I hesitate to write about the Mercury Music Prize, seeing as it’s a load of arse. But it is such an important event in the music industry’s calendar that you can’t afford to ignore it. I do hate it though. Witness music journalists clambering all over themselves last year to make out that they had been championing Antony and the Johnsons before anybody else had even heard of them. Yeah right.
Last year’s MMP wasn’t all bad though. Everybody likes to scoff at the ‘token jazz’ nominations, but I ended up buying Polar Bear’s album on the basis of their performance at least year’s bash — and what a wise purchase it was.
I’ve only heard two of the albums on this year’s shortlist. I’m pleased that Hot Chip’s ‘The Warning’ has been nominated. It is not as good as their debut, ‘Coming On Strong’. Indeed, many of the tracks on ‘The Warning’ feel a bit like watered-down versions of old Hot Chip tracks. But there are some great moments in the album, and I’m pleased that Hot Chip are getting more widespread recognition.
The other album I’ve heard is ‘The Eraser’ by Thom Yorke. I’m quite surprised that Yorke has let himself be nominated, given all the baggage that comes along with the MMP. You know, the fact that it is a poisoned chalice and so on. The MMP works best when it is giving a leg-up to new or unknown acts. Thom Yorke doesn’t need it, and if he were to win the panel would be probably be criticised for ignoring lesser-known acts. I keep on meaning to review ‘The Eraser’, but I haven’t got around to it yet. Soon.
I’ve heard a couple of Lou Rhodes’ tracks and they were kind of boring. And I can’t believe that Muse are nominated. People still pay attention to those pompous arses?
Here is the long list of artists nominated for the MMP. Besides those shortlisted, the only ones I’ve heard are ‘The Campfire Headphase’ by Boards of Canada which was pretty weak, and Field Music’s eponymous album.
Personally I think it is a bit of a scandal that ‘Field Music’ hasn’t been shortlisted. If you’ve never heard of them, they are kind of from the same scene as Maxïmo Park and The Futureheads. Although they are all good, Field Music are by far the best of the three bands. I think their album was delightful and unique; a modest masterpiece. Maxïmo Park were nominated last year, so why aren’t Field Music there?
I am actually struggling to think of any eligible albums that I would really have liked to see on the shortlist. British (and Irish) music isn’t in too good a state at the moment in my view. Most of my favourite albums in recent years have been from foreign bands. I guess it would have been nice if Broadcast were nominated, but I don’t think ‘Tender Buttons’ is a properly great album.
I’ll just end my post with this. I haven’t heard the album, but I know for a fact that it is awful. How can it not be? If the Arctic Monkeys win I think I won’t be able to handle it. They are already the favourites amongst those who just take in the hype instead of the music.