The 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards

In 2014, ClearChannel Communications, having received upwards of a decade of more-or-less constant negative press, rebranded their radio efforts as iHeartMedia, while changing basically nothing else. Nothing else, that is, except that they decided part of the shiny new face they were putting on their brand was to add a television awards show.

The first couple of these awards were broadcast by NBC, who was then also in the business of flailing around trying to find something that people might watch. After two years of the American public saying “that is not the thing we want to watch,” the awards were shunted off to basic cable. So the thing to keep in mind is: this is an awards show that couldn’t even pull in NBC numbers. Hence, I didn’t write about them.

This year, however, I’ve decided to get in there and take a look. Spoiler alert: they are really bad!

Some notes are that several of these awards have already been given out, which is something. Also they are giving something called an “Icon Award” to Bon Jovi (which is, at least, timely, as it is ahead of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction). Also an “Innovator Award” to Chance the Rapper and the baffling-to-the-point-of-rage “Fangirls Award” to Camila Cabello, about which I choose to have nothing to say.

I sure do have a bunch to say about the rest of this, however, so here we go.

Best Remix

On the one hand, only one of these remixes was an enormous, world-spanning, everything-conquering hit. On the other hand, only one of these songs is actually any good. This is pretty handy, because it means that I don’t have to spend much time talking about bloodpop 1. So is it the completely-unavoidable “Despacito” remix that forced us all to continue thinking about Justin Bieber, or is the less-unavoidable and much better “Homemade Dynamite” which manages to be pretty good despite involving Post Malone? I think the answer to the question is embedded in the question, quite frankly.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Lorde, Khalid, Post Malone, & SZA – “Homemade Dynamite”

Best Solo Breakout

I mean, I understand that the popular usage of “Breakout” makes this category title appropriate, but I still think it’s a little dramatic for the situation. I mean, they all just made shitty records, it’s not like they did anything more challenging or destructive. Also, it’s four members of One Direction and one member of Fifth Harmony. That’s about it. Oh, and Harry Styles’ record genuinely has a couple of songs on it that I like, even if it feels like his “solo breakout” was longer than a year ago?


Best Boy Band

So Why Don’t We was formed of people who had already failed to set the public on fire with their pop music stylings. That goes some way to explain why their music is so boring. PrettyMuch were assembled by Simon Cowell, which I wasn’t aware was a thing that was still happening. I don’t think it’s helping. In Real Life is the work product of the show Boy Band, which was notable for a judging panel that consisted of the least-interesting member of two different pre-fab vocal groups 2, plus Timbaland (?). CNCO were also formed on a reality competition show, and that is the only thing that seems noteworthy about them. AJR and The Vamps seem like odd choices for inclusion in this category, although I guess they can’t have objected. AJR record their unbelievably stupid music in their own living room, and The Vamps were plucked from YouTube cover-band obscurity. But hey, since neither of them would win in any category anyway, what’s the point in quibbling? BTS is a genuine phenomenon, and even if though their music doesn’t really do anything for me, I’m not blind to what it is they’re doing, and I think it’s fine.


Cutest Musician’s Pet

This is, and I’m not kidding, the greatest category in the history of awards shows. All of these dudes are winners, quite frankly. Even leaving aside that I’m not a dog person as such, and that the cat in this competition (Taylor Swift’s) is 1) fucking adorable and 2) named Olivia Benson, which is a great name for a cat, there is actually a better animal here. Despite being half chihuahua, Ariana Grande’s dog Toulouse is a very handsome gentleman who has what might actually be the greatest name I’ve ever heard for a dog, like, ever. So way to go Ariana Grande. Your scream-singing gives me panic attacks, but I’m into your dog.


