27 April 2008

Near That Time

I was starting to think about the Mercury Music Prize for this year and thought about one album that it would be a crime to leave off the list of finalists.

Come on, to leave "KALA" by M.I.A off the list really would be punishable. Knowing my luck, they will omit it just to be awkward