Experimental Music Love

July 26, 2008

Mercury (not music anymore) Prize 2008

Filed under: Features — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 11:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It only seems like last week I was moaning over the shocking quality of the 2007 Mercury Prize, finding myself absolutely bemused by the judges’ decision to overlook quality albums by Cherry Ghost, Jarvis Cocker, Little Man Tate, The Hours, Candie Payne and, of course, the Twilight Sad, instead deciding that New Young Pony Club, The View and Klaxons represented the very best of what British music had to offer.

This annoyed me.


Especially the New Young Pony Club bit. God, they were really awful, weren’t they? Just terrible. Anyway.

This year, I have mellowed somewhat, and, though the judges have again failed to find 12 albums that all break bounds and raise hopes and actually sound quite good, their task has been much harder this year. Mainly because, British music is at the trough of horrible 10 year cycle of brilliance to embarrassment. From five years ago, when the British music scene was once again the pinnacle of music excellence, proving itself a thriving, exciting thing, where The Libertines became icons for a generation, Franz Ferdinand still had the refreshing feeling of something new, and Hope of the States were still formed, things have become somewhat less enthralling. Alas, and of course, we’re now suffering the unfortunate effects of such a galvanising time, and all that seems to remain are tired ideas and an annoying assortment of copycats who seem to have the talent to match their originality.

With this in mind, I sympathise with the judging panel this year, and fully accept some of the more unfortunate selections this year. It does seem there was only room for one set of 90s greats with ‘head’ in their name though. Which is a shame. Oh, and the inclusion of Adele does seem quite farcical as well of course. I thought people had forgotten about her already anyway. Oh well. She’s not going to win. I’d hope. Her tedium has had enough encouragement already. Someone should just tell her it’s okay and she can stop now and get that job in Tescos she’s always dreamed of. And how does she get a nomination when M.I.A is left lacking once again? It’s all too reminiscent of the farce that was the Brits’ Best Female category. There’s just no other British artist making better music than M.I.A at the moment, and it’s a horrible shame what many would consider as the most respected awards in the industry doesn’t recognise this. Blasts! I digress. And not very eloquently so. To get back on track, here’s a list of the nominees and some words about them. Maybe some links too if you’re lucky.  


Adele – 19
I’ve said enough. Dull and tedious and so undeserving of any music award really. Luckily, there’s enough sanity left in the world for me to be sure she gets nowhere near that statue. Unless someone leaves it near the buffet table of course.
Chasing Pavements


British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
A band who have managed to impress the critics, as well as a small percentage of the population, with decent enough indie rock. This record may mark their weakest moment however, but few would begrudge them the recognition. Not a chance of winning though.
Waving Flags


Burial – Untrue
What many would see as the coolest artist on show here, and of course goes straight to the top of everyone’s favourites list. And it would be no shock if this enigmatic purveyor of dub step, or whatever it is, gets the £20,000.


Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid
Their second nomination after their wonderful début,
Asleep in the Back, allegedly lost out by just one vote to the thankfully forgotten Ms. Dynamite. The greatest British band of the decade and this is them at such an incredible peak that sees them turn into the epic indie Gods they are. The most deserving winner of a Mercury ever perhaps, and the judge’s may hopefully raise a few eyebrows and give this the nod. I’m sure other facial movements will also be going on as this happens.
One Day Like This


Estelle – Shine
I did quite like
American Boy. Her style does fall flat over a whole album though and she lacks the undeserved ‘cool’ tag Ms. Dynamite had as well, so no real hope for her. Oh well Estelle.
American Boy


Laura Marling – Alas, I Cannot Swim
I just don’t get it. I really don’t.
New Romantic


Neon Neon – Stainless Style
Possibly my third favourite of the nominees, and another impressive offering from old Gruff. Inventive enough to be with a reasonable shout too.
I Lust You


Portico Quartet – Knee Deep In The North Sea
As always, there’s a couple I hadn’t realise existed before. Their My Space makes them sound quite fun though. I wouldn’t place any high bets though.


Rachel Unthank and the Winterset – The Bairns
Again, a resounding ‘whhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooooooo?’ from me. Uncut says it’s ‘glorious’ though. Trust them if you will. The Guardian even chip in with ‘gorgeous’. My Space thumbs up from me too. Very pretty voice.
Lovely folk tune


Radiohead – In Rainbows
Another classic, and a resounding return to more rock orientated roots. Like Scorsese before them, they may well just get the award because it’s so perplexing as to how they haven’t come by it before. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.
House of Cards


Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
I have never loathed a voice so much as Robert Plant’s. And the depression I go into whenever I even think of this album is too much to bear. So I’ll move on…
Please Read the Letter


The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement
…to this little gem. All 60s swish, and sounding fantastic for it. Alex Turner will go down as one of the greats of British music, and this only adds to that future legacy. He’s may not have room on his mantle for another award though.
The Age of the Understatement



That’s it then. I hope you now feel fully informed. Or sick. Just as long as you’re feeling something. Or someone. It doesn’t really matter who wins anyhow. I think the real winner is music. Or maybe Nationwide. Just think how many people are going to open accounts because of this? Just think!




  1. Oh Tom, I love Laura Marling (like, actually LOVE her). But I can see why you don’t agree.

    Comment by Tom Q — August 19, 2008 @ 9:32 pm |Reply

  2. […] embraces everyone’s opinion as equally valid with a great community spirit. And to combat a debateably iffy Mercury Prize line-up, they’ve come up with their own snappily named Pluto Prize. As a direct competitor to the […]

    Pingback by The Return of Music News!!! 08/09/08 « Experimental Music Love — September 7, 2008 @ 10:47 pm |Reply

  3. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Comment by sandrar — September 10, 2009 @ 1:04 pm |Reply

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