Key Notes - an Irish music blog by Steven O'Rourke

Key Notes blog

Mercury Falling Flat

Sep 5

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007  RssIcon

It would be very easy for Key Notes to slam the Mercury Music Prize as yet another example of ‘musos’ coming together to congratulate themselves on how cool and diverse their collective taste in music is, and as this blog likes nothing better than easy, that’s exactly what it will do.

The boys and girls behind the Mercury Music Prize clearly know more about music than we do. How else can you explain the decision to award 1995’s prize to Portishead above Oasis (Definitely Maybe), Supergrass (I Should Coco) or, if they wanted leftfield, Leftfield (Leftism). Portishead have gone on to produce approximately one studio album since winning the Mercury, showing that the judges faith in the band using the award as springboard for a glittering music career, (as the prize is designed to do) was incredibly ill-founded. 

1999 was another occasion when the Mercury judges showed us mere mortals how cool they really where when Talvin Singh usurped the likes of Blur, Beth Orton, Faithless and The Chemical Brothers to claim the award for his debut album OK. The problem with OK was just that, it was nothing more. Even 13, which, in Key Notes humble opinion, is Blur's weakest album, was more deserving of the nod that year. However, Singh ticked a number of pc boxes that the judges couldn’t ignore. Middleclass white boy rock just wasn’t hip enough anymore it seemed. 

And so we come to last night. The winners of the 2007 awards were (and lets hope you haven't taped it for viewing tonight) Klaxons for their debut, Myths of the Near Future. Now, far be it from this blog to predict the future, but as interesting (indeed as refreshing) as Klaxons are, it is very much the sound of 2006/7 and the fickle record buying public will shortly move on to whatever sound du jour our friends in NME and Hot Press tell them they should be liking in 2008.  They are hardly a band that we'll still be talking about in 10 years time.

Personally, Key Notes vote would have gone for Bat for Lashes. Fur & Gold is a lovingly and skilfully crafted collection of music veneered with haunting vocals and moments of pure unadulterated pop eccentricity not seen since Kate Bush disappeared over the top of that hill. It’s not the best album this blog has ever heard by any means, but it has longevity, a timelessness, that Key Notes just can’t hear in any of the other contenders for this year’s prize. 

With all that being said, music is about opinions, and an album one person hates could easily be another’s favourite and that’s why Key Notes believes we should stop all these silly awards, after all, the only real winners are the sponsors behind the prize. Tellingly, not many Mercury winners have gone on to forge massively successful careers (it’s too early to tell for The Arctic Monkeys). 

Over to you then dear readers. Who did you feel was most deserving of last nights award; or indeed, like Key Notes do you feel that music awards serve no greater function than promoting the awards sponsors (whom, you'll note, Key Notes has failed to acknowledge)?

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4 comment(s) so far...

Re: Mercury Falling Flat

hmm, v interesting post this, first of all the mercury music prize has failed to be awarded to a number artists who went on to become big names but had just released their debuts at the time.

Here is a shortlist of 'losers' for the mercury prize
Seth Lakeman (2005)
Amy Winehouse (2004)
The Streets (2002)
Coldplay (2000)
Robbie Williams (1998)
Oasis (2005)

Talk about getting it wrong by the judges

By Rev Jules on   Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Re: Mercury Falling Flat

Ah now, bit harsh EMF have been slogging along for years now and its about time someone gave them credit .... WHAT the klaxons are not EMF ... Shock Horror. Jaysus got that a bit wrong Unbelievable

By kavanelli on   Friday, September 07, 2007

Re: Mercury Falling Flat

'Dummy' by Portishead is a fantastic album: the Mercury Prize is for best album of the year, not meant to be a prediction of who'll have the longest/biggest career. It's completely irrelevant to criticise it for picking winners who haven't followed up, or for not rewarding 'big' acts (didn't Achtung Baby lose to Screamadelica in the first year?)

By aidan on   Monday, September 10, 2007

Re: Mercury Falling Flat

I don't think 'big' acts should win just because they're a big names at all. I think, if we're going to have these awards then those most deserving should win. That happens far too often in the case of the only have to look at this years winners to see that. £20,000 in prize money could do more for a band with a future than a one-trick pony like Klaxons.

By Idiot Kid on   Monday, September 10, 2007