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Bowie vs. Grime: The 2016 Mercury Prize Story

 
By on Friday, 16th September 2016 at 11:00 am
 

People. I think we need to have a serious conversation about the Mercury Prize. Last year, our Steven wrote this thought piece about how he felt tastemakers weren’t doing the general public any favours by choosing underdogs and acts we’d never heard of instead of popular favourites. Where was the public’s say in all of this? Well, for 2016, it definitely sounded they’d taken what Steven had said to heart. In an unprecedented move in its silver anniversary year, 11 of the 12 nominated artists this year were either household names and major label signings, or at least a major festival draw in the case of Savages, who are signed to Beggar imprint Matador.

2016 has not been kind to us. In addition to losing Prince in April, we also lost David Bowie, the most beloved weirdo alien in Ziggy Stardust. One needs only to look at how Bowie decided to hide his cancer from the world, only his closest family and himself holding on to that kernel of knowledge until the very end. He must have done this on purpose, so the anticipation towards ‘★’ would not be unfairly tainted by any questions on what influence his impending death might have had on the final product.

When the shortlist of 12 nominated albums was unveiled last month, I was honestly initially struck with surprise that ‘★’ had been nominated. Or maybe I shouldn’t have been? Maybe I should have assumed that Bowie, having such a far-reaching impact from his many decades and albums of influence over countless fans and musicians, would automatically be nominated? What I found even weirder were the countless Tweets and messages I saw following the nominations announcement saying Bowie deserved to win.

Um, sorry, David. I was more interested in the acts still alive that I might be able to see perform one day. However, Michael Kiwanuka, Laura Mvula and Radiohead seemed way too safe bets. Not just one but two grime acts, Kano and Skepta, were recognised for their contribution to a genre that had begun in East London a decade ago. Add in the astonishing inclusion of the 1975, the Manchester band much derided for their foaming at the mouth fans and suddenly, taken together, this all suggested to me that this was going to be one interesting match.

Skepta 400x400 Konnichiwa album cover

After all that was said and done, it was Skepta and his fourth album ‘Konnichiwa’ who proved victorious. Indeed, judging from the post-ceremony reactions last night, it was quite an arresting ‘hello!’ from the Tottenham artist to those unfamiliar with not just him but with the entire genre. As I predicted, there were many public calls that Bowie had somehow been robbed of what had been rightfully his, and by some guy they’d never heard of, of a genre that they’d heard of either and therefore meant nothing. However, there is no escaping the argument that had ‘★’ indeed been chosen as the winner of the 2016 Mercury Prize, there would have been enough detractors accusing the tastemaker panel of the sympathy vote. Frankly, it would have been lazy on the panel’s part, had they given the Mercury to Bowie. Full stop.

Skepta could have very easily gone the route of Young Fathers 2 years ago, choosing to say very little, such that there would be so little room for him to be criticised. However, despite being in shock upon the announcement he’d won, he took to the microphone with relative aplomb. He used the opportunity of all eyes of the music world on him to say “Thank you to everybody who was there for me when I was going through depressed times. I don’t know man, I’m so thankful…” And in a moment of poetic beauty, he concluded his acceptance speech by honouring both Bowie and the late Amy Winehouse.

In a conversation with NME after winning the award, Skepta was very clear that his award after coming from such humble beginnings should be a call to action for young people: “I want them to be themselves…When old people are telling them to be quiet, and old people are telling them they’re not right, and people who just don’t understand kids are just saying stuff to them [to suit] their own boxed-in lives, I want the kids to be like, ‘No. Do you know what, Skepta showed me that I just need to do and say how I feel. Because you only get one chance to say how you feel, you know.” Now, who do we know (or rather, who have we followed) that might have said something like that?

I refuse to repeat some of the worst comments I’ve seen in reply to the BBC video Tweet of the moment when Cocker announced the winner. You can read them here if you’re truly interested. We know from hearing it from the words coming out of Jarvis Cocker’s mouth that he and the rest of the tastemaker panel were aware of the potential public backlash of their selection and felt they had to be prepared to defend their choice. This decision can be interpreted in many ways. But one most obvious interpretation to me, in these times we live in where divides by class, race and even just plain experience are proving so prominent, feels particularly awful and terrible. In case you missed it, Bowie’s own Facebook page have provided a transcript of Cocker’s words:

“OK, I have the result here. But, I’ve got to tell you a little bit of a story before I let you know whose name is inside here. OK? Now, myself and my fellow jurors, about 4 months ago we started off with 223 albums. We had to listen to those and that was whittled down to the twelve that you’ve seen performances from tonight. But in the end, the winner came down to a contest between two black stars.

