America have the Grammy Awards, Canada the Juno Awards and the United Kingdom the Brits; all a blend of live performances and award presentations that serve to highlight and commend the outstanding artistic achievements within the music industry over the past year. Considering the prestige and credibility that is associated with the previously mentioned awards, it is almost laughable then, that the closest Irish equivalent is the Meteors. As the television coverage opens to the strains of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ soundtracking a montage of minor celebrities posing on the red carpet, it’s difficult not to note that they are as irrelevant, embarrassing and uninspired as the Meteors themselves. Amanda Byram who, bafflingly, was enlisted as master of ceremonies for a second consecutive year, did nothing to dispel such deprecation with her summary of the awards; ‘we’re going to have a few drinks and hand out a few gongs’.
Byram, whose career highlights thus far include presenting the 2003 Miss World pageant, reality makeover show The Swan, Total Wipeout and appearing in 2006 film A Dog’s Breakfast, fittingly barked her way through the festivities, failing miserably to rouse an inert crowd with a cringe worthy assault that included sardonic anecdotes about aspiring to be in the middle of Funderland presenting the Meteors when she grew up, mocking Christy Moore for refusing to cancel a concert in Mullingar to be in attendance and branding the Scots ‘Paddys who can’t swim’. Nationwide toes doubtlessly curled as humourless quip after humourless quip fell mortifyingly flat and all that remained was for Amanda Byram to model a series of identikit black dresses that resembled doilies and togas.
Since their announcement at the beginning of January, the Meteor Awards nominations had been a wholly justifiable font of indignation and derision. Following a year which joyfully showcased the flourishing creativity and vibrancy of an abundance of contemporary Irish artists, it was somewhat galling to be presented with a list of nominees that, rather than being bastions of what is praiseworthy and pertinent within Irish music, simply emphasised the farcical nature of the awards. Arguably uniformed and illogical nominations included Snow Patrol’s greatest hits compilation Up To Now for Best Irish pop album, whilst the entire Best Irish Male category (Jerry Fish, Jack L and Christy Moore to name but a few) read like an homage to redundant singer-songwriters who were last even remotely relevant sometime in the late -90s.
The recognition of progression and innovation was eschewed for the multiple nominations of stock bands (note: U2, The Coronas, Delorentos) that appeared to be honoured for their ability to, at some stage in their increasingly stagnant careers, have garnered airplay and placed high in the Irish charts. Nominations eluded being written off as a complete act of blind jingoism with the Best Irish Female category, which encompassed a host of well-deserving recipients such as Valerie Francis and Laura Izibor, and was eventually won by a tearful and staggered Wallis Bird, who exclaimed ‘I have nothing written and I’m wearing terrible shoes.’ Other champions were The Script, who claimed Best Irish Live Performance for their stint at Oxegen last year, whilst Best Irish Album was awarded to the Coronas for Tony Was An Ex-Con.