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Experience trumped novelty at the 2014 Echo Music Awards, Germany’s equivalent of the Grammys, with veteran rockers, some of which had their hey-day 30 years ago, beating up more up-and-coming artists.
80s synth-rockers Depeche Mode, 13-time Grammy winning hip-hoper Eminem and Brit pop star – and former Take That member Robbie Williams – were among the night’s big winners, with younger nominated acts including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Imagine Dragons, being shut out.
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The Echo for best life act went to Dusseldorf punk band Die Toten Hosen, a feature on the German music scene since the 1970s. An even older rocker, Sir Bob Geldof, presented them with the trophy, calling the German group, who have sold more than 15 million albums, “one of the best bands in the world” and comparing them to U2 and Bruce Springsteen.
Even the Echo Award for best national newcomer, went to a well-known face, singer Adel Tawil, active since the 1990s with bands The Boyz and Ich +Ich, whose first solo album, Lieder, hit number four on the German charts last year.
“I’m not really what you’d call a newcomer,” Tawil admitted, accepting his award.
48-year-old singer Ina Muller, accepting her Echo for best national rock/pop artist, caught the evening’s more nostalgic mood, quipping: “I think pop has finally entered menopause.”
But there were a few fresh faces on this year’s Echo roster, including violinist and YouTube sensation Lindsey Sterling, who won the Echo for best crossover act.
“I was the violist that wanted to dance,” said an obviously moved Sterling accepting her prize. “I know that sounds strange but now I’m living my dream.”
Also living the dream is 17-year-old English singer-songwriter Birdy, who took the Echo for best international solo artist. Birdy’s second album, Fire Within, has been a top-ten charter across most of Europe.
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The top prize for album of the year went to German pop folk singer Helene Fischer for her latest disc, Farbenspiel, which broke records by going platinum within five days of release in Germany, Austria and Denmark. The Russian-born entertainer, who also hosted the Echo Awards ceremony, took home a second trophy for best German-language artist in the “schlager” genre, accepting her award from Columbian superstar Shakira.
Other German winners included country rock duo The BossHoss, whose career has received a major boost since the pair began their stint as coaches on the local version of The Voice; upbeat popster Sportfreund Stiller, who took the best national alternative rock/pop act trophy; singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko, Echo winner for best national rock/pop artist and Santiano who won their second Echo in as many years in the national folk music category.
Best video went to German YouTube stars YoTitty, who appeared to have mobilized their 3 million-strong online fan base in voting for the category, one of the few not picked by the Echo industry jury. Hamburg hip-hop producer and artist DJ Koze won the critics prize, selected by a separate jury of music critics, for his album Amygdala
Max Herre was a surprise winner for best national hip hop artist, beating out the more urban sounds of German gangster rappers Sido and Bushido with his unplugged Fremde album of lyrical rap.
The Echo for best best international newcomer was also a surprise – not to say shock: Swiss singer Beatrice Egli, winner of Germany’s version of American Idol, beat out multi-Grammy winners Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for the honor. Another raised eyebrow moment came when Danish hard rockers Volbeat won the Echo for best international alternative act, despite 30 Seconds to Mars, Placebo, Imagine Dragons and rock legends Black Sabbath being nominated in the same category.
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Swedish electro DJ Avicii, who missed out at this year’s Grammys, where his album True failed to get nominated, received his due at the Echos Thursday night where he won two prizes: for best electronic dance music act and for best single for “Wake Me Up.”
The three hour awards show, which was broadcast live on German public broadcaster ARD, featured performances by the likes of Kylie Minogue, Brit popper James Blunt and Birdy. But, true to the sprit of the night, it was the old guys who really rocked the house. German hip-hop veterans Die Fantastiche Vier celebrated the 25th anniversary as a band with a blitz rap medley of their greatest hits – 25 tracks in 250 seconds – and sampling pioneers Dieter Meier and Boris Blank of Swiss band Yello – who received Echo for lifetime achievement – got the audience bouncing with a live remix – using Blank’s cellphone – of their 1985 hit “Oh Yeah.”
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