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The Challenge of Determining Best Song of The Year in Zimbabwe

While in other countries the “prestigious status” of the Best Song Of The Year is often given in honour of popularity, record sales, artistic achievement, technical proficiency, and overall excellence, most of that only makes up a tiny portion of what goes into judging a song for this special honour in Zimbabwe.

December presents an endless list of year recaps, mostly the best of best from music, movies to moments.

The lists, half the time churned out by media outlets or authorities in different respective areas and spaces, are often controvertible due to a paucity of definitive and clearly laid out criteria.

One such predicament is often seen in Zimbabwe every year when determining the best/biggest Song of the Year (SOTY) for several reasons.

While in other countries and economies the “prestigious status” is often given in honour of popularity (chart position), record sales, artistic achievement, technical proficiency, and overall excellence, most of that only makes up a tiny portion of what goes into judging a song for this special honour in Zimbabwe because we don’t have proper structures for that yet.

South Africa got SABC summer song, which I understand is voted for – not very efficient- but it gives a rough picture of how a SOTY can be determined, to some extent.

In Zimbabwe, voting for song of the year hasn’t proven to be a very efficient way as to determine SOTY, we would want to look at different metrics/criterion. These include; the biggest song on the radio, the hottest/popular song in the streets, the biggest song in the clubs (provided we have a proper DJ pool), the most-streamed song digitally, and perhaps a favourite song from the cooperates (one that got many endorsements etc), among other parameters.

Song of the year might not necessarily be a Zimbabwean song. I’ll give you an example. In 2010, Shakira and crew blew up across Africa with Waka Waka (This Time for Africa). This year, John Vuli Gate by Mapara A Jazz featuring Ntosh Gaz and Colano can be a contender for song of the year. Jerusalema by Master KG & Nomcebo could as well be 2020 SOTY but it was released last year. Methinks that if foreign songs are voted for/played on local radios, it means they are also fit for song of the year discourse. This also means our local songs can also compete in other countries.

A commonplace trend I’ve noted in our country is that most of the times some people confuse the song of the year with the artist of the year. Just because one had a successful year doesn’t mean they deserve the SOTY honour.

Artists like Nutty O, Holy Ten, Poptain, Anita Jaxson, Jah Master, Nox, ShaSha, Janet Manyowa, Jah Prayzah, Freeman, Van Choga etc are contenders for artist of the year. They had a great year. Nay, it doesn’t necessarily mean SOTY would come from any of those.

Nox had his stint on the air with Melody and he had two songs on Master KG’s album (Mufara & Kure Kure). That’s quite huge for a Zimbabwean artist.

Nutty O had many hit collaborations including My Time, Do Anything, Problem (from Pungwe Sessions Volume II), Kokai featuring Poptain and Safe. These are some of the biggest songs of 2020.

Artists like Winky D (Njema album), ExQ and Tocky Vibes (Wakatemba), Enzo Ishall undoubtedly held the first quarter of the year.

Jah Prayzah (Hokoyo) and Asaph (Like So/Mhoroi) held the second quarter of the year.

The third quarter was held by Holy Ten, Jah Master, Poptain, Mambo Dhuterere, Fidel Countryboi and Anita Jaxson, with the last heavily dominated by Freeman, Nutty O, Alick Macheso and Winky D.

Stumbo by Mabaruma & Baba Harare, Ke Star by Focalistic featuring Vigro Deep, Gemma Griffiths’ Ndinewe, Zvandofarira by Herman, Mzoe7’s Asambeni (and other sungura songs) are some of 2020’s biggest songs which you might have forgotten about.

Now, it is after such a long reflection that one can fully appreciate how big of a challenge it is to try to determine which qualifies to be Best Song Of Year with clearly set out metrics.

Written by Tinomuda Khosah aka Dj Khosa. He is a Bulawayo born DJ who stays in Chipinge. He has played at BarCode, Motoring Club, Horizon, Club Connect, Lake October Festival Masvingo and Club 263. Check out his mixtapes are on Mixcloud @tinokhosadj.

Picture: Poptain & Allanah performing Fadza Mutengi

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