Tuesday, September 04, 2007


"Music is a shout of foregone conclusions, as long as music plays its part", the song goes. On the other hand, the Mercury Prize, originally hailed as a genre-busting new music award, has become long on foregone conclusions while remaining comparatively short on musical daring. Industry hats go on about 'innovation', but what they mean is previously little known talents in fairly predictable pools. This year those psycho-darling Klaxons (Myths of the Near Future) outvoted rehab Winehouse and the net-tastic Artctics, among others. Congratulations to them. But it's still a scandal that the Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford (drums) remained an afterthought even on the Independent's arts pages. The Mecuries almost immediately reduced contemporary classical and jazz to token shortlist inclusions, before ditching them altogether (honest, at least). The Basquiat broke the barrier again this year, because, as John Walters put it, "they rock". The dubious honour has at least secured them some valuable additional sales. Not to be sniffed at. But their fine aroma is not sufficient to re-odorize the stench of music biz commercialism surrounding the Mercury muppett show. Music alone is not good enough to pipe its message, it seems.

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