Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Mercury Music "Why's" 

The shortlist for this years Mercury Music prize was announced today and looking through the list of albums which are apparently the 12 best of the year, you have to sit down and think “What is the point?” Fair enough if you’re a middle-aged family car-driver that needs to know what silver disc is most appropriate for his in-car CD player, but for those of us who actually enjoy music there appears to be little need for this list, other than to show us the most mundane and dull releases of the year so we know exactly what to avoid in our local record shop. Oh, and it provides poor quality internet humour blogs with something to write about.

According to Neil McCormick who, for reasons best known to himself, publicises himself as the music critic for the Daily Telegraph this list contains bands “chosen from the margins", perhaps someone could explain to me exactly which margins multi-million selling artists such as Radiohead or Coldplay come from? Or, indeed, which margin the TV advertisted Athlete and The Thrills are struggling to get their music heard from. Yes, fair enough, as usual there are the token, Jazz, Soul and Eliza Carthy nominations. Although, it must be pointed out that the panel claim that there are not token nominations, but are equal with the other albums to be listed. For this to be true, it implies that there must only be one good album released in each of these genres each year and… Actually, I think they might be onto something with that.

Also joining the tokenistic gesturing is Dizzee Rascal, presumably included to try and convince the public that the panel are not in-fact a bunch of balding, white, middle-class music critics, but are in fact down with their ghetto brothers. An act about as convincing as, well, Ms Dynamite winning the award last year. The rather large world of dance music also gets a single representative with Lemon Jelly, two blokes twatting about in masks doing songs about ducks. Come back The Shamen, all is forgiven. Well, nearly all.

The Darkness get a mention, and, while it could certainly be described as one of the albums of the year, the year in question is 1982, spandex rules the earth and ‘shame’ has yet to be defined as a concept.

The Thrills, who earlier this year, released the single One Horse Town, which was swiftly followed by the album One Trick Pony, are who I believe will win it, not because I think they're any good, but mainly because Morrisey likes them, and they’re Irish. The panel can easily be swayed by things like that. After all, looking at that list, it’s clearly not about the music.