Social Star Award

It is interesting to see the way that awards shows try to fit in the world. For example, the established, less-thirsty awards shows can suggest their own hashtags and whatnot to people who are interested in interacting with them on social media, because their relationship with social media is as a target – they know that people are going to talk about them already, and they don’t have to do any weird shit to get there. The iHeart Music awards, however, are a flailing, terrible idea of an awards show, so they have to cosy up to the social media folks so they can get some traction on snapchat or instagram or – and I honestly have no idea – they’re expecting to get this traction. It’s interesting mostly because it’s 1) nakedly grasping and 2) an example of a company whose primary business format – broadcast radio – trying to make friends with one of the things that is actively killing them. Thus it is that they nominated a whole mess of these people, in the hopes of targeting as many followers as possible. That said, I am An Old, and I do not know much about who most of these people are, so I am using, as my barometer for the appropriateness of the nomination, the presence of a Wikipedia page 3 . That leaves us with only three to consider, at least as far as the “star” aspect is concerned. Since the other half of the category name 4. Anitta is a Brazilian pop star, and while I’m sure that lends itself to social media success, she’s still a pop star on social media, not a social star. Jojo Siwa got her start on Dance Moms, so even if her primary avenue of fame these days is social, I still can’t in good conscience endorse anything that’s ever come from that dumpster fire. That leaves Gabbie Hanna, who is as famous as anyone in this category, and is also famous entirely for her YouTube videos, and who thus fulfills both parts of the category. And now I don’t have to think about any of this anymore.


Best Music Video

Given these nominees, I can’t tell if iHeart Radio is just choosing at random from the people that they couldn’t slot into any other category, but still wanted to invite to the proceedings 5, or if they’re trying to de-legitimze the hold that YouTube has on the way people listen to music casually by making it look like even the “best” music videos are boring garbage, but this category is full of boring garbage. I believe my stock answer for music awards shows in the current year or whatever has been to go with the Ed Sheeran video for “Shape of You”, which features Ed Sheeran getting punched and is therefore satisfying for at least a small portion of its runtime, but I do actually kind of like that Harry Styles video, so why not celebrate something instead of complaining about something else? Positivity, it’s not just for ions!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Harry Styles, “Sign of the Times”

Best Fan Army

When they nominated people who are not actually pop stars in the social media category, it’s to get the not-actual-pop-stars to promote the event and their own potential award receiving. But in this case they’re nominating the fans of various and sundry other actual pop stars, and the idea is (presumably) to get those fans to also galvanize on social media, thus giving the iHeart awards some more social media clout. I have no confidence that this will work for them, but at least they’re doing it transparently and graspingly, so it’s entertaining in and of itself. I will say that BTS’s fanbase is very, very vocal, and while it’s impossible for a genuine pop sensation to exist without considerable marketing forces behind it, word of mouth played more of a part in their rise than it did for the rest of the folks in this category 6. That said, I also think the “Selenators” sound like they are pop-music-focused murder robots, so they are also pretty cool.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: BTS ARMY (it’s spelled in all caps on the website, see). Unless it’s the Selenators, because murderbots are cool.

Best Cover Song

I am pleasantly baffled by the existence of this category. Cover songs have always been a pivotal feature of pop music, certainly, and anyone who’s spent even half an hour on YouTube knows that there’s an entire sub-industry devoted to just about anyone – famous, attempted-famous, nearly-famous, or completely anonymous – standing in front of a camera and playing a cover. Most of them are, of course, ridiculous and unnecessary. In this category we see that even professionally-created covers by professionally-inclined pop stars are also largely ridiculous and unnecessary. None of them are as bad as 30 Seconds to Mars’s version of “Tribute,” though. That is terrible. “Issues” and “Touch” are terrible songs, covered terribly (by Ed Sheeran and Niall Horan, respectively). Camilla Cabello and Machine Gun Kelly’s version of “Say You Won’t Let Go”, as well as Shawn Mendes’s version of “All We Got” are merely forgettable songs, covered forgettably. Haim’s version of “Bad Liar” is fine, if unnecessary. Harry Styles’ version of “The Chain” is equally fine, and has at least the benefit of being somewhat ridiculous. Khalid’s cover of “Lost” isn’t anything great or transformative, but the song’s great, and he does a good enough job with it that it isn’t offensive. I would be willing to bet that “good enough job and not actually offensive” is about the best anything nominated for this category can actually be.