“And we as a jury decided, that if David Bowie was looking down on the Hammersmith Apollo tonight…and let’s face it maybe he is, we’ve seen traces of his influence in many of the bands you’ve seen perform here tonight…if he was looking down at the Hammersmith Apollo tonight, he would want the 2016 Hyundai Mercury Prize to go to…Skepta.”

At the end of the day, the Mercury Prize is a piece of metal on a shelf, another subjective award given to a musical act. For those who really wanted – and expected – Bowie to win this year, I have to ask, what exactly did you hope would be achieved from ‘★’ winning the gong? By awarding it to someone else, someone like Skepta who can and will undoubtedly inspire future generations to be inventive, to be outspoken leaders, to be trailblazers, to be someone who will make a difference to others? That, my friends, is the real prize.

 

Mercury’s in Retrograde – Time for a Change?

 
By on Friday, 6th November 2015 at 11:00 am
 

In a British music lover’s life, there are very few homemade moments that excite us and promote discussion. There is, of course, the BRITs, but they are awards predominantly based around popularity. The one time of year actual music lovers can truly partake in the awards ceremony ‘buzz’ is late October, when the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize is announced. It all begins with the announcement of the date on which all will be revealed, after which countless music Web sites and journalists write articles suggesting their favourites they hope will get on the coveted the shortlist. Of course, very rarely is anyone correct – and this is what separates the Mercury Prize from any other awards ceremony – although they choose a majority of acts you’ve heard, with the rest you’re left wondering if you’ve been a social outcast, as they’re names that you can’t even pretend to have heard before.

The Mercury Prize’s pretence is that it gives the award and nominations to acts that have, and excuse the pun, the musical ‘X Factor’. It goes to acts based solely on musical credit, and to an extent you believe them. It’s certainly not a popularity contest. In 1998, Gomez’s ‘Bring It On’ beat The Verve’s ‘Urban Hymns’; one of which is now considered a classic, and the other is just a debut album. However, you can’t help but feel that the tastemaker panel is just trying to stand out from the crowd by awarding the honour to underdogs rather than favourites, almost the opposite of a popularity contest.

The award can have a great effect on an artist’s career and more often than not, the winner will see a humongous surge in sales, though this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a career shortcut (see Ms. Dynamite, the winner of the 2002 Mercury Prize, who then went on to ‘win’ the one time Naomi Award [think the Razzies, but for music] for Worst Urban Act in 2006). This year’s nominations list features a lot of familiar names with Aphex Twin, Florence and the Machine, Jamie XX and Wolf Alice being major players. This definitely makes the awards more accessible, but one can’t help but feel these are safe choices. Past years have always been a veritable smorgasbord of the unknown and big hitters, but there was always a certain idea behind those chosen. You felt there were enough almost-controversial choices that there was a method to the madness; in contrast, this year just feels bland. Is this really the state of British music currently? It’s certainly not the Britain I’m living in.

For the judges, coming up with the initial shortlist must be no easy feat, having to whittle down from hundreds and hundreds of potential nominees to just 12. Although they definitely do a great job, isn’t the entire basis of trying to judge albums by musical quality completely subjective? How can we be told that these 12 records truly represent the current state of British music, for this specific year, when the actual judges, who all have their own levels of tenure and experience in the music industry, are supposed to chose for us?

Generally, the public shouldn’t be given a vote, because, as we see regularly, they control TV talent shows and the like, and look where that leads to, many a failed career and horror shows. However, there may be a fairer way to control the output of the Mercury Prize: that is, either including a delegate from each area of the industry – the lower and the upper echelons, the bigwigs, nominates their own delegate to go onto the judging panel – or we, as a keener public, vote for the judges. This avoids the wider general populous, the TV voters, creating popular nominations as they won’t be inclined to get involved with something that has no direct impact on them as people, and it allows us to decide who we want to tell us what’s good and feeling safe in the matter. At no point is the public involved in these awards, which might be a good thing, but it certainly gives off the idea we are no longer tastemakers. After all, if we’re the ones being told who’s the creme de la creme of music via a panel of judges, then by this proxy, whose tastemaking is helping the rest of the music world go round? By and large, the general populace are the ones who decide what’s good. We’re the ones that buy the records, we single-handedly created the popular music genre by going out in the thousands and buying singles. So why shouldn’t we get a say in something as significant as this?

