I’ve made comments about the Mercury Awards in the last two years and now that this is the first time that we’ve got a set of nominations that genuinely get me excited then I guess this year should be no different.
The list includes many of my favourites: Polar Bear, FKA Twigs, Nick Mulvey, Kate Tempest and, of course, GoGo Penguin. My money is on Kate Tempest to win, but there are at least four other worthy candidates that aren’t dreary rock bands or bland pop stars (not that I’m especially sure who they are or what their music’s like).
I’m sort of hoping that a kind of corner has been turned where we are past the situation where the only musicians that ever get any media attention fall within the categories of rock and pop. I don’t deny that there may be the odd rock or pop song that might be worth listening to, but generally this fixation on a fairly narrow and totally conventional song-based form must surely be coming towards its end given that almost all the decent music generated since the 1970s has not been pop and it most definitely hasn’t been rock.
Even Radiohead can hardly be described as a rock band any more (and much the better for it).
However, before I get too triumphalist, my celebration of dance music might be compromised by the current trends in America relating to what our trans-Atlantic cousins call EDM. The kind of dance music that dominates there is pretty obvious and rather dull (if radio-friendly). And I worry about how Las Vegas is fast becoming a rich man’s Ibiza where the likes of Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber are taken seriously. And I thought Skrillex, Pendulum and Calvin Harris were bad enough.
Although Kate Tempest’s victory would be the most poetic (in several senses of the word), I’d be pretty chuffed if the groove-friendly jazz provided by GoGo Penguin made the grade. After all, who’d have predicted James Blake would have won last year?