Best Lyrics

So I suppose, when trying to carve away some space for yourself in the cluttered field of televised awards shows, one must think outside the box. Why not, for example, honor something that no other awards show honors. To wit: the words to the songs. Unfortunately, I never know the words to anything, ever. So I had to look up all of the words to all of these songs, and now I am sad. “Despacito” isn’t really doing anything at all, lyrically. Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” and Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” are equally unworthy of being nominated of any award for their lyrics. Shawn Mendes’s “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” is a set of lyrics written by the person who decided on the punctuation in that title 7. Niall Horan’s “Slow Hands” lyrics aren’t actually that bad, for all that. But, y’know, “Bodack Yellow” has the benefit of expressing whatever it is Cardi B is trying to communicate, and it has the effect of making me feel like I’m crazy.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Cardi B, “Bodack Yellow”

Producer of the Year

At least here we’re back in the realm of the actual way that the actual music sounds. That’s something, especially for a radio-station-owning conglomerate. We can throw out Andrew Watt right away, as that guy’s work is just awful. Benny Blanco (who is also last year’s winner) isn’t usually awful, but he hitched his wagon to Ed Sheeran and Cashmere Cat 8 and that does not make for a good year. Justin Tranter is here, presumably, because his records were very successful 9, but I’ll be damned if any of them distinguish themselves sonically. Steve Mac is the first, then, to rise above the pack, and although he seems like a perfectly fine producer, none of his work is actually that good. Just better than the other three in this particular eligibility period. So that leaves us with Pop Wansel and Oak Felder, who made the pretty-good Kehlani album, and also Miguel’s “Shockandawe,” which is a pretty great song.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Andrew “Pop” Wansel and Warren “Oak” Felder

Best New Regional Mexican Artist

The next several categories are Mexican/Latin focused, which is another naked ratings ploy. There have been think pieces, articles, and general punditisms about how the growing Latinx viewership is a real marketing concern – they have a lot of spending money, and aren’t being served by much of the existing television model – so if iHeart jumps in and gives awards to a bunch of Latinx artists (and, in this category, specifically Mexican artists), then they can be the first one on that block also. Once again, I have no idea about the efficacy of this strategy, all I know is that I don’t know tonnes about regional Mexican music, and so for the next few categories I will be breezing through the opinion I have formed after listening to these artists not very much. So, y’know, caveat emptor.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I quite like El Fantasma, though. That is true. I’ve listened to more than “not very much” of that guy.

Regional Mexican Artist of the Year

Most of this is banda music, and is made with giant bands of winds/brass players, and is decidedly not my thing. I mean, I’m sure they’re all good at it or whatever, but man do I have, like, zero taste for it. So Gerarod Ortiz and Calibre 50, who both perform norteno music 10 have a distinct advantage. Calibre 50 even moreso, because they’re much better.


Regional Mexican Song of the Year

Having declared myself a newly-minted fan of Calibre 50 a minute ago, I am delighted to choose between the two Calibre 50 songs here, because they are obviously the best ones.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Calibre 50, “Las Ultras”

Best New Latin Artist

And now we open up the purview to all Latin artists, which is nice I suppose. It means that I don’t have to listen to another category in which bandas form the numerical majority, which is a relief. I mean, literally all of these folks are performing something that I would, at least unofficially, call “Reggaeton” 11, so I’m not entirely out of the woods yet. That said, the one of them I like the most is Bad Bunny, for both musical and extra-musical (i.e. he chooses to go by Bad Bunny) reasons.

Latin Artist of the Year

J. Balvin and Luis Fonsi both had major commercial breakthroughs, which seems as appropriate a reason as any to grant them an award, and J. Balvin’s song is better.


Latin Song of the Year

In the absence of much else happening in this category, I’m just going to point to the category above and say that it’s exactly the same thing here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: J. Bavlin, “Mi Gente”

Best New R&B Artist

I always have some degree of quibble with the term “new,” which is going to throw an interesting wrinkle into this category. Earlier in the writeup, I leaned on an explicit definition of the categories to decide what was what, and so I feel, in the interest of internal consistency 12, that I should stick with applying the “new”. The upshot is that this eliminates SZA, who’s been around for six years, and a frequent feature act with a handful of mixtapes behind her. Kehlani goes further back 13. That leaves us with Khalid, who genuinely appeared at the end of 2016, and who’s good enough that I won’t be mad about it. 6Lack and Kevin Ross were, obvioulsy, never under serious consideration.


