Ivor Novello awards 2020: Dave, Kate Tempest and Stormzy among nominees

Behind-the-scenes talents Dan Carey, Jimmy Napes and Jamie Hartman join Kate Tempest with a pair of nominations each in UK songwriting awards

Race, sex, and self-worth are some of the topics explored by 2020’s nominees for the Ivor Novellos, the UK’s most prestigious songwriting awards.

Four individuals lead with two nominations each. Performance poet Kate Tempest and producer Dan Carey are nominated for their collaborations on Tempest’s album The Book of Traps and Lessons. It was nominated for best album, with Firesmoke – a song about the enriching, transcendental power of sex – nominated for best contemporary song.

Jimmy Napes is nominated twice, first in the category for best song musically and lyrically, for Crown by Stormzy, the chart-topping rapper’s reflection on the pressures of success. Stormzy was also nominated alongside co-writer MJ Cole.

Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith accepting the Oscar for best original song in 2016.
Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith accepting the Oscar for best original song in 2016. Photograph: AARON POOLE / AMPAS / HANDOUT/EPA

Napes is also nominated for Sam Smith’s hit Dancing With a Stranger in the category for most performed song, with Smith also nominated alongside Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen, AKA production duo Stargate. Napes has had huge success as a songwriter, working with artists including Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys and Clean Bandit, previously winning two Ivor Novellos for the song Rather Be with the latter group. He has also won an Oscar alongside Smith for Bond theme The Writing’s on the Wall, in 2016.

Another behind-the-scenes talent, Jamie Hartman, receives nominations for two disparate yet equally stirring songs in the most performed category, for Lewis Capaldi’s ballad Hold Me While You Wait, and Calvin Harris and Rag’n’Bone Man’s dance hit Giant (Hartman previously co-wrote Rag’n’Bone Man’s biggest hit, Human). The lead artists are also nominated, along with further cowriters Troy Miller and Jamie N Commons.

Jazz singer Jamie Cullum and pop-rocker Sam Fender join Stormzy et al in the category for best song musically and lyrically. Cullum’s Age of Anxiety addresses a litany of issues including immigration, Brexit and self-doubt, while Fender’s Dead Boys confronts depression among young men.

Joining Kate Tempest in the album category are Little Simz, nominated alongside producer Inflo for Grey Area; and Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, for the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds album Ghosteen. Cave has previously won this category for Push the Sky Away in 2014.

Rap and spoken word are well represented – as well as Kate Tempest, Stormzy and Little Simz, there are also nominations for Dave and J Hus in the best contemporary song category. Dave is nominated alongside Fraser T Smith for Black, his screed against bigotry that he used to castigate Boris Johnson as “a real racist” at this year’s Brit awards; J Hus is nominated alongside Jae5 for his UK top five hit Must Be. Dave won this category in 2018 for Question Time, another track criticising the Tory government.

In the film score category, 2018 winner Mica Levi is nominated for her score to Monos, with Bobby Krlic also nominated for horror film Midsommar, and Nainita Desai for Bafta-winning documentary For Sama.

Mica Levi, nominated for best original film score.
Mica Levi, nominated for best original film score. Photograph: Stephanie Sian Smith for the Guide/Guard

The nominated video game scores are for Arise: A Simple Story (David Garcia Diaz), Draugen (Simon Poole) and Lost Ember (Dorian Behner, John Broomhall and Will Morton); for TV, the scores to Euphoria (Labrinth), Rise of the Nazis (Tom Hodge), and season three of The Crown (Martin Phipps) were recognised.

The nominations underline how male-dominated the worlds of songwriting and production still are – out of 35 nominees, only four are women, with Sam Smith identifying as non-binary. The number of female songwriters signed up to rights organisation PRS for Music jumped by 60% last year, but only 18.4% of the overall membership is female.

The usual awards ceremony has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the winners will be announced on Apple’s Beats One radio station at 11am on Wednesday 2 September. Aside from the most performed award, the awards are voted for by a panel of songwriters and composers.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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