Once again, its time for the Mercs. Hard to believe tonight’s shindig is the 25th birthday of Britain’s premier muso competition, but yes indeed folks, the Mercury Music Prize has been dishing out cash and adoration to the ‘best’ of British music for a quarter of a century now.
For some context to kids experiencing this first time or those heavy hibernators among us, previous winners include; Portishead, Pulp, Gomez, PJ Harvey (twice) and James Blake. Some thrive in greatness, some are remembered fondly and some forgotten before they exited stage left at the ceremony. Among the shortlist this year are exciting unknowns, Radiohead, boundary pushing experimentalists Bat for Lashes and The 1975, genre defying hardcore crossover acts, Jamie Woon and Michael Kiwanuka, and the late honourable Sir King David Bowie.
Sadly missing from the shortlist, in Tracksuite’s humble opinion (official processes of competition read, understood and set aside for now) is James Blake with ‘The Colour in Anything’. Surely if Polly can get two gongs then James can? Also Misty Miller with ‘The Whole Family is Worried’ for it is no less than indie pop scuzz perfection. Steve Mason and ‘Meet The Humans’ is also deserving of recognition. Rival Consoles album ‘Howl’ is sublime and ‘Levitate’ by Lone is just retro glorious.
Like I said in recent blog post about the SAY Award, not only should the folk ensemble masterpiece ‘Songs of Separation’ have been included in the shortlist but arguably should have just won the thing outright. And it’s no different here. I don’t see any inclusivity of folk music in this shortlist. I don’t see much inclusivity whatsoever. Aside from the brilliance of The Comet is Coming, there is a laughable lack of diversity here with 11 of the finalists already enjoying a plethora of mainstream radio play. What is being recognised here? Gone are the genre pushing experimentalist acts that we’ve seen nominated in previous years. Even the newly introduced Finalists phase, within which fans are given the chance to vote 1 act of 12 into a final shortlisted 6, is doing very little to change that.
So, see for yourselves and make your own mind up below, as Tracksuite selects a Best of the Mercs.
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