9 Sep 2010

alright alright alright alright alright alright

I read this article on one of those papers that you get on the train in London, which claimed that the Mercury Prize organisers (whoever they are...) aren't actually looking for 'the best album of the year', but 'the album that best represents that year in British music'. So in a way, that kinda suggests that they're looking for the most 'average' record of the year - the one that is closest to most of the stuff that's going on, the 'median' or the 'mode', potentially the most mainstream, middle-of-the-road, default album of the year. Obviously this isn't what they think they're doing, but it explains why so much of the shortlist is always predictable dross.

On another note, what a load of crap that Nihal Arthanayake spoke on the award show. I guess it's a hard situation for anyone, to begin to somehow weigh up a load of completely unrelated and unrelatable records, but he managed to come across as very narrow-minded, and I genuinely don't see how anyone who listens to so much music could deem any album by Corinne Bailey-Rae a 'masterpiece'. So it's about death; so is a lot of music, but she manages to make death sound like a lukewarm lemon towel. And what was Jools Holland doing on there? Why do people still employ him to present things?! He is without doubt the worst presenter in the history of television.

I didn't think Two Dancers winning was necessarily a long shot, after the kind of records that have won it before, however the fact that Lauren Laverne had to ask whether an 'indie' album like that could 'cross over' to win - suggesting that no independent record could win without making some kind of concession - showed just how quickly these people will discredit a nominee for non-musical reasons.

The xx won and that was great. They deserved it. I love the record and, through some bizarre but not unwelcome shift in circumstance, everyone else in the country does too. Good for them. However, this has not reconciled me to the Mercury Prize. It still makes no sense, and I know it's stupid for me to care - obviously I wouldn't rant online about the Brit Awards (...do they still do those?) or indeed the NME Awards - but for the institutionalised national prize that's supposed to be based on 'artistic merit', it's always quite embarassing. The last winners of the 2009 Canadian equivalent - the Polaris Music Prize - were Fucked Up! Just imagine if that had happened in the UK.

The XX - Crystalised (Popular Damage Assimilation) by populardamage