We're pretty hard on our music awards. Just about every aspect of it comes up for regular criticism and an annual bashing.
Complaints include; It's try hard, the hosts (whoever it is stepping up to take on that thankless task...) are never funny enough, the wrong winners always win, the event drags on, it's racist and anti-metal, there's no truly famous - not to be confused with New Zealand famous - people there. Etc etc.
Some of these repeated gripes are valid, some aren't. Generally I think it's pretty good. We're a small time country and the awards reflect that.
Now, having just sat through the alternative, I think they're bloody marvellous.
On Wednesday night I was lucky enough to attend Australia's big music night, the ARIAs.
The event itself can be likened to an endurance test. First of stamina, then when that failed, of sobriety.
You think the Tuis drags? Nah uh. This thing kicked off at 5pm and didn't finish until 10pm. Five hours! Dear lawd... It goes for so long it has to stop halfway through for dinner.
You may have groaned when Jono and Ben jumped on the Mannequin trend or cracked a lame egg gag in between introducing people, but that's who they are and what they do. All things considered they did a good job. Compared to the ARIAs guy, some comedian dude, they were a pair of mother-flipping Billy Crystal's.
His sole schtick was to encourage you to clap and shout and then clap and shout louder. That was it. He was as entertaining as a stubbed toe and just as painful.
But the biggest problem is that the ARIAs exist solely for the people at home, and not at all for the people in the room. The show is televised, as is ours, but that's where the similarities end.
Our awards shoot for entertaining both audiences, the drunk musos and industry types in Vector and also the people in pajamas watching at home. It's a hell of an ambitious goal.
We go live, a job that must be stress city for the organisers. There's so much that can go wrong, technical issues, performances, speeches, anything really, that it's either very brave or very stupid. It's living on the edge, rock 'n' roll,
Australia does not live on the edge. The show doesn't go out live, which means if the Veronica's sing woefully out of tune they can simply reset the stage and then come out and try again. Only this time can we all remember to go crazy and make a lot of noise when they walk through the audience, cheers.
Can you imagine if Shapeshifter had fluffed up last week and just got to go again? Ridiculous. There ain't no 'get out of fluffing up jail free' card to play. You either bring it or you don't.
It also means the show can be cut up and filmed out of order. Which it is. This must make life easy for the editors but gives your night an extremely odd rhythm. You have no idea what's going on or who's about to go on.
So if, for example and not something that actually happened, you nip to the loo during the Wiggles acceptance speech you have a very good chance of missing Crowded House being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
Just for example...
But when the ARIAs shone, they dazzled. It was the 30th anniversary of the event and they know hit throw a helluva birthday party. There were some absolutely cracking performances. Mostly from those old Ocker rockers Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham.
Boy, they really did tear it up. Barnes cranked the volume into ear bleeding country and even had fireworks, which was pretty dope. Crowded House stomped through Seven Worlds Collide, injecting a blazing gat solo, and Farhnam singing You're the Voice was one of the best things ever.
Kylie's star power lit up the room, Flume became the Broods of Australian music by winning every award going and there was a lot of political protest talk on a variety of hot topic subjects from a variety of winners, which was a very good thing. I hope none of it got cut from the broadcast.
The ARIAs was slick, it was showy, it had proper famous people. By every metric it was bigger and better and way, way, way more flashy. It was also simply not as good.
The Tuis is comparatively shonky, a little cringey, and there's lots of room for improvement, but hey, it's ours.
But really, the very best thing about the New Zealand Music Awards is that there's absolutely zero chance of anyone's bodyguard shoving you out of the way when you're standing by the canapés.