It’s that time of year again; when the South African music industry congratulates itself once again on how safely it managed to play things. Yes, it’s Sama time people. Prepare to be amazed and astounded as the same lukewarm dish of commercially driven and artistically limited artists invade Sun City for a night of backslapping and high fives.
A quick glance at the nomination lists for the 14th Sama celebrations and you will realise that this year we can expect more of the same. We can only hope that sanity prevails and Chris Chameleon does not win for best male solo artist and that the award for best female solo artist goes to anyone but Karen Zoid, Louise Carver or Tasha Baxter.
But why should it be any different? Freshlyground will more than likely win best group and best adult contemporary English for their paint by numbers afro-pop, Steve Hofmeyr or Chris Chameleon will win best adult contemporary Afrikaans; they really have that 7de Laan market sewn up. Don’t even get me started on the fact that kidofdoom weren’t even nominated in the best instrumental album category.
But what would an alternative Sama awards ceremony look like? Call me crazy but what would happen if the musicians who really put their blood, sweat, tears and dreams into making their albums in 2007 actually were recognised?
Best rock album: English or Afrikaans
First up, I am not a fan of this idea of splitting up categories by language. It is this crazy notion that allowed Cassette to win a Sama last year for their tepid album, Welcome Back to Earth, when in all reality there was only one contender for the rock crown, Fokofpolisiekar’s Swanesong, but hey they’re Afrikaans.
In 2007 some truly remarkable albums in the rock genre were released, most of which have failed to make the cut for the 14th edition of the Samas, probably because artists are expected to have to pay to get their albums considered for awards. This is a huge slap in the face to independent musicians who take the brave route and self-fund the recording of their own albums.
Bands such as The Buckfever Underground whose album Saves, which for my money was the best South African album released in 2007, are nowhere to be found. But they’re bilingual and that would really screw that whole Afrikaans or English divide too.
The BLK JKS EP is also missing, even though the band are currently touring America and being courted by a New York-based label. But hey they’re black rockers; do we even have a category for that? Maybe if we ignore it, it will go away.
Kidofdoom’s self-titled debut criminally didn’t make the cut and the Black Hotels’s Beautiful Mornings EP, which was a huge hit on commercial radio station 5FM, couldn’t even get a nomination.
So what do we get? Well, the Springbok Nude Girls unfortunately reformed and then recorded a turd of a new album, Peacebreaker, so they are a shoo-in for a nomination, no matter what the album sounds like. The Parlotones’s paltry Coldplay-slash-Snow-Patrol shtick earns them a nomination; exports Seether get a nomination. For what? I am not sure. Maybe it’s for proving their commitment, beyond all logic, to that dated genre of grunge.
On the Afrikaans side I can find some solace in the fact that Foto Na Dans’s commendable debut, Intervensie, has been nominated alongside Nude Girl Theo Crous’s Kobus! project, whose Swaar Metaal was another highlight of 2007.
But that’s where it ends: Fokof spin-off Van Coke Kartel were always going to be nominated and then there’s Mel Botes and Andries Botha bringing up the rear. A pitiful reflection of where exactly rock was in South Africa in 2007. I feel like the yobbish rugby supporter screaming: “Hey ref, get some glasses, you’re missing a good game!”
M&G’s fantasy nominations for best rock album:
Best alternative music album
What exactly this category means and how you qualify for it, I am not sure. I can’t seem to see the logic that makes Insek’s Maaiers an alternative album and Swaar Metaal by Kobus! an Afrikaans rock one. They’re both metal people.
Anyway I suppose that’s not the point; the point is that Insek’s album was nominated in the first place alongside Somerfaan’s Kyk of Sy Kyk. If there is any justice one of these two should pip the New Academics, Underbelly and Mabi Thobejane and Thabang Thabane to the post. But where are Sweat X, Jane Rademeyer and Radio Lava? Last year it was Lark’s album, Razbliuto, which was a high-water mark in local electronic music, but even the recognition of a Sama couldn’t stop the band from breaking up and admitting they felt they had no future in South Africa musically.
M&G’s fantasy nominations for best alternative album