Ivor Novellos give nod to grime artist Skepta as Adele overlooked

Skepta up for best contemporary record in songwriting awards that notably omit bestselling artist in the world

Grime artist Skepta has been nominated for an Ivor Novello award, the first nod for the genre at the songwriting awards since Dizzee Rascal was given an Inspiration award at the 2011 ceremony.

Shutdown, written by Skepta and Ragz Originale, is one of the three songs competing in the best contemporary song category.

Noticeably absent from this year’s nominees, however, was Adele, who was the biggest selling artist in the world in 2015 with her third album, 25.

Skepta’s nomination will be celebrated by many who have accused mainstream awards ceremonies of ignoring grime, the DIY genre born in east London. The Brit Awards came under fire this year for failing to reflect Britain’s multicultural music scene, including ignoring grime artists in a year the genre had experienced a major resurgence.

Paul Gambaccini, who had presented the songwriting awards for almost three decades, said unlike music ceremonies such as the Brits, the Ivor Novellos did not have to bow to pressure from record companies who invest in large sums to get certain artists nominated.

Roots Manuva, who is nominated in the best contemporary song category for Cargo, performs at Islington Assembly Hall in London in November 2015.
Roots Manuva, who is nominated in the best contemporary song category for Cargo, performs at Islington Assembly Hall in London in November 2015. Photograph: Phil Bourne/Redferns

Gambaccini said: “I think it’s important for that community to know they are being listened to. It’s important that all genres are represented, and that artists know their work is taken seriously, no matter what type of music they write. I’m certain someone like Skepta will take the Ivors more seriously because they know it’s about quality.

He added: “At the Ivors people are awarded by their peers for their songwriting, not their dance routines.”

In a hip-hop-heavy category, Shutdown will go up against Cargo by British rapper Roots Manuva, and All My Friends by British duo Snakehips, featuring American rapper Chance the Rapper and R&B singer Tinashe.

Gambaccini said that because the Ivors are not televised the nominees did not have to conform to a certain “photogenic” or “televisual” appearance that hindered diversity at other awards ceremonies.

This year Ed Sheeran has been nominated for his third Ivor Novello, in the best song musically and lyrically category, for Bloodstream. He will be up against Mercury-nominated Wolf Alice, for Bros, and Jamie Lawson for Wasn’t Expecting That.

Jamie Lawson performs at at O2 Forum, Kentish Town in January.
Jamie Lawson performs at at O2 Forum, Kentish Town in January. Photograph: C Brandon/Redferns

Up for best album is Matador by Gaz Coombes, In Colour by Jamie xx and Darling Arithmetic by Villagers.

Conor O’Brien of the folk band Villagers described how their second album grappled for the first time with the homophobia and bigotry he experienced growing up gay in Ireland.

“I’d never directly sung about it before,” said O’Brien, “but I’ve dealt with homophobia since I was born, on a broad structural level and also on a more direct level. I’ve been chased down the street before for kissing someone. But usually the things that hurt more are the more are the subtle versions of it.

“I remember being at school and we had sex education classes which were taught by our religion teacher, and us being told homosexuality was unnatural and wrong and all that kind of crap.”

He said that, in contrast to the pared down sound of Darling Arithmetic, Villagers’ next album would feature electronic beats and have songs to dance to. “I’ve never done that before,” O’Brien said.

This year will also see Jess Glynne’s track Hold My Hand and James Bay’s Hold Back the River go head to head in the most performed work category.

Best song musically and lyrically

  • Bloodstream – Ed Sheeran
  • Bros – Wolf Alice
  • Wasn’t Expecting That – Jamie Lawson

Best contemporary song

  • All My Friends – Snakehips ft Tinashe & Chance The Rapper
  • Cargo – Roots Manuva
  • Shutdown – Skepta

Most performed work

  • Hold Back the River – James Bay
  • Hold My Hand – Jess Glynne
  • King – Years & Years

Best album

  • Darling Arithmetic – Villagers
  • In Colour – Jamie xx
  • Matador – Gaz Coombes

Best film score

  • Ex Machina
  • Pan
  • The Duke of Burgundy

Best television soundtrack

  • And Then There Were None
  • From Darkness
  • London Spy


Hannah Ellis-Petersen

The GuardianTramp

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