Going for Brooke - or Hollie?

By Russell Baillie

The 2007 New Zealand Music Award nominations are out

Both of them sure can sing. Both sure can sell. And both have a little gospel in their backgrounds.

But with yesterday's nomination announcement of this year's New Zealand Music Awards, sponsored by Vodafone, they are going head to head - or voice to voice.

The four nods each to Brooke Fraser and Hollie Smith would seem to set them up as the competition to watch when the awards are announced in Auckland next month.

Smith has already started her prize haul - she and Jeremy Toy jointly won the best producer award for her album Long Player in the technical categories, the winners of which were announced alongside the major nominations yesterday.

Both she and Fraser appear in the album of the year category and the best female solo artist category.

Smith also features in the Aotearoa roots album nominees - where she is competing against former partner Barnaby Weir's band the Black Seeds - and the breakthrough artist category.

Fraser is up for single of the year (for Deciphering Me) and is one of the names in the people's choice award, chosen by public vote, where, curiously, Smith does not figure.

Fraser's Albertine album, her second, was released late in 2006 and is now four times platinum (60,000 copies).

That may mean she could also be up for the highest-selling album award next month. Since its release in May, Smith's album has also gone platinum.

In terms of the albums' relative artistic merits, the singer-songwriter folk-rock of Albertine does sound more conventional than the soul-blues stylings of Smith.

But it's also stronger on songs as is reflected by that best single nomination and Fraser also being a finalist for the title track at next week's Apra Silver Scroll, New Zealand music's songwriting award judged by fellow composers.

But in a year where few of the major nominees are signed directly to major labels, Smith's independent approach, singular voice and momentum - she's gone from being the voice of runaway local hit Bathe in the River early in 2006 to the latest signee to legendary American label Blue Note - may swing the judges' votes her way.

That's not to say the awards are all about solo women. Three bands of blokes and two Finns also figure repeatedly in this year's line-up.

Among the bands, it's an arm-wrestle between 2006's critical favourites the Mint Chicks, fraternal big-in-Oz trio Evermore and anthemic rockers - and the year's leading nominee - OpShop.

All three feature in the best album as well as best rock album category for their respective second albums, while OpShop and Evermore also get nods in the single of the year.

The Mint Chicks' guitarist Ruban Neilson yesterday won the Tui for album cover - presented as one of the early technical category winners - for his artwork on the Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! album and the clip to the title track is up for video of the year alongside clips for songs by OpShop and Liam Finn.

Care of his single Second Chance, Finn the younger also features in single of the year and breakthrough artist categories.

Meanwhile his Uncle Tim, with his 2006 solo album Imaginary Kingdom, is one of three sole nominations in the best male solo artist division alongside Greg Johnson and Paul McLaney.

There are two other guitar bands up for their first Tuis - Christchurch's Atlas, whose number one hit Crawl earned them a breakthrough artist nomination while Auckland indie-rockers the Tutts' song K is the quirky outsider in the single of the year category.

If the Tuis acts as an annual stocktake of New Zealand pop, it would seem that it has been an off-year for local hip-hop.

Unlike at many past awards, the genre hasn't broken out of the designated best hip-hop/urban album category where the Deceptikonz's Heavy Rotation, PNC's Rookie Card and 4 Corners' The Foundations are nominated.

Likewise, after the domination of Fat Freddy's Drop in past years, it seems now that acts in the Aotearoa roots album category are struggling to find a quorum.

Its nod to the Into the Dojo album of the reggae-powered Black Seeds - who clearly fit the genre - makes sense, though the folky efforts of Age Pryor, and the high-profile Smith might seem out of place - especially considering the omission of the acclaimed debut album by Little Bushman, among others.

The nominations for 2007's Tuis, which are awarded by music label umbrella group the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, also show the continued shift of artists away from major labels.

Among the nominees, only a few - Brooke Fraser and Evermore among them - are signed direct to major labels.

Most of the nominated acts recorded independently for their labels before striking distribution deals with the majors.

Still, the labels will be celebrating their own achievements in selling and marketing with the awards for highest-selling single, highest-selling album, and radio airplay record of the year awarded alongside those purely musical Tuis.

LOCAL HERO TO BE RECOGNISED WITH AWARD

The 2007 Tuis will honour a true pioneer of New Zealand rock'n'roll.