The 2015 Mercury Prize Album of the Year will be announced on Friday, the 20th of November, in London.

 

Mercury Prize Shortlist 2013: Is It Even Relevant Anymore?

 
By on Thursday, 12th September 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That time of year has crept up on us again. Yesterday evening, the nominees for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2013 Albums of the Year were revealed in London. Maybe this is the direction the Mercury Prize nominations will be going in from here on out, but it’s rather startling how mainstream this year’s shortlist is. In past years, there was always one or two curveballs thrown in the mix of straight-forward, famous artists and well thought of indie. Not so much in 2013…which leaves me wondering if this competition is even worth my time anymore in the years going forward.

Let’s examine the biggest names first. The now Josh Homme-influenced Arctic Monkeys just got in under the wire, with their new album ‘AM’ literally just made it to store shelves this past Monday. They don’t need any help selling records. (Technically, they also fall under the next category I will examine, but for the sake of argument, it’s this album people are focusing on, not one 7 years ago…which won the gong that year.) Neither does legendary artist David Bowie; his March 2013 surprise release ‘The Next Day’ also makes an appearance on the shortlist.

Then there are the repeat ‘offenders’. Dubstep wonder boy James Blake, whose self-titled debut album in 2011 garnered a Mercury nod back then, is yet another safe and predictable choice. Given their headline slot at Latitude Festival this year and continually rising star, Foals‘ nomination for ‘Holy Fire’ (review here) is not such a shock. But they were nominated for and lost in 2010 for ‘Total Life Forever’. I’m a great fan of Conor J. O’Brien’s songwriting, but this year’s ‘{Awayland}’ pales in comparison to its predecessor, Villagers‘ 2010 opus ‘Becoming a Jackal’.

While he was 1/2 of the nominated collaboration with King Creosote in 2011’s ‘Diamond Mine’, Jon Hopkins makes another appearance, this time by himself for ‘Immunity’. There is also no escaping the fact that the selection of Laura Marling‘s ‘Once I Was an Eagle’ (review here) comes across as particularly lazy: the woman’s been nominated two times already prior to this. I’m all for equality when it comes to music awards and it’s great that this year there are two female singer/songwriters on the shortlist, but surely there has got to be another woman – and in the folk genre, certainly – whose album would have been up to snuff to the Mercury voters instead of giving Marling another nomination.

Next, let’s look at the acts that are toeing the line between their indie background and their big chance at the mainstream. Having enjoyed a successful 2012 with sold out shows and his debut album selling very well, Noel Gallagher‘s sneery young protege Jake Bugg makes a not so surprising appearance on the shortlist. Popular Brum soul singer and #4 on the BBC Sound of 2013 list Laura Mvula also receives a Mercury nod this year for ‘Sing to the Moon’. Helps quite a bit that both of them are on majors (Mercury and RCA, respectively) and therefore had major label muscle to help along the promotion of their debut albums.

If there is one saving grace of this year’s shortlist, it was that instead of a truly oddball experimental jazz album getting a nomination, dance is for once decently represented with not one but two good albums: Disclosure‘s delicious brand of house in the form of ‘Settle’ and Rudimental‘s drum and bass-rich ‘Home’. But wait a minute. They’re on majors too, Island and Warner. Hmm… The one oddball nominee, if they can be called that, are post-punk girl group Savages. They might not be a household name – yet – and they’re on an indie label (Beggar Group’s Matador) but they were already firmly in our brains from their BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nomination. Yawn.

This all begs the question, just how relevant is the Mercury Prize in 2013? Also, was it ever relevant? And when did it stop being so? While it has never been a dirty little secret but rather an obvious known fact that major label backing helps with funding, which leads to promotion and visibility opportunities and therefore record sales, this is probably the year more than any other in the past in which the expensive fee to enter the Mercury competition comes through loud and clear as the reason why this year’s list is sadly predictable. In a piece by the Guardian’s Michael Hann, Kerrang! editor James McMahon said the egregious lack of metal on the shortlist year after year is a major oversight: “The thing is, within the rock music industry there’s a bit of debate about how bothered people are with an award like the Mercury. The other year we were pushing the idea of Bring Me the Horizon being nominated as an innovative, exciting British rock band who want to be seen out in the world – but they didn’t enter. If the rock industry doesn’t have any belief in its relevance, what can the Mercuries do? But if it were genuinely the 12 best records of the year, it would be blinkered to ignore metal.”

Hann’s article goes on to point out that Leeds buzz band Hookworms chose not to enter either, their frontman MJ explaining, “The nondescript thousands in marketing fees and physical product is even more shameful [than the entry fee]”. Even ubiquitous rock journalist Pete Paphides took to social media yesterday to bemoan the situation: “It’d be good to have a music prize where part of the sponsorship meant bands not having to pay hundreds of £s to be eligible for contention.” Quite right. There is no one obvious solution to “fixing” the Mercury Prize because let’s face it, like all award shows, it’s a business, and businesses exist to make money. But it’s a shame that what the Mercury Prize used to be known for – bringing attention to lesser known acts that otherwise might not get their time in the limelight – seems to have been all but been entirely forgotten.

 

Mercury Prize 2012: Writers’ Early Predictions

 
By on Tuesday, 18th September 2012 at 11:00 am
 

So it’s been about a week since the nominees for the 2012 Mercury Prize were announced. We here at TGTF have been mulling over the options, and here are our early thoughts on who will win this year’s gong.

Mary Chang, Editor (current location: Washington, DC, USA)
With the exception of Leeds band Roller Trio, all of the acts nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize are no stranger are known acts. A large proportion of the 12 nominees are those with high profile debut albums. The releases by alt-J, Ben Howard, Django Django, Jessie Ware, Lianne La Havas, Michael Kiwanuka, the Roller Trio blokes and Sam Lee being considered this year all fall into that category.

Wait a minute, count those up again. That’s eight. You read that right. EIGHT. That’s means without even counting bookies’ odds, there’s a two out of three chance a debut album will be picked. Was this shortlist borne out of the fact that legend PJ Harvey‘s album ‘Let England Shake’ won the honour last year (and it was her second time winning), so the powers that be decided the list should be more heavily weighted to favour newcomers? The nominees should reflect the best of the best, and not because a band has suddenly leaped onto the scene on the strength of on media buzz. Let us not forget Speech Debelle’s win in 2009. Where is that follow-up album, eh, Debelle?

I’m not saying that there is no danger of having sentimental favourites nominated because there can be the thinking that although a band has been around forever and they never have won anything, let’s give them a go this time around, shall we? I am saying that given the importance and weight of a Mercury Prize nomination, let alone actually winning the prize, the winner shouldn’t be the band that has the largest promotional effort. Which, let’s face it, tends to happen with the Next Big Thing band, because thanks to the cynicism of labels, bands are pushed hardest when they are signed and put out their first releases. When the list was released last Wednesday, I groaned inwardly because there is one band on this list whose lead singer’s voice I cannot stand, but I expect to hear him and his band constantly on BBC Radio in the next 2 months without fail, all thanks to their Mercury nomination…

So my vote is for Field Music‘s ‘Plumb’. This is pop, but not in the way you used to view pop. It’s interesting and intricate, with piano and guitar lines that sound like no-one else’s. And more importantly, what they come up with is entirely unexpected. Brothers David and Peter Brewis trade off on lead vocal and drumming duties, adding two additional variables into the mix. They’ve made it okay not just to like but embrace the art rock genre, with its atypical time signatures, flying directly in the face of that urban pop piffle that’s become all too commonplace on radio. And this album has the word “smart” written all over it. Seriously, when was the last time you heard transitional bits in an album that were purposely made into tracks, and they worked? Should they win, I’m expecting naysayers to complain that they’ve been around too long and ‘Plumb’ isn’t as fresh as some of the debut albums that were nominated. Just because something’s new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good, or the best. ‘Plumb’ is an intelligently written, intelligently made album that deserves this praise.

