Nigeria’s foremost award show, Headies Awards have announced their lists of nominees including artistes, songs, projects and human figures who have contributed immensely to the improvement and high surge of the Nigerian music industry, especially of the mantra – ‘Afrobeats to the world’, within the year under review spanning 15 months from October 2020 to December 2021. Wizkid (10), Ayra Starr, Tems share 8 nominations apiece, Davido bags 7 nominations alongside Adekunle Gold. YBNL label mates Olamide and Fireboy DML receive 6 nods with “Feeling” artistes LadiPoe and BNXN; Brymo and Lojay also getting 6 nominations while Vector, A-Q, Sarz and Blaqbonez have 4 nominations each. For the full nomination list, click here.
That however is not the bone of contention of this write-up as it is concerned with diving into some notable artistes, songs and/or projects who I believe should have received nominations in major categories but did not get to see the light of day, that is, the Headies nominees lists and why I feel they should have been nominated in the projected categories. A quick disclaimer that this write-up is opinionated.
The major shock on the Headies Awards nominees list is CKay who scored no solo nomination, not even for the prodigious Love Nwantiti record, which sales and effect is on a cosmic level. CKay’s only nominations come courtesy of Ayra Starr featuring him on Beggie Beggie which is nominated for the Best R&B Single and Best Collaboration categories. One can argue that the timeframe stated for this year’s edition of the Headies starts from October 2020 which clearly disqualifies Love Nwantiti as the song was released on 30th of August 2019 with its first remix coming out on February 14, 2020 but categories such as Next Rated and African Artiste of the Year should have honoured CKay with a nod. Why?
The premise for the Next Rated reads: This category is a voting category for the most promising act (with an EP or Album) in the year under review. Last year, CKay released his sophomore project—“Boyfriend”—comprising 7 songs which makes CKay a valid candidate for the category; The requirement for the African Artiste of the Year states: A voting award category for an individual African artiste or group with the most outstanding achievement, impact and infiltration into the International music scene withiin the year under review, which CKay one-hundred percent should be a viable contender for based on love nwantiti (feat. Axel & DJ Yo) [Remix], the actual remix which took CKay and his musical craft across borders and it was officially released on 9th September 2021, falling under the calendar year under review for the Headies Awards. Let us not even debate the records broken by the record, its total streams on DSPs (amassing over 1 billion stream on Spotify alone), its entrance on the Billboard World Albums chart, to name a few. Without a doubt, CKay should have been included on the list for the African Artiste of the Year.
Another shocking omission on the nominees list is BNXN as he also lacks some notable major nominations to his name, despite the unbelievable fruitful year he enjoyed in 2021 all through the 12 months. When 2021 kicked off, BNXN fka Buju was just a relatively known act on the music scene with few records such as Lenu (Remix), Mind Games and So Lovely making it to the charts but even at that, none of those records made it to the Top 10 of any chart. Much thanks to his impressive feature run which ended with him dropping his debut project—Sorry I’m Late—made BNXN the poster boy child of 2021 if they were to have been one. Hits songs like Feeling, Cold Outside, Outside, Kilometer, Bling and Confident speak for him, highlighting the busy year BNXN manifested into fame but for reasons best known to the panel of judges who deliberated on the Headies Awards nominations, he was left out of contention for the Best Male Artiste and Song of the Year (which I believe Feeling should be on).
Apart from BNXN’s impact on the Nigerian music scene last year which should suffice for him receiving a nod for the Best Male Artiste, it is also arguable he is one of the finest songwriters we currently have in the country, hence why I feel he should have received a nod for beautifully composing the first single and track off of his debut project, Never Stopped in the Songwriter of the Year section, a newly added nomination list for artistes who meet the judges’ requirements of excellence, composition, arrangement, rendition for writing a song in the year under review.
Holy Father, the mega hit single by Mayorkun and Victony incredulously received a total of zero nomination. Implausible right? I am still mind-boggled myself. Holy Father‘s rise to the top of the charts was unprecedented as it was not the officially released single from Mayorkun’s sophomore album but as soon as it got to be played around the nation, it immediately became a fan-favourite, turning it into an anthem for Victony at parties, events, concerts, in fact anywhere music lovers were gathered; the occurrence was immediately harnessed by both acts as they in no time made the song a single on its own and shot a video for it, adding to the fame of and love for the song. Holy Father deserved to be considered for Best Collaboration and Song of the Year while Victony should have received a mention in the Rookie of the Year and Best Vocal Performance (Male) for his euphonic high pitched takeover on Holy Father‘s hook.
Other Observations :
• Ayra Starr: Mentioning Ayra Starr as a snub at the year’s edition of the Headies Awards seems vapid at first glance, jejune to you reading this, considering she scored 8 solo nominations (that is with her being the lead artiste in the category she is nominated for), making Headies history as the most nominated female artiste ever for the year under review but a deep critical observation brings to light Ayra Starr’s bold omission from the Best Female Artiste category. I dare say Ayra Starr was the most popular cum most successful female artiste of 2021. (Maybe Tems might compete for the latter). She also turned out to be incredibly talented beyond measures, arousing an industrious work rate which resulted in two projects (an EP and album), about 5 singles (with at least 2 being chart-topping singles) and over 3 music videos (with each video over 1.5M views on YouTube. She even directed one herself, Bloody Samaritan). Really, Ayra Starr stuffed the stat sheets of 2021 and as such, there should be no reason for her exclusion from the Best Female Artiste nominees list. This might just be the most oblivious snub of all!
• EPs: There is yet to be any music award show that really considers Extended Play (EP) as having a category of its own but since the pandemic, newly emerging Nigerian acts have used EPs as a brilliant introduction to the genre(s) of music they make. Omah Lay, CKay, Tems and Ayra Starr road to fame cannot be expressed fully without referring to their debut projects, the respective EPs they put out in the year under review.
Permit me to stray for a while. The Headies introduced new categories to accommodate nominees from other African countries in Benin Republic, Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo, Cameroon, Carpe Verde, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morrocco, Algeria, South Africa, Mali, Mozambique, Sao Tome & Principe, and Ghana fighting for the Best West African Artiste, Best North African Artiste, Best East African Artiste, Best Central African Artiste and Best Southern African Artiste spot as pertaining to the countries’ respective region. This is a segue, a reasonable proposal to the Headies Awards into making a new slot for the EP awards like we have for the now renamed Best Afrobeats Album.
A slot for ‘Best Extended Play (EP)’, a category I am proposing to welcome projects containing more than 2 but less than 7 songs and having a runtime of not more than 20 minutes. Should the Headies Awards consider this proposition, artistes like Niniola (“6th Heaven”), Ruger (“Pandemic”), Omah Lay (“What Have We Done”), Ayra Starr (“Ayra Starr”), Zinoleesky (“Chrome”), Lojay (“LV N ATTN”) and more all put out brilliant EPs in the year under review but because EP is not considered at any award show, the Headies included, these impressive body of work cannot be considered for the prestigious Headie plaque.
These are some of the major snubs at this year’s edition of the Headies Awards. Mohbad and Kizz Daniel also received few nominations, making their respective fan base questioning the yardstick used in nominating works for the Headies Awards.