Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Trad Mercury Prize Stats and Slag-Off 2008

To round off Rocktimists unexpected splurge of Mercury Prize coverage, here’s a reminder of why the award doesn’t matter beyond cash for the nominated bands and cheap gags for people like us. It’s the brains-trust that vote for the thing:

Simon Frith - Chair, music author
Jude Rogers - The Guardian, New Statesman *
Janice Long - Broadcaster, Radio 2
Mark Findlay - Head of Music, Global/Capital *
Conor McNicholas - Editor, NME *
George Ergatoudis - Head of Music, Radio 1 *
Arwa Haider - Music Editor Metro newspaper; Word *
Mike Flynn - Jazz Editor, Time Out
Charles Hazlewood - Conductor *
Kitty Empire - Chief Music Critic, The Observer
Dean Jackson - Broadcaster, BBC Midlands *

Points to note:

They’re not even all pop critics, as I’d assumed they would be before I first saw a list of judges, around the time of last years award. If we’re gonna get the upstanding fellers who run Capital and pick the music for Radio 1 we may as well be given Guy Hands. This is why Burial could never win last night. And if we’re given some no-mark from BBC Midlands the panel may as well include the first person in the street I hit by throwing Helicopter Girl promos out of my living-room window.

Anyone with an asterisk next to them was also on last years panel which means 70% of the people who picked the winner last night had their fingers in the biscuit tin last year as well. And it’s not as if the UK has a shortage of pop writers. The phrase ‘a safe pair of hands’ comes to mind.

Finally here’s a quote from Simon Frith about what the judges look for; “it's not really about the best record, it's about records of the year so there's got to be some sense that the records chosen represent the year in music. They've got a representational function rather than a valuative function”. So that’s it. We got Elbow because we deserved Elbow, and quite right too. So buck your ideas up or it’s or it’s cold porridge next year too.

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