Cries and whispers: What this country needs is more pop awards

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The Independent Culture
WITH THE BRITS just a day away, I'm sure I can't be the only person who wishes that this country had a few more pop-music award ceremonies. At the moment, we have to make to do with the Brits and the Brats, the Mercury Prize, the MTV Awards, the Q Awards, the Music of Black Origin Awards, the Ivor Novellos, the Smash Hits Pollwinner's Party, and a couple of others, leaving dozens of empty evenings a year when the nation's pop stars don't have any trophies to collect at all.

So, well done to The Ultimate Group plc, sponsors of a brand-new prizegiving day: the Celebration of Female Artists Awards. It's about time someone honoured the guts, talent and revolutionary spirit of the women who have fought to make their mark in a sexist, male- dominated industry. And who better to do the honouring than The Ultimate Group, who did such an exemplary job of sponsoring last year's Miss UK and Miss World competitions?

But even the Cofas aren't enough to satisfy my appetite for award ceremonies. So I'm inaugurating my own: the Celebration of Record Industry Entertainment Stars Who Insist on Superior Performances and Excellent Records, or the CRIES & WHISPERS, for short.

I'm proud to say that it will be an institution like no other. Doing without the likes of "Best Album" and "Best Newcomer", the CRIES & WHISPERS will encompass all the categories which everyone else has shamefully overlooked. A few of those categories are listed below. Send in your votes now.

The It-Is-Called-A-Single-After-All Award, for anyone who resists their record company's sales-hiking policy of releasing a single on two separate CDs: one with three other duff songs on it, one with three duff remixes on it.

The Hello-Cleveland Award, for any artist who directs a coherent comment to the audience between songs. And just saying the name of the song doesn't count.

The Well-That's-What-It's-There-For Award, for any album whose lyric booklet is both attractively laid out and clearly legible (disqualified: Pearl Jam).

The Let's-Face-It-We'll-Be-Doing-A-Reunion-Tour-In-10-Years'-Time Award, for any artist who admits to having heard and enjoyed a record made by a former bandmate (disqualified: anyone who has been in Suede or the Stone Roses).

The There-Are-Plenty-of-Listeners-To-Go-Around Award, for any artist who completes a year's worth of music press interviews without slagging off another artist (disqualified: everyone except Spiritualized).

The Bat-Out-Of-Hell Award, for any artist who recorded a classic signature song several years ago, but who is still happy to play it in concert, night after night, and not in an unrecognisably mangled version either (disqualified: not Radiohead just yet, but apparently they're on the verge).

The Seinfeld's-On-Tonight Award, for any band who comes onstage within 15 minutes of their support band going off, and who, if they really must do an encore, don't milk the applause for 10 minutes before returning to the stage.

We've still got a few more categories to devise, of course, which is why we've turned for inspiration to the Ivor Novellos, Britain's prestigious songwriting accolades. You have to admire an organisation that can bestow a joint prize to Blur and Oasis (neither group turned up), and which can somehow give separate awards for "Best Song" and the tautologous "Best Song Musically and Lyrically". How must a songwriter feel to be told "You would have won 'Best Song' but, trouble is, your music and lyrics were just too good"?