Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 Scene Awards - Woman of the Year

The Women of 2013: Lorde, Janelle Monae, Miley Cyrus + Ngaiire.

Yesterday it was the fellas, today it's the ladies. And if there's one thing It's My Kind of Scene loves, it's the ladies. Woman of the Year is arguably our favourite award of the year to give out and since we have far too many lady loves, we super size this one. Instead of our standard five nominees, here are ten women we believe delivered some incredible music into our lives this year. Enjoy!


#10. Alison Goldfrapp

From the first listen back in 2000 to the cinematic/cabaret drenched ‘Lovely Head’ I have had a deep resonating love affair with the music of Alison Golfrapp and Will Gregory. Album by album they’ve kept surprising me, impressing me, challenging me, stimulating me and inspiring me, to an extent few other long serving musicians have. When the rumor came of a 2013 album I was for some reason nervous, I didn’t know what to expect. Could they pull off another dance album? Is it going to be another folk experiment? Would they still be my faithful friends? I couldn’t have possibly known how much I would feel for this new album, Tales Of Us, although yet again Alison Goldfrapp has spoken to me on another level.

You know how a best friend or close family member can just seem to know what’s best for you when you need it, finish your sentences, or even just smile at you knowingly so words aren’t needed? Goldfrapp represent that kind of relationship to me. When I rebel unnecessarily they pull me back, when I need to talk but have no words, they provide the knowing smile, when I’m drowning in my own doubt they free me. It’s amazing how human experiences when shared through music, fictional or fact, can resonate flawlessly with the experiences of another, sometimes finishing the puzzle, other times adding the first piece. Goldfrapp have been my confidante through thick and thin and this friendship is one I hope will last a lifetime, and Tales Of Us resonates this feeling in its stories and videos. You needn’t doubt what they create just know that it’s what you need, when you need it. 

The fact that Alison has been able to maintain my love over 13 years of changing music, different experiences and changing tastes is quite remarkable. Especially seeing, as I don’t necessarily feel the need to stay faithful to musicians from one album to the next. Alison is a rare creature in the “fast food” style music industry and a goddess among her contemporaries. Amen my goddess… Amen. (Nayt Housman)

#9. Iggy Azalea

Amethyst Amelia Kelly is better known by her stage name Iggy Azalea. With a name like Amethyst it should come as no surprise to you that she hails from Mullumbimby, New South Wales. She’s been in the press this year for flashing her box after a bit of a wardrobe malfunction at the MTV European Music Awards, and for not twerking on Robin Thicke during their performance of ‘Blurred Lines’ at the same awards show.

Iggy Azalea has been working away feverishly the last couple of years after basing herself in the US. However the fruits of her labour are now starting to show. Earlier in the year she released singles ‘Work’, ‘Bounce’ and ‘Change Your Life’, all set to appear on upcoming album, The New Classic, due for release in 2014. Hell, even golden girl Beyonce invited her to perform as the support act during her recent Australian tour. 2013 has been a defining year for Iggy Azalea, placing her on the map – not only with a huge fan base, but also amongst her peers. (Katie Langley)

#8. Michelle Xen

Oh Michelle you fabulous creature, a neon vision of power, control, creativity and vitality. With one large sweep of her elaborately dressed limbs and an impassioned expulsion of air from her lungs I was enthralled. Still a relative fledgling in terms of her career, this is one woman who has the sound and the drive to go places. Armed with an electro-pop arsenal of songs inspired by the the arts, electro doyennes like Roisin Murphy and Alison Goldfrapp and music pioneers such as Grace Jones and David Bowie, but not bound by the ideals of any, gives Michelle Xen a sound that is no only accessible but danceable, intriguing and super fierce. She has razor sharp aesthetics and a stage presence of a performer who’s been in the biz for 20 years. I implore you if you get the chance to go see her live, do so, and before you leave buy her two EPs, Synasthesiac and On For You. The later being her current EP and one which really showcases Xen’s delicious sophisticated DIY electro pop at it’s best. It consists of 5 singles with five videos which will slowly be released over the next six months. 

