However far it may be from my personal remit, or that of this site, I am somewhat confused by Q Magazine.
Admittedly, I haven't read Q for years ... I began losing interest when their reviews of ECM albums usually followed a formula of:
pressé of press sheet + highlighting one track + vague remark + middling score
(By vague remark, I mean phrases like "It all sounds very Scandinavian" and so forth).
The Q Awards (which is a vanity, if ever there was one - "We are now such important arbiters of musical quality that we feel we must create awards to give to artists to underline their true significance". No-one at Q has said this in print. This is an extrapolation on my part from the fact that the awards exist at all. The same applies to NME, although they have a sufficiently long history to almost - ALMOST - justify their dishing out of accolades physically embodied by trinkets to specific categories that mean very little when all is said and done), yes, the Q Awards managed this year to fly in the face of all critical opinion, and award their "Best Live Act" gong to Kasabian. Now, while I won't say that Kasabian are the equivalent of one of those old school jotters filled with smelly recycled paper (or, more simply put "shite"), I can't see how they are the "Best Live Act" in the music business today ... Then again, how can anyone decide on such a thing? Hang on ... there was one act that seemed to get the blood pumping through just about every musical and cultural critic's stylo ... Who was it again? Ah, yes - Kate Bush.
Her "Before The Dawn" shows seemed (and I, sadly, can only say "seemed" as I was unable to obtain a ticket) to be the vertiable dog's bollocks of all concerts ever staged, judging by the dancing verbiage and critical version of the Rapture that took place from the beginning of her show's run at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. People were leaving the concert ranting, raving weeping tears of joy, and generally behaving as though it was the single best thing that had ever happened to them. I may sound a tad flippant here, which I am - because I generally am, actually. However, I am also a bit of a Kate Bush fan myself. Her music has been a part of my life since I first saw her on Top of the Pops singing "Wuthering Heights". I was immediately hooked, and found in her a muse, an object of desire and a potent source of preteen rebellion against my father (who was rendered positively incapable of stringing sentences together coherently after watching her, and not in a good way - he detested Kate Bush. NB: He loved Hank Williams, Don Williams and Charley Pride).
I'm veering off-topic. Back to the point. Why did Q readers choose to ignore "Before The Dawn"? Were they simply trying to be different, a little bit "alt", a smidgeon contrary? Unlikely. And certainly not en masse.
They reinforced their position, though. For their "Best Act In The World Today" the recipient was ... Kasabian.
When I read these results, I was a mixture of amused, bemused, confused, and generally pissed off. At the same time, I didn't really care, as all awards are simply a means to gain attention, are exercises in self-aggrandizement, and utterly arbitrary. I'd not take it as any serious indication of anything that actually mattered. I have a suspicion that Kate Bush would feel the same, to some extent (although she once did have her day in the glory of the Q sunshine in 2001 when she won the "Classic Songwriter" award. She seemed pleased by that one.)
All would have been well and good if the award had gone to someone other than Kasabian, a band that has gone from weakness to weakness with unparalleled consistency. Initially, tracks like "Club Foot" had a certain retro appeal, but as time has worn on, their formula is the dried skimmed milk of rock 'n' roll, diluted with lashings of whatever acceptable rock liquor they favour.
Their recent disparagement of bands that don't party like it's 1999, or raise hell like early 80s Ozzy Osbourne (a position that was backed up by comedian Noel Fielding, of all people) was nothing short of embarrassing. Far from short of it, it was fully submerged and marinating in embarrassment. Reminiscent of Meat Loaf at the Metal Hammer Awards, 2004. Urgh …
To be fair to Noel Fielding, he almost has a point. A lot of young bands do have the attitude that music is merely a career, designed to create fame and fortune alone, and has nothing to do with artistic expression. But Serge Pizzorno (lead guitarist, sometimes vocalist, and all-round raging ego of Kasabian) took a different position, reasoning that some musicians "don't deserve to do this fucking job" because of their disinclination to cause "carnage" after a show, and run up repair and minibar bills. The phrase "immature self-deluded wanker" comes to mind.
But yet again, I digress …
Q Magazine has, of course, been supportive of Bush's "Comeback", giving over 20+ pages to her in the September 2014 edition.
Yet, it seems that Q Magazine's readership, presumably in conjunction with Kasabian's fan base, voted Kasabian to receive these two key awards rather than anyone else nominated (Nominees for "Best Live Act" were: Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Kate Bush, and Jack White; Nominees for "Best Act In The World Today" were: Arctic Monkeys, Pharrell Williams, Kasabian, Kate Bush, and Arcade Fire). The online voting system (using Google Forms) meant that disseminating in a "vote for me!" manner was entirely possible. Presumably, Kasabian fans did this more than anyone else.
Of course, comparing the nominees in each of these categories offers a glimpse of how redundant such awards actually are: I would have assumed that in order to be the "Best Act In The World Today", I would have had to be able to perform live to a high standard, yet Pharrell Williams (a man who can't distinguish between a minor chord and a dominant 7th chord) is excused from live performance expectations (did he have a doctor's note?) Equally, Jack White is presumably shit-hot on stage, but must be much weaker in the studio … Such is the logic at work here.
Looking at the other results, it becomes clear what the readership demographic of Q, or rather, the voting demographic actually is: somewhere between the ages of 17 – 30. How else would one explain the presence of Sam Smith, Kasabian, Jamie XX, Ed Sheeran and Elbow? It might seem a touch disingenuous to include Elbow as an indicator of this, but their star only became truly ascendant in the past 5 or 6 years, one way or another. If the results show anything, they show a distinct difference between the Q Magazine panel's views and those of their supposed readership. However, if this actually shows anything at all, it shows that social networks have probably contributed to the results more than anything else.
While I found the omission of Kate Bush from the winners list a bit bewildering, I remembered that at the turn of the millennium, there were countless awards in countless categories being thrust into the world. I recall that Robbie Williams was winner (or at least Top 10) in almost all such polls conducted in Britain at that time (including "Most Influential Artist of the Millennium" where he placed 6th – an entire MILLENNIUM!!!) I can only imagine that many of those who voted for Mr Williams back then would probably not do so now. How many would even remember the name of his album ("I've Been Expecting You") to actually nominate/vote for it?
A different question is, how would Kasabian fare? Probably quite well if such voting was happening now.
Looking back at the lists of then, Kate Bush managed a Top 10 presence, and I would imagine that she would certainly squeeze into the Top 30 (at least) this time around, only to be bested by Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jessie J, Shakira and Rita Ora … Would Alanis Morrissette maintain a prominent presence? Who can tell? (I doubt it, somehow) Likewise, would Noel Gallagher have so high a presence among songwriters? And so it is that such speculation can go on indefinitely.
My gut feeling is, and always has been, that from the Oscars to the Metal Hammer Golden Gods, awards are a waste of time. They do nothing of any true worth, as they provide no meaningful statistics about the subject they purport to examine, no barometer of anything but passing sociocultural fads and minor glimpses of that which may be truly permanent, give broad homage to the already successful (or the already-made-prominent, as they should really be called, because the success of their artistry cannot – EVER – be measured by sales and airplay/streaming alone) and help news-strapped journalists fill column inches with bullshit exactly like this. I am now part of the problem, and if you've reached here, so are you!