Mercury Prize 2013: The Nominees (Part I)

Just under a week ago, the annual announcement of which acts have been branded worthy enough to be a part of the 2013 Mercury music prize shortlist was made and of course, everybody had an opinion or something to say about it. I took to Facebook immediately and made my views known in brief, as I claimed it was one of the strongest line ups of contenders I’d seen in years. We were met with 12 big names, that have produced big sounds over the past year, and who will win is anybody’s guess. But bugger it; let’s have a bash at it anyway…

4228d0036f377ebd872c88fc030cb248When they first arrived on the scene in 2005, it became almost a tagline of sorts for Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys that we shouldn’t ‘believe the hype’. In 2013 we saw the release of one of the most hyped albums in a long time. With the first single release from AM being ‘R U Mine?’, released in early 2012, it’s been one long patient wait for the return of one of the world’s most dominant musical forces. Good job however that the album is just that good, and with three impressive single releases already plus a procession of equally catchy and witty album tracks, of which any could become single number four with ease, it’s certainly up there as one to watch. I was surprised however that ‘AM’ was on the list when its official UK release was a mere two days before. Was the addition to the short list a given from the start? Who knows?

buggyOne album that has been doing the rounds for a long time, and I was personally surprised to see on the short list was Jake Bugg’s self titled debut release. Released on Mercury records in October of last year, it was a long, process convincing myself and many other people I know that the youngster that arrogantly sings about his life experiences (or lack thereof) and also finds it necessary to write a song about such inane things as having a fag, was an artist to give a shit about at all. All around me though, people were raving about him and informing me how wonderful his music was. Songs like ‘Lightning Bolt’ and ‘Two Fingers’ didn’t do anything for this case but were good for getting a dance floor moving, back in the early months of Transmission. But delve deeper into the album and just past the adolescent northern stereotypical crap, songs like ‘Simple as this’, ‘Broken’ and even ‘Seen it all’ are gorgeous in content and depth. Lyrically touching, structurally captivating, and it becomes clear it’s an album of two halves, and Mr.Bugg is an artist of varied taste. Despite the latter half of the album being impressive in its substance, I see this nomination as a long shot to win.

holy fireAnother album that may suffer defeat for no other reason that the fact, the heat has somewhat simmered since it’s impressive introduction is Foals most recent effort ‘Holy Fire’. With three big releases from the album since its release in early 2013, Foals have been juggernauts in the music world both commercially and otherwise. Still an indie night favourite ‘My Number’ had everybody dancing for most of the year, whereas the much grittier and hard hitting ‘Inhaler’ showed that Foals were back to take what was theirs, and that being their throne atop the indie monarchy. ‘Bad Habit’ saw them in a more whimsical form, much alike the sound their second album was well known for. Once again and like Jake Bugg, a great album, an awesome band, but are they interesting enough to take the prize? Has the spotlight moved from Foals to a new talent? Or will they prove me wrong, and actually make that metaphorical throne i mentioned a reality? Dunno really…

Keep your eyes peeled for Part II, III and IV this week.

Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)

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