Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Mercury Music Prize: My Thoughts.

Hello there readers.

Today it was announced which albums were up for the much coveted Mercury Prize, a presigious award given to the best British album of the last 12 months. Previous nominees for the award include people I actually listen to on a regular basis like Amy Winehouse, Florence and the Machine and La Roux, but it dawned on me when looking through this year's shortlist that I'd only actually heard of one of them.

So what I thought I'd do with you today, my beloved readers, was listen to all 12 of these albums and let you know which was my favourite. However, I couldn't be arsed. So instead, what I'm going to do is listen to the lead single from each and then tell you if it is as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds, seeing as how her album Electra Heart has been noticeably missed off the list even though it is my personal favourite British album of 2012.

You might not know this, but my surname is quite far down the list alphabeatically, meaning that I was always near the end of the register at school. In honour of this I've decided to review the nominees in reverse-alphabetical order. Let those bastards starting with "A" and "B" know how it feels to be last on the school minibus for a change (I'm looking at you, Carla)

Jessie Ware - Devotion 

What's the lead single?
It's called Running.

Is it a load of old tosh?
It isn't, as it goes. In fact, it's very good. It's a very cool-sounding song about, generally, being a bit mental for someone which is something I 100% can not relate to because I have never been mental in a relationship ever and I've certainly never been dumped and been so angry that I threw my mobile telephone off my bedroom wall and broke it. That's certainly never happened.

What can you tell me about the artist?
Jessie Ware was the support act for Paloma Faith, and she says she would be open to working with David Guetta and Calvin Harris in the future. Unfortunately for Jessie, both of these artists are notoriously shy and don't like to collaborate with other singers.

And is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
It is, which makes me regret immediately reviewing this one first as it sort-of disproves my point a bit, doesn't it?

Roller Trio - Roller Trio

What's the lead single?
I don't know so I'm just going to review their song R-O-R which is the only one I can find a video for on the YouTube.

Is it a load of old tosh?
I mean...it's jazz. It's jazz music. This particular track seems nice and laidback and everything but it's not something I'd ever listen to again if it was between that and something that didn't essentially sound like everyone was making it up as they went along.

What can you tell me about the artist?
Not a lot, because they don't have a Wikipedia page. And it seems to me their album cover does resemble someone's shaved pubes that they have just discarded and abandoned in a heap on a bathroom tile, but perhaps that is just my mind that sees that.

Yes...and is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
In my opinion: no. No it is not.

Plan B - ill Manors

What's the lead single?
It's also imaginatively called ill Manors.

Is it a load old tosh?
I don't think it's a load of old tosh, but he certainly doesn't sound very happy at all on this particular song. It's really not very pleasant to listen to, although the chorus does feature the line "Oi! I said oi!", which in my opinion is simply not used enough in popular song today. Perhaps someone should have a word with The Saturdays about sticking it into their upcoming single. Seriously though, he's rapping about the problems we live with every single day in the UK in 2012, which is good if you're into all that, but to be honest I'm not and he just sounds very aggressive and angry which is not something I particularly enjoy. SOZ MATE.

What can you tell me about the artist?
The album this song (ill Manors) came from (ill Manors) the film which Plan B actually wrote and directed himself, which was indeed also named ill Manors. Plan B's dog is also named ill Manors, as are his upcoming fragrance and his gran (note: that last sentence contains three lies).

Very nice, and is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
To quote Simon Cowell "I'm going to say no this time".

The Maccabees - Given To The Wild

What's the lead single?
It's a song called Pelican, which puts me in mind of the oft-overlooked Roald Dahl classic "The Giraffe The Pelly and Me".

Is it a load old tosh?
Oh...no it's not but it's not anything special. If you've heard an indie song before then you have heard a variation of this track, although there are some nice harmonies which is nice and it is quite easy-listening so that's alright.

What can you tell me about the artist?
The Macabees came up with their name by opening a Bible and randomly selecting a word. I have, at hand, a copy of Madonna's children's book The English Roses which I will now open at a random page to decide my own future band name...


