Monday 6 October 2014

Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2014: Who Deserves The Award?

As we inch closer to the night of the Barclaycard Mercury Prize—it all goes down 29th October, for those unaware—it only feels right to take a look at the shortlist of nominees to try and figure out who deserves to win this year. After listening to the artists and their respective releases and doing some research on them, it's become clear that there is a favourite in the bunch.

Backup dancer-turned-breakout R&B star FKA Twigs appears poised to bag the Mercury Prize following the release of her first full-length album, "LP1," this past August. It's one of the most critically lauded projects of 2014 (so far), a point driven home by the fact it has an 87/100 on reviews aggregator Metacritic. Beyond the scores, though, a slew of music writers have voiced their opinion on who should win the Mercury Prize, and right at the top of pretty much every list is FKA Twigs.

In their look at the award, Metro wrote that she "is exactly the kind of artist the Mercury Prize should be pushing," adding that few would complain if that happened based on her nearly universal acclaim. Music Times echoed that sentiment in a similar piece, noting that "FKA Twigs is the real deal" and that her "blend of dream pop and trip hop that make up LP1 provides an audio image as slick as the album cover."

But what if she doesn't win? Who else deserves the prize just as much as her? It's hard to say. According to Betfair entertainment writer Max Liu, it's extremely likely that one of the newcomers will take home the prize. And there's a good reason for that. As he wrote here, seven of the 12 artists nominated released their debuts in the past year. Also, new artists have done fairly well recently, such as the xx in 2010 and alt-J two years later. In addition to FKA Twigs, the other debut artists are Jungle, Kate TempestNick Mulvey, Young Fathers, Royal Blood, and East India Youth

Beyond the fact that new artists have found success in the past five years, many of these debut projects are simply better and more interesting than their veteran contemporaries. Like Damon Albarn, for example, who Liu wrote "would make a dull Mercury winner." Agreed. Even though his album, "Everyday Robots," is a solid listen, it's not nearly as strong as his past work in the Gorillaz or Blur. The same goes for Anna Calvi and Bombay Bicycle Club.

As for my personal pick, it's hard to argue against the crowd. FKA Twigs' full-length debut is an excellent and unique project, especially when it comes to the production. However, the case needs to be made for Jungle. Yes, it may seem like a "safe" choice because they're not exactly pushing any musical boundaries, which makes their album easy listen. However, their blend of indie pop, R&B, and dance music is infectious, especially in a live setting. If only the whole LP was as good as 'Time,' then they'd have more of a fighting chance.

Who do you think deserves to win this year?

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