mercury prize 2014/
The Mercury prize, for all its flaws, is undoubtedly the most prestigious, and commercially beneficial award a British album can receive. James Blake’s Overgrown saw a 2500% sales increase after picking up the prize last year, whilst 2009’s ‘Becoming a Jackal’ by Villagers saw sales jump beyond 300%, simply for being nominated.
The current economic climate, coupled with the fee that Mercury demand for consideration, has seen each years shortlist drift further and further from the Independent music scene, as Major Labels and massive coverage reign supreme. Media darlings Royal Blood, a two piece rock band that sound like the love child of The Wytches and Eagulls with no taste buds, seem to tick all these boxes. A band that make Punk Music for Arctic Monkeys fans, the duo are essentially the perfect Mercury winner. Alternative enough to save face, yet destined to succeed in a genre born out of the frustration caused by the same old generic sounds being pushed by the very same labels that ultimately profit from the sales of Royal Blood’s self titled debut album. A win for RB is a step in the wrong direction, a vote of no confidence in manufactured pop that, in turn, benefit’s the very people punk music set out to destroy.
Ironically, the real competition for the major labels may be in the form of pop; and the double agent? FKA Twigs, a trip hop twinged vixen blending glitchy beats with blissful New York soul. Twigs set the bar high with early EP releases, before landing the killer blow with debut ‘LP1’ and, as early bookies favourite, is in good stead to become Young Turks second artist to take home gold, following XX’s win in 2009.
Elsewhere, East India Youth and Bombay Bicycle Club take up the two spots reserved for indie music, with Youth delivering synth driven creativity that BBC can only dream they were still relevant enough to pull off. One can only assume their new one simply got the nod on the premise that, 4 albums in, they were yet to be nominated, as Wild Beasts and Chvrches, to name but two, dropped substantially more worthy albums before the cut off date.
Kate Tempest, a mockney ‘Envy’ with the incredible talent of making South London rap sound like an A-Level drama project, takes one of the three urban slots, the other two occupied by funk-laden Scots ‘Young Fathers’ whose ‘DEAD’ is best Hip Hop album nominated since 2009’s ‘Speech Therapy’, and Jungle, a Huw Stevens crafted Brass sculpture of their Edinburgh counterparts.
Nick Mulvey takes Aeroc percussion and adds Sheeran-esque vocals, destroying any slight inkling of originality instead creating a horrific ‘tory-core’ sound that shouldnt even exist, never mind take up a spot. File next to ‘James Blunt' on your oak bookshelf.
Underground Electronic music is, once again, criminally overlooked, with Damon Albarn’s distinctly average ‘Everyday Robots’ preferred to much stronger, yet less commercially viable releases by Lone, Mogwai & SOHN , whilst Jazz music is represented by both GoGo Penguin & Polar Bear, the former relying on big keys, whilst the later takes a deep post-dub approach.
And finally, theres Anna Calvi who, post-2011, had slipped everyone’s sub-conscience. Name your favourite Calvi song? Exactly.
yes/ FKA Twigs, East India Youth, Young Fathers, Jungle, GoGo Penguin
no/ Royal Blood, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kate Tempest, Nick Mulvey, Damon Albarn, Polar Bear, Anna Calvi
the mercury prize winner is announced wednesday 29th october at the hospital club/