Sunday, April 11, 2010

The 2010 Ghana Music Awards: Biased and Prejudiced Observations from an Onlooker who accidentally turned on the television halfway through the Award Show

I had no idea the Ghana Music Awards (GMAs) were going to be held this weekend. I literally stumbled upon the show being telecast live on Ghana Television (GTV). Here are some snippets as seen by me:

1. 70% Female Audience (as per usual):

I'm continually amazed that the GMAs are oestrogen dominated. When the cameras pan across the audience its usually an array of well-dressed (sometimes tragically under-dressed) females mainly in their 20s. Why so many females? I have a couple of theories to explain the female dominance:
  • Theory A: Women are likely to be the recipients of the freebie tickets that always seem to float around each year
  • Theory B: Small boys can't afford to pay for two tickets so they buy one ticket for their girlfriends and stay home to watch the event on television
  • Theory C: Big men cannot be seen on TV by their wives in the company of their girlfriends so they buy tickets for their lady friends as well as all her friends!
Just from what I saw of the audience, I would not be surprised if weave-ons and nails on display actually ran into millions of dollars!

2.The inalienable truth:  Ghanaian audiences are hard to sway
Since I moved to the shores of my dear Ghana some years ago, I have observed that a Ghanaian audience being treated to new, exciting and unfamiliar music usually responds with yawns, phone-playing and tepid clapping. I saw this first hand when my childhood idol Brenda Fassie took to the GMA stage way back in 2004.The audience went into a comatose state only to be revived later by the local flavour of the moment.

Sadly, things have not changed much. At the 2010 GMAs, the audience were  treated to the South African group Jozi straight from Ejozi/Egoli/Johannesburg. Almost instantly, coma set in and revival only came later in the form of gospel starlet Ohemaa Mercy who was mysteriously clad in military camouflage. The Jozi guys were such good sports that when they came up later to present an award , they actually said that the GMA audience was the "best [they] have ever performed for".Either these guys are polite, sarcastic or have not performed in front of ANY crowd before. Bless 'em! 

3. Vision in Progress (VIP): Return of the Prodigal sons?
You put three veterans of Ghanaian hiplife (hiphop + rap) into dashing suits and they can actually look like they are on their way to a corporate meeting. I think VIPs performance was probably the one that left me most impressed. Not only were VIP on fire but I was more surprised about how the audience were really into them. After all, I have been to a few performances in the past where these three plucky guys from Nima were not shown much love at all.


4. The King of Tema: Sarkodie
The biggest winner of the night was the "fastest rapper in Ghana" the self-titled "King of Tema". Young Sarkodie should have also gotten an award for largest entourage.
It appeared that the King of Tema actually brought the whole of Tema with him including Dr. Duncan of Adom  FM. One couldn't have overlooked Dr. Duncan. He was the guy who had to say something every time  Sarkodie won an award. Now that Sarkodie has signed up with Akon and Konvict music, I'm sure he is either going to have to change his name or risk being called "Sar-Cody" for the rest of his career!

5. So that's who R2Bees are?!
A clear sign I'm so not rolling with the times is that it was only at the award show that I was finally educated on who exactly R2Bees (Refuse to be Broke) were. Heard their song
but didn't put two and two together. Apparently they are representing the Tema Metropolitan Area (TMA) along with the King of Tema. Maybe that's why Mugeez from R2Bees features in Sarkodie's Baby. Finally education!

6. Asem: Ambassador for.... Education??

Speaking of education, bright young thing Asem got an award from the government for his song "School  Dey Be" and was installed as an 'Ambassador for Education'. Very impressive! Alas, it appears that the good 'ol public servants have not educated themselves on some of the other fine works in this young man's portfolio. Asem's lyrical contributions to Richie's song "When I get U" are far from being educational! Well, unless the class is Sleaze-filled songs for a New Generation! Check out the enlightening video here.

7. Did someone say Jon Germain???
For song of the year, the last nominee in the category was the TV presenter Jon Germain who has released an album of his own. As a young friend on Twitter said "How does Jon Germain fit into this picture?".It was like he read my mind. I have never been a fan of Jon Germain's presenting talents so I looked him up on YouTube and was actually impressed by his song. Check it out
Jon Germain 
8. Phrase of the evening "That remembers me.."
*Sigh* When one of my favorite hiplife artists of all time was  approaching the podium to present an award, his very first hit  was playing in the background. Clearly  overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia, my hero had an English language slip-up and declared: "That remembers me blah-blah-blah-blah....". This vocabularly slip was met with roaring laughter from  the unforgiving crowd. Poor guy. This is not going to be forgotten for a long time especially since he was looking so hip, happening and fresh from London. 
So there you have it. My Ghana Music Awards experience for the year 2010; overlooking many things in my completely biased, slanted and one-sided perspective. Any gems anyone has to share that I missed? Wande Coal? Becca's nonchalant acceptance speech? The ever gorgeous Chris Attoh?


MIghTy African said...