Johnny Devlin, the boy from Wanganui who become our first genuine rock star in the late 1950s and gave the country a dose of fan hysteria to match Beatlemania, is to receive the inaugural New Zealand Herald Legacy Award at next month's ceremony.

The honour will mean Devlin will be the second inductee into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame - the first is being announced at next week's Apra Silver Scroll Award.

Devlin will return from Australia, where he has lived since his local heyday, to receive the honour.

On the day of the awards, October 18, TimeOut will dedicate an issue to the man who first rocked these shaky isles.

VODAFONE NZ MUSIC AWARDS FINALISTS

Nokia Album of the Year

Brooke Fraser - Albertine
Evermore - Real Life
Hollie Smith - Long Player
OpShop - Second Hand Planet
The Mint Chicks - Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!

Vodafone Single of the Year

Brooke Fraser - Deciphering Me
Evermore - Light Surrounding You
Liam Finn - Second Chance
OpShop - Maybe
The Tutts - K

Steinlager Pure Best Group

Evermore - Real Life
OpShop - Second Hand Planet
The Mint Chicks - Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!

Best Male Solo Artist

Greg Johnson - Anyone Can Say Goodbye
Paul McLaney - Edin
Tim Finn - Imaginary Kingdom

Mazda Best Female Solo Artist

Brooke Fraser - Albertine
Hollie Smith - Long Player
Hayley Westenra - Treasure

Kiwi FM Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Atlas - Crawl
Hollie Smith - Long Player
Liam Finn - Second Chance

PPNZ Best Rock Album

Evermore - Real Life
OpShop - Second Hand Planet
The Mint Chicks - Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!

Best Urban/Hip Hop Album

4 Corners - The Foundations
Deceptikonz - Heavy Rotation
PNC - Rookie Card

Best Aotearoa Roots Album

Age Pryor - Shanks Pony
Hollie Smith - Long Player
The Black Seeds - Into the Dojo

C4 Best Music Video

Angus Sutherland and Liam Finn - Second Chance (Liam Finn)
Sam Peacocke - Crazy?Yes!Dumb?No! (The Mint Chicks)
Stephen Tolfrey - Maybe (Opshop)

Best Dance/Electronica Album

Bulletproof - Shake The Foundations
Shapeshifter - Soulstice
State Of Mind - Take Control

Best Maori Album

Adam Whauwhau - Tukuna Mai
Richard Nunns & Hirini Melbourne - Te Whaiao: Te Ku Te Whe Remixed
Toi Hautu - Na Te Atua

Best Gospel/Christian Album

Hannah Donald - Unfinished Journey
Magnify - Alive Within
Rapture Ruckus - I Believe

Best Classical Album

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and James Judd - Lilburn: Orchestral Works

John Psathas - View From Olympus

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - Kiri Sings Karl

OTHER AWARDS

No finalists are announced for the highest-selling NZ Single, the Warehouse highest-selling NZ Album, NZ on Air radio airplay record of the year or international achievement awards.

The Tuis for best folk album, best Pacific music album and best country music album and best jazz album are awarded at separate functions throughout the year.

TECHNICAL CATEGORY WINNERS

Best Album Cover: Ruban Nielson for Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! by The Mint Chicks

Best Engineer: Chris Van Der Geer, engineer on Parlour Games by Revolver

Best Producer: Jeremy Toy and Hollie Smith for Long Player by Hollie Smith

HOW TO ATTEND

There are a limited number of tickets available for the public to the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards which will be held at the Aotea Centre on Thursday October 18. Tickets are $47 through Ticketek and go on sale tomorrow.

HOW TO WATCH

C4 will broadcast the awards show, which this year is hosted by Dai Henwood, on the same night from 8.30pm.

HOW TO VOTE

Text voting for the Vodafone People's Choice award starts at 9am on Monday and closes on midnight, October 16. Fans can vote for their favourite artist by:

Txt 787 Brooke
Txt 787 Shapeshifter
Txt 787 Blackseeds
Txt 787 Evermore
Txt 787 OpShop

Text votes are free for Vodafone users, Telecom texts cost 20c.

ON THE WEB

Go to www.nzmusicawards.co.nz or www.myspace.com/nzmusicawards

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

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