National Mid-year Music Award Day

Made-up awards for made-up holidays.

You may not know this, but today is National Recycle Your Own Mediocre Ideas Day. It is Exploit Your Creative Shortcomings Day. Lest we all forget, today is also Plagiarize Yourself Day. By this point, you might think it’s National Lie to Your Readers Day. Or maybe it’s just All of the Above Day. Truth be told, it is actually National Thermal Engineers Day today, which I scoffed at until my computer started overheating; now I’m a believer.

Frankly, legitimate holidays just aren’t enough. If we have to make up reasons to be goofy and celebrate, then so be it.

I’m also a believer in celebrating the small victories. So last year, in the spirit of North American creativity/laziness, I declared it to be National Mid-year Music Award Day and handed out some awards in several made-up categories. Frankly, legitimate holidays just aren’t enough. If we have to make up reasons to be goofy and celebrate, then so be it.

And so to honor Stop Procrastinating and Get On With It Day, may I have the envelope please:

  • Best Performance in the Musical Decathlon: Alabama Shakes. Maybe their new album started out as a bet: “Hey, Shakes. I bet you can’t do R & B, classic rock, soulful ballads, and punk rock all on the same album and make it work.” Word to the wise: don’t take that bet. On their sophomore release Sound and Color, lead singer Brittany Howard proves that there’s no note, no rhythm, no mood she can’t conquer. Though Howard often gets the bulk of the notoriety, the rest of the band pulls off the album-long variety show with aplomb. While Howard wails and takes the starring role, the band is quietly behind the scenes directing the show. For people who like: not sitting still; riding emotional roller coasters; candy variety packs.
  • Best Feeling of Being in a British Pub without Having to Buy a Drink: The only thing I feel is missing when I listen to Skinny Lister’s latest album Down on Deptford Broadway is 150 people singing along with me in unison. The six-piece British folk rock band is so infectiously raucous that they even make heartbreak sound like a party. And make no mistake: they are the life of the party. Their sound is pretty straightforward but their music packs enough energy to blow the grease off a plate of fish and chips. For people who like: staying up all night singing with friends; bangers and mash; sweaty mandolins.
  • Best Impression of a Grizzled Veteran by a Young Whippersnapper: Leon Bridges. You know that carnival game where the person running the game tries to guess your age within a few years? If that game was changed to guessing the age of a singer based on his songs, then 26-year-old Leon Bridges would win a giant teddy bear. It’s hard not to give this award to George Ezra, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter whose hit “Budapest” sounded like it could be a midlife crisis instead of a tune about young love (thanks to his powerful voice). But Bridges wins because he’s lesser known and his soulful vocals sound timeless. For people who like: toe tapping; staring at a clock that isn’t moving; mint lemonade on a hot, humid day.
  • Best Song about Milk Duds: Lady Lamb. Aly Spaltro complicated her stage name a bit when she went by Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper. Now just Lady Lamb, Spaltro continues to be an underappreciated songwriter. And who knew that singing a song about falling asleep on a box of everybody’s favorite chocolate caramels in a yellow box could be so catchy? Meant as a love song instead of an endorsement for the Hershey company, the song “Milk Duds” nevertheless always makes me hungry for the little morsels. For people who like: the honeymoon period of any relationship; strong female songwriters; and, well, Milk Duds.

I was going to give the award for the Best Album by Bands that Write Jaunty Tunes despite Having Tragic-Sounding Names: the Suffers, Evans the Death, and the Weepies (who released a great album recently reviewed here by Jerry Holsopple). But alas, I can hear the pretend orchestra play as I’m standing at my pretend podium handing out pretend awards. So, until next year, remember that you too can win an award. Granted, you might have to make up a category for yourself, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting.