For those not aware, the Mercury Prize goes to the UK album of the year. The prize was awarded to Dizzee Rascal – ‘Boy In Da Corner’ in 2003. Here’s this year’s list:
Amy Winhouse – ‘Frank’
Basement Jaxx – ‘Kish Kash’
Belle & Sebastian – ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’
Franz Ferdinand – ‘Franz Ferdinand’
Jamelia – ‘Thank You’
Joss Stone – ‘The Soul Sessions’
Keane – ‘Hopes and Fears’
Robert Wyatt – ‘Cuckooland’
Snow Patrol – ‘Final Straw’
The Streets – ‘A Grand Don’t Come for Free
Ty – ‘Upwards’
The Zutons – ‘Who Killed……The Zutons’
Of these I’ve listened to Basement Jaxx, Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, Keane, Snow Patrol and The Streets. So automatically I’ve got to cut the list in half. Out of those I was least impressed by Snow Patrol. Their album wanders with a few standout singles (I love “Chocolate”). It seems to try to hard to be Emo and comes out sounding boring and generic. Not very impressive. Keane I only listened to two or three times. I should probably give it some more time, I enjoyed it, but it’s never something I feel like listening. So we’re down to four. These four are legit:
Basement Jaxx – ‘Kish Kash’: This is what electronic music is supposed to be. It’s funky and fun. With some interesting guests including J.C. Chasez, MeShell Ndegeocello and, my personal favorite, Dizzee Rascal (if your a Dizzee fan and haven’t heard “Lucky Star” off ‘Kish Kash,’ do yourself a favor).
Best song: “Lucky Star (featuring Dizzee Rascal)”
Belle & Sebastian – ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’: I didn’t love this at first, then I tried listening to it again during the springtime and I got it. It’s very pop (‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ fans beware). Just a good album for a sunny day.
Best song: “Dear Catastrophe Waitress” (though “I’m a Cuckoo” and “If She Wants Me” have also been my favorite song on this album at one point or another)
Franz Ferdinand – ‘Franz Ferdinand’: Everyone’s heard this by now. It’s a fantastic album. Not much more to say.
Best song: “Take Me Out” (with “Michael” a close second)
The Streets – ‘A Grand Don’t Come for Free’: I love The Streets. I thought ‘Original Pirate Material’ was the best album of 2002 (and one of the best hip-hop albums of the last 5 years easily). This album is a serious shift away from Mike Skinner’s original sound. The entire album is a narrative of losing a grand (as the title would suggest). This is much less accessible than his first album, but after a few listens I was rewarded with a very well put together complete album (which is rare). Skinner has slowed down many of his beats, which I am okay with, but it also means that it’s a little bit harder to walk around and listen to it without feeling a bit depressed (I do most of my music listening on the move). Skinner was also fantastic live, which gives him points in my book.
Best Song: “Could Well Be In”
My winner: Franz Ferdinand – ‘Franz Ferdinand’ defeats ‘A Grand Don’t Come for Free’ by a hair, just because it’s a little more upbeat and fun and that’s what I feel like listening to more often.