Column 63: And the Winners Are…

Category: Blog — @ 1:15 pm February 8, 2006

I moved the column up to today because tonight is the Grammy’s and I wanted to get my predictions in place before the big shoe (Mi and L’au will be online here tomorrow).

Column 63 — And the Winners Are…
Bright Eyes Honored at The Plug Awards

Ah, the Grammy’s.

By the time you read this (the paper is supposed to be distributed on Wednesday) you’ll already know the winners of the 48th Annual Grammy Awards. Or maybe not. Maybe you won’t be watching the broadcast with pulse-pounding anticipation as I will. Yes, I watch the Grammy’s. In fact, I watch all the major award shows — The Oscars, The Golden Globes, The Tony’s, some years when I’ve had too much to drink, I even catch the People’s Choice Awards (I have, however, sworn off any award shows involving MTV by doctor’s orders).

So like a time traveler, I’m writing this column last Monday morning (at 5 a.m., no less), so confident in my amazing clairvoyant abilities that I’m providing the list of winners two days in advance for your perusal.

And the winners are: Bright Eyes, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah!, Sufjan Stevens, Dangerdoom, Sleater-Kinney, M83, Iron & Wine, Bloc Party and Sub Pop.
Waitaminit. Those aren’t the winners of the Grammy Awards. As a matter of fact, unless I’m mistaken, none of those artists were even nominated! That’s right, those are actually the winners of the 2006 PLUG Awards.

What is PLUG? Well, according to their website, PLUG is a collection of music lovers — writers, DJs, webmasters, bloggers, artists, filmmakers, managers, indie retailers, and most importantly fans — who gather each year to celebrate “the artists who live and flourish in the margins,” whatever that means.

Part of the gathering is the annual PLUG Independent Music Awards, held Feb. 2 at Webster Hall in good ol’ NYC. I know what you’re thinking — just what we need, another awards show. Well, the difference between this one and all the others is that it actually seeks out and recognizes the best of the indie music world, be it rock, rap or experimental. It’s an idea that I always thought would be cool to host in Omaha. After all — Omaha is the center of the indie music world, isn’t it? Wasn’t it?

Presenters at this year’s Pluggies (or whatever they’re called) included Matisyahu, TV on the Radio, El-P, Laura Cantrell, Rob Crowe, and Gang Gang Dance, while performers included The National, Chad Vangaalen, Celebration, Mr. Lif & Akrobatik (The Perceptionists), and Beans w/ Holy F**k. Not a bad line-up.

But like any good awards show, the centerpiece is the awards themselves, and everyone’s favorite Son of the Plains, Conor Oberst, was the big winner, taking home both Artist of the Year and Song of the Year honors for “When the President Talks to God.” Too bad ol’ Conor wasn’t there to accept his awards.
Other winners included:

Album of the Year: Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
New Artist of the Year: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Female Artist of the Year: Neko Case
Male Artist of the Year: Sufjan Stevens
Hip-Hop Album of the Year: Dangerdoom, The Mouse And The Mask
Punk Album of the Year: Sleater-Kinney, The Woods
Electronic/Dance Album of the Year: M83, Before The Dawn Heals Us
Americana Album of the Year: Iron & Wine/Calexico, In The Reins
Indie Rock Album of the Year: Bloc Party, Silent Alarm

Label of the Year honors went to Sub Pop, who indeed had a very good 2005, while Live Act of the Year went to The Arcade Fire. Other categories in which a Saddle Creek band was nominated included Live Act of the Year (Bright Eyes), Male Artist of the Year (Conor Oberst) and Label of the Year (Saddle Creek). Strangely, neither of Bright Eyes’ full lengths was nominated for Album of the Year.

Is there any relevance to the PLUG award? Not really. It’s nice to see some of the best bands in the land of indie get a pat on the back, but none of them are really in it for that, and certainly winning a PLUG award isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans when it comes to album sales. On the other hand, as any music retailer will tell you, winning a Grammy is worth at least a million additional unit sales — just a blip for Maria but more than the combined sales of the last albums by Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens and Clap Your Hands…

These days, The Grammy’s are almost universally disappointing, safe and predictable. So much so, in fact, that I will do as I said I would at the beginning of this column. Here are the winners of the top categories, named with blind firmly folded. If I’m wrong, well, you’re laughing at me right now:

Record of the Year: Kanye West, “Gold Digger”
Album of the Year: Maria Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi
Best New Artist: Fall Out Boy
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone”
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Paul McCartney, “Fine Line”
And last but not least, Best Alternative Album: The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan

Now for my next act, I will pull Rob Thomas right out of my…

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