Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 Scene Awards - Woman of the Year

This is the award we have the most difficulty with, because how are we meant to narrow down the Woman of the Year award to six nominees when there's so many women writing so many amazing masterpieces and making us dance and cry and being all amazing and stuff? How did we decide? We stuck a bunch of names in a black woollen hipster hat* and these six came out. You're welcome.
*Not actually true. Neither of us own a hat like that.


6. Taylor Swift

It only seems fair that we acknowledge the achievements of the biggest female artist on the planet. Right now that's undoubtedly Adele. But for the other 11 months of the year? It was all about Swift. She started the year with 'Blank Space' as the biggest song in the world, with parent album 1989 still at the top of the charts. The album would remain in top 10s around the world for the rest of the year. 'Blank Space' is currently the second most watched YouTube video of all time. 'Style', 'Bad Blood' and 'Wildest Dreams' would dominate radio and the charts, with 'Bad Blood' providing the biggest event video of the year before taking out top honours at the MTV Video Music Awards. Then there's the '1989' tour, which would become one of the most talked about tours in forever, with guest stars galore and a flawless and energetic performance from Swift. She was already peaking as an international supernova, but 2015 took things to another level. Taylor Swift was everywhere and with good reason. 2015 was the year in which Taylor Swift was the biggest act in music. Adele has rightfully claimed that title for the next twelve months, but no one can take away all that Taylor Swift achieved in 2015. It was her year. (Matt Bond)

5. Kira Puru

While one might question the decision to place Kira Puru in our Woman of the Year category, with only one song released this year, the reason is pretty simple, we like her. We’ve liked her for a few years now, watching her progress from Kira Puru and the Bruise into solo Kira and the Kira we know today who gets to collaborate with other great musicians. There’s much more to it than that though. The reasons she is one of our women of this year are endless. Because she is exactly what being a creative being is. Because while the world is filled with a million Swifts and a zillion sales, artists like Kira Puru keep on working, keep on writing, keep on singing and keep on creating because they have to. Because they have cannot live without the drive. Because taking a hiatus is not a choice. Because while they still have to pay the rent and keep life on moving, they also have to use the talent they were given, in any way they can. Ms Puru spent some of this year touring with song writing and all round legend guy, Paul Kelly, and she probably spent another portion of the year finding a way to pay the rent, all the while living, writing and recording a luscious, sexy and terribly, wonderfully depressive song in ‘All Dulled Out’, which is also one of our favourite songs of 2015. She has a voice beyond any other I hear played over and over and over in pop playlists across the radio, internet and TV, she has a confidence I could only ever hope to find and she has a talent that deserves so much more recognition than she is currently receiving. For every million Adele’s, there are a million Kira’s and when they are this talented, all of them are just as important as each other. And we choose her because Woman of the Year is a perfect way to describe her. (Jo Michelmore) 

4. Adele

Because you know, we couldn’t talk 2015 and Swift without talking 2015 and Adele. I should probably know these things, but I wasn't expecting it and was pleasantly surprised when I heard mentions of Adele late this year and even more pleasantly surprised when I heard the sounds of ‘Hello’ and they were just as Adele as ever before. The four years between albums clearly hadn’t fixed that broken heart of hers and she released an album which gave her millions of record breaking sales and even better, another million memes about crying to Adele songs. There’s not much I can say about her that hasn’t already been said, but if you haven’t already, the best thing to do is go and acquaint yourself with her album 25, because like much of this year was 1989, much of 2016 is going to be 25. Confused much? Nevermind. (That's a Nirvana album. Not anything to do with Woman of the Year.) The best part about Adele making our list with these five other women is that we write about music because we write about things we love. Sometimes that’s a stadium filling superstar and sometimes that’s an independent musician from next door. As long as the music is making us dance, scream, nod, sway, punch someone (not recommended) or hide in a corner and cry, then we're happy, regardless of who they are. (Jo Michelmore)

3. Sarah Blasko 

Happiness is having a new Sarah Blasko album in your life. And if there was one word you could use to describe her 2015 LP, Eternal Return, it's happy. Probably as happy as a Sarah Blasko album's going to get. All of this, unsurprisingly, has left me feeling awfully chipper. I used chipper because if I use the 'h' word one more time I just might explode. It's something you wouldn't normally associate with a Sarah Blasko performance, even if you can't stop smiling when listening to her music When you're listening to a song as gorgeous and as full of love as 'Luxurious', with an atmosphere that makes you feel like you're floating through space and staring at the sun and it's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen... well, you just try not to smile. That song alone would be enough for me to throw a nomination in Sarah Blasko's direction, but the rest of the tracks that make up Eternal Return stand on their own as pop gems. 'I'd Be Lost', 'Only One' and 'Maybe This Time' are radio ready, with electronic touches and 80s vibes you won't be able to resist. 'Say What You Want' is the anthemic closure to the themes established on Blasko's previous album, I Awake. Sarah provides a masterclass in songwriting and composition throughout on an album that will likely go down as her best. At least her best so far. With every effort, Blasko manages to top herself. It won't come as a surprise when she does it with her next album. In 2016 she'll be heading out on an Australian tour. We've already got our tickets. You'd better get in quick and get yours too. This is one show you won't want to miss. (Matt Bond)  

Runner-Up: Montaigne

Whenever I read things about the fabulous musician Montaigne, someone references the fact that she is named after a French philosopher, Michel de Montaigne, but I’m pretty sure most of the words I’m reading about musician Montaigne have been copied and pasted from a press release and no one really knows who that old Michel guy is anyway. He was a writer who was sometimes considered somewhat self-indulgent, because his essays often descended into self-reflection and personal anecdotes, but that’s part of what made him so likeable. The Montaigne we have come to know over the past few years is a woman who has had an incredible year, releasing her magnificent EP Life Of Montaigne at the very end of 2014, she’s spent this year continuing to release songs that are far beyond her years, clips that are visual masterpieces and honing her craft as a live performer, touring upon touring, hanging out with all sorts of impressive artists and all the while writing material for her debut album, which, if her instagram account is any indication, she is recording right now. But all of those things are things you could read about in copy and paste journalism. The most important thing is that she has an incredible voice, one that manages to convey so much confidence right next to so much vulnerability, songs that hit every weakness and leave only every strength. She writes lessons in life from the only perspective she can, her own, which is so very likable. Which means that old Michel guy, should he be alive today, would probably be a fan. If this is where philosophy, self-reflection and creativity leads, then I’m more than happy to continue being a fan of both Montaigne’s, although only one is going to make our list of Woman of the Year.  (Jo Michelmore)

WINNER: Courtney Barnett

When Jo and I were discussing who would be taking out our Woman of the Year award and it was decided it would be Courtney Barnett, I said I was going to make this into a little rant. About how I don't understand what it is about Courtney that brings out the absolute worst in some online commenters. About how I don't understand why all the negative comments about her music aren't directed at other successful Australian artists in music right now to which these comments would actually apply. About how I don't get why certain "media" outlets are almost trying to encourage people to trash her after spending the past couple of years building her up. Instead, I think I'll just focus on her achievements throughout the year and what I love about her music. Because naming Courtney Barnett our Woman of the Year for 2015 should be a celebration of the artist, not a rant about how some people are trolling jerks with no taste. And because triple J already came up with the perfect response to those throwing shade in Barnett's direction. Nobody really cares if you don't go to the party! So, let's talk about Courtney Barnett's 2015.

It started with previews for her debut album in 'Pedestrian At Best' and 'Depreston', two tracks so different while both show why their performer has breathed new life into the alternative music scene over the past couple of years. Witty, self-deprecating and insightful lyrics that make all kinds of sense the more you hear them. A spoken/sung vocal style that when moved into 'sung' territory is far more emotional than the dry, nonchalant voice most would expect. There's also the guitar driven music that can make you want to jump around one minute and reflect on everything the next. The debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit would be released in April to critical acclaim, while Barnett found herself on the lineups to major festivals all over the world. Four wins from eight nominations at the ARIA Awards would follow, as well as performances on late night television in America and a nomination for Best New Artist at the 2016 Grammys. Oh, and Sometimes I Sit... took out the J Award for Album of the Year and deservedly so. There's complaining and whining about how triple J play the same artists, that everyone sounds the same and then a brilliant artists like Courtney Barnett comes along and there's still complaints. triple J to their credit have stood firmly in Barnett's corner and critics everywhere have declared her one of the year's very best singer-songwriters. While we wouldn't call ourselves critics, we're huge fans. Woman of the Year 2016? It's gotta be Courtney Barnett. Minor rant time... I think Tame Impala's Currents is terribly overrated and a waste of my time. But I don't sit at my computer, Dorito dust falling from my beard onto my ironic slogan tee, bitching out any success the band finds because of it. Even if we don't like a local, independent artist's music, we should celebrate their success. Anything else makes you look like a wanker. :) (Matt Bond) 

2014 Winner:
Runner-Up: Taylor Swift

2013 Winner:
Runner-Up: Janelle Monae

2012 Winner:
Amanda Palmer
Runner-Up: Santigold

2012 Winner:
Runner-Up: Adele

2010 Winner:

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