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Did MGK Really Deserve to Win Alternative Rock Album of the Year at the iHeart Radio Awards?

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The 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards were held on May 27th, and I’m not going to lie, some of the winners surprised me a little bit. In my humble opinion, Cage the Elephant should have won Alternative Rock Artist of the Year, Best Group of the Year should have gone to the Jonas Brothers, and Harry Styles should have won male artist of the year. However, the category winner that made me feel the most conflicted was Machine Gun Kelly winning Alternative Rock Album of the Year for Tickets to My Downfall.

Now hear me out…sure, many of the tracks on the album were great. My personal favorites were “concert for aliens,” “lonely,” and “my ex’s best friend” with blackbear (the obvious one). These songs really showcased MGK’s beautifully gravelly voice. However, despite the definite strength shown through some of these songs, the album was extremely inconsistent. Songs such as “WWIII,” “banyan tree,” and “kevin and barracuda – interlude” made me feel more like someone was screaming in my ear or like I was listening to someone’s private conversation than it felt like I was listening to music. While shall we say, yelling, is frequent, and perhaps even appreciated, in rock as a genre, alternative rock is characterized as being more mellow, and as such, I believe that if Tickets to My Downfall were to win any awards, they should come from the rock category awards, not the alternative rock category ones.

“Well wait,” you might be saying, “If you don’t think Tickets to My Downfall was the right winner of the Alternative Rock Album of the Year award, what was?” The answer is pretty simple actually: Chip Chrome and the Mono-tones by The Neighbourhood (funnily enough, Tickets to My Downfall and Chip Chrome and the Mono-tones were actually both released on the same day: September 25th, 2020). It’s very rare to find an album with both consistently euphonic songs and an interesting storyline, and Chip Chrome and the Mono-tones consummately gives both to the listener. Anshu More of The Georgetown Voice said it best: “the album has an undeniable cinematic quality to it and comprises a sonic kaleidoscope of eclectic songs.”

Given the undeviating mastery shown in Chip Chrome and the Mono-tones that Machine Gun Kelly failed to provide in Tickets to My Downfall, Alternative Rock Album of the Year should have been awarded to the Neighbourhood.