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Nationwide Mercury Prize Nominations 2008

Jul 24, 2008
The Mercury Prize is awarded for the best album from the UK or Ireland. As the range of artists up for the award is so diverse, it is incredibly difficult to judge. Former winners include; Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys, Antony and the Johnsons and PJ Harvey. Nominated artists usually see their album sales increase and the winner receives 20,000 pounds.

The list as always causes music debates around the country, which is also the one of its aims. The Mercury Prize was originally set up as a sort of antidote to the Brits and intended to broaden people's musical tastes and draw attention to lesser known acts (....and boost album sales).

So the nominations are:

Adele - 19
British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?
Burial - Untrue
Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Estelle - Shine
Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim
Neon Neon - Stainless Style
Portico Quartet - Knee-deep in the North Sea
Rachel Unthank and the Winterset - The Bairns
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement

It goes without saying that this list will not please everyone and I think that it is worth pointing out a few noticeable absentees. MIA, Portishead, Hot Chip and Foals are all no shows.

So how do you decide which album is the best? Must it be the most pleasant to listen too? or, most interesting? The idea of the prize is that it is awarded to the most innovative and ground breaking musician(s) as the prize marks music moving forward.

This vision may lead you to question some of the nominees; for me, in particular, Adele, The Last Shadow Puppets, Estelle. Saying that, I am thankful to see that there has been no nomination of; Kate Nash, Ting Tings or The Pigeon Detectives.

The claim that the Mercury Prize 'focuses on the music on the album, it does not take into account album sales, media exposure or live performances', almost becomes laughable when you are looking at the list. If this claim is true then why would Adele have been listed? Her voice is good, and a couple of her songs have been well received but I think that most people would agree, her album does not match the hype that surrounded it upon its release.

The Mercury prize is always criticized for a number of different reasons. Looking at past lists there appears to be a trend in categories; there seems to always be a 'token' pop, urban, indie, folk, jazz, world, etc, act. It does give the impression that the panel needs to 'tick boxes'. This makes the award less credible because it becomes commercial, which is the exact opposite of what it is meant to be.

So how the hell do you choose a winner? I think the award has just made it too hard for itself. It's almost a pointless debate. The award is daft and I believe it to be an impossible task to compare such diverse genres of music and choose the best. The only real good thing about this award is that it introduces acts to people that they may not have heard of and helps the artist on a path to bigger success.

Does anyone even really care who wins? I mean it's judged by a load of journalists and music critics and we have enough of their opinions shoved down our throats all the rest of the year anyway. The award just stinks of press and money. It's pompous and fake.

But it does stir up music disputes and gets people passionate about the music they like. It encourages musical evolution and it reflects the zeitgeist of our time.

It's very hard to say whether this award should be taken as seriously as it is or not but one thing is for sure; I'm a sucker for it. I'm going to watch the awards and I will definitely find myself caught in debate about who would be a worthy winner.
About the Author
Sub.tv Musicis a website for people who are into new music. It's a place to discover new music, bands and events in your local area and nation wide with reviews, blogs, photography, interviews, discussion and more, all about your music scene.
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