...and so it came to be that I started a band called "The Fairy Godmother's Bottom". I think it's got a ring to it.

Very nice, and is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
No it's not.

Sam Lee - Ground of its Own

What's the lead single?
I'm not sure if it counts but George Collins seems to be the stand-out track.

Is it a load old tosh?
At first: yes it is. It's Celtic folk music, you see. But then it changes into something more than that. What it changes into, I couldn't say. But it's very weird and very interesting-sounding. Musical fusion, you might say. I got an A in GCSE music, you know.

What can you tell me about the artist?
Sam Lee shares his name with a singer from Taiwan, a tennis player from the early 1900s and and an actor from Hong Kong who is also in a hip hop band called "Lazy Mutha Fucka". However, none of these things describe the Sam Lee I'm discussing now who, according to his official website, is a regular teacher at Newcastle University. However, I doubt very much we move in the same circles around the toon. He makes folk music worthy of a Mercury Prize nomination, I present an online radio show for Geordie homosexuals who like mainstream pop.

Hmmmm- but is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
I think maybe it is actually. Would you believe it, I'm praising folk music! I'm growing!

Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough?

What's the lead single?
No Room For Doubt is it's name, and featuring Willy Mason is its game. I'm not sure who that is, but his name is Willy which is always worth a giggle, isn't it? COME ON I KNOW YOU'RE IN YOUR TWENTIES BUT I BET IF YOU MET SOMEONE CALLED WILLY YOU'D STILL HAVE A LITTLE SMIRK TO YOURSELF.

Is it a load of old tosh?
It's a bit boring, if I'm honest. Not very exciting at all.

What can you tell me about the artist?
Lianne La Havas used to sing backing vocals for Paloma Faith, who fellow nominee Jessie Ware went on tour with! Is Paloma Faith some sort of constant between all of this year's nominees? I bet Paloma is a tiny bit gutted that her former backing singer's album is on the shortlist and her own album is not. That must be a bit of a kick in the tits, let's be honest. She sings very quietly, which gets on my tits. A bit like in that Gotye song which I am prone to shouting "SING UP! WE CAN'T HEAAAR YOU!!!" when I hear, particularly after a gin or two.

And is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
It is definitely not.

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

What's the lead single?
It's called Home Again.

Is it a load of old tosh?
It's not my cup of tea, like. It reminds me a bit of something on the Juno soundtrack except there aren't wonderfully quirky lyrics like: "I've got 54 jelly beans in my jar, and I've still got the note you wrote in my car, and I open up the jar and hand you one bean, Cos you're the cutest boy that I've ever seen".

I suppose the fact that I stopped paying attention to this song by Michael Kiwanuka and started writing my own song to try and be quirky enough to fit snugly onto the Juno soundtrack probably suggests that this song is a bit dull, really. Imagine if my jelly beans song was real, though? That wouldn't be boring at all.

What can you tell me about the artist?
According to the BBC, Michael Kiwanuka is the "Sound of 2012". Unless the apocalypse at the end of this year comes from us all falling asleep I can't agree with them.

So it's not as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds, then?
It's not, no.

Richard Hawley - Standing At The Sky's Edge

What's the lead single?
The lead single is Leave Your Body Behind You which I think is a great song title so well done Richard Hawley

Is it a load of old tosh?
My dad would love this song, and I love my dad so I'm going to say that it's not my taste and leave it there. Musically it reminds me a lot of Morrissey, but Richard Hawley does not have Morrissey's voice. His voice isn't actually that good so I'm not actually listening to what he's singing while I'm listening.

What can you tell me about the artist?
Richard Hawley was in Pulp, which was the favourite band of the boy I was seeing when I was 17. I invite all of you to tweet me with the name of the favourite band of the boy that you were seeing when you were 17 @sillyolddaniel

Daniel, man, is it as good as that song by Marina and the Diamonds that goes "PRIMADONNA GIRL ALL I EVER WANTED WAS THE WORLD" which has no introduction and therefore sometimes frightens you when you're listening to your headphones and it comes on Shuffle?
No.

Field Music - Plumb

What's the lead single?

