Mercury Music Prize 2010 – Common sense prevails, now time for a rethink

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There could be only one winner of the Mercury Music Prize 2010 but if the prize is to retain it’s worth, 2011 should go back to the drawing board.


The xx‘s 2010 Mercury Music Prize glory was a formality.
Similarly to the 2006 presentation where Alex Turner claimed Richard Hawley had been robbed, his humility couldn’t distract from an Arctic Monkeys walkover which in football terms was in the bag before kick off.
Tonight’s victory for the former Elliott School alumni is a victory for common sense.
Not only was it the finest record on the list by quite some distance but the Mercury Prize’s faceless judges chose to include records which clearly shouldn’t have been come anywhere near it.
Where to start? Biffy Clyro‘s sellout, over-produced, throwaway stadia schlock is a pale imitation of their imaginative former selves; see also Paul Weller and former Mercury winner Dizzee Rascal – how do their efforts shape up to past riches? Poorly.
Why the judges deem it necessary to select a jazz effort is baffling? Unit shifting for ‘the token jazz effort’ is so minimal it barely registers, and when 2010’s selection is the musically conservative Kit Down Trio, the choice seems even further removed from the creative spirit that the Mercury so wishes to embody.
Foals, a Getintothis favourite, have delivered a record which shows incredible talent – but they’ll clearly do better and it’s not yet a patch on their extraordinarily visceral live offerings.
And don’t get me started on Mumford and Bailey-Rae. Since when was this award designed for records to snaffle up in the supermarket aisle?
Then there’s I Am Kloot, another fine record, but never in the running considering the band’s ties to 2008 winners Elbow – a victory which seems more fresh in the mind, than that of the instantly forgettable 2009 champ Speech Debelle.
The predictability and shrug-like manner in the build up to this year’s prize shouldn’t, yet almost certainly does, undermine the xx‘s victory.
But next year The Mercury Prize can bring about change. They can become more daring without resorting to wilful absurdity (see Talvin Singh, M People).
They should start by removing the ‘entrance’ fee which immediately saw the likes of These New Puritans and Fuck Buttons exempt from inclusion. Then they should concentrate their focus on emerging talent and leave the likes of Radiohead, Kasabian and Weller (all recent nominees) to pick up their dues at the Brits and Q Mag Awards.
But back to tonight. Of course, Laura Marling and Wild Beasts (together with Foals, and perhaps even new kids Villagers) would have all been worthy winners of the 2010 prize, but after last year’s WTF oddity, the judges were left backed into a corner and the overwhelming bookies favourite clearly had to triumph.
Getintothis’ 2009 albums of the Year featuring the xx at number one.
The xx live at the Kazimier, in Liverpool.
Getintothis 2008 Mercury Music Prize reaction.

the xx: VCR

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