The Plug Awards has good intentions. A way to celebrate independent, lesser-known artists, the annual event draws attention to performers like acoustic troubadour Jose Gonzalez, London rapper Dizzee Rascal (pictured), and quirky female singer-songwriter St. Vincent. Fans pick the winners via online ballot, which makes for some unexpected trumps (Album of the Year went to Arcade Fire, who beat out the likes of the National, Spoon, and Radiohead. Only at the Plug Awards, folks.)
The problem with Plug isn’t its mission to celebrate the artists on the fringe, or last Thursday night’s lineup of undoubtedly talented performers. Plug instead suffers from a lack of organization and execution. Comedian Patton Oswalt hosted the event, with misplaced riffs on everything from There Will Be Blood (note to Oswalt: Plug isn’t the Grammys or the Oscars), to the ironic T-shirts and dramatic eye rolls of unenthusiastic, underweight hipsters. The show featured prerecorded clips of Michael Showalter’s documentary on mixtapes, which, granted, were funny, but were barely audible and available online in advance. Bat for Lashes kicked off the event to a crowd of almost no one an hour before the show was scheduled to begin, and the first two artists to receive awards – Arcade Fire for Live Act of the Year, and Radiohead for Artist of the Year – weren’t on hand to receive them. Cue Patton joke that Radiohead will be thrilled to hear they won a Plug Award when they find out what a Plug Award is. Ouch.
It wasn’t all bad. St. Vincent gave an inspired performance from her album Marry Me, and the National picked up the Song of the Year award for their brilliant “Fake Empire.” But I wished Plug would invent a better way to plug their nominated artists. Any publicity helps, I guess, though I wouldn’t have been devastated if the winners were posted in the lobby, and Jose Gonzalez was given a two-hour-long set.
So, any PopWatchers check out the Plug Awards this year? Did you vote online for your favorite artists? Can you think of a better way to give independent artists the recognition they deserve?