The 15th Headies is set to hold on September 4th, this Sunday is poised to be the biggest and most competitive Headies show yet.
Here are our predictions for some of the nail-biting categories set to be decided this Sunday.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
AV’s “Big Thug Boys” and “Confessions” were equally impressive singles, but the lack of a smash EP or album to cement his appeal might reduce his potential and visibility in the eyes of voters.
Magixx is sure to benefit from the powerhouse that is Mavin, but there are still doubts as to why he was nominated. This is understandable, seeing as his only hit had to be remade as a duet with one of the biggest female singers in the country.
Ugoccie is talented, and her single, “Do You Like Me” slowly simmered into the national consciousness, but her fanbase is still too eastern to pose a serious threat.
Fave, therefore, seems like the safest choice with high-profile collaborations, a successful lead single, and a decent EP to boost.
Our money’s on her.
Who should win: Fave
Who might win: Fave
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR (Non-Voting Category)
One of many difficult categories in the Headies this year. The choice is somewhat easier to make when you remember it’s a non-voting category. Let’s dive in.
Ajebo Hustlers “Loyalty” is an impressive sleeper hit from the Port Harcourt duo, but jury members are still not keen on rewarding songs performed mostly in pidgin.
Omah Lay’s “Understand” is arguably the best song here. But the song might be too catchy and commercial for its good.
The Headies tends to favour slow, ballad-leaning songs with a clear message( Sorry Peru) and decent numbers( Bye Bye Brymo.)
Adekunle Gold’s “Sinner” strikes the balance best of the lot.
Who Should Win — Brymo/Omah Lay
Who might Win — Adekunle Gold
BEST MALE VOCAL PERFORMANCE (Non-Voting Category)
Johnny Drille gives a nuanced, anguish-filled performance on “Loving Is Harder”, but the song itself is too tepid to let him fly.
Ric Hassani’s background vocalists do most of the singing( and do it far better than him), on “When I’m Gone”.
Tay Iwar’s “Peaking” is exceptional, and faithful to the tenets of quality R&B vocalisation, but Jury Members might decide that the nomination is enough of a nod for the R&B genius.
Brymo, as usual, gives a note-perfect and soaring performance on “Meji Meji”, but it seems like the kind we’ve heard from him, time and time again.
Oxlade’s “Ojuju” however, is a decent performance from one of the most celebrated vocalists of his generation, which also satisfies the Headies’ need for commercial appeal.
Who Should Win — Tay Iwar
Who might Win — Oxlade
BEST R&B SINGLE
We must clarify that of the three songs nominated in this category, only three songs are R&B.
“Baby Riddim” is a smooth fusion of Afrobeats and Dancehall, “Beggie Beggie” is a groovy Afrobeats song, and ” Running(To You) is a simple Afro-ballad.
Only Niniola’s “Promise”, Wizkid’s “Essence” and Adekunle Gold’s “Sinner” are actual R&B songs, with only the first being pure R&B.
Fave might have a decent shot with “Baby Riddim”, but voters may decide that a “Rookie Of The Year” win might be enough for the night.
Simi is a Headies darling, but that might not be enough to get her a win in this packed category.
Niniola’s “Promise” is a lovely ballad rooted in traditional R&B, but it’s also the least popular song in the category.
Wizkid and Tems juggernaut “Essence”, will sweep many categories on the strength of its commercial success alone. This is one of the few categories where it has a clear, deserved shot on every front.
Who Should Win: Wizkid & Tems/Niniola
Who might Win: Wizkid & Tems
BEST FEMALE VOCAL PERFORMANCE ( Non-voting Category)
Ayra Starr gives a decent performance on the breakout video turned song, “Toxic”, but it is by far the least impressive here.
Waje, hailed as the greatest vocalist of her generation is no stranger in this category. With “Last Time” she secures her 9th nomination in the category. In the song, however, Waje gives into her worst instincts — She oversings.
Last year’s winner, Niniola also makes the same error, giving into bombast as a substitute for passion.
Simi and Tems make the best of their collaborative appearances and give some of the most memorable vocal performances of the year.
Liya, however, is the most deserving winner in this category. Her performance in “Alari” is, in turn, intriguing, feral and impassioned. Plus, It would be a small consolation for one of the most overlooked artistes of the year.
Who might Win: Tems/Niniola
Who Should Win: Liya
BEST R&B ALBUM
Herein lies, perhaps the most egregious error of the Headies, this year.
“Love Deep High Life” might be a good album, but it is certainly not R&B. Apart from the sonics and the artiste’s stated intention, the genre is clearly stated in the album title!
Similarly, Johnny Drille’s “Before We Fall Asleep” is a fantastic album — one of the year’s best, even, but it isn’t R&B, and neither is Ric Hassani’s sprawling “The Prince I Became”
Falana’s EP, “Rising” is a lovely fusion of sounds, but that might be its biggest turn-off for voters.
