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2010 Mercury Music Awards

British music does not, it must be said, have an Oscars. The Brits are, somewhat unashamedly, about a combination of one part critical acceptability to three parts unit-shifting ability. The NME Awards are, well, the NME awards. They reflect who students who are swapping STIs to at the time. The Ivor Novello is just too old, smug and irrelevant. The only award which can legitimately claim to matter is the Mercury Music Award, whose 19th installment takes place tonight in London.

The Mercury is helped by the ostensibly simple premise; the best British album of the last 12 months, from any genre. The award recipients are often surprising, though there has often been the suspicion that shock value was the main reason for certain decisions – even Roni Size’s family would concede that he was a somewhat undeserving winner. 

2010’s list is, it must be said, underwhelming. Is it a reflection of the state of British music or simply an indicator that we’ve had a pretty barren year? Probably the latter, though it must be said that another such sparse showing in 12 months time would really get the alarm bells ringing. Here are the runners and riders: 

Biffy Clyro ‘Only Revolutions’ – Caledonian emo which has certainly pushed a few emotional buttons in the younger generation, despite lyrics which veer between nonsensical to utterly irritating. Still a band with more ambition than ability, it’s hard to grudge them their success as they’ve espoused the old-time values of getting on the road and finding an audience the hard way.

Villagers ‘Becoming a Jackal’ – Dark, confessional lyrics to similarly sparse backing. One can’t help but note that they are Irish. Some Rufus Wainwright here, some Randy Newman there – admittedly after watching the Exorcist. It’s not bad.

Corinne Bailey Rae ‘The Sea’ – Soul diva we are legally obliged to call ‘sassy’. As clean as a whistle. Soul which could be made in a lab.

Mumford & Sons ‘Sigh No More’ – Strangely massive folksy indie. There is nothing wrong with Mumford and Sons, it’s just odd that they have made it big while literally dozens of bands who sound the same have yet to escape folk song oblivion. Possibly too straightforward to win.

Paul Weller ‘Wake Up The Nation’ – It’s a brutal invocation of this year’s list that Weller made it. It’s a Weller album, a little more focused than some of his turn of the century dross, but really nothing special.

Wild Beasts ‘Two Dancers’ – They’ve divided opinion all right. The album is a mélange of various influences and ideas, some more successful than others, but at least they are trying. One of the favourites and just out there enough to be in the running.

Kit Downes Trio ‘Golden’ – The jazz nomination! Absolutely no chance in hell.

Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’ – Hmmmnn. People love this, despite it being really, really boring. She’s photogenic and press friendly – remember how badly Speech Debelle did in the publicity glare, because the judges will have – so might be worth an each-way punt.

Dizzee Rascal ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’ – He’s good at what he does, and he’s got something most of the nominees this year haven’t; personality. Would be an interesting choice.

Foals ‘Total Life Forever’ – Huge leap from their over-stylised debut, there’s a lot going on here. Oxford posh boys image may work against them.

I Am Kloot ‘Sky At Night’ – Elbow’s worthy mate, banging away for years without anyone really noticing. A good album, but it would be a surprise if he walked away with the gold.

The xx ‘xx’ – A nagging, trebly guitar riff. A forced, faux-sexy breathy girl voice. A forced, faux-disconnected boy voice. Quite interesting on a couple of singles, slightly irritating over a whole album.

So there we go. Who will win? With the Mercury, it’s never a foregone conclusion!


6 Responses

  1. Who cares? They’re all shite. I particularly hate that Biffy Clyro. Whats that wee hairy tattooed guitar-up-far-too-high twat all about?
    They should just be honest and give it to the token-est one of them, or the jazz one, just so it’ll give the press something to write about.
    Imagine if Weller wins it? Jesus, what does that say about the state of UK music? He’s the mod Val Doonican now.
    In fact, a real mod would just laugh at the state of him.

  2. I enjoyed that HW!

    Absolutely agree on the tokenism – they need to give it to the jazz/folk one at least once. Why not this year? Everything else is average. Why not?

  3. Yeah, I felt better for that rant. Suicide Tuesday and all that………..

  4. my moneys on Dizzee Arsehole.

  5. ….and for the alt.country types out there ; I know there are a few ; may Dusty humbly recommend Slaid Cleaves album ” everything you love will be taken away “.


  6. ….and may I recommend Damaged by Black Flag. I know its not from thisyear, but it IS the sound of the end of the world.

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