The Mercury Prize comes round so often it’s starting to make our heads spin. We’ve decided to cut out the middleman and save ourselves further writing on the subject, by issuing nomination tips for this year’s, or indeed any year’s gong.
Dizzee Tempah - 'Dynamite Dirtee Disco-very'
It’s been a great year for Dizzee Tempah and his set at this year’s Glastonbury festival really sealed the deal between him and mainstream crossover audiences. With lyrics such as “I ain’t taking this, I aint faking this, I’m well on my way to owning a Sevenoaks townhouse”, his brash, expansive materialism makes a red-blooded counterpoint to these economically depressive times.
As he says on ‘Luvverly Crazy’ – "You got to get luvverly with me and my crazy music/cos that new model Honda Civic ain’t gonna buy itself". Some have accused DT of abandoning any pretense at artistry to pander to the lowest common denominator in order to sell more records, but what the inclusion of the likes of ‘Birdee Song Skank’ and ‘My Heart Will Go On (Dirtee Bit)’ on the list for a serious prize shows is chiefly that the judges are definitely not racist, which is surely a profound enough sentiment in itself.
I Am Elbow - We’re The Stars In The Sky
It’s been a great year for the boozy semi-acoustic rock of the mid-life gentlemen of I Am Elbow. After their triumphant set at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, it seems that they’ve finally found the mainstream audience these plucky underdogs have been lacking on their first nine albums, and are warming the cockles of a nation’s heart with their Billy Elliot-style story of rise from being a moderately popular band to being a slightly more popular band.
With the swooning orchestral summerness of ‘I Don’t Particularly Mind This One’ and its life-affirming lyric “Aren’t we all just stars in the sky? It’s a lot like being people, by analogy” irretrievably lodged in the upper reaches of the Radio 2 playlist, expect a win to prove popular with politicians looking for a contemporary band to namecheck in interviews.
Jamie Blake - Untrue Mirror
It’s been a great year for reclusive producer Jamie Blake, and his eerie urban-inflected post-dubstep. When considering his chances, the judges would do well to bear in mind the likes of ‘(brackets)’, ‘No Noise ’, ‘#hashtag’, ‘Mothercare’, and ‘Good Quality Car Stereo’, which have become minimalist barely-audible anthems. The fact that he hasn’t left the house except for Rizla since 1999 means that he missed this year’s Glastonbury Festival.
However, this hasn’t stopped him from letting rip in press interviews with outrageous asides about ‘trying to make the best album possible’, and ‘if anyone likes it that’s a bonus’. An outsider at the moment, look for those odds shortening, as bookies more used to laying numbers on Carlos Tevez goals are taken in by the belief that anything this dull-sounding must be inversely that important.
Everything Wild Horror - Azure Balloon
It’s been a great year for Everything Wild Horror, as they’ve built on earlier critical fawnings to broaden their audience, yet defy narrow characterisation as a band who merely copy their massive personal trove of obscure records. Indeed, they remain very much opposed to being labelled to any degree. “It’s not music you should be allowed to put a label on”, argues furrow-browed frontman Brian Arthouse.
To this end, he has refuted tagging of his new record as baggy, big-beat, bossa nova and baroque, and is gradually working his way through the alphabet in a strict rota of refutation. Instead, he suggests: “It is not what it is. It simply is.” Whether the judges will believe that it is the winner depends on whether they are capable of being seduced by the bossa nova likes of ‘What Do You Mean Neubaten Went Soft After Halber Mensch? Haven’t you heard Die Hamletmaschine?’, the big-beat of ‘Big Beat’ and the baroque of ‘Meaningful, Slow’.
Adele Goulding - '42'
It’s been a great year for Adele Goulding, who has become with super-big with big hits like ‘Octaves 3 To 9 Inclusive’, ‘I’m Sorry Jools, But I’ve Already Been On Your Programme Nine Times’, and ‘Mother’s Day Gift’, all culled from an album named after the average age of its demographic.
The people have voted with their wallets, but will the judges smile upon her heartfelt modern soul music when they have already heard it cut as montage filler to every BBC drama series trailer of the past six months? Well, that depends on whether they’ve stopped sobbing every time they hear lines as heart-rending as the refrain of ‘Outro Ballad’: "Why, why, why did you hurt me in such a universally identifiable way?".
Portico Downes Bib - J-A-Z-Z
This year’s jazz entry, not much is known about Portico Downes Bib outside of people who like that sort of thing, but the people who like that sort of thing say that this is defintely a good example of that sort of thing, and if you liked this sort of thing too, then this is the sort of thing you’d want to win, if you cared, which you don’t, obviously, because no one who likes this sort of thing gives a damn about that sort of thing, and, if we’re honest, why should they?
Kate Harvey - 'Witches & Hoovers'
It’s been a great year for ageing maverick Kate Harvey, renowned for poughing a very singular furrow. Her 14th and latest, ‘Witches & Hoovers’ is an anti-war concept record that flashes between the medieval Somerset Witch Trials and a housewife trying to figure out which really is the best brand of washing up liquid.
It has been rapturously received by the dozen critics who fell hopelessly in love with her after short interviews in the 90s, and now imagine that they bear a special bond of friendship. The judges, who are all against war, will probably find fresh richness is lines like: “It’s 1902 and I’m dying in a trench full of blood and sick and amputated feet-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-li-di-di-di-da” and “War is probably not the best idea anyone ever had. Di-da-da-no”.
Who deserves to win the Mercury? - vote