Mercury Music Prize 2004, BBC4

by | Sep 8, 2004 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A bounteous island brimming with the fruits of innovation and the fine flaxen sands of musical excellence amid a torpid ocean of pop effluence.

What to say of you didn’t like it

Top of the Pops for the over 40s who own a second home in Cornwall and drive a jeep.

What was good about it?

• Jools Holland did his usual solid job as host, even allowing for his usual inanities where he speeds up his delivery to spare his blushes at the explicitly embellished script.

• Rapper Ty was the best performer, and his track Look 4 Me exhibited a level of innovation beyond most of the other nominees (and we’ll even forgive him the txtspk in the title).

• Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out still sounds good, even if the guitarist’s style is still bugging us as much as the way Alan Shearer shakes hands.

• Franz Ferdinand won. While we are getting a little tired of their ubiquity, if anyone other than they, Ty, Belle And Sebastian or Robert Wyatt won it would have been as much of a white flag to the mundane as when M People were victorious.

• Robert Wyatt’s acceptance speech which was both humorous and self-deprecating. And his film showed his fabulous, inventive music and his inspirations.

• Stuart Maconie standing in excruciating discomfort like a sour faced dwarf next to the towering elegance of Minnie Driver.

What was bad about it?

• That too many of the nominees were described as artists as if to elevate them above the proletariat pop that failed to get the nod.

• It took less than one minute for the word “eclectic” to be used, a term extinct outside the exclusive boundaries of the NME, although small populations have been heard in Blur interviews and at student parties by young virgins hoping to impress the ladies. Later on, other such NME phrases such as “zeitgeist” and “creative intelligence” were used.

• The film on The Streets featured a composer who compared Mike Skinner’s music to that of Stravinsky, but did so in such a supercilious manner as to suggest mere pop is hugely inferior to classical.

• Jamelia’s performance. The song was fine, but it was an acoustic version that further promoted the dogma that guitar music is more “real” and is of greater significance.

• The absence of The Streets, Joss Stone, Snow Patrol and Keane nullified their chances of winning.

• While Amy Winehouse may sing like an angel, she speaks like a cannibal chewing on Esther Rantzen’s gnashers.

• The absence of pretentious music critics discussing the entries, as there are few sights more delightful than watching their reaction to a winner they have just vilified.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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