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5 takeaways from the 2023 Headies nominees list

The 2023 Headies nomination list comes off the back of the giant strides recorded in the Nigerian music industry in 2022 and the international ascension of Afrobeats.

The nomination list was expected to reflect the events of the preceding year and to a large extent, it does just that. The list contains several positives and some recurring drawbacks while also providing insights into the current shape of the industry.

Here are five major takeaways from the 2023 Headies nomination list.

The Headies Academy retains the prerogative to create rules and guidelines that will shape the award. However, it becomes confusing when the Academy appears to be flaunting its own rule with no clear explanation if there has been a change to the rules.

Take for example the nomination of rapper Odumodu Blvck in the Rookie of the Year category. By Headies own rules, this is a voting category for the rookie of the year who has had a successful year musically, with the absence of an album in the year under review. (January 2022 – March 2023).

The operating word for this category is “Rookie” and while Odumodu Blvck might have achieved mainstream success in 2023, he’s by no means a Rookie.

Asides not being a rookie, Odumodu also released a joint album in February 2022 alongside BOC Madaki.

The lack of clarity regarding the criteria for nominations also extends to whether the diaspora feat matters considering the award is a Nigerian one. Hence the nomination of Tems for the Best Female Artist demands some questions given that she didn’t operate within the Nigerian music landscape in the year in review.

Like every year since the inception of the Headies, there are always some artist and incredible music that gets overlooked while others get shoehorned into a category despite not fitting in.

This is the story of Chike & Flavour‘s ‘Hard To Fine’ that’s a Highlife song that got placed in the R&B category. There’s also Wande Coal’s Best Vocal Performance for ‘Kpe Paso’ which is a very curious choice of song irrespective of the strong urge to nominate the sensational vocalist.

There are also notable omissions such as Obong Jayer‘s ‘Sometimes I Dream of Doors’ in the Album of the Year, Reward Beat and Chopstix in the Producer of the Year despite the former producing two major hits ‘Buga’ and ‘Xtracool’ while the later produced Record of the Year favourite ‘Last Last’.

There’s also the omission of Adekunle Gold‘s ‘Party No Dey Stop’ featuring Zinoleesky from the Best Collaboration category.

Afrobeats is on a global ascension with more artists operating at the summit of the mainstream. This means that more artists are vying for awards and more categories will cater to the diversity and increase inclusion.

The 2023 Headies nomination list is the first time Wizkid will be missing from the list since 2011. Olamide was also missing while Davido also scored just a handful of nominations after a quiet 2022.

However, Burna Boy, Rema, and Asake lead the nominees following an impressive 2022. Their dominance is very reflective of a shift in the hierarchy and perhaps it’s also the beginning of the head of the Davido, Wizkid, and Olamide Oligopoly.

After a blistering run of hits that was topped off with a record-breaking album in 2022, Asake was by every metric the hottest artist in the year in review.

Asake’s unprecedented run created some sort of dilemma as he was eligible for the Next Rated prize while also unquestionably deserving of a place in the Artist of the Year category. No artist has managed this feat in the 15 previous editions.

The Headies has solved this dilemma by allowing history to take its course as Asake earned nominations for the Next Rated and Artist of the Year categories while also getting a nod in the Album of the Year category.

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