Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mercury Falling

Sorry, a bit late with the news, but just in case anyone out there doesn't already know - these are this year's Mercury Nominations:

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not#
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Ballad Of The Broken Seas
Editors - The Back Room
Guillemots - Through The Windowpane
Richard Hawley - Coles Corner
Hot Chip - The Warning
Muse - Black Holes And Revelations
Zoe Rahman - Melting Pot
Lou Rhodes - Beloved One
Scritti Politti - White Bread, Black Beer
Sway - This Is My Demo
Thom Yorke - The Eraser

Some obvious inclusions here that I'd manage to overlook (not that they'd necessarily be on my ideal list) - Guillemots, Sway, Richard Hawley all quite predictable really. The inclusion of dismal Interpol copyists Editors is perhaps the least inspired decision. Why not Elbow instead? Only one 'token' nomination from specialist genres here (middlebrow choice Zoe Rahman) - no folk (Vashti Bunyan for heaven's sake!) or contemporary classical. DJ Martian rightly pointed to Neil Cowley as a superior jazz option - I would have liked to see Andrew McCormack included.

The omission of Matthew Herbert is a real oversight. He should have been nominated in previous years (for Plat du Jour, Bodily Functions or Goodbye Swingtime).

The Isobel Campbell/Mark Lanegan collaboration was partially funded by the Scottish Arts Council. Whilst it's great to see that funding for new music projects is available somewhere - the resulting album is, in my view, nowhere near exciting enough for a nomination.

The inclusion of Muse is a laughable reaction to popularity and media hype.

Of those nominated, I'm rooting for Hot Chip for slightly biased reasons, and I'm sure they have a decent chance at winning if the judges swing in the direction of electronica this year. The fact that it's an excellent album should also help. If not 'The Warning', then the award must go to Scritti Politti's outstanding 'White Bread, Black Beer' if it is to draw any credibility at all from this rather conservative list.

A shame that neither the Burial nor Boxcutter albums were eligible.

Much like the Kaiser Chiefs last year, the Arctic Monkeys are the tedious clear favourites. They will get enough albums of the year plaudits from mainstream music magazines come the end of the year. The arrogance of NME editor Conor McNicholas is, as usual, astounding, as he claims that he will be 'flabbergasted' if the Monkeys don't win. Aside from the fact that there are more worthy contenders, there's no reason for them to win purely because their success has been based substantially on misleading NME hype. Given the judges' predilection for snubbing popular favourites - I wouldn't be at all surprised if they don't win!

Of course, we shouldn't forget moaning Thom Yorke - The Eraser is probably just bold enough to stand an outside chance, especially as Radiohead have so far been neglected.

What this year's list reveals more than ever is the need for strong financial backing to even be considered for the award. Hot Chip got nowhere with 'Coming On Strong', their debut on Moshi Moshi, but now with the backing of EMI they have much better prospects. Boxcutter and Burial were not nominated because Planet Mu and Kode9 probably have little money to spare for entrance fees, even if the resulting exposure from a nomination would raise their respective profiles considerably.

The winner will be announced on September 5th.

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