Yep... I nommed Michelle twice! Why? Because she is THAT good! Deserving of being my woman of the year because never has a performer restored my faith in a particular genre of music that I thought was nearly dead (especially seeing as she is a local in my lil city of Brisbane) until now. (Nayt Housman)

#7. Asta

Perhaps it was seeing this amazing songstress live that led me to naming her one of the women of the year. Or perhaps it was her standout single or that amazing film clip that accompanied said single. Either way, Asta is a force to be reckoned with. She writes songs that catch you like magic gossamer hanging off a branch of a tree. Her web is a concoction of delicate melody mixed with lyrics so catchy you can’t help but dance along singing out to the sky. Asta finished 2012 with the accolade of winning Triple Js Unearthed High. And deservedly so. It's hard to believe that this artist is relatively young when you listen to her beautifully crafted pop. Barely a school leaver and bam! Asta gives us a single to die for in 2013. The electric 'I Need Answers' – which has been one of my top song choices of the year (and came in at number 23 on our 2013 countdown) just stroked my ears in the right way. There is something almost timeless about this track with its haunting lyrics sung so beautifully mixed with just the right hint of electronic and thrown into a cool mass with a tight backing band.

And then there's this artist live. The prowess that Asta creates onstage is usually one that takes years to create. I was lucky enough to see her play in October in Melbourne (see review for a flashback!) I cannot wait to see where the future leads this amazing songstress. And I simply can’t wait for more music to come from her creative soul. (Lou Endicott)

#6. Thelma Plum

By now, if you’d been reading any of our Top 113 songs of 2013 (ok, even if you only tuned in for the really important top ten) you’d have a small idea of how much Matt, Katie, Nayt, Lou and myself all like (ok, I’ll say it, I adore) Thelma Plum. That alone should be a testament to her talent, because we’re a diverse lot and don’t all agree on a lot of things. She’s been nominated for numerous awards, performed at numerous festivals, toured nationally and been awarded for her incredible song writing talents - all of this after releasing only one six track EP, but what an amazing six songs they are. 

 From the incredibly catchy and upbeat ‘Around Here’ with the best sing along ending of the year (maybe ever?), to the best clap along of the year (maybe ever?) in ‘Dollar’; Rosie demands attention from the very first notes. The emotions felt in the dramatic storytelling of ‘Father Said’ and the journey she takes us through on the title track ‘Rosie’ are songs that some musicians take a career to find and a lifetime to write. Thelma Plum managed to find those emotions, write them and record them before her nineteenth birthday. All of this and I haven’t even mentioned the two heartbreakers, ‘King’ and the incredible, ethereal, mature and tear jerking ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’, which is a song that I personally can’t imagine living without. 

I kind of feel weird talking about Thelma as one of the women of the year, because her talent is such that it transcends gender, I feel like we should be talking about her as ‘Artist Of The Year’ instead, but we haven’t made up that award yet, so maybe she can inspire it for next year. Thelma has already proven what an incredible woman she is and if this is just the start of her career I’m so very glad I was introduced to her talent now, because 2013 has been so enriched having her music in its soundtrack and with her kind of talent, she has such a bright future ahead I know there’ll be so many of her songs to appear on my own life soundtrack, as six of them already have. (Jo Michelmore)

#5. Miley Cyrus

If 2013 proved anything for Miley Cyrus it’s that she can’t stop, and she won’t stop. This was the year that she shook off any association to Hannah Montana. I think she shook it off as she bent over, twerking in Robin Thicke’s face at the MTV Video Music Awards. That image is burned on my brain forever.

Yes there was twerking, yes there was the tongue hanging out at every photo opportunity, yes her relationship with that cute Liam Hemsworth ended. And then there was that whole open letter writing saga with Sinead O’Connor. But despite all of the scandal, despite all of the drama, Miley had a lot of musical success this year with her album Bangerz. Sure, she rode around near naked on a wrecking ball and licked a sledgehammer (no wonder the video had 19.3 million views on Vevo in the first 24 hours of release) but ‘Wrecking Ball’ reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. That’s no mean feat.

It might not be to everyone’s taste, but is shaking your booty really that controversial? Is sticking your tongue out really that controversial? Love it or loathe it, Miley Cyrus has re-invented herself. But best of all, she has the voice to back it up. I for one can’t wait to see what she gets up to in 2014. (Katie Langley)

#4. Laura Marling

There is little that British artist Laura Marling does that I am not totally in love with. Her mastery as a song writer was already shining when she was still a teenager (when I first starting listening to her). This year marked the release of her fourth album, Once I Was An Eagle. And it will go down in my books as one of my all time favourite albums. It was nominated for The Mercury Prize for best album (UK and Ireland's most prestigious music award – and a better alternative to the Brit Awards). David Bowie was also nominated. Just saying: good company to keep!

The album, which dances somewhere between country, rock and folk is a modern concept album in three parts (marked by three separate tunings). Marling described the album as a journey of one character who experiences the gamut of the emotions of love. Many of the songs blend into each other. The album is guitar and vocal driven, with elements that feel like a film underscore. Marling’s voice is the hero and her supporting stars a clear and expertly played acoustic that dances back and forth to complex rhythms that excite me in a way that can’t be described, only felt.

Marling follows no leaders in her field. She is a revolutionary of sound and skill. Her work is always original and she bravely steps forth with her roar and creates new and interesting music for fans like me to lap up. (Lou Endicott)

#3. Ngaiire

I've had a lot of lyrics stuck in my head throughout the year. Most are too embarrassing to even mention, but there's some from Ngaiire that always pop up. "We only die once not twice, so call off the fire brigade, douse me in kerosene, turn away the rescue ships, anchor me from my hips." Those haunting lines from the the track 'ABCD' have stuck with me since I first found myself listening to the incredible debut album Lamentations. While they're definitely of the somber variety, I love each time they show up because I remember how fantastic Lamentations is and how thankful I am that Ngaiire got around to releasing her debut this year. It's one of my favourite releases and I'd go so far to say that it's my favourite Australian LP of 2013. 

Ngaiire spent the year releasing music so different from everything else coming out of Australia. She's stepped into a higher class of musical company in the future soul category. Beautiful tracks like 'Around' and 'Count To Ten' are all the proof you need of that. Her artistic vision is realised perfectly throughout the album, but the video for 'Dirty Hercules' is something everyone should be taking notice of and its challenge of the notion that women need to constantly be competing against each other. She hoped that the video would be as empowering for other women as it was for her filming it. From the ladies I've spoken to about the clip, she succeeded. 

Lamentations has made a lot of people pay close attention to Ngaiire. Triple J have gotten behind the singles, Alica Keys is a new fan after Ngaiire took to the stage to support her and John Legend, the album has ended up on a slew of end of year lists and the Lamentations tour has been getting well deserved killer reviews. What comes next? Well, I'm not too sure, but I know it's going to be amazing. As a music maker, Ngaiire was one of 2013's finest and she was absolutely one of the greatest women of the year. (Matt Bond)

#2. Janelle Monae

"The hardest working woman in show business." David Letterman was clearly impressed when Janelle Monáe broke it down on his show with 'Dance Apocalyptic' in September, just days before the release of her acclaimed sophomore album, The Electric Lady. He wasn't the only one that was left stunned by the insanely talented pocket rocket from Kansas City, but the acknowledgement from a man that has seen countless music stars perform on his stage over the years that Monáe is the hardest working woman in the entertainment industry was very cool. The following month, Billboard named Monáe as their 'Rising Star', an award previously bestowed on female artists like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj. This recognition from one of the world's largest music organisations is nothing to scoff at. Given the career trajectories of the previous winners, it's somewhat of a seal of approval. Not that Monáe would be sitting around craving anyone's approval. She paves her own way. Janelle Monáe celebrates individuality and being true to yourself without forcing the message down her audience's throats. Her personal mantra is 'be unique' and she lives up to that each and every day.