John Fernandez (current location: Lincoln, UK)
The question on most people’s lips: “where’s the crazy curveball they normally throw at you?” I, for once, found myself knowing all the acts nominated, something almost unheard of over the last few years! When looking at the list the name that jumps out is an obvious one: alt-J have been gathering plaudits far and wide and feel almost as certain to win as the xx did in 2010. You really would be a fool to bet against them, but I never said I was anything but a fool.

My money is going slap bang on Plan B, an artist who over a short career has reinvented himself so successfully. ‘The Ballad of Strickland Banks’ introduced a character and backed him up with some of the most soulful tunes of the past decade, thoroughly thrusting Ben Drew into the mainstream. Now his new album ‘Ill Manors’ is out and he is firmly back to his roots, rapping about financial hardship on council estates and the plight of “Broken Britain”. Plan B says he wants to have the same impact by winning this that Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy in Da Corner’ did, and why not? He’s the outspoken voice of his generation.

alt-J are cool and have some killer tunes, but Plan B is representing the underrepresented and should win the Mercury Prize.

Luke Morton (current location: London, UK)
alt-J must be the favourites to win the Mercury Prize this year, and for good reason. Since their inception in 2011 with the ‘∆’ EP, the Cambridge four-piece have been spreading their melancholy, indie pop across Britain to the delight of the mainstream music press including BBC Music and NME.

Debut LP ‘An Awesome Wave’ is a supreme example of the evolution of indie in the UK in recent years, as it flirts with ideas of folk, electronica, art rock and straight-up pop music. It’s been accused of being too pretentious but it’s in fact a perfectly-crafted, 44-minute odyssey into experimental playfulness that has produced the enchanting singles ‘Breezeblocks’ and ‘Tessellate’. There’s a reason the internet exploded at the release of this album, and hopefully it will receive the recognition it deserves.

Martin Sharman (current location: Gateshead, UK)
This year, the Mercury judges have the opportunity to comment on not just music, but society itself. For they have nominated Ill Manors, Plan B‘s uncompromising soundtrack to his eponymous feature film, a collection of grim stories set on a London council estate. This is the real deal: Ben Drew has the requisite first-hand knowledge to make a story of council estate debauchery and violence spring to life, and is reinforced here by collaborators of impeccable credentials. Never before has there been such a vivid piece of work documenting council estate life, and the moral- and morale-crushing struggle for survival which such an environment engenders.

Plan B pulls no punches; there are stories about drugs, violence, prostitution, drugs, gangs, and more drugs, leavened with heavy doses of swearing. No doubt there will be some who dismiss this as nothing more than a tabloid-style “demonisation” of the working class, exaggerating and exploiting their woes for cynical financial gain. Which is nonsense. Everything here has the ring of truth about it: Drew grew up on the eponymous estate; John Cooper Clarke is on board, and he, of anyone, knows his subject; take a wander through the syringes and discarded aluminium spoons of any run-down corner of London’s concrete chaos and then reasses those opinions. This is a more important piece of work than any dry government report on “Broken Britain” – its task is to seep into the consciousness of those lucky enough to have grown up on a manor not quite so ill, and make them aware of what’s going on, often just a mile or two down the road. In comparison, every other nominee appears twee and enfeebled – pretty music, but nothing with the relevance and gravitas of this collection. Richard Hawley fares particularly badly when listened side-by-side, smothering any relevance of intent with several decades’ worth of electric guitar. Ill Manors is the sound of today – however ugly the truth might be. Let’s hope the judges can find the bravery to reward fact over artifice.

The winner of the 2012 Mercury Prize will be announced on Thursday, the 1st of November. For an overview of all the nominees, read this post.

 

Mercury Prize Shortlist 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 12th September 2012 at 6:23 pm
 

The shortlist for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2012 Albums of the Year were announced this evening by 6music presenter Lauren Laverne in a special ceremony at London’s Hospital Club. While some of the names on here are no surprise, with bookies predicting their odds for weeks, others seem to be a who’s who of the knife edge between mainstream and indie. And it just wouldn’t be the Mercury Prize nominations without a random jazz album mentioned. Let’s have a look at the nominees…

Not surprisingly to those in the indie blogosphere, Django Django‘s rhythmically dynamic self-titled debut received a nod. The band scored an American label contract this summer. Count on ‘Default’ and ‘Storm’ to get continued airplay all the way up to the night the winner is announced. (Read our coverage on the Djangos here.) So was alt-J‘s debut ‘An Awesome Wave’. I’m sure they expected it; why else would they have booked a tour for *next* May if they weren’t? If the sweaty club atmosphere I experienced on night 2 of the Great Escape this year seeing them (who were then followed by Django Django, I might add) is any indication, their album will be a frontrunner on many indie music fans’ lists.

