that virtually all the winners seem to have been around for at least 10 years or more. True, The Killers, Gnarls Barkley, Muse, Corrine Bailey Ray and Artic Monkeys scooped prizes, but that’s pretty much it for anything contemporary or even vaguely ‘new’.
Awards are always subjective things, of course, and a magazine should, after all, be able to mould its own event into a shape that reflects its own readers and editorial stance. Nevertheless, the over-riding emotion when reading the list of those honoured is just one big sigh of tedium and exasperation – are Oasis really deserving of the title ‘Best Act in The World Today’? Why should Take That be honoured now with the ‘Idol’ award, when they haven’t done anything for donkey’s years? (although the new single ‘Patience’ is pretty catchy, admittedly).
For a rock and roll magazine, the Q Awards seem to be more a celebration of the safe, the bland, the conservative and the unchallenging – everything that music in 2006 isn’t. It seems a shame that The Mercury Awards can take on board diverse works from the likes of Guillemots, Hot Chip, Thom Yorke and Richard Hawley, whilst Q seems content to go with the flow and produce a winners list that, with just a few exceptions, could have been produced in 1996, not 2006.
Maybe that’s what we want – to celebrate a comfortable so-called musical ‘golden age’ and wallow in safe nostalgia, rather than embrace an eclectic and challenging future. But I know which option I’d prefer.