Mercury Music Prize Nominees: Your Guide

Mercury Music Prize Nominees: Your Guide


Fourteen long, mournful years after Freddie Mercury's death, the music awards created in his memory just keep on rocking. As always, nominees are chosen based on one criterion: what would Freddie be listening to if he was alive today? As always, this year's set of nominees strays unforgivably far from that golden rule. I haven't kept up with new music at all this year, and haven't read the NME for a good seven years, and as such I feel best placed to give a level-headed, realistic appraisal of this years nominees.

Bloc Party - Frustrated by the overabundance of S-shaped blocks.
Note: photographer has poor sense of balance.

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
This band's name is of course a play on the phrase "block party" which was what we called LAN parties in 1989 when all we had to play was Tetris and the 'LAN' consisted of two Gameboys and a link cable. Of course Tetris was developed in Soviet Russia, part of the Eastern Bloc, and that's what makes it so very clever! The majority of the album focuses on reinterpretations of the music from Tetris, and the bands unlistenable attempts at original material have been mercifully positioned at the end of the CD so you and your Tetris buddies can get your block party started right.

Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV
I saw one of this band's videos in a pub but the sound was off on the TV, so I can't yet construct any valid reason to dislike them. Being that their album is called "Stars Of CCTV"  I suspect that might have actually been the intended way to view their work.

Kaiser Chiefs - Exhibiting the ability to both stand and sit.
Note: hired same photographer as Bloc Party.

Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
These guys have a song called "Na Na Na Na Naa", which is tribute to Free From Desire by Gala, a song about a man who has no money but makes up for it with something I can't quite make out. Is it "he has a trampoline"? Maybe!

M.I.A. - Arular
I first heard about this girl when I inadvertently read a magazine interview with her, but the only thing I really remember about the interview is that it left me without even the slightest urge to hear her music. Her Indian-tinged dancehall antics make her a suitably dull choice for the token "urban" nominee. I guess having awarded the prize to Ms. Dynamite (where did she go? nobody cares!) and Dizzee Rascal in recent years the Mercury people feel the urban niche is satiated, leaving them free to concentrate on rural bands like the Wurzels.

De La Soul - Way better than any of these other bands
Note: Visually obnoxious.

The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers
As De La Soul correctly identified, the magic number is 3. This band has 4 members, and they are as such clearly not worthy of your time. I won't even bother coming up with quirky random bullshit about them.

Coldplay - X&Y
This exciting up-and-coming band met in a community centre on a particularly grim Leeds estate where they vowed to quit robbing random grannies cold-turkey style and get straight to work on charming the world's middle aged men with a carefully balanced mix of melody and whining. Despite their first two albums selling disapointingly, their plucky underground record label, Parlophone, kept the faith and it looks like it's starting to pay off. X&Y has received enough airplay from maverick radio DJs to sneak its way into this year's Mercury lineup and the band finally have a chance of getting some of the recognition they so clearly deserve. Chris Martin, more than anyone, yearns for the chance to accept this prize and finally upstage his gawky girlfriend with a 4-hour long weepy acceptence speech in which he thanks every Hindu god, all set to catchily morose piano music and a laser show.

The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning Strike
I'm not going to do any research on this band because I fear it would tarnish the utterly fantastic first impressions I get from their name. Both the band name and album title sound like text from poorly translated a Japanese computer game. You just can't stay angry at a name like that. Or become angry, for that matter.

Antony and the Johnsons - Ain't got a Johnson no more! Am I right?
Note: I am.

Antony And The Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
This harrowing concept album charts one man's sex change operation, the consequent realisation that he wasn't actually a woman trapped in a man's body, and finally his inevitable suicide. What saves this album from being inexcusably unpleasant is the rather perky secret track where we are informed that it was all a dream and the protagonist has learned a valuable lesson about being an attention whore.

KT Tunstall - Eye To The Telescope
I know of KT Tunstall because of the TV advertisment for her album. It said something to the effect of "KT Tunstall is the hot new voice for 2005!", as if they assumed the 'hot new voice' from 2004 was no longer satisfying me but - wait! - they have the prescription to make it all better! And it comes in the form of a tomboy with initials instead of a first name! I don't know what her music is like, she only exists in adverts as far as I'm concerned. In early 2006 the freshly obsolete KT will be replaced by another "hot new voice" and you won't care.

Linkin Park - The only band who truly understand you.
Note: Very well composed photograph. Suck on that, Bloc Party.

Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger
Maximo Park, as you really ought to know by now, are the explosive supergroup which formed early this year when members of Linkin Park met little-known German trance producers Maximo on tour and became best friends forever. The fusion of Linkin Park's awesome double-team of annoying lyricists and Maximo's extreme nosebleed-trance fury somehow resulted in something even greater than the sum of its parts. Potent.

Seth Lakeman - Kitty Jay
This guy launched his album by performing a gig in Dartmoor Prison. Similarities to Johnny Cash end there, as should your interest.

Polar Bears - They hide their black noses in the snow for camouflage.
Note: Fawn over them at your peril. They are not here to amuse.

Polar Bear - Held On The Tips Of Fingers
While the decision to put a jazz band in the list instead of another bland indie rock band might seem interesting, it is almost certainly a bizarre error on the part of the lone 17 year old NME subscriber who is in charge of nominations. Clearly, he meant Snow Patrol. Move along, nothing to see here.

Who should win?
It's a clear toss-up between Maximo Park and The Go! Team, but who cares? More often than not the Mercury winner quickly falls back into the relative obscurity in which they previously languished and remain there for the rest of their career.

Freddie would be rolling (not rocking) in his grave, if indeed the awards genuinely did have anything to do with him, and it wasn't just a cheap shitty joke on my part.

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