BRIT Awards 2019 – Nominations

Here are the not-remotely-dull nominees for the 2019 BRITs:

Mastercard British Album of the Year

  • Anne-Marie – Speak Your Mind
  • George Ezra – Staying at Tamara’s
  • Florence + The Machine – High as Hope
  • The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
  • Jorja Smith – Lost & Found

British Single of the Year

  • Anne-Marie – 2002
  • Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
  • Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato – Solo
  • Dua Lipa – IDGAF
  • George Ezra – Shotgun
  • Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There
  • Ramz – Barking
  • Rudimental feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days
  • Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby
  • Tom Walker – Leave a Light On

British Video of the Year

  • Anne-Marie – 2002
  • Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
  • Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato – Solo
  • Dua Lipa – IDGAF
  • Jax Jones feat. Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
  • Jonas Blue feat. Jack & Jack – Rise
  • Liam Payne and Rita Ora – For You
  • Little Mix feat. Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me
  • Rita Ora – Let You Love Me
  • Rudimental feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days

British Male Solo Artist in association with YouTube Music

  • Aphex Twin
  • Craig David
  • George Ezra
  • Giggs
  • Sam Smith

Nice to see Aphex Twin on that list. Craig David is, as always, completely inexplicable.

British Female Solo Artist in association with YouTube Music

  • Lily Allen
  • Anne-Marie
  • Florence + The Machine
  • Jess Glynne
  • Jorja Smith

British Group

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Gorillaz
  • Little Mix
  • The 1975
  • Years and Years

British Breakthrough Act

  • Idles
  • Mabel
  • Ella Mai
  • Jorja Smith
  • Tom Walker

International Male Solo Artist

  • Drake
  • Eminem
  • Shawn Mendes
  • Travis Scott
  • Kamasi Washington

International Female Solo Artist

  • Camila Cabello
  • Cardi B
  • Christine and the Queens
  • Ariana Grande
  • Janelle Monáe

International Group

  • Brockhampton
  • The Carters
  • Chic
  • First Aid Kit
  • Twenty One Pilots

Critics’ Choice Award

  • Lewis Capaldi
  • Sam Fender
  • Mahalia

Thanks to the BRIT Awards’ completely inexplicable policy of announcing that award a couple of months early every year, we already know that Sam Fender will be the winner of that category.

The rest of the winners will be announced on 20th February.

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Random jukebox – Eurythmics

They definitely don’t make them like this any more, and if Annie Lennox standing in a field of cows with shockingly red hair (her, not the cows) doesn’t intrigue you then you have no soul. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

New Order – Technique

Thirty years ago this week, New Order released their fifth studio album, Technique. This was the album where they famously disappeared to Ibiza to record, and, intentionally or otherwise, returned with something that wasn’t entirely complete yet.

It opens with Fine Time, full of huge late 1980s bass and snare sounds. It must have already sounded a little outdated, actually – a lot of these are the sorts of sounds that were turning up on New Order‘s own remix 12″ singles a couple of years earlier, and the times were moving fast by the late 1980s. Of course, the previous album Brotherhood (1986) predated a lot of that, so maybe what we witness here is a band who knew this had been done already, and just wanted to enjoy themselves. The goat samples are, of course, a welcome addition.

But Technique is interesting in that regard – famously none of the first four New Order albums contained any singles, and so prior to this point, there was a clear division to the New Order you find on modern compilations versus the band who could be found on LP. Fine Time was the first single from this album, actually released in late 1988, and was one of their more successful releases, peaking at number 11.

All the Way is much closer to what I would now regard as classic New Order, although offhand I’m not sure how much material like this they had actually recorded prior to 1989, It’s less electronic, and more guitar-based, and offers Peter Hook a good chance to shine with his lively bass lines. Love Less is similar, with some of Bernard Sumner‘s typically awkward lyric writing, but a catchy chorus and some gentle rhythmic elements. For the first time on this album, I think you can understand what they’re trying to do here, although for a band as adventurous as New Order, that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Then you get the second single Round & Round, which peaked at number 21 shortly after the release of the album. If you struggle as much as I do with New Order song titles, it might help if you think of this as the one that’s built around loads of orchestral hits. The single was remixed slightly, and frames the song a little better than the album version, but it’s definitely the best song of the album so far.

