(I posted this on Facebook on April 4, 2011)
Saturday April 9 will see the 11th edition of the Ghana Music Awards (GMA), we all know that. As has always been the case, events leading up to the show has been nothing short of the clichéd ‘controversial’. In a way that is a good thing since controversy tends to draw more publicity for events. I recall the brouhaha that surrounded the release of Daddy Lumba’s Aben Wo Ha in 1998 or 1999. The song was supposedly ‘banned’ by some Association like that. The result was an exponential increase in the popularity of the track. If I am not mistaken it even won the Song of the Year at the maiden GMA. That is what controversy can do. Anyways, I have watched the GMAs over the years on television, and of course I have read about them from newspapers and the internet. The ceremonies have been far from perfect, and organizers do not seem to have learnt too much from previous editions. There are a few scenarios I dread will happen, but I hope they will not. These are a few of them;
Undue Influences of Sponsors
One of the things that have stopped the GMA from being a true reflection of the successes of our musician over a period is the influences of the title sponsors in the scheme of things. The keen competition amongst corporate entities, especially our friends in the telecommunication industry who are the leading sponsors in Ghana’s entertainment sector, has resulted in artistes signing all kinds of contracts with them to become Brand Ambassadors. I understand one key clause in these agreements is that the artiste is unable to perform at an event sponsored by a rival company. What this means is that if Tinny is the ‘ish’ for say this year, he will most likely be unable to perform at the GMA because the GMA is sponsored by MTN and Tinny is a Glo Ambassador. Then again organizers are forced to do all manner of difficult product placements like making MCs were apparel with elements of yellow, etc. I hope I get to see the top performers of the year perform irrespective of which colour of tie or apparel they choose to wear. The BET Awards, Grammy’s, Emmy’s, Oscar’s are sponsored. But we do not see logos of sponsors in our faces like we see in Ghana. Hey, I hear there would be a ‘Yello’ carpet at the awards this year. Nice touch, huh!Chances that I won’t get my expectation met: 9/10.
Performances – No Miming Please
I intend writing extensively on stage performances in Ghana at some point. But I guess it’s appropriate to mention it since the GMA is not spared this gross display of mediocrity. I watched the recent Grammy’s and despite the fact that I have seen so many artistes at these events over the year dish out live performances, I am always awed whenever I see it. I recall at one of these ceremonies Eminem used a choir to sing along his hit, ‘I am not afraid”. I have also seen TI use an orchestra before. I have seen Jay Z use full bands even though he is no doubt the definition of today’s hip pop (the genre from which our much cherished hip life takes its root). Luckily, we have learnt some lessons and some artistes in Ghana are gradually going ‘live’. But I wish everyone who mounts the stage at the Dome on April 9 will not MIME! I was sad to see 5Five mime their hit track ‘Move Back’ throughout the shows they appeared in last December. Most artistes shamelessly prefer singing into a dead mic. They only turn it on to shout ‘two fingers in the air’ or some rubbish like that. What stops Charter House from insisting all artistes billed to PERFORM truly do so but not to MIME! The stage is not meant for a karaoke, is it?Chances that I won’t get my expectation met: 5/10.
The usual thing for such awards is to have a person or group state what award they have come to present and then they say ‘the nominees are…’ Then there is a screening of the nominees, the songs in contention and then the winners are announced. From what I know, presenters elsewhere are often prepped on how it will all play out like. In our parts, it does not seem like that happens. If it did, 4×4 will not be pronounced as 4 Times 4 and 4 By 4 on separate award platforms. It should not take much for us to have the right and nice thing done, should it? Is it such a problem to compile award videos and roll them on the ready? And to have our VIPs go through the drill properly?Chances that I won’t get my expectation met: 6/10.
Awardees and their Entourage on Stage
It has always been a pain watching all the loud, badly dressed boys who always follow award winners on stage. It’s embarrassing, really. Yes, it happens elsewhere too though not in the same ‘by heart’ manner it happens here. I recall last year seeing a host of Tema lads follow Sarkodie each time he was called up and even attempting ‘giving shout outs’ after their man had finished speaking. I think it is quite simple to clean up this mess; nominees should be told how many people they are allowed to invite up stage. Anyone else not supposed to come up that small stage be stopped by the big-muscled security men in black suits hovering around the stage.Chances that I won’t get my expectation met: 4/10.
MCs and Exaggerations
I still don’t know who the MCs will be on Saturday. But honestly since Peace FM morning show host Kwame Sefa-Kaye stopped handling the show no one person or pair has done it as well. MCing is an art not all are blessed with. Additionally, most MCs have their personal styles they bring on board. I have told some folks who have asked that I MC one thing or the other that they should not expect me to crack jokes because I am not that funny. That is me. Unfortunately some of the MCs we have had have tried too hard to fit into Kwame’s shoes. They have all failed, sadly. Their attempt to sound funny always results in gross exaggerations which end up pushing a show that could have been done under three hours extending deeper into the night. Chances that I won’t get my expectation met: 4/10.
Venues and Car Parks
Ghana lacks the sort of venues for shows like this. It is the Conference Centre proper, the makeshift so-called Dome or the National Theatre. Sadly, we do not seem to have good set designers to somewhat turn what we have into something befitting an awards ceremony. Organizers like Charter House are also more focused on making profits than care about the comfort of patrons. We all know the numbers of tickets sold do not correspond with the seats available at venues. What that means is that a considerable number of patrons will be left standing and Charter House will not give a hoot. I have often wondered whether anyone cares about the enormous pressure we put on such infrastructure. We all know that the Dome sits on the car park designed as part of the conference centre. But since it displaced the car park, no alternate parking lot has been created. Patrons are thus compelled to park along the streets and lately at the car park at the Parliament House and the Stadium at their own risk. The least organizers can do is to deploy security men around these ‘new lots’. But will they? Probably not.Chances that I won’t get my expectation met: 9/10.
So these are my long, arduous thoughts. May Ghana Music Live On Forever!!! Your thoughts are welcomed.