Thursday, 1 November 2012

The News: Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2012

PJ Harvey, Primal Scream, Pulp, Suede, Portishead and The XX have all won Britain’s favourite yearly award. It's the award that merits music quality above popularity, and for that reason, we endorse the Mercury Prize. Nominations were announced earlier in the year, picked by journalists, industry figures and musicians.

The album with superior musical quality tends to be picked. It has been this way for the past few years (with the exception of Speech Debelle in 2009; it should have been given to Bat For Lashes). PJ Harvey did win the award in 2011, amidst the public’s prediction and favouritism towards Adele. Let England Shake rightfully won, and the album is a good example of a Mercury Prize winning album. 

So here are the 12 nominees:
  • Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
  • Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
  • Django Django – Django Django
  • Field Music – Plumb
  • Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky's Edge
  • Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
  • Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?
  • Sam Lee – Ground of its Own
  • The Maccabees – Given to the Wild
  • Plan B – ill Manors
  • Roller Trio – Roller Trio
  • Jessie Ware – Devotion
Surprisingly, Spiritualized didn’t receive a nomination for their album Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. Nor did Trailer Trash Tracy’s debut Ester and 50 Words for Snow by Kate Bush. How Kate Bush hasn't received a nomination is beyond me, it's clearly the best British album since last year’s winner Let England Shake. With both Spiritualized and Kate Bush being established artists; it seems they have been snubbed because the Mercury Prize is attempting to be some sort of discovery award. This goes against their principles of awarding the best British album, which is slightly annoying.

Everyone has their favourite two, three artists on this list. The Mercury Prize is an unpredictable award, however when looking at these albums straight on, looking at the musical quality, three to four albums stand out; and they're the ones that will (should) win.

Alt-J, Django Django, Field Music, Plan B and Jessie Ware are my picks for this year. If I had to be more specific, then I would go for Jessie Ware, just nudging it over Django Django. Alt-J are the current favourites, and it's not hard to see why. Their debut album An Awesome Wave is a fantastic album with three / four brilliant tracks. Quality wise, Django Django and Jessie Ware seem to have something the others do not. They have musical quality, originality and a clear unique style. 

Some of the albums that have been nominated are very poor. Given to the Wild by The Maccabees is an average album at best. Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka, again, was average. These two albums are the 'duds' of this year’s nomination. Both should be replaced by Kate Bush and Spiritualized. Is Your Love Big Enough? By Lianne La Havas didn't catch my attention, and I think the award givers will see that this album isn't as 'good' as others. The same goes for Ben Howard and Sam Lee.

An outside 'bet' would be Richard Hawley. Don't count this man out; his album Standing at the Sky's Edge is generally a solid album. Roller Trio are complete outsiders with their contemporary jazz debut, but you never know with the Mercury Prize who will win on the night.

I will update this page with the winner when it's announced. I've been listening to these albums, getting a feel of their worth and upstanding qualities. This isn't the best nominations list, but it's not the worst I've seen. 

Alt-J are the winners for 2012! Thought?

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