Is it a load of old tosh?
No it isn't. Again, like that Macabees song, it's all very indie but it's got a better melody and is a bit more catchy. So good for you, Field Music, because you've made a song that I'd be inclined to listen to again even though Dr. Luke didn't produce it.

What can you tell me about the arist?
They're only from bloody Sunderland!! Where I bloody live now!!!! Previous members of the group have included overlaps with fellow local bands Maxïmo Park and The Futureheads. I once met Paul Smith of Maxïmo Park in The Gate in Newcastle and got an autograph for my dad, but I didn't want to tell him it was for my dad so I said I was a big fan. I then tried to photograph him with my two friends who were with me at the time, when his girlfriend pipes up "WHY DON'T YOU GET IN THE PHOTO SINCE YOU'RE SUCH A BIG FAN?"
"I am not a fan, mind your own business you stupid bint", I wanted to reply. But that would be distasteful.

Is it as good as Primadonna?
Nar it's not but it's still alright

Django Django - Django Django

What's the lead single?
The lead single, my friends, is called Default.

Is it a load of old tosh?
Eeeeh no it's not! It's great! There's quite a lot going on, and I'm a bit worried as it goes on it's going to get a bit more experimental and frighten me but I'm about halfway-through at this stage and it's not frightening me yet.

What can you tell me about the artist?
"Tuppence" magazine called their album a "modern classic", though I am personally more amused that a magazine called "Tuppence" exists and I was never made aware of this hilarious fact.

Now that it's finished has it "become a bit more experimental" or "frightened you", Daniel?
Nar it hasn't, it's great.

Yeah but is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
Aye definitely.

Ben Howard - Every Kingdom

What's the lead single?
The lead single is Old Pine. GOT WOOD? HAHAHAHAHA!

Is it a load of old tosh?
Well I'm certainly regretting saying "got wood" cos this song is something of a buzz kill. It's not a party track I can tell you that much. In fact, listening to it is making me a bit sad. I suppose some people would say that it's good. That the song is making me "feel something". But do you know what? If a song makes me sad then the chances are I'm not going to listen to it again. With the exception of Lana Del Rey. Obviously.

What can you tell me about the artist?
I have a feeling my friends Jenni and Harriet were hoping to go and see Ben Howard in Nantes when we were on our year abroad, and they were trying to talk me into it but I'd never heard of him. I'm pleased we didn't go, I'd have been sick of my life by the end.

Is that song as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
No it isn't.

AND FINALLY

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

What's the lead single?
The lead single is called Matilda, which is the second song I've listened to tonight that has made me think of Roald Dahl. It is now 2.30am so I'm probably going to be dreaming of The Twits and the B-F-frigging-G when I lay myself down to sleep after this.

Is it a load of old tosh?
Well I cannot understand a word this man is singing which is not a good start, but it's not a "load of old tosh", no. It's a nice little song.

What can you tell me about the artist?
Apparently they're not really called Alt-J they're called ∆ which is what happens when you press the "alt" button and then "J" on your keyboard, except I'm someone who permanently has the "caps lock" on (much to the annoyance of everyone I share a laptop with) so it comes up as Ô when I do it. There was a night-club in Le Mans called "Le Saint Ô" which I once went to with a Spanish boy at 4.30 in the morning, though honestly the less said about that the better...

And is it as good as Primadonna by Marina and the Diamonds?
No it isn't.

So, that's that. I have listened to the lead singles from all twelve of the Mercury-nominated albums. And here is what I have established:

Who do you, Silly Old Daniel of Hebburn, want to win this year's Mercury Prize?
I've got to say I'm gunning for Django Django. I'd be happy for Jessie Ware to win too, though.

Nice. And was Marina and the Diamonds robbed?
Compared to some of that shite she was, yes!

3 comments:

  1. Mercury prize? MORE LIKE BORECURY PRIZE.

    Top 3 for me:

    1. Alt-J
    2. Richard Hawley
    3. Django Django.

    The Maccabees song was alright but it was so boring for them I don't think it deserves a mention tbh.

    Also yes, Marina was robbed.

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