Words: Sofie Jenkinson
As far as female homegrown talent goes, we’re doing pretty well. Olympic medals, gold X-games medals, world championship titles…allsorts! And now the lungs are doing the talking as ladies with awesome vocal chords are edging ever closer to completely dominating the Mercury Music Prize nominations - a welcome push forward in the still male dominated music industry.
The national Mercury music prize celebrates the best in British music from the last year, shortlisting 12 albums for the judges to single out just one. This year the list boasts five albums from female artists, which is the most well, EVER.
Last year’s well-deserved winners were Elbow, finally being rewarded after years of hard graft and beautiful song writing. A female hasn’t won for 7 years, not since Ms. Dynamite was on the scene, the year after PJ Harvey became the victor.
So here we have it in no particular order:
Florence and the Machine – Lungs The joint favourite alongside Kasabian (oh please!). This band of merry musicians led by flame haired pop warrior Florence Welch offer grand heart pumping tunes all tied up with a big theatrical bow. Listen at myspace.com/florenceandthemachine
Bat for Lashes – Two Suns The ethereal and magical Natasha Khan dons her feathery headdress and whips up another storm of heartbreakingly beautiful notes on the follow up to her debut, Fur and Gold, which was also Mercury nominated. Listen at myspace.com/batforlashes
Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew Lisa Hannigan was first heard by many alongside the dulcet tones of one Mr. Damien Rice. Her solo effort is gentle, crisp and lovely. With not as much (obvious) front as other contenders on this list but with a lot more backroom precision and otherworldly vocal charm. Listen at myspace.com/lisahannigan
La Roux - La Roux An album full of giant tunes that sing out above crowds of people singing them back with their hands in the air. Also lending themselves to heart stopping remixes such as Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Remix of In For The Kill, in which the use of silence highlights the awesomeness of both the song and her vocal power. Listen at myspace.com/larouxuk
Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy Rapper Speech Debelle’s off-kilter, poetic air paints her album a very beautiful shade of bittersweet. As she winds her sugar coated, gritty lyrics through bundles of plucked guitar and soft percussion. Perfect mix of swagger, truth and musicality. Listen at myspace.com/speechdebellemusic
So we’ve been trying them all out and it has been a pleasure for our eardrums. Not one note of a token gesture lurks in any of these nominations, naturally! La Roux is almost definitely one to watch, with the hype just the right side of elusive now to stop a victory being obvious. But it remains to be seen whether the pomp and glitter of the likes of Florence and La Roux will win over the more considered alternatives.
The past does suggest that being a favourite doesn’t usually lead to victory in the end and so a sly nod in the direction of Speech Debelle or even the little known and glorious Sweet Billy Pilgrim might be the way to go.
The winner will be decided and announced at the awards show in September.