As far as positive role models go, there's no one finer in the music industry. And I'm not just talking about role models for young women. Monáe is a fine role model, period. When explaining her now trademark black and white fashion (generally of the suit variety), she described it as paying homage to her working class roots. Her parents worked in service roles and Monáe herself worked as a maid. The black and white is a uniform, one she wears proudly to remind herself she has work to do and a reminder of where she comes from. "I don't ever want to be detached from that. I use it as motivation for my music and to just keep me centered, grounded and to stay on message." She's as humble as she is talented.

Of course, what really makes Janelle Monáe a worthy woman of the year contender is her music. The Electric Lady was one of the best releases of 2013 and saw Monaé step outside her funky future soul comfort zone to explore a whole host of new genres; from old Hollywood style compositions, jazz, Jackson 5 inspired pop and she even mastered the ancient art of the slowjam on 'Primetime'. That was one smooth song. She brought in collaborators that have both inspired her (Prince, Erykah Badu) and stand beside her as incredibly talented emerging artists (Solange, Miguel and Esperenza Spalding), but there was little doubt as to who the star of the show was. It was all about Janelle Monáe and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

"March to the streets, 'cause I'm willing and I'm able, categorise me, I defy every label, and while you're selling dope, we're gonna keep selling hope, we rising up now, you gotta deal you gotta cope, will you be electric sheep? Electric ladies, will you sleep? Or will you preach?" (Matt Bond)

#1. Lorde

Woman Of The Year and what a year it has been. When we here at It’s My Kind Of Scene were discussing the Scene Awards and Woman Of The Year, I actually had a really hard time trying to figure out who I thought we should be talking about. 2013 has been a year that has been filled with all sorts of talk about women in the music industry, so many I’d like to name and we’ve only highlighted a few in this list. Some have been amazing, some have been controversial, some have been amazingly controversial and others have been simply outstanding. There is one who is barely able to be called a  woman, at seventeen years old, but just by being herself and being sincere to her own ideals and talent, she’s probably been more outstanding, articulate and mature than a whole bunch of other women in the music industry this year (hello Sinead).

Her name is Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor, but we know her as Lorde and what a year it has been for this unassuming but fabulously self-assured New Zealand girl. We knew things were going to be good with the release of her EP late last year, but I don’t think anyone had an idea of just how good she could be or how much impact she would have in such a short space of time. Pop music is an interesting thing, because while it can be super fun and party and “exciting-woo!” it can also be super considered, thoughtful and moving and Lorde this year took us from the “exciting-woo” in pop to the thoughtful and then right back to the “exciting woo!” again. ‘Royals’ was the smash that took her from NZ obscurity to international stardom, but it’s the rest of her debut album Pure Heroine and her live performances that have ensured she is not a typical pop star (hello Taylor Swift) and not a carbon copy rebellious pop star (hello Miley Cyrus) and while the minimalist approach to song was one that became more and more of a ‘thing’ in 2013, Lorde has had a way about her that seems much less contrived and less image conscious than some others the past few years (hello Lana del Rey) and more just her natural state of being.

We could talk sales, we could talk tours, we could talk fame, but really, the most special and stand out thing about Lorde is her talent and undeniable ability to let her music speak for itself. This is a music blog, so enough chat, if you are unsure why we chose Lorde as our Woman Of The Year, I’m just going to leave you with the lyrics you might have listened to a thousand times but never actually heard, written by a teenager, but so very relatable, like all good pop music, to those of all ages and places, in whatever way you want them to be; “And we'll never be royals, it don't run in our blood, that kind of luxe just ain't for us, we crave a different kind of buzz…” (Jo Michelmore)

2012 Winner:
Amanda Palmer
Runner-Up: Santigold

2011 Winner:
Runner-Up: Adele

2010 Winner:

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