The NME might have hit a circulation peak since it made Justin Bieber a cover star and became a free weekly. But its readers stuck to their “indie rock” principles after awarding The Maccabees and Foals top honours at the magazine’s annual awards.
Held a week after the NME celebrated a readership figure of 307,217, the highest in its 64-year history, the awards recognised traditional guitar-shredding artists, somewhat at odds with the mainstream stars like Sam Smith and James Bay that have recently graced its cover.
The Maccabees took the Best British Band prize, marking a year in which their fourth album, Marks To Prove It, inspired by the group’s Elephant & Castle locale, topped the charts. Eleven years after their debut single, the quintet have become one of the UK’s most popular live bands.
The Best Album prize when to Foals, for What Went Down, their fourth collection. Another band which has sustained a steady rise over the past decade, the Oxford group this week headlined their first Wembley Arena show.
Wolf Alice, another “indie” group which has built up a loyal audience through relentless gigging, took the Best Live Band prize. The North London band, led by singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell, have made inroads in the US after receiving a Grammy nomination.
The Maccabees, Foals and Wolf Alice, supported by NME before its transition to a free magazine, are examples of bands who have survived the crash in sales for guitar-based rock by becoming festival favourites on the back of thrilling live performances.
David Bowie, who died from cancer last month, was given a posthumous Best Reissue award for Five Years. The twelve CD/10 album box featuring all of the material officially released by Bowie during the nascent stage of his career from 1969 to 1973, was released last September.
Attempts to steer NME’s readers in a more pop direction were rewarded with Taylor Swift’s victory in the International Solo Artist category. Speaking in a video message, Swift described the design of the NME award statue, with its raised middle-finger, as “feeling a little aggressive.”
Coldplay’s elevation to Godlike Genius, the NME’s highest career honour, caused some discontent among music fans on social media. Kylie Minogue presented the prize to the group, who performed a greatest hits set at the O2 Brixton Academy ceremony
Charli XCX, the Cambridge singer who mixes up pop, punk and electro styles, was voted Best British Solo artist. Last year the former art school student presented a BBC3 documentary exposing sexist attitudes faced by women in the music industry.
The US Presidential election provided relief for Nigel Farage and David Cameron, previous winners of the Villain of the Year poll. Donald Trump was the 2016 landslide winner.
Rat Boy, the Essex teenager whose hip-hop/rock songs detail his disaffection with suburban British life, was named Best New Artist.
Yoko Ono, 83, accepted the Inspiration award, in recognition of her “long-standing achievements across art, music and philanthropy.”
Foo Fighters lost their Best International Band crown with the honour passing to Run The Jewels, the hip-hop group formed by New York rapper El-P and the Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike.
NME’s publishers Time Inc took the decision to give the magazine away free after its print circulation dipped below 15,000 readers. Advertisers have responded positively to the new, mass audience reached by giving the title away free at shops, tube stations and universities.
NME Awards 2016
Best British Band: The Maccabees
Best Album: Foals: ‘What Went Down’
Best British Solo Artist: Supported Charli XCX
Best Live Band: Wolf Alice
Godlike Genius: Coldplay
NMW Inspiration Award: Yoko Ono
NME Innovation Award: Bring Me The Horizon
Best International Band: Run The Jewels
Best International Solo Artist: Taylor Swift
Best Track: Wolf Alice: ‘Giant Peach’
Best New Artist: Rat Boy
Best Reissue: David Bowie: ‘Five Years’
Music Moment of the Year: The Libertines' secret Glastonbury set
Best Music Video: Slaves: ‘Cheer Up London’
Best Music Film: Blur: ‘New World Towers’
Best Film: ‘Beasts of No Nation’
Best TV Show: ‘This Is England 90’
Best Actress: Vicky McClure
Best Actor: Idris Elba
Best Festival: Glastonbury
Best Small Festival: End of the Road
Best Book: Patti Smith: ‘M Train’
Best Fan Community: The Libertines
Best Vlogger: KSI
Hero of the Year: Dave Grohl
Villain of the Year: Donald Trump
Worst Band: 5 Seconds of Summer
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