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2024 Aotearoa Music Awards: 5 Artists Who Missed Out

Five deserving artists who didn’t quite make the cut at this year’s Aotearoa Music Awards, from standout albums to music videos

2024 Aotearoa Music Awards overlooked artists

L-R: Melodownz, Vera Ellen, Jujulipps

After a year-long break, the Aotearoa Music Awards return this week to celebrate New Zealand’s top artists and music.

The finalists, announced last month, include Stan Walker  and Avantdale Bowling Club’s Tom Scott, both with several nominations.

With the eligibility period extended to 17 months (August 1st, 2022, to December 31st, 2023) to compensate for lost time, competition in each category is tougher than ever.

Before this year’s awards on Thursday, May 30th, at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre, our editorial team not only predicted the winners in 12 of the major categories but also considered several artists who could easily have made the cut.

Below, we highlight five artists who we feel deserved a nomination, spanning standout albums to thrilling music videos.

See the full list of 2024 Aotearoa Music Awards finalists here.

Vera Ellen, Ideal Home Noise

Vera Ellen’s excellent second album deservedly won this year’s Taite Music Prize, and took out the third spot in our Best New Zealand Albums of 2023 countdown.Ideal Home Noise not only showcased her growth between albums, but it also solidified her reputation as one of Aotearoa’s formidable indie artists. It’s also worth noting that Ellen had previously won Best Alternative Artist in 2022 for her debut, It’s Your Birthday.

Clementine Valentine, The Coin That Broke the Fountain Floor

Formerly known as Purple Pilgrims, Clementine Valentine’s stunning album— their first under their birth names—claimed second spot in our Best New Zealand Albums of 2023 countdown, narrowly edged out by Erny Belle. It’s no wonder then that we believe the dream pop duo’s debut Clementine Valentine album deserves greater recognition. It’s a true refinement of their talents, with the sisters sounding as graceful and connected as ever. A Best Album Artwork nomination is well deserved, but it doesn’t feel like enough.

Melodownz, LONE WOLF

Melodownz released his impressive debut album, LONE WOLF, in late 2022, cementing his position as one of the most prominent voices in New Zealand hip hop—a status he had already earned through several well-received EPs, notably the seminal 2017 record Avontales. It was no surprise, then, that LONE WOLF won him the Best Album award at the 2023 Pacific Music Awards. With blistering tracks like “Money”, he could easily have earned a nomination for either Best Album or Best Hip Hop Artist.


Highlighted in Rolling Stone AU/NZ’s ‘Future of Music’ series, any of Hawke’s Bay-bred rapper and producer 9lives’s recent streaming behemoths could have vied for Best Single. Also known as Max Jardine, 9lives boasts over six million monthly Spotify listeners and has pioneered the Sigilkore sound, fusing trap, hyperpop, cloud rap, and electronic music. Notably, 9lives has garnered attention from US stars like Trippie Redd and Odetari, earning the moniker “the Metro Boomin of the underground” for his modern, boundary-pushing style. (9lives did receive a nomination in the public-voted People’s Choice category.)

Jujulipps, “Aeroplane Mode”

Jujulipp’s vibrant “Aeroplane Mode” was one of the best songs released in New Zealand last year, but it also had one of the best New Zealand music videos of 2023. Directed by Ezra Simons (Earth Tongue, Soft Bait) alongside AD Oscar Keys (Sunbed Films), it hypnotically brought to life the empowering message of Jujulipps’ song, while paying tribute to her childhood at the same time.

Jujulipps won the 2024 Taite Music Prize’s Auckland Live Best Independent Debut for her EP Get That Shot, one of last year’s standout releases from Big Pop Records. The EP also secured seventh spot on our Best New Zealand Albums of 2023 countdown.