The XX win Mercury Music Prize

I should probably not blog in anticipation of the Mercury result more often.

Though, the worth of the award seems far lesser without the usual controversy that surrounds it. The winner in this instance is probably the best British album of the past 12 months, but the nominations and the award’s pedigree suggests that’s not what the Mercury’s ethos is. When I first saw the nominations, I began my traditional lament for the UK music scene, but soon realised (thanks in part to my own list) that there were actually a lot of great British albums released in the past year (Four Tet, James Blake, Gorillaz), sometimes by artists I’d even forgotten were British (Flying Lotus, Hot Chip), and then I perused by traditional outrage over Mercury snubs. But picking the best of the best isn’t what the Mercury is about, so picking an album that has a genuine claim to being the best made by a relatively well-known band makes the affair seem a little… pointless.

A mostly useless pundit nailed it by pointing out ‘what coffee table isn’t already decorated with this album?’ – or words to that effect. It already has a load of end-of-year-list praise from seven months ago. Another pundit suggested that it’ll go ‘international’ now (essentially meaning America), seemingly unaware that gorillavsbear and Pitchfork have already broken them over the pond. I don’t think a Mercury is going to give them much more clout than a BNM did.

How popular are the band over in the US anyway? I’m not even sure. I suspect I overestimate blogs influence as much as I underestimate awards like this.

I’m sure there’ll be a Speech Debelle next year.

MP3: Florence and the Machine – You’ve Got the Love (XX remix)

MP3: The XX – Islands


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