Winning losers

By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  May 7, 2008

Often, the write-in entries can expose the dependably sturdy riding power of laurels. For instance, Radiohead nabbed the trifecta of top honors for National Act, Best Album, and Best Male Vocalist (the yowling Thom Yorke); but only three of their 432 frothing devotees could be arsed to nominate an actual song from In Rainbows as the year’s best (and those who did chose, duh, “Bodysnatchers”). Dave Grohl met with a similar boondoggle in the Hard Rock Act category, taking top honors there but losing pretty hard to just about everyone in the song department. Meanwhile, the write-ins for Best Hard Rock Act signal the sort of up-and-coming energy that the winners have long since spent: Oakland stoner-pleasers High on Fire clocked in with 52 write-ins; promising Columbus tape-slamming post-GbV popsters Times New Viking netted a healthy 13; and Maryland stalwarts Clutch hung in with five. Oh, and R.E.M. scored one. Nice try, Dad.

One would require no crystal ball to foresee the admittedly talented and seemingly indestructible Amy Winehouse taking gold in the Female Vocalist and R&B Act categories. After all, she sold the most records, maintained the tallest hair, and gobbled the most Klonopin. But local phenom Antje Duvekot snuck into Best National Female Vocalist with four votes (tying Amanda Palmer), while lone votes for Gillian Welch, Sharon Jones, Marissa Nadler, Eilen Jewell, and Regina Spektor ensured that some dignity was retained up in this piece. Props to whoever wrote in Clay Aiken.

In the punk category, Dropkick Murphys dropkicked closest also-rans Against Me! by 469 votes, which was no surprise given the fiery fidelity maintained by their fans. What was surprising is that 11 people submitted identical typos in favor of the “Romones,” three people consider the Dresden Dolls legitimately punk rock, and some dude out there is still hung up enough on Black Flag to write them in. Our own Street Dogs scored a respectable two votes (wives?) while line-straddling newbs like Fucked Up, Pissed Jeans, Be Your Own Pet, and Everybody Out grabbed one each. Oh, and once again, “Freezerpop,” would you please gain control of your superfans?

M.I.A.’s smooth, supple neck edged four votes in front of Kanye’s stubbly skulltrunk in the category for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Act — which is a little weird, considering both of them make me think more about sneakers and sunglasses than awesome hip-hop. Still, not too shocking or shabby. The write-ins reveal that local hip-hop fans are in dire need of something new. Wu-Tang, Jurassic Five, Public Enemy, and Will Smith (?!) all nabbed one vote each — remember folks, the challenge here wasn’t to name a hip-hop CD you bought in college. I’m compelled to back the one guy who sagely voted “your mom.”

Naturally, the canon- and pyramid-topping duo of Daft Punk owned the admittedly nebulous DJ/Dance category. Traces of the quickly eroding celebrity DJ culture can be seen at the top of the write-in list, with DJ Hanoi, Diplo, and Sasha holding court with five, two, and two, respectively. At the bottom, notable rising stars like MSTRKRFT, Simian Mobile Disco, “Freezerpop,” and MGMT indicated that there’s a deceptive abundance of variety and activity under this once-fledgling heading. One ancillary note to an anonymous voter: I’ve never actually seen Madonna DJ — can a trainwreck trainwreck?

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