Indie eggheads could show some Unthanks for Mercury
WE’RE UP and running already for this year’s Mercury Music Prize. Despite the fact that the 12-strong shortlist for the best British/Irish album of the year award isn’t announced until July 19th (with the winner not known until September), already there is brisk business being done at the bookmakers with favourites coming and going as events (and their chin-stroking significance) are mulled over in terms of odds lengthening or odds shortening.
Just after the Brit awards back in February, Tinie Tempah was the outright favourite and he was at 2/1 for a good few weeks. But this week’s perusal of the odds being offered finds Mr Tempah way down at 14/1. The poor dear has just lost a bit of momentum.
Obviously the gargantuan figure this year is Adele, whose 21 album is breaking all known sales figures, but she’s a bit too “common” in terms of mainstream exposure for the indie eggheads who seem to make up the judging panel each year. She’s 6/1 at the moment – but you’d be wasting your money as she hasn’t got the “obscurity” thing going on.
All the smart money is now being split between James Blake and PJ Harvey. The former is attractive because he represents “post-dubstep” (no, seriously) and the Mercury do like to keep it “street”. But Blake was hyped an awful lot during the annual, and increasingly hysterical, “best new acts” round of awards back in January so he may seem a bit “passé” at this stage.
PJ Harvey is problematic in that she is a Mercury judging panel’s wet dream, but she did win the award once before – in 2001 for Stories From The City, Stories Of The Sea. So a vote for her would mean the Mercury would have their first ever double winner – which sort of negates their “cutting edge” message. Which also explains why Arctic Monkeys can currently be got for 50/1 with a very strong album – they too are previous winners.
For Irish acts, it’s looking a bit bleak, although Two Door Cinema Club have been mentioned and really do deserve a nod – even if it is in the “token Paddy” category. James Vincent McMorrow can safely be ruled out – but only because his album was released outside the June to June time frame necessary for entry.
You can safely expect to see Anna Calvi and Chase and Status on the nomination list in July – and the latter look a bit tasty at 16/1, particularly as they’ve yet to truly break out of the underground.
Wild Beasts will also be there or thereabouts (they make Mercury Prize music – let’s face it) but I’m currently not talking to them after losing my shirt on them last year.
The Vaccines should safely slot into the token white indie category but apparently one of their parents owns half of Gloucestershire or something, whereas the Mercury people only seem to get the horn for south London council estate types.
For the annual unknown jazz act, you can put your house on Portico Quartet this year and there really doesn’t seem to be any stopping Noah and the Whale making it on to the list.
The two big outside names that will be attracting my coins this year are The Unthanks, who are way out at 40/1. They’d make great winners as they have that sort of urban dinner party Portishead effect going on and while they’re folk, they’re not waistcoat and public school folk.
The other outsider is Frank Turner (in short: the new Billy Bragg) but he’s just released his England Keep My Bones album so there’s a danger not enough people will have heard it. You can’t even get odds for him right now. So here’s to The Unthanks – don’t let me down, gals.
Yes, please: Mercury outsiders The Unthanks