R&B Artist of the Year

Everyone in this category has made worthwhile contributions to the world with their artistic endeavors, which makes this category a little difficult. We can throw out Childish Gambino, whose music has never been the best part of his career, certainly. Similarly, Bruno Mars and Rihanna have always been an up-and-down sort of proposition: neither consistently makes good albums, and so taking into account an entire year’s worth of output to evaluate for an award always means taking into account some of the more unfavorable stuff. The Weeknd did a good job of squaring up his material to be much better than his other post-pop star material, but that’s still just grading him on a one-man curve. That sort of leaves Khalid as the last man standing. This is odd, because the best of anyone else in this category completely obliterates Khalid, but they can’t manage to do it all in a year.


R&B Song of the Year

Actually, the song category has the same sort of problem. We can toss aside Jacquees, which isn’t really worth considering. “What I Like” is warmed-over Bruno Mars by the numbers, so that’s out too. I kind of like “Redbone” 14. “Location” is not my favorite Khalid song. I guess that leaves “Love Galore,” which is similarly not my favorite SZA song, but which is also the best song nominated here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: SZA, “Love Galore” (f Travis Scott)

Best New Hip-Hop Artist

Look, I know that especially with soundcloud rappers, the “new” distinction can be a tough one 15 but Goldlink’s first mixtape was a big deal, and honestly, just because radio people 16 just started playing his songs this year doesn’t mean that his whole thing didn’t happen several years ago. In short, I’m not being a curmudgeon on a technicality here. The God Complex came out in 2014, everybody talked about it then, that’s when he was new. By contrast, Playboi Carti started about a year later, but since his actual tape didn’t drop until this year, it bothers me less. 21 Savage squeaks by, because his record with Metro Boomin’ came out at the end of 2016, and I’ll allow it. Also, he got famous from a song where the chorus is literally him showing off his ability to count to eight. That’s, at the very least, a sort of stylistic hubris that I can only be impressed by. Lil Uzi Vert has won me over a bit in the last year or so, and that’s worth noting. He also is the one person in this category who does not operate out of Atlanta. Cardi B does operate out of Atlanta, and she had a #1 song (as a solo female rapper, the first to do so since Lauryn Hill) with her debut single, so it pretty much has to be her.


Hip-Hop Artist of the Year

I still don’t know why DJ Khaled keeps getting nominated for things as a hip-hop artist. Whatever else it is that he wants to insist that he does 17, it definitely is not rapping. I’m not even trying to be a gatekeeper here. The dude doesn’t rap. He just full-on doesn’t. Anyway. Drake has continued to manage his career as a sort of masterclass in “diminishing returns”. Future still hasn’t come off a hot streak, which may have even reached its peak with his double releases a year ago. Migos will receive their due praise in the next category. The hip-hop artist who had the best year was pretty clearly Kendrick Lamar.


Hip-Hop Song of the Year

For an entire music awards cycle, the hip-hop categories have come down, invariably, to “Humble” vs. “Bad and Boujee”. I am of the opinion that, while “Humble” is a great song that clearly meant a lot to a lot of people, “Bad and Boujee” is not only a great song, but is the best Migos song there is. Especially in the wash of the overlong, underbaked, stretched-too-thin Culture 2, hearing “Bad and Boujee” is hearing everything great about an act distilled to its essence 18.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Migos, “Bad and Boujee” (f Lil Uzi Vert)

Dance Artist of the Year

Oh good. This is still happening. Good good good. Well, I suppose in the interest of fairness, I should do my best to evaluate this awful category. I will say that I didn’t think there was anything I could find more annoying than The Chainsmokers, but Cheat Codes managed it. Good job, guys. I have nothing much to say about Zedd or about Kygo. I guess that leaves Calvin Harris, who at least seems like he’s trying.