Therefore this is a battle for the titans. Wrestling between old and new.
Tems’ “If Orange Was A Place” might have a little less love than its predecessor, “For Broken Ears”, but this is not about the EP. It’s about her— Tems.
It’s her season, it’s her time. Besides… ‘Orange is arguably better than ‘Ears.
“Water and Garri” on the other hand, is Tiwa’s Magnus Opus. It is simply the best work of her career, and the sound of a woman finally making the music she was born to make.
As a side note, the absence of Tay Iwar and Niniola’s projects makes this particular category all the more annoying.
Who might Win: Tiwa Savage/Tems
Who Should Win: Tems/ Tiwa Savage
For most music award shows all over the world, the category of “Album Of The Year” is the real nail-biter.
In Nigeria, it’s the future predicting, Olamide provocating, conflict generating “Next Rated” award.
Industry Giant, “Mavin Records” has two acts in the running with Ayra Starr and Ruger. “Marlian Music” is represented by Zinoleesky and the Independents round out the category with Lojay and BNXN securing nods.
In terms of raw talent, songwriting and vocal dexterity, no other man in this category tops Lojay. His EP was stellar and did respectable numbers, but his real claim to fame is the hit song, “MonaLisa”.
Good as it is, unfortunately, one song is never enough.
Zinoleesky is the wild card in the race with a scattered yet interesting brand of genius, but voters won’t take him seriously enough to hand him this win.
Ruger is a suitable enough artiste to take this. His EP’s found commercial success with singles, “Bounce”, “Snapchat” and ” Dior. His artistry and brand are unique and well-developed and he is this generation’s leading figure in Dancehall, but Ruger’s excellence routinely goes unnoticed by many. This time won’t be any different.
Therefore, this showdown is really between Ayra Starr and BNXN.
On paper, Ayra is perfect.
Her debut album was a critical and commercial home run with many citing it as one of the best debut albums ever. She has the most nominations of any woman this year(more than any of the other next-rated nominees) and her talent is so evident, it’s blinding. More than most, she’s a complete package. She absolutely deserves this.
But NEVER underestimate the big bad bluster of BNXN. Arguably the most bankable artist of his generation, Bnxn has helped MANY to the top of the charts.
With very little personal effort, he’s secured hit after hit with co-signs from nearly every legend and rookie. His EP’s might not be critically adored like most on this list, but their commercially appeal and debut power is hard to ignore.
Moreso, BNXN genuinely believes he is the best, and when you believe in yourself that much, you can muscle everyone into believing it too.
It’s too close to call.
But we’re rooting for Ayra.
Who Should Win: Ayra Starr
Who Might Win: BNXN
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
“Carpe Diem” is pop-rap perfection, “19 & Dangerous” is the sound of a promising new beginning, “Yabasi” and “Esan” are critical darlings and ” Legacy” is a musician’s dream.
But this category has always been for ” Made In Lagos”. Bet against Wiz at your peril.
Who Will Win: MADE IN LAGOS
Who Should Win: MADE IN LAGOS
BEST AFROBEATS ALBUM
Ironically, this is a much more interesting category than “Album Of The Year”.
Teni’s “Wondaland” did well enough, and Ajebo Hustler’s’ “Kpos Lifestyle” put them on the map, but their nominations are all they’re getting.
For any other album, Davido would be a definite front runner, but “A Better Time”, is too ironic for its own good. OBO might have to sit this one out.
Thus, this category is a three-way showdown between “Barnabas”, “19 & Dangerous” and “Made In Lagos”.
“Barnabas” (while not being an album) is an exceptional project from Kizz Daniel and might have quietly stolen this race, but the pop star hasn’t exactly endeared himself to general or industry voters. We think he fumbled this one.
“Made In Lagos” might have been a sure bet except that voters would want to give this to a different artist, considering his sure odds with “Album Of The Year”. This leaves room for Ayra to take the win.
Who Should Win: Made In Lagos
Who Might Win: 19 & Dangerous/ Made In Lagos
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Celebrate Me” is a beautiful record but it had a much better shot in “Recording Of The Year” than it does here.
Flavour’s “Doings” also has a much better shot in the ” Best Alternative Song” category.
This makes way for arguably the most competitive category at the Headies this year. It really is anybody’s game.
Lojay’s “MonaLisa” is truly the best song of the lot, but there might not be enough votes to give it the honor.
Adekunle Gold and Davido’s “High” has a genuine shot here, but it would have scored a more solid victory if it had been nominated for “Best Collaboration”. “Peru” was everywhere once upon a time, but most people are over it now.
Therefore, “Essence” is this category’s front-runner by a nose. It might not have been the biggest song in Nigeria, but it had two of our greatest exports on it, and this is Wizkid’s year to sweep.
We’re betting on Wiz again.
What Should Win: MonaLisa
What Might Win: Essence