Artiste Of The Year: Shaggy

Observer senior writer

Monday, December 10, 2018

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The Jamaica Observer kicks off its reflection on the year in entertainment. This daily column reflects on the achievers, trendsetters, those who died and the controversies.

From the moment Sting and Shaggy announced in January that they were making an album together, it had even the most savvy music business insider scratching their heads. That album, 44/876, and tour of the same name were the big winners of 2018.

Shaggy, who sold millions of albums on the success of dancehall-lite songs like Boombastic and It Wasn't Me, got back in the game in massively. 44/876 is the best-selling reggae album of the year with over 50,000 copies sold; it is one of five nominated for a Best Reggae Album Grammy.

Billboard Magazine placed the European leg of the 44/876 Tour at number four on its Hot Tours, behind no less than Celine Dion who topped that list. According to the publication, their European trek of 23 sold-out shows, which started in June, grossed over US$10 million.

At a time when most of his contemporaries are playing clubs, this year 49-year-old Shaggy and Sting performed at the Grammy Awards, appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America and performed at Royal Albert Hall to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 92nd birthday.

The unusual 'bromance' was also covered extensively by other major publications including Rolling Stone, USA Today and Forbes Magazine.

Their shows highlighted songs from 44/876, like Don't Make Me Wait and Morning is Coming, but as Billboard reporter Patricia Meschino reported, their set at New York's Pier 17 Rooftop in September, covers the artistes' careers.

”Throughout their performance at the spectacular outdoor venue, Sting, 66, and Shaggy, 49, consistently reaffirmed why their tour has been so successful. The duo displayed an effervescent, undeniable chemistry: Shaggy played Sting's hype man and Sting was Shaggy's bass player as they alternately took the lead, harmonised, and sang back up for one another (alongside their outstanding backup singers Melissa Musique and Gene Noble). Their nearly two-hour set was dominated by Sting's vast, exquisite repertoire of solo hits (Fragile, Love Is The Seventh Wave) and the punky-reggae classics from his years with The Police (Roxanne, So Lonely, Walking On The Moon). They performed Shaggy's chartbusters too (Oh Carolina, Angel, I Need Your Love) and in between rendered songs from 44/876, supported by a superb band comprised of Sting's and Shaggy's respective band members, including Sting's long-time guitarist Dominic Miller.”

Shaggy won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with Boombastic in 1996, as one of dancehall's rising stars. He is in line for a repeat next February as an elder statesman.

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