Dance Song of the Year

See above for my completely unchanged opinions when this is boiled down to individual songs – I guess that means they’re a represenatitve sample – and note that, once again, it’s the person who is not The Chainsmokers, Chead Codes, Zedd or Kygo who is winning and, once again, this is a very, very moderate sort of “win”.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Clean Bandit, “Rockabye” (f Ann Marie and Sean Paul)

Best New Country Artist

Oh hey, I guess I should be thankful that there wasn’t a “Best New Dance Artist” category. I probably would have had to set my computer on fire, and then nobody would be happy about anything. Anyway, a numerical majority of these folks are actually “new”, so we only have to throw out Luke Combs and Jon Pardi. I think we can all agree that not much is lost there. Lauren Alaina didn’t win American Idol, and she shouldn’t win this either. Brett Young used to play baseball. He was probably better at that than he is at singing. I have no major issue with Kane Brown, although I can’t imagine when I would want to listen to his music on my own.


Country Artist of the Year

I suppose that, in these #timesup, #metoo times, it’s entirely possible that there are just…no women in country music that the fine folks at iHeart think should be given this award. It’s certainly possible. But since these dues are all bad, and there are women currently on the radio who are less bad, it also just seems weird, and, leaving aside everything else, the optics on it are terrible. So let’s pretend that this whole category is a mistake, which lets us all feel better about the fact that it’s just five dudes who are difficult to distinguish from each other, and also means I don’t have to choose one of these assholes to be the winner.


Country Song of the Year

Hi! Welcome back! The only woman nominated for a country music award at the iHeart awards is Lauren Alaina, and that was back two categories ago! This is real weird, and seems like total bullshit! I mean, this is being written the week that the Grammys 19 hired the Time’s Up cofounder to head up a task force to see what’s wrong with the Grammy nominators w/r/t women, and you’d think that an awards-granting body as desperate for viewers and attention and eyeballs would probably pay closer attention to the brand-related effects of the actual things they were doing. It’s just baffling. I’m going to assume this is, once again, a mistake.


Rock Artist of the Year

Boy, once you start noticing how few women there are in here, it becomes a lot harder to continue on as though you hadn’t noticed it. In the rock categories it seems less tone-deaf, because this is a radio-based awards show, and there aren’t many rock women on the radio 20. That said, this category is also a joke. Highly Suspect continue to be nominated for these awards even though they’re awful. I have no idea how this happens. However, because Papa Roach was nominated here, Highly Suspect is not (as they usually are) the most baffling inclusion in this category. Metallica made one pretty bad album, the Foo Fighters didn’t actively get any worse, so I guess it’s the Foo Fighters. Sigh.


Rock Song of the Year

If you’re the people that control the playlists for terrestrial radio, and you’ve done everything in your power to dismantle 21 the means to for new and/or exciting rock bands to become famous 22, does it not seem like just rubbing salt into the wound to look out at the landscape you’ve created and pretend like any of this is actually any good? At least Foo Fighters have gotten their no-longer-exciting thing down to the sort of assembly-line fashion that means it’s not objectionably bad.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Foo Fighters “Run” 23

Best New Rock/Alternative Artist

I would think, if I was a radio-based awards-granting body, that one of the first things I would do is to throw out the old, absurd, outmoded radio formats that I’m still, for whatever reason, beholden to grant awards for. For example: “alternative,” which is decidedly not a thing anymore. It is, however, a better category, as far as the nominees are concerned, than the rock category. I mean, they’re still not all good. The Revivalist are an unselfaware jam band with more “authenticity” signifiers than you can shake a dobro at. Judah & The Lion are plumbing a similarly americana-ish sound 24. Greta Van Fleet are a pack of noble midwesterners who, while not bad, are definitely neither named Greta or Van Fleet 25. Rag’n’Bone man is clearly giving the people what they want, but I’m allergic to novelty rappers. I like K. Flay.


Alternative Rock Artist of the Year

Do you suppose that the Kings of Leon ever dig out their old songs, now that clearly the radio people are looking for country-inflected music, instead of fake-U2? I wonder about this. I mean, not often or for very long, but it’s a reason to wonder. I kind of hope they do, Youth and Young Manhood is the only one of their records I like. I will always appreciate Cage the Elephant’s contribution to the first Borderlands, but I have very little else to say about them. Imagine Dragons are godawful. Judah & the Lion are still ok, if not exactly inspired. Portugal, the Man are occasionally good, and that’s enough to elevate them above this pack.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Portugal, the Man