Side A closes with Guilty Partner, a catchy but somewhat directionless piece with a particularly huge bass part. With New Order, it’s rarely worth thinking too hard about what they were trying to do, best instead just to enjoy their songs for what they are – that guitar solo at the halfway point is beautiful, and that’s really all that matters here.

We get the singles out of the way with the original version of Run at the start of Side B. In its single form (Run 2) it’s a great song that underperformed disappointingly on its release, crashing out from number 49 on the charts. Based on the album version, its poor performance would be a little more understandable – the catchier moments and the unusually insightful lyrics are actually there, but the production is just a little dreary and flat.

Mr. Disco is interesting – a lot of the classic New Order elements are there, and again, it’s good to hear them exploring some of the ground that had been limited to 12″ singles previously. At the same time, there are elements that are absolutely awful – mainly the lyrics and vocal delivery (such as rhyming “letter” with “met you”) – but there are other things that don’t quite seem to fit together. It’s a mess, but it’s a nice enough mess.

Vanishing Point is next, and is probably the best track on here. For the first time, we get many of the traditional New Order elements and a great song at the same time. Ninety second introductions had long been typical of the band’s singles in the 1980s, and dreary, dark, and introspective lyrics were very traditional too. Why wasn’t this one of the singles? Even the production seems to have stepped things up a level. Pure brilliance.

But it’s with Dream Attack that they really shine. They had never used honky tonk piano as a lead line before, and surprisingly it fits extremely well. Peter Hook‘s unchanging rhythmic bass is complemented by a wonderfully punchy synth bass part, and again, the lyrics actually sound sincere. This is New Order at their best, without a doubt.

For all of its patchier moments, Technique is indisputably one of New Order‘s finest albums. By the time Republic came out four years later, they had decisively moved from their elegantly dreary and experimental roots to a commercially successful indie pop-rock crossover. So Technique shows a band in transition, and demonstrates all the conflict and brilliance that you might expect from that.

The double CD special edition of Technique is still widely available, but as always, keep an eye out for the versions with dodgy sound quality.

Chart for stowaways – 5 January 2019

Sorry for the slight delay – here’s the first singles chart of the new year:

  1. Ladytron – Far from Home
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Flying Totems
  3. The Radiophonic Workshop – Arrival Home
  4. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  5. The Beloved – It’s Alright Now
  6. Ladytron – The Animals
  7. Lady Gaga – Judas
  8. The Beloved – The Sun Rising
  9. Saint Etienne – Camel Coat
  10. Pet Shop Boys – Christmas

Stowaway Awards 2019 – Nominations

Who will win in the all-important Stowaway Awards this year? Here are the nominations:

Best Album

  • Dubstar “One”
  • Front Line Assembly “WarMech”
  • The Future Sound of London “My Kingdom (Re-Imagined)”
  • Jean-Michel Jarre “Equinoxe Infinity”
  • The Radiophonic Workshop “Possum”

Best Reissue / Compilation

  • The Beloved “Reissue Series”
  • The Human League “Secrets”
  • Jean-Michel Jarre “Planet Jarre”
  • Soft Cell “Keychains & Snowstorms – The Singles”
  • Yazoo “Four Pieces”

Best Artist

  • The Future Sound of London
  • Jean-Michel Jarre
  • Ladytron
  • The Presets
  • The Radiophonic Workshop

Best Live Act

  • Erasure
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  • Sparks

Outstanding Contribution

  • David Bowie
  • Everything But The Girl
  • The Future Sound of London
  • Hot Chip
  • Leftfield