Continuing with the debuts nominated, the singer/songwriter genre is well represented with entries from the female squeal-eliciting Ben Howard (‘Every Kingdom’), folk newcomer Sam Lee (‘Ground of Its Own’) and Michael Kiwanuka (‘Home Again’). Electro urban newcomer Jessie Ware, who Martin caught at Evolution, appears on the shortlist with her debut ‘Devotion’ released in mid-August. BBC Sound of 2012 nominee and Warner Brothers signee Lianne La Havas, who wowed crowds at the Great Escape and beyond, also received a nod for ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ If she wins the gong in November, expect cheesy headlines using the album title for full effect.

Stalwarts of the Northern music scene have been rewarded with nominations as well. The forward thinking of Sunderland indie heroes Field Music‘s ‘Plumb’ released in February 2012 and Sheffield’s bequiffed guitar bandolero Richard Hawley‘s new psychedelic direction for ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ were both recognised on the shortlist this year. The honour of this year’s wild card also goes to the North, via Leeds jazz rock band Roller Trio. Their self-titled album looks, from a distance, exactly like that of Stornoway‘s ‘Beachcomber’s Windowsill’. (Not kidding. Have a look here and compare.)

The Maccabees, having returned after 3 years with new album, ‘Given to the Wild’, also appear on the list, making us seriously wonder how groundbreaking this list can be, with so many ‘safe contenders’. Plan B‘s nomination for third album ‘Ill Manors’ is less dubious, especially in light of Ben Drew’s shedding some much needed light on human trafficking in his video for ‘Deepest Shame’. Good save, committee folks.

The winner of the 2012 Mercury Prize will be announced on Thursday, the 1st of November. In addition to the ceremony itself, there will be a unique ‘Albums of the Year Live’ gig series leading up to the big event. The series will see the shortlisted artists play very intimate gigs. Access to apply for tickets to these gigs will be extremely limited and only through signing up a special mailing list for alerts on these very gigs. Each successful applicant will have access to two tickets; a £5 donation to War Child is required at the time to secure each ticket, with Barclaycard matching every donation pound for pound for their cardholders who use their card when purchasing. Go here for more information.

 

Review: Mercury Prize 2011

 
By on Thursday, 8th September 2011 at 5:30 pm
 

In case you missed them, we wrote previously on this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist and our writers weighed on who they thought should win and who should have received a nod from this year’s nomination committee.

Just prior to the shortlist being announced, it was strong, talented representatives of “the fairer sex” who topped the bookies’ top bets: Adele and PJ Harvey were neck and neck as the odds on favourite. These two lovely ladies continued to be strong favourites throughout the weeks leading up to the event in London hosted by Jools Holland this past Tuesday night. On the evening, Adele did not join her nominee compadres on the red carpet, nor did she perform on the Grosvenor Hotel stage due to illness. Ms. Adkins did, however, made everyone laugh with her humourous fake acceptance speech. Speaking of the faux acceptance speeches, after a rousing performance of ‘The Bay’, Joseph Mount of Metronomy said with a grin, “this is nice that the first album that you hear from us is about the place where I’m from. And I hope you visit Devon!” Bless. (To be fair, it’s nice that Devon will now be known for something other than their cows and Muse.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn6n7zMcVOY[/youtube]

6music reported that Guy Garvey of Elbow (the 2008 Mercury winner for ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’) was self-deprecating as usual, saying he wished their “little friends” Everything Everything would prove to be the winner. Speaking of the double-named band, they took the bold step of performing a non-single, album track from ‘Man Alive’, ‘Tin (the Manhole)’, when it was their turn to wow the dinner audience at the Grosvenor. But ultimately, it was PJ Harvey who came out on top, with her album ‘Let England Shake’ winning the top honours. With this win, she becomes the first act ever to win the Mercury Prize twice (she won exactly 10 years ago, in 2011 for her ‘Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea’). You can watch her live performance of ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ from Tuesday night below. Congratulations Polly Jean!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77HnyHlfHNQ[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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