Alternative Rock Song of the Year

Two Imagine Dragons song and one 30 Seconds to Mars song means I want to spend as little time thinking about this category as possible. The Revivalists aren’t much better (seriously, a jam band? Seriously?). That leaves Portugal, the Man’s “Feel it Still”.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Portugal, the Man, “Feel it Still”

Best New Pop Artist

This is the one where I break with my own rules, for reasons of actually liking one of these people. Julia Michaels is profoundly irritating, as previously noted. Camila Cabello, Liam Payne and Niall Horan have effectively broken with the vocal groups with which they were initially associated 27, and that’s fine. Good for them. I really like Logic, and although he’s been around for awhile, and I would normally quibble with his “new”-ness, I’m glad that he’s famous, and he makes the world a better place for being in it.


Best Collaboration

I have complained, loud and long about various facets of this awards show for the entire time I’ve been writing about it. I always have some grievance with the way things are done in the awards-granting part of the world, but the iHeartRadio Music Awards are, far and away, the ones that aggravate me the most 28. This category, however, is not aggravating for any of the same reasons. I get why they’re all here, and it all makes sense for a radio-based company to give these folks an award. These songs are, to a one, completely unlistenable. I mean genuinely, “skip them when they’re on the radio, plug your ears when they come on at the gym” terrible. I suppose, given this field, that “Despacito” deserves credit for being something different than the rest of them, and that has to be good enough for this category, but I genuinely can’t remember an assemblage of songs in one category of an awards show that I found so completely distasteful.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, “Despacito” (f Justin Bieber)

Best Duo/Group of the Year

Out of all duos slash groups! What a thing! Can you even imagine? The one thing that the iHeart Blah Blah Blah Awards have in common with other music awards shows is that as the categories get less specific, I find myself with less to say about them. Every band in this category has appeared elsewhere, and I have been sad about that with two exceptions. Portugal, the Man are still largely ok, and sometimes even good. Migos are capable of genuine actual greatness.


Male Artist of the Year

I suppose there is a sort of internal consistency to the dominance of these categories by Ed Sheeran, Charlie Puth and Shawn Mendes – musically speaking there is literally no difference between them other than the physical, audible difference between them as actual singers 29. I guess one of them plays a piano. That’s something different from the other two. They’re all terrible, but at least I get why all three are famous. The people have spoken, and they have said “I want this one thing, and I want it over and over again.” The female category is similar, although the women in that category aren’t quite as categorically identical. Anyway, Bruno Mars did not do anything exciting in the period of eligibility, and The Weeknd did


Female Artist of the Year

Taylor Swift had her worst year, so it’s not going to be her. P!nk continues to be P!nk, which is its own kind of impressive, but means that there’s not really anything marking this year over other years – it’s just good, generally, to be P!nk. Alessia Cara and Halsey are, while very different performers, united in their seeming inability to have any idea what to do with their (considerable) vocal talent. That leaves us with Rihanna, who in addition to doing a bunch of normal Rihanna stuff, rapped on that NERD song, which was awesome.


Song of the Year

Three of these are re-used from the record-breakingly awful “Collaboration” category. One of these is “Shape of You,” which is somehow even worse. This is how it comes to pass that the world has conspired for me to declare the rightful award-winner to be the terrible “That’s What I Like.” Truly, the iFartRadio Music Awards have turned me against myself.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” (sigh.)

And that wraps it up for my inaugural coverage of the iHeartRadio Music Awards. I may or may not ever do this again! This was truly terrible!

