Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Mercury Music Prize...

OK so for those of you who don't know the Mercury Music Prize is the annual opportunity for those white middle-class intellectual broadsheet readers to listen to a bit of hip-hop. It's the Grammys of the British chattering classes and is always good for a debate.

The basic premise is that it's the award for the best British album of the past year. I'm not sure how often it hits the nail on the head but usually the shortlist is, if nothing else, interesting and helps some more obscure artists get some press. Also because the prize isn't genre specific chances are you won't have heard of a third of the artists on the list and so it gives everyone a chance to discover something new.

Last night the 2009 prize was awarded to the British hip hop artist Speech Debelle for her album Speech Therapy. Now I have to admit not making much of an effort with this years list. What with the move and all I just hadn't got round to it. Here was the shortlist -

Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
Florence and the Machine - Lungs
Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
Glasvegas - Glasvegas
Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
La Roux - La Roux
Led Bib - Sensible Shoes
Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew
Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Twice Born Men
The Horrors - Primary Colours
The Invisible - The Invisible

It wasn't a list that particularly filled me with tingles of excitement, of the bands I knew it was probably the Friendly Fires that I was holding out for. But what struck me was that there was a hell of a lot of similar sounding stuff in there. After hearing Speech Debelle I don't think she's the best winner the prize will ever see, he music is hardly revolutionary and when compared to the last hip-hop winner (Dizzee Rascal for Boy In Da Corner) I really don't think it stands up well, but, that said, I don't think it's bad.

All in all the list just left me wondering if that's all the UK had to offer in the past 12 months, there's nothing particularly original in there, I've had fun dancing to a few of them and play a couple regularly but I'm cynical as to their longevity.

Here are a few you should hear if you haven't already:

Speech Debelle - The Key

Friendly Fires - Skeleton Boy

Bat For Lashes - Daniel

La Roux - Bulletproof

Florence & The Machine - Drumming Song

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