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  • Charlie Taylor

Mercury Prize: Britain's Litmus Test Of Future Talent

Sampha accepting his Mercury Prize

A couple of times a year, I have a spring clean of my regular rotation. See, in my day-to-day life, I listen to a playlist that is 10 hours long. It's a eclectic mix for any mood. There's songs for when I feel good, feel sad, determined. Songs for when I'm on the move, sitting in my living room, you get it. I have a tune for every moment.

Now these feelings of needing to spring clean can come at any time, and when it does, I go on the hunt for new tracks. I don't care what it is, whether it's a new artist, old, heard of or unheard of, I'm down for anything.

I wish I had the feeling to spring clean right now, because yesterday was the ceremony for one of the most prestigious awards in UK music. The Mercury Prize. For those that don't know, the Mercury Prize is a process where judges from all walks of the British music universe pick 12 albums of any genre for their shortlist and then vote on the night of the ceremony.

If you're looking for a criteria, don't. It's very loose. Basically, they go for music that are critically acclaimed and are unique from an artistic standpoint. It was originally created as an alternative to the BRIT Awards and you know what the BRIT's are about...

I call the Mercury Prize "British Music's Litmus Test". The reason for this, and the reason I wish I had the urge to Spring Clean, is because the diversity of music that is picked is so wide. Out of the 12 albums, I have only listened to four of them. That is a great thing in my opinion.

What irks me about the BRIT's & other awards is that everybody needs to have heard the song or album, regardless if you like it or not. They pick the most popular stuff and that's that. What's great about the Mercury Prize is that you're guaranteed to not have heard of them all and if you have an open mind, you might want to look into them. I certainly want to after seeing the shortlisted artists perform last night and I highly suggest you should too.

Another reason why the Mercury Prize is important. It's a look into the future. The future of grime, jazz, alternative, Hip-Hop were all on display last night. And considering that it was the longest deliberation that the judges have ever had & seven of the shortlisted albums were debuts!

You tell me. What does that say about the state of UK music?

Congratulations to Sampha who won it all and all the other artists that were shortlisted. Back in the day, because I never had the thirst to look for fresh music like the ones on display last night, I thought that British music was tragic. Now? I see that British music is so strong right now, and it could be said with more conviction than ever that there really is someone for everyone.


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