So I started leaving a comment on your blog and it got too long. So I am gonna blog to comment on your blog. Cool huh? Here's the full post tho

1. As for the female thing - your theories are probably true. the tickets cost a lot, and they probably got them for free. On the other hand, attend things like BarCamps or TEDx and you'll see the crowd is mostly men in their 20's. I won't give any analysis for that one.

Hmm, so Ghanaian women are spending a lot of money on weave-ons eh? Is that why there's this whole hair debate? Never knew what the fuss was about before.

2. Well, that's what I was talking to Ndinda about on the CapeTowntoCairo interview about the Museke Online Africa Music Awards (MOAMAs). Africans seem to listen to mostly music from their own country. Funny thing is, Jozi's videos actually are shown on MTVBase which some Ghanaians watch, albeit a small percentage. If the audience doesn't know you, you have to try extra hard to like them. It's not just Ghanaians. I go to concerts and sometimes feel the same way about artistes I don't know. We have to make a conscious effort to support African musicians, even if they are not from Ghana.

3. VIP is one of the best performing acts in Ghana. I've seen them perform live and they know how to work a crowd. It helps that they finally have a hit song after some quiet years starting circa 2007. You should all check out Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi's documentary about their story called Homegrown - the Hiplife movie.

4. Hehe, I hope you aren't saying Sarkodie should change his name. Like I told a cousin today, my favorite Ghanaian rapper is Obrafour but I think Okyeame Kwame is the best in Ghana. Sarkodie has all the hype now and I believe he is the hiplife artiste who can crossover successfully onto the whole African scene. With Akon and Konvict Music behind him, I believe it will happen. Sarkodie's been great but I am happy he didn't win too many awards. Oftentimes, the most popular artiste wins every award even if they didn't deserve it. It's funny how Tema is on the up. Hiplife used to be between Accra and Kumasi and now the Tema massive is taking the spotlight. Who'll be next? Ho? Tuabodom? Tain?

5. Hehe, yes, remember this name. Because after R2Bees makes a video for 'Kiss your hand remix', they'll be known all over the continent. That song's a massive hit. They refuse to be broke. And yes, they are from Tema. Did I hear that they have beef with Charterhouse, organizers of the Ghana Music Awards?

6. Asem was installed as Ambassador for Education? Why not, Ghana's youth listens to him. The funny thing is Asem is not the guy to be making socially conscious songs. I doubt he even made School dey be with that in mind but now look. "School dey be" is an interesting song, he talks about all the bad things he did in school, what he would have done different and encourages people to go to school. And it's a great song to boot. "School dey be, but class dey bore". Obviously, he has some really profane lyrics in "When I get u" but that doesn't make him any less an ambassador for education. At least his song can be a theme song.

7. Hehe, not many people had heard the Jon Germain song that was nominated. If you find the mp3 for Love Zone, let me know. Jon has some talent and has crossover appeal. The market is not Ghana anymore, you have to sell other places too. He says he does pop music. We'll see.

8. Lol, I didn't watch the awards but was at a Ghanaian party dancing to many Ghanaian and Nigerian hits. That remembers me, I thought Okomfo Kwaadee had been resurrected, no one's talking about him? Fresh from London eh? Is he a fake london boy? He should have just spoken Twi. He didn't try to use his locally acquired foreign accent?

Becca rocks! Congrats to her for winning best African prospect at the Kora awards.

Lady Jaye said...

LOOOOOOOOOOOL! The Asem bit had me cracking up!!!!

Kodjo said...

LOL I love your theories about the potential reasons for the skewed female to male ratios. Very funny!

Anonymous said...

Great post on the awards! I love your writing style. As for the audience being 70% women, it's 2010 after all so isn't it possible the women bought their own tickets? :-) Plus the men probably weren't interested...usually if it has nothing to do with football or computers Ghanaian men will be absent.

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

And that about sums it all up - what happened on Saturday night. Interesting perspectives.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Thanks for this. I couldn't even watch it. Hmmm! I went visiting my mum but your report has filled in the void albeit from a slanted view point.

Juanita said...

lol pointing out the female audiemce thingy was hilarious. Women love freebies no?
Vip are just wow!

john said...

I’ve really enjoyed your perspective on the Ghana Music Awards ceremony and i generally agree with you on most of the issues raised. But, I don’t think the audience response to Jozi`s performance had much to do with them being hard to sway.

Over the years, organisers of the show have tried to give it an international appeal by bringing in some foreign flavour. Unfortunately, most of these foreign artistes are barely known in Ghana. I’m sure 99.9% of the audience out there have never heard Jozi`s music before. It’s difficult to instantly appreciate a new and unfamiliar act. (Not exciting, their performance was just average)I doubt if they’ll command any descent response with this performance even from their own backyard is SA.

An interesting commentary though.


Mike said...

That remembers me paaaaaaa? LOL
Cant wait to use that one.

B.O.N.T.I said...

hahahaha the GMA was like a variety show. Nothing to showcase that we are celebrating 11years of musical greatness.

1. Clearly the men are really dumb spending all that money on tickets for shows they arent even going to attend just to prove they care etc.

2. Never was surprised abt the JOZI thingy. Did you see the guy looking confused when Jozi were singing. Even last year when wande coal, Naeto C Ikechukwu and d'banj came to perform they got the same treatment.

3.VIP have really improved since their early days from "sampling" instrumentals from The Super Mario Brothers.. lol!!!

you know how i feel abt 4. 6 and 7.

8. Now we know why Tic Tac failed SSS.. lol!!

Kwabena said...

@Abena, I co-sign your theories. LMAO

I didn't watch the awards but a friend who was at the show told me Jozi made a mistake with performing their most popular song among Ghanaians first. He thinks they should have saved that for the last.

Abena Serwaa said...

Wow, where do I start!

@Might African : I'm touched that you are blogging to comment on my blog...all positive I hope:)

1. I admit I was being a little sardonic about the overwhelmingly female audience. However, I'm quite disturbed if it is true that you find overwhelmingly male attendance at things like BarCamp/TEDx. Does this mean women in general would prefer to attend the Music Awards compared to more empowering endeavors? *Yikes*

2. There are a small section of Ghanaians who are into Jozi. In fact, B.O.N.T.I had told earlier he would only be motivated to attend the GMAs to see Jozi live...I agree that it is not only Ghanaians who are hard on performers but what I continue to be shocked about is how rude my (normally polite?!) people can be when they are unfamiliar with performers. I've been to performances where the audience would shout "Away" or "Away Bus".

3.Will have to be see Homegrown.

4. *LOL* I'm not suggesting Sarkodie should change his name but lets face it, He WILL inevitably be called Sar-Cody. Last year, the TV advert for the MAMAs referred to a live performance by Sar-Cody. Turns out the ad was made in SA.

6. Still not swayed on the Asem asem. I think as an Ambassador for Education he is being placed on a pedestal for the youth as some sort of role model. Kids may not be discerning enough to say "Okay 'School dey be' is the jam and I will ignore Asem promises to leave girls bow-legged".

8. *Sigh* B.O.N.T.I has let the cat outta the bag on the London Boy with the vocab slip-up

Indeed Becca rocks, did rock and has potential to conquer the world.

Abena Serwaa said...

@LadyJaye *LOL* Still not feeling Asem as an Education ambassador!

@Kodjo and Anonymous: I admit that it is most probable that its really a sign of female empowerment...but there is still the scary reality that its empowerment to attend the GMAs and not an innovative/entrepreneurial event...I'm now very worried.

@NYA and NFA : Thanks :)

@Juanita: I love me some freebies too I no go lie! VIP in suits was like *triple wow*

Abena Serwaa said...

@John: Thanks for the comments. You may be quite right about the Jozi performance. Now I'm curious to know how popular Jozi are in South Africa. Will have to find out from my SA peeps!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Mike *LOL* Poor dude...People don't seem to forget these things..

@Bonti: Variety show paahh?!
You are right...I completely forgot last year when Wande Coal, Naeto C Ikechukwu and d'banj was pretty icy. Ironically, the SAME Wande Coal has everyone on their feet a year later!

3. Super Mario...I missed that...which song?

8. Oh B.O.N.T.I...are we sure about failing SSS?...Please, me no want no libel suit.

Abena Serwaa said...

*LOL* so your friend believes that if they had started off with their less popular songs first, they would have had a better chance? I'm not sure about that one! Brenda Fassie (Bless her..RIP) started off with a hit unknown to Ghana. By the time Vulindlela rolled by, the audience was still pretty much lifeless! Well, you never know.

MIghTy African said...

Hehe :-)

1. Yes, Yikes. As a female role mode, which I am sure, you are, you should help start to correct this.

2. Really BONTI would only go see Jozi. Some Ghanaian lol! True about the Away bus tho, we used to do that at Presec. Ghanaians seem to quickly get attached to some things and forget about everything else. That's the problem. The solution? Time for anotehr blog post.

3. VIP got steered towards Nigeria because they realised the huge market there, it may have lost them some Ghanaian fans, but I say it was the better thing to do. Now, they have the Ghanaian and Nigerian markets captured. They have strong ties to Kennis Music, which brought up 2Face Idibia.

4. Hmm, Sarcody. trouble. I'll like to hear Akon or even Babs say it.

6. On the real tho, to call him an ambassado for education is a strecth. No one will complain if Obour was made an ambassador of someting for instance. Now what they should really do is pay for a super music video for School dey be which encourages education.

Becca! She held some concerts in Nigeria and they were successful. Girl's going places!

MIghTy African said...

@Abena, super mario song was called 'lumbe lumbe lumbe', believe it was from their second album or so.

Jozi are quite popular in South Africa, amongst both the blacks and whites. and they are def one of the popular groups in Africa now.

That remembers me, my bro told me it was Tic Tac.

B.O.N.T.I said...

@mighty dont they have a rehearsal b4 the actual show?

kamagra said...

"The 2010 Ghana Music Awards was perfect because I didn't know the quality some of those artists have, I'm really impressed because since now I'll begin to buy albums of those singers.