The 12 Albums of the Year shortlisted for the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize, were announced yesterday (Wednesday 12 September.) Full list here: “This year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist showcases a wonderful variety of musical voices, emotions and ambitions”, claims Simon Frith, Chair of Judges. “There are eight debut albums on the list and four albums from more established artists. The sheer range of music here celebrates the abiding ability of British musicians to find new ways to explore traditional themes of love and loss while making an exhilarating soundtrack for life in 2012.”
The 2012 Albums of the Year are:
Ben Howard Every Kingdom
Django Django Django Django
Field Music Plumb
Jessie Ware Devotion
Lianne La Havas Is Your Love Big Enough?
Michael Kiwanuka Home Again
Plan B Ill Manors
Richard Hawley Standing at the Sky’s Edge
Roller Trio Roller Trio
Sam Lee Ground of its Own
The Maccabees Given to the Wild
The overall winner of the 2012 Prize will be announced at the Barclaycard Mercury Prize Awards Show at the Roundhouse on Thursday 1 November 2012. Here were some of our initial thoughts on the list of npominations and those that missed out!
Mercury Prize Nominations 2012: Thoughts:
Michael James Hall
As awards go the Barclaycard Mercury Prize is neither a laughable industry backslap-fest nor an ultra-credible celebration of the avant garde. It has always trodden it’s own kind of middle ground without ever slipping too deeply into the quicksand of coffee table dross it so often toys with. With an industry contracting and shrinking so hard and so fast that eventually every single band in the world will sound exactly like beige paint, this year’s nominations have, finally, succumbed to the temptation to go big and to go bland. I don’t wanna attack the artists involved – congratulations to those nominated and I’m sure they are all extremely hard working. It’s just it’s hard not to laugh at a world where bands like Breton and Weird Dreams go unrecognized by the Mercuries but the likes of Jessie Ware and Plan B are lauded. I think Plan B is actually meant to be the ‘dangerous’ one this year. That’s not good is it? He’s about as dangerous as a cat. While Richard Hawley deserves all the respect the industry can offer he doesn’t really much need the Mercury Prize (and I’m sure he won’t get it). Ben Howard isn’t worth discussing lest we get riled, surely. I’m not qualified to rag on artists I’ve never paid much attention to so that’s where my assessment ends, really. All I’m saying is this – the Mercury Awards can be good, they can be cool as fuck if they wanna be, but playing it excessively safely isn’t gonna inspire anyone. My quid is on Alt-J to win by the way, which’d be, like, alright I s’pose.
Yet again we have the ‘hyped’ bands or the trendy bands held in high regard by ‘those in the know’
Where is Saint Saviour, where is Grimes [if she is allowed as she is Canadian] These women are at the forefront of electronic music at the moment.
I also would have loved to have seen a shout out to Kate Bush.
Django Django and Alt J are expected, as is Jesse Ware. Not without talent, but trail blaizers…no.
However I’m glad to see Richard Hawley on there. I’ve loved the album, and Michael Kiwanuka is a supreme talent.
There’s too much ‘whiny boy music’ on the list for my liking.
The Mercury Music Prize has always puzzled me is it an award for innovation and under appreication? (Roni Size, Pulp, Dizzee Rascal, Speech Debelle)Or mass consumption (M People, Elbow, The xx, The Klaxons)? Or is it so self conscious of its own shadow that it seeks to straddle the two ending up as some kind of ‘worthy’ trinket for those that have served their time? (P J Harvey) This year’s list doesn’t answer that puzzle indeed it’s possibly more of a compromise than ever.
I think there are deserved places for Field Music, Alt-J, Django Django and maybe Jessie Ware. But the middle of the list is quite ‘coffee table’ reflecting Mercurys need to be reflecting some kind of ‘hip’ populism so you have the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Maccabees, Hawley, Ben Howard, Lianne Le Havas included. While Plan B’s inclusion as this year’s ‘hip hop’ nominee seems puzzling when he is already established.Richard Hawley is a very talented man but his second nomination here and as a possible winner what would he really get out of it at this stage in his career apart from being handed one of those big comedy cheques? There are a long list of those that missed out Tindersticks, Breton, Saint Saviour, Dexys, Orbital, Rustie, Mary Epworth and Bill Fay. All in all as ‘quirky’ as they are Alt-J would probably be the most ‘Mercury winner’ but I’m left wondering why Mercury even matters anymore when they are already an outfit on the rise?!
So, the Mercury Prize nominations are in again are they? A quick glance at the list for this year’s nominations and I have to say I’m unsurprised. I’m sure they’re great albums, but is the Mercury Prize an award worth winning? I’m not convinced it is. Last year saw Adele nominated. What does she want with the Prize? I mean, she had one of the biggest and fastest selling albums of the year. What would it do bar perhaps adding a few more sales to people who actually care about stuff like that? Nothing. It doesn’t add “credibility” – though that’s not why I dislike awards such as this. I don’t like awards such as this because it’s bullshit. You have to pay to even be considered and it’s hardly based on actual merit. This year’s nominations are mostly – as always – predictable, with “safe” acts that everyone who’s in the know is supposed to be into right now. Alt-J? Check… Lianne La Havas? Check… Jessie Ware? Check… They’re good, but are they that good? I’m not sure they are.
What are your thoughts on the Mercury Music Prize?