The Mercury judges deliver their verdict on the year’s top 12 albums on Wednesday September 10, Getintothis‘ Peter Guy digs out his annual Predictometer.
Another year, another Mercury Prize, another chance to shrug your shoulders and feign interest.
But before you do, it’s the mildly interesting bit – guessing which artists have made the cut and been duly awarded ‘Album of 2014’ status by Nicki Chapman, Richard Park and a Chelsea pensioner.
The 12 will be revealed at 5.30pm on Wednesday 10 September, and in keeping with tradition at Getintothis Towers we’re having our annual stab in the arse at guessing who’s made the shortlist.
Last year we set a new PB yielding eight correct nominees, which while it left us feeling slightly smug also proved just how predictable this previously unpredictable honour was becoming. Which was a bit rubbish.
There was further rubbishness when James Blake was handed the overall Prize, for while he wasn’t a rubbish selection, it was all a bit underwhelming and bland. Making us yearn for the oddball winners of yesteryear like Portishead, Roni Size, Antony & The Johnsons or Talvin Singh. But perhaps not M People.
Whatever the case, there’s always a certain criteria which befits the chosen 12. Though, in a curious break from the norm, 2013 was the first year since the formation of the Prize that a six-fingered farmhand who specialises in playing nose flute fusion didn’t befit the nominal jazz-folk pick. Let’s hope the judges stick to the same script this year.
The Big Indie Two
Once again, new indie pop is in rude health and one glimpse down the festival circuit throws up the likes of The Horrors, Metronomy, Bombay Bicycle Club, and a whole host of others. Like a pick and mix tray, largely filled with soft centres, we’re not really that arsed who we gobble up in this field but simply due to the fact it’s become a bit embarassing at how many times Wild Beasts have been overlooked we’ll go with them. And the lemon sherbet zing to the Beasts’ devilish chocolate éclair zang, we’ll opt for the sprightly electro indie-pop of Glaswegians Chvrches – simply because they’re touring and very loveable. Both of which is nice.
The Old Bastard
There’s always a reasonable selection of old wazzocks doing the rounds in UK pop, and 2014 is no different, step forward Gary Barlow, Moz, George Michael and even the zombie pairing of Roger Daltrey and Wilko Johnson. All of which seem long odds when you consider the not-altogether pensionable but in Mercury circles certainly the veteran of the pack, Cockney, gap-toothed chameleonic album-splurger, Damon Albarn. The critics love him, he cranked up the PR machine by blabbering on about how much heroin he caned and this record doesn’t even dabble in opera or monkeys, so it’s a shoe-in for a nomination. Probably.
The Pop Pick
Who is Sam Smith? We’ve seen his face everywhere. He looks like a model for Zara; all button-up black and gold. His shiny moon-face is as ubiquitous as Emile Sande‘s bobbing quiff at the Olympics, but we’ve not knowingly heard a single note of his. For that very reason alone he’s guaranteed a nomination.
The Critical Darling
Make that plural, darlings. FKA Twigs and Kate Tempest aren’t exactly alike but they’re not poles apart. Both specialise in singular soulful urban hip-pop yet FKA is the polished, otherworldly, biomechanical darkness to Tempest’s brash, slang-spitting, tower-block earthiness. Both are awesome, both should stand a strong chance of not just receiving a nomination but winning. Tempest is the bookies favourite. Our money is on her contemporary.
The Electronic Dude
Once again, the judges are spoilt rotten with young dudes holed up in their (home) studios making first-rate electronica. The likes of Actress, SOHN, Lone and various others could be in contention but we’re opting for our two favourites – East India Youth and Daniel Avery. The former surely a must, not least for his superlative live shows which see him juggling all manner of instrumentation – William Doyle is essentially a 23rd Century one man band minus the back bass drum. Avery, meanwhile, is a one-man club-night and his record Drone Logic did for minimal techno what The Streets did for garage. Both have to be in there. They’ll probably pick Kasabian.
The Massive Chart Sensation
Clean Bandit are what happens when you assemble 23 session musicians who’ve been trying to make it for ages. All their mates are chuffed for them and they go on tour and all their parents, friends and loads of others turn up and before you know it you’ve a number one single and album because everyone in the country knows someone who knows someone in Clean Bandit. Maybe. Anyways, they’ve been on every single TV cookery programme (which is a lot) and in turn headlined lots of big shows and are at this moment in time a considerable deal. In about seven months time they’ll be dropped and each sessioning for some chump who got tossed out of X Factor bootcamp. But at least they’ll have a Mercury nomination.
The Breakthrough Success
If you peel away George Ezra‘s skin you’ll find Seasick Steve laughing his arse off. The creepy fucker.
Depending on which camp you sit in, Jungle are either first-rate soul boys peddling snazzy hip-hop infused hook busters with a nifty enigmatic edge. Or Jamiroquai. We’re not quite sure. Probably somewhere in middle. Either way, you can’t fault their marketing campaign, they were pretty boss at Sound City back in May and their singles have created a genuine stir. And the Mercury lot like that. A lot.
The Grime/Hip-Hop/We’re Not All Middle Class Guardian Readers Don’t You Know?
We’re genuinely struggling on this one in 2014, yet, we’d be surprised if the Mercury judges don’t opt for one urban artist with a hip hop slant. Kwabs is a possibility but Scots Young Fathers tick even more boxes – multi-ethnicity, primal, pop and a ferocious live unit plus they’re on super-hip label Big Dada; home of previous winner Speech Debelle and nominees Roots Manuva and Ty. See, it all slots into place.
So here’s Getintothis‘ Predictometer for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2014:
Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots
Daniel Avery: Drone Logic
Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe
Clean Bandit: New Eyes
East India Youth: Total Strife Forever
George Ezra: Wanted On Voyage
FKA Twigs: LP1
Sam Smith: In The Lonely Hour
Kate Tempest: Everybody Down
Wild Beasts: Present Tense
Young Fathers: Dead
In a break from the norm, a press release in our inbox is keen to point out the usually faceless judging panel – so here they are for your very own scrutiny. Slightly aghast that Mel B isn’t in there.
Simon Frith (Chairman) – Author and Music Writer, Professor of Music, Edinburgh University;
Annie Mac – DJ and broadcaster
Elisa Bray – Music Editor, The Independent
Obaro Ejimiwe (aka Ghostpoet) – Musician and songwriter
Greg Cochrane – Editor, NME.com
Jeff Smith – Head of Music, 6Music/Radio 2
John Kennedy – Presenter, ‘X-Posure’, Xfm
Kat Morris – Festival Director, The Great Escape
Kate Mossman – Music Writer and Broadcaster; Arts Editor, New Statesman
Lianne La Havas – Musician and songwriter
Mike Flynn – Music Writer; Deputy Editor Jazzwise
Nick Luscombe – DJ and broadcaster; founder ‘Musicity’
The Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2014 Albums of the Year will be revealed at 5.30pm on Wednesday 10 September 2014 by Alice Levine at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden and on Channel 4 at 12.05am on the night of Thursday 11 September.