  1.  a tremendously imagistic name, and one that I don’t like thinking about, because no matter how I put the words “blood” and “pop” together, I am presented with the difficulty and/or reality of that visualization. 
  2.  to wit: Aaron Carter and Emma Bunton 
  3.  under the logic that WIkipedia does apply a burden of “notability” on the people that do or do not get pages, and therefore it’s something, albeit an arbitrary something. 
  4.  once again applying the only standard I know of, which is that established by the list itself. 
  5.  see also the “Best Fan Army” category, below. 
  6.  there are twelve. “Huge number of nominees” is sort of a defining feature of the categories here at this end of this awards show. 
  7.  Why is the “g” in “holding” dropped, but not the “g” in “nothing”? Either drop them both or not at all. It’s stupid, thoughtless, and ill-considered. Just like the lyrics to that song! 
  8.  it’s also worth noting that, while he produced Julia Michaels’s truly terrible “Issues,” the production is the least of that song’s problems. 
  9.  or maybe the iHeart folks just really liked that Gwen Stefani Christmas album, which he also produced. 
  10.  it’s a lot like polka, and it’s related to corridas, which is the kind of music that the aforepraised El Fantasma sort of plays. 
  11.  in my perhaps-limited defense, Wikipedia agrees with me. 
  12.  which is, frankly, the only kind of consistency we’re going to get around here, given the way people are nominated in this nonsense. 
  13. that’s even leaving aside the America’s Got Talent/PopLyfe stuff, which was a decade ago, she’s still been around consistently since then. 
  14.  I think I’m on the record, even, as saying that it’s my favorite Childish Gambino song, for what that’s worth. 
  15.  the field churns all the way through itself every six goddamn months, and I’m an advocate for things slowing down and allowing newness to last beyond the absolute first glint of shiny exposure 
  16.  and honestly, it’s just this specific conglomerate’s version of radio people 
  17.  a list of things that includes: “not playing himself,” “things people told him he couldn’t do,” and “another one” 
  18.  in fact, it’s probably fair to say that if Culture 2 hadn’t come out and been such a needlessly-overstuff letdown – it’s not that it’s bad, it’s that there are too many songs, and it’s too long, and it badly needs editing – then “Bad and Boujee” might not be in quite the same place.   
  19.  I understand that there isn’t really a good reason to compare this awards show to the Grammys, but this is highly situational. 
  20. in contrast to country radio, which has a lot more women on it. Also nb that this situation – the no rocking women on the radio thing – is its own travesty, with its own set of causes and problems, but that’s outside the purview of this awards show. I can’t expect iHeart to even put up a reasonable list of candidates, let alone one that’s going to fix problems, so I’m moving ahead as normal. If this seems like I’m letting rock music off the hook in a way that I’m not letting country music, I assure you that it’s entirely contextual, and that I’m willing to explain myself further if need be, just not in this footnote, which is already long enough as it is. 
  21.  By tightening playlists, creating tremendous barriers of entry via the label/promotion system, and encouraged the music that you play to sound as much like garbage as possible 
  22.  Without going too far afield here, one of the reasons for the relative health of rock music as a continuing concern – which is to say, plenty healthy if you’re willing to make even the smallest effort to get out there and find the people that are doing it – is the removal of the ability to get any kind of famous doing it at all. I have a lot to say on this topic – stay tuned – but the upshot is: rock music as a mainstream concern is basically a locked room, and the bands involved (and the audience for the radio parts of it) are only getting older, so how long can they possibly sustain this sort of thing? I would wager that it’s not very long. I don’t know precisely what that means, in terms of the mainstream continuance of rock music at things like this kind of awards show, but I know that it’s probably just going to get work for any kind of rock band that needs “an enormous number of record sales” to be a part of its thing. I do still wonder how many of those bands can still exist though, and if so, why and how? IF you’re in a rock band that wants to – and expects to – sell a bunch of records, feel free to drop me a line and explain why and how. Please and thank you. 
  23.   NB that as of this writing this is also the actual winner. See above.  
  24. I’m comfortable with my assumption that the countryfication of this category has something to do with the wildfire popularity of Mumford & Sons a few years ago. Maybe the blues stuff comes from Alabama Shakes. 
  25. three of them are named Kiszka, however, which leads one to the question: who stole them? Someone call the cops! 
  26.  NB that as of this writing, Judah and the Lion are the actual winner. See above. 
  27.  two of them from the same vocal group (One Direction) even. 
  28. this is part of why I didn’t write about them for the first three years of their existence – the People’s Choice awards are irritating enough for me, and formed a sort of floor to how terrible a television awards show can be. By writing about these, I am willingly lowering that floor, because on their face, these awards are ridiculous, and I can’t imagine them actually being worth anything. In their sheer pointlessness, they are noteworthy, and I dig on that sort of thing. It’s part of what impelled me to start writing here in the first place. 
  29.  that is to say, I can tell the difference between them physically and literally as singers. 

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