I know that the NME Awards are targeted at a pre-adolescent age range with a specific interest in UK-centric indie-rock, and the winners are going to cater to what this audience needs. But as these Awards are one of very few national and highly-publicised ceremonies in indie rock that exist (what else is there, apart from the Brit Awards or the Kerrang Awards?), I think they should be trying a bit harder to diversify their range of winners.
The near-yearly changes to winners’ categories and the lack of female rock icons congratulated for their achievements really disturbs me. For example, in 14 years of NME Awards there’s only been one female ‘Godlike Genius’ (Pennie Smith, not a musician) EVER, one ‘Rock and roll woman of the year’ (Brody Dalle) EVER and one female ‘Outstanding contribution to music’ award winner (PJ Harvey) EVER. Considering the amount of amazing female rock/pop musicians that are and have been, that’s pretty weird.
Also, 50% of all female winners EVER have won ‘hottest woman’, ‘sexiest woman’, ‘best dressed’, ‘worst dressed’, ‘worst album’ awards – alongside male winners of ‘best band’ and ‘best single’. This is particularly disturbing for many reasons, including a) this is sending out a very negative message to young boys who might only see a woman in rock/pop as sexy or best dressed, and b) if you look at how much the categories change year-on-year (http://bit.ly/15elc5f), it seems really pointless holding an Awards ceremony based on random picking and choosing of categories based on what’s fashionable at the time (for e.g. Pete Doherty won ‘hero of the year’ in 2008 (eep!).
I know there are fewer women operating in the rock world, but would be great to see some more icons celebrated, which still fit the NME audience – such as Kim and Kelly Deal, the coolest sisters ever who made huge contributions to the face of alternative American pop-rock in the 90s and are still going, Kim Gordon, an amazing lyricist and guitarist with seminal indie band Sonic Youth, Kathleen Hanna, original riot grrrl with Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins or Bilinda Butcher in My Bloody Valentine?