David Lister: Of all these unnecessary award shows, the Mobos are the worst

The Week in Arts

Share

The arts world may be short of money but it is never short of awards ceremonies.

Every week they come – music, film, theatre, literature. More prizes than you can name, each new one diluting the worth of its predecessors. But among all the scores and scores of arts prizes, has there ever been one quite so unnecessary and quite so patronising as the Mobos?

This week it was that time of year again, the time of year when the pompously, yet meaninglessly, titled Music of Black Origin awards were handed out to rock and pop stars, several of whom have an unfathomable relationship to black origin. I'm not sure what Mobo winner Adele's black origin is, for example, or her fellow winner Jessie J. Most "analysts" would agree that both sing conventional, if high-quality, pop.

Their music has some roots in black music, because all pop has some roots in black music, from the Rolling Stones in the 1960s to Joss Stone now. I choose the last named advisedly because, believe it or not, Ms Stone, who grew up on the scary streets of Paignton, Devon, is a past winner of this prestigious urban music award. Can it really be that Jessie J, Adele and Joss Stone before them are chosen simply because they have soulful voices? Or could it possibly be that hugely popular stars like Jessie J and Adele guarantee publicity for an awards ceremony that might otherwise be floundering?

It's no surprise that a recent editorial in The Voice newspaper asked whether the Mobos were "doing a disservice to black artists" by using white singers to promote the awards.

I've wondered before how this questionable award manages to continue. It has lost all its original rationale, when it honoured black musicians, presumably realising after a few years that this looked curiously patronising. It moved rapidly to urban music, then on to this music of black origin, leaving it without a vestige of logic.

But there is something much worse than a breach of pedantry and linguistic lack of logic. It is the message these awards send out, a message that has a whiff of discrimination. The likes of young stars such as Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah, who were also winners this week, do not need specially crafted awards, nor do they need their music to be labelled black. They already win major awards; their music is universally popular. Why the need to limit it with a racial definition?

The Mobos don't just patronise black artists, but they also create music ghettos. And music doesn't need that. Roll on the time when Music of Black Origin awards sound as ridiculous as Music of White Origin awards, and as politically divisive a concept. For there is one outstanding virtue that characterises contemporary music, more actually than any other art form. It is colour blind.

Lloyd Webber takes a swipe

The biggest 25th anniversary of the moment is, of course, The Independent's. But we'll allow a mention, too, for the West End musical The Phantom of the Opera, which has also knocked up a quarter of a century. To celebrate this, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh staged a brilliant gala performance at the Royal Albert Hall last Sunday, with a splendid party at the Natural History Museum afterwards. It was a memorable evening.

It's also the case that you can rely on Andrew to eschew platitudes and say what he really thinks. And sure enough in his programme notes he was still expressing bitterness at the way his then wife, and star of the show, Sarah Brightman, was treated in 1986. "Everyone was ready to snipe and say she only got the role of Christine because she was my wife," he wrote. He also didn't miss the opportunity to take a swipe at today's bloggers (who helped do for his latest show, Love Never Dies). They are "malicious", he wrote. Why can't all programme notes be like this? It's drama even before the show has begun.

What's wrong with a classical fanfare?

A burst of rock music served as the climax to several of the major speeches at the party conferences. I can't recall exactly when this habit started, but it's a fairly safe bet that Tony Blair was there or thereabouts. It's diverting to imagine what it would have been like if the trend had begun some years earlier. Jim Callaghan could have left the stage to the accompaniment of the Sex Pistols, Harold Macmillan to "Blue Suede Shoes".

I suspect the musical climax is here to stay at party conferences. But why always rock? Can't Cameron, Miliband or Clegg be bold enough next year to put on some classical music to go with the standing ovation? Would that be too uncool? Have their spin doctors advised that it would alienate key parts of the electorate? There's no shortage of rousing music. The last moments of Ravel's Bolero, or Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries, perhaps. Fat chance, I suspect. But what exactly are they afraid of?



d.lister@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions