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Logo’s NewNowNext Awards tap into Europop craze with Robyn, Oh Land performances

April 11, 2011 | 11:29 am

ROBYN_OHLAND

Logo’s NewNowNext Awards prides itself on staying ahead of the pop-culture curve.

The annual telecast, which airs tonight, focuses on what is "new, now, next" instead of offering trophies that honor the previous year's pop culture. Though the awards traverse all facets of entertainment, the gay- and lesbian-themed network has managed to keep a particularly close pulse on what's ready to pop in music.

A little-known Lady Gaga made her television debut on the awards in its first year back in 2008. And although she's now one of pop's most ubiquitous names, the singer lost both categories she was up for. Ironically, the Brink of Fame Song category went to Semi Precious Weapons that year, a band that would go on to serve as an opening act on her ongoing “Monster Ball Tour.” And four years later, she was honored with the Always Now, Forever Next Award -- the show’s equivalent of a lifetime achievement trophy -- which has previously gone to Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Paula Abdul.

Now in its fourth year, the telecast aims to uphold its reputation of attempting to stay ahead by enlisting Swedish pop chanteuse Robyn and Danish electropop upstart Oh Land as the marquee musical acts.

Though pop-punkers Panic! At The Disco and upcoming dance diva Wynter Gordon also performed, Logo made the show all about their import performers, with both singers getting longer performance slots (although only one song from each will be televised).

“We’re looking for the next thing that’s about to blow up,” Dave Mace, senior vice president of original programming for Logo, said of this year’s bookings. “Performers that are energetic, upbeat and cutting edge and appeal to the majority of Logo viewers.”

When asked whether the network was trying to tap into the ongoing Europop craze that is dominating the charts and has veteran artists such as Usher and Spears getting in on the action, Mace said it was pure coincidence.

“I was thinking about that today. There wasn’t any thought behind it, it just so happened that they aren’t American [artists],” Mace said. “Whatever the sound is and what we think is going to pop, that’s what we go for. But maybe there is something to it. Some really great pop and dance music is coming out of that area.”

After her rehearsal Thursday, Robyn said getting the extended performance slot -- she got a blink and you'd miss it performance slot on the 2010 Video Music Awards -- was a way to reach her hardcore fan base.

“I know a huge part of my audience has been the gay audience, but you never know how that is going to transition into a more commercial space. If it’s going to work or not,” she said. “Having a huge support from the gay scene on a more underground level, that’s one thing. But I didn’t know if I’d be able to make that transition into a commercial setting. And MTV [Logo is owned by Viacom's MTV Networks division] is very commercial.”

Oh Land, born Nanna Øland Fabricius, is still introducing herself to U.S. audiences. The NewNowNext Awards marks only her fourth TV appearance -- she’s hit the late-night circuit aggressively doing "Late Night With David Letterman," "Last Call With Carson Daly" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (“We booked her before they did,” Mace laughed.)

“It’s been really fun,” she said of making the rounds in support of her recently released self-titled American debut. “For me, it was amazing to finally get the songs that I’ve been carrying around like my protected babies. It’s good to get it out on television, which is like the biggest concert you can do.”

Oh Land went on to win the Brink of Fame: Music Artist trophy -- which Gaga also lost back in 2008. Mace said he thinks the singer is poised for success.

“The sound that she has is unique. Visually, she’s got some interesting things going on if you’ve seen her videos and again it feels like something fresh and on the cusp of something new,” he said. “It’s interesting that both Robyn and Oh Land seem like they could share the same genetics somehow. We’re even spacing them out in the show.”

The NewNowNext Awards airs Monday at 10 p.m. on Logo.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Twitter.com / gerrickkennedy

Photo: Robyn, left, and Oh Land perform at the NewNowNext Awards. Credit: Getty / Logo

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