Woohoo - the nominations for one of the UK's most hotly contested music prize, the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2012, were announced yesterday! With £20,000 prize money up for grabs (how many Mulberry bags can we buy with that?!), the nominations and eventual winner are always the subject of much discussion.
Our music blogger Priya Elan gives us his verdict:
"I have a theory that everyone has their own personal definition as to what the Mercury Music Prize should represent.
Should the prize be awarded to an album that was wildly original, one that pushed the boundaries of what music can be and changed everything that came after it? Or should it go to an album that burned up the charts and united the public in its warm emotional glow? Who knows. The official site certainly doesn’t help. The terribly flimsy definition states that the prize “celebrates recorded music of all genres.” Which could, of course, mean anything.
Personally it seems to me that the prize should go to a game-changing album that ruffled a few feathers by being musically and lyrically dynamic.
In previous years many of the nominated albums have reflected some of these qualities for me. To take a random example from the last five years; albums by Burial, Laura Marling, The Horrors, La Roux, The Invisible, The xx, Wild Beasts, Katy B, Metronomy and even 2009’s much maligned winner Speech Debelle were all worthy and groundbreaking.
Which made me slightly disappointed when the shortlist for 2012 was revealed yesterday.
Because while many of the 12 albums are “quite good”, I’d be hard pressed to say any of them bar Jessie Ware’s Devotion, Django Django’s self titled album or Plan B’s Ill Manors were ground breaking or Mercury Prize worthy.
The blurb beneath the shortlist for 2012’s suggest that the nominees all “share a common sense of adventure, pushing music in fresh and dynamic directions.” But would anyone describe the songs of super cheek boned singer songwriter Ben Howard as “dynamic”? Or The Maccabees attempt to be the Arcade Fire as “fresh”? Possibly not.
So who should win? I think it should go to Plan B's Ill Manors - an album that encapsulated the social unrest of last 12 months so brilliantly, I could almost forgive him for ‘The Sweeney’. Do you agree?"
And just in case you need some inspiration...
Alt-J An Awesome Wave
After renaming themselves Alt-J (after the keyboard command) these four Leeds uni grads released their debut album An Awesome Wave in May this year combining folk, rock and indie influences with electric synth riffs to create a signature trip-hop sound.
Django Django – Django Django
East-end lads Django Django’s self- titled debut album throws back to the post-punk 80’s with a neo-psychedelic twist that is perfect for the modern dance floor, well deserving of their 5/5 rating by The Guardian.
Field Music – Plumb
Recorded at home in their purpose-built studio, Field Music’s fourth album cements the brother’s reputation for classic Brit pop-rock teamed with a refreshingly ambitious tone that reflects contemporary everyday life. Uniquely effective.
Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge
Stepping away from the sound of his previous six albums, Standing at the Sky’s Edge venture into the psychedelic proves a winning formula, Hawley at his best yet.
Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
Captivating and passionate, Every Kingdom’s poignancy is complemented by terse contrast of Howard’s folk tang.
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
After touring with Adele last year, 25 year old singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka’s going it alone in 'Home Again', a soulful sound that distinctly juxtaposes influences from Otis Redding and Bob Dylan.
Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?
Having previously supported Bon Iver on tour, Lianne La Havas’s debut album Is Your Love Big Enough firmly confirms her place as one of the most exciting female talents to hit the London scene this year.
Sam Lee – Ground of its Own
Intimately sourcing his material from modern traveller communities Sam Lee’s history as an art graduate directly imprints upon this folk-inspired debut album Ground of its Own.
The Maccabees – Given to the Wild
The Maccabees third album Given to the Wild shows how far the Indie five-some have come since their formation in 2004. Upbeat and original, their music is as catching and cool as ever.
Plan B – Ill Manors
Ill Manors, Plan B’s second number one album, is the accompanying soundtrack to his film of the same name.
Roller Trio – Roller Trio
Fresh from its release last month, Roller Trio’s debut album is already causing a stir amongst critics. Having met at Leed’s college of Music this ménage-a-trois are rocky, jazzy and oozing with youthful 20-something nonchalance.
Jessie Ware – Devotion
Jessie’s singing career began after she provided vocals for dance act SBTRKT. Graciously, she has said she’d like The Maccabees to win but we think that might be because she went to school with lead singer Felix White!
Additional reporting: Georgia Lacey