The award organizers yet again failed to learn from some of their previous flaws, and that came to haunt them.
The 15th edition of the Headies awards recently took place, and expectations were largely not met. Here is a review of the event, highlighting the best and worst moments that happened.
The prestigious award ceremony, which dominantly celebrates excellence in the Nigerian music industry and beyond, was held on Sunday, September 4th, 2022, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
As much as the organizers of this award show should be applauded for their consistency for the last 15 years, it seems as though priorities are not placed on what to improve on, considering previous flaws. Before diving into the aspects that the show should improve on, here are some of the things we love about the 15th headies award.
As much as the discussion of taking a Nigerian award show to the United States remains a move that many kick against, seeing the Headies in a new light was refreshing to see, as it involved more international partnerships, an elevated price for the “next rated” category, a wider diasporic reach, and other green lights for the brand in general.
The Headies award, while still the most coveted music award in Nigeria, lost credibility among industry players and artistes some years ago, resulting in the low attendance of important personalities at the award show, including nominated acts themselves. However, the 15th edition was a breather, as there was a decent attendance from industry players and artistes, both from those that are currently abroad and those that are in Nigeria. In contrast to previous editions, a large number of winners were able to collect their prizes in person. Interestingly, many Nigerian acts who are dominating the global market and thus have no choice but to be away from home for an extended period of time would not have been able to attend if the award had been hosted in Nigeria. Also, foreign music executives from major brands like BET and the Grammys were also in attendance.
Grammys were also in attendance.
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Although some of the performances didn’t meet the required expectations of an award ceremony that is supposed to celebrate the hottest genre in the world right now, “Afrobeats,” some were thrilling and must be applauded. These performances include Pheelz’s opening performance, Ruger’s, Asake’s, and Adekunle Gold’s. The band who played for all the artists also gave a spectacular performance.
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New Category and Special recognition
Music, like humanity, will always continue to evolve and break new barriers. The panelists that deliberated on the categories for the #15thHeadies awards showed that they understood the need to flow with the times by creating new categories that reflected the burgeoning narrative shift and creative forwardness of the industry. These categories include International Artist of the Year (won by Chris Brown), Best Insipiartional Single (won by KCee) and Digital Artiste Of The Year (won by Davido).
Also, special recognition was given to music acts and executives who play highly important roles in shaping, constructing and developing the Nigerian music industry. Efe Omorogbe , Sunday Are, Bose Ogulu, Wyclef Jean, Akon & D’Banj were all given their deserved flowers.
Having highlighted the positive side of the event, unfortunately, the 15thHeadies award was plagued with more woes than wows. Here are some of the areas we’d love to see an improvement in subsequent editions:
The Headies have become well-known proponents of the concept of “African Time” by starting their award shows late, and despite the fact that the event was not held in Africa this year, the #15thheadies was no exception. This time, an event that was scheduled to start by 5pm eastern time (10pm Nigerian time) did not start until 7:25pm Eastern time (12:25am the following day in Nigeria), delaying guests and viewers for a staggering two hours plus! This, in 2022, should not be the order of the day, especially because it was the first edition that took place in the diaspora.
As much as the Atlanta factor came with its advantages, the 15th headies clearly saw a shortage in staff, as work that could not have been handled by several was handled by a few. A major example is the use of one presenter (MC Rhelax) for HIPTV (which is the primary station a mass number of people watched the award from) on the red carpet. There was a long line of people waiting to be interviewed by this same person, a scenario that wouldn’t have been the same if the award was hosted in the motherland, as there would be more hands on deck (although the organizers could have sourced for adequate media personalities of African descent abroad to help too, but that was not done.) All these and more must have led to the immense delay before the show finally commenced.
The location also contributed to a host of unfamiliar names who are not necessarily contributors to the Afrobeats space and obviously have no in-depth knowledge of African music taking the stage to present awards. Also, the location might have resulted in a case of “those that came being rewarded”, as some categories have more deserving winners who were overlooked, possibly because they couldn’t make it down to ATL. A good example is with the highly talented singer-songwriter Brymo.
Choice of Host
The #15Headies was hosted by ace American comedian and actor Anthony Anderson and Nigerian award-winning actress Osas Ighodaro. As much as the organisers thought it fit to use an “international” name as a co-host, the Anthony Anderson choice was a disaster and possibly a waste of a “big bag”. Despite the fact that the said host is African-American, he was clearly out of touch with African music, representation, and culture, which altered the flow he was supposed to have with his African co-host on stage. The lack of adequate knowledge about African music and what it represents, as well as the cultural difference, made the combination a facade. As a matter of fact, the American comedian tried to crack some unnecessary jokes that his co-host Osas couldn’t overlook anymore and had to correct him on stage twice. At some point, Osas had to oversee the stage activities alone. A proper African host with international branding like Trevor Noah would probably have done a better job alongside Osas, who was excellent and gorgeous all through the night.
The Headies award is no doubt the biggest platform that rewards musical excellence in Nigeria, and a lot is expected as regards its production, both audio and visual. Especially as it is the year of “afrobeats to the world”, all eyes are on the industry and the Headies were supposed to serve as the watchtower. Unfortunately, the whole red carpet was plagued with low quality video representation and continuous sound errors, which can easily turn off the interest of the viewer to even proceed to watch the main show. Due to this, we couldn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the red carpet or the looks that were served by the attendees.
Considering the fact that this production has always been the number one trending topic that discredits the Headies over the years, the organizers should have invested heavily in that aspect, but unfortunately, the same issues resurfaced. Although the audio and video got a bit better after the main show started, it can definitely be improved in subsequent years. The streaming platform was also plagued with technical problems.
This is not a nitpicking exercise, as we’d love to see the Headies do a better job of representing their brand and the Nigerian music industry at large in subsequent shows. Having operated for 15 years with almost the same complaints, the organisers can consider bringing major music industry players on board (away from their own organisation). Being the biggest platform for Nigerian music and standing firm in the position of rewarding afrobeats excellence in the face of the world, it is very important that more is done to make this an award show that will boast of little or no lapses.