A glittering who's who of Nepal's music industry will all be present at the Birendra International Convention Centre on Saturday, 8 February for the Close-up Hits FM Music Awards 2059- Nepal's swadeshi answer to the Grammys.
Hits FM has been involved in promoting artists in the Nepali music industry since the station first started broadcasting in 1996. They are credited for "making" many Nepali pop icons, including the King of Nepali Pop, Nabin K Bhattarai. The rapid growth of the Nepali music industry is mirrored in the steady increase of award categories. What started out with seven has slowly expanded this year to 15, including Folk Record of the Year, Folk Album of the Year and Best Song in a Foreign Language. While the last comes as a surprise, what doesn't is the fact all the "Foreign Language" songs are in English.
This year the enormously popular 1974 AD leads the rolls with five nominations including Song of the year, Album of the Year and Record of the Year. The Seasons and Kunti Moktan follow their lead with three nods each. A special presentation is to be made for a significant contribution to Nepali music.
Ever since 1998 when Hits hosted their first show-notably sans major sponsorship-it has perhaps become the most credible music award in an industry awash with dime-a-dozen promotional events. What sets Hits apart is an extensive and exhaustive "democratic" method for releasing their nomination catalogue. The two basic criteria for songs to be in the running are registration with Hits FM 91.2 and date of release within the year of the awards.
"Music comes for the heart, and Hits FM Music Awards have become the pulse of modern Nepali music," says Jeevan Shrestha of Hits FM. "The awards, like good wine, gets better with age."
Until Radio Nepal was established in 1950, for most Nepalis music was an ephemeral affair. It was not until 1965 that the radio launched the careers of artistes like Hari Bahadur Ranjitkar and Bhairab Bahadur. Nepalis got their first taste of Adhunik with Bachu Kailash, the first Nepali singer to record his own LP. Until then folk songs were the logical medium to express individual and underclass angst and anger. The decade starting 1968 was definitive for Adhunik with lots of experimental, avant garde music being composed by people like Nati Kaji, Amber Gurung and Gopal Yonjan. Now this genre has the maturity, self-confidence and world class professionalism to attract young fans who have had enough exposure to tell the good from the bad, the original from a copy. And the best thing to happen to Nepal's music industry has been the arrival of private FM stations.
Today, music is a Rs 150 million industry, with some 250 albums of all genres from folk to native rock being released every year. Gone are the days when aspiring singers lurked outside Radio Nepal studios in Singha Darbar, waiting to be summoned for a live studio session. Now it's possible write a song, have it arranged, recorded and delivered to the nearest radio station within a working week. of course, a single or an album does not make a star. That takes talent, perseverance and lastly, a good media platform. And nothing can replace the reach of FM radio. And the awards help by rewarding talent with celebrity status.
Those not fortunate enough to wangle an invitation to the awards this year can watch the event broadcast live on Nepal Television, Hits FM 91.2, www.nepalnews.com and www.hitsfm.com.
Kunti Moktan won awards for Best Female Vocal Performance, Record of the Year and Album of the Year.
1974 AD won award for Best Performance by Group or Duo with Vocal.
Sugam Pokharel (1 MB) won the award for Best New Artist.
Nima Rumba won the award for Best Male Vocal Performance, Pop.