Get your mouses ready (mice?), because the 2011 Houston Press Music Awards nomination ballot is live, online, and waiting for you fans to fill in your choices. Right now.
Before you get started, a few program notes. The final tally of categories is down one this year, from 43 to 44. Like every year, Rocks Off has tweaked several of them to reflect the significant changes and developments we've seen in local music over the past year, as well as (hopefully) to just streamline the process in general.
This year the biggest overhaul is in the rap categories. We think the boundary between "underground" and "mainstream" rap, in Houston anyway, has become so porous as to be almost meaningless. So we've done away with "Best Mainstream Rapper" and "Best Underground Rapper" and installed the simpler (we hope) "Best Solo Rapper" and "Best Rap Group."
This may seem like a strange move from a blog that gave away the third installment of its "Underground Rap Awards" as recently as Friday. But when you consider that so-called underground artists such as Propain and Kirko Bangz are getting regular airplay on 97.9 The Box, and so-called mainstream artists like Bun B are showing up on mixtapes like Killa Kyleon's recent Candy Paint N Texas Plates 2, it makes sense to us. By the way, we've also added Best Mixtape and Best Rap DJ.
This would also be a good time to point out that, unlike past years, some of the major categories - Best Solo Rapper, for example - may have as many as 10 nominees this year. This is designed to accommodate not only the abundance of talent in town, but the longer than usual layover between music awards. By the time the awards are handed out in November, nearly 16 months will have passed since the 2010 HPMAs.
Elsewhere, we've added Best Electronic Act to honor artists whose sound primarily derives from non-stringed instruments such as synthesizers and drum machines. We've reinstated Best Pop, Best Ska (with Reggae/Dub) and DJ Night (with Club DJ). The Latin categories have been collapsed into one from three, with the idea that it will be another plus-size list of nominees and/or that any Latin Contemporary nominees, for example, will easily slide into another category, be it Jazz, Pop or Metal.
The rest is just semantics, more or less. Best Indie-Rock is now Best Indie/Alternative, Best Punk now Punk/Garage, Best Roots-Rock/Americana down to just Americana. Last year's more esoteric categories - Progressive Rock, Hardcore/Noise and Instrumental/Experimental - have been compressed into Experimental/Noise.
Got all that? We sure as hell hope so. This is a Music Awards ballot, not a calculus final. But just in case we have left anything out, there's a spot on there for you to tell us that too.
Finally, since we donated Best Twitter Personality (Music) to this past summer's Houston Web Awards, we've created Best Scenester in its place. We hope to recognize those people who may not be musicians themselves, but without whom the local music scene wouldn't be nearly as interesting as it always is. That ought to be a fun one.
Anyway, thanks for reading this far. Time to start nominating; the nomination ballot is below. Nominations close at 5 p.m. Friday, October 14, with nominees announced some time early the next week.
It takes a while to go through all those categories, you know, but we will release the results as soon as we possibly can. The editors reserve the right to supplement readers' nominations with artists/recordings we think are worthy. That is what we get paid for, after all.
The Houston Press Music Awards showcase will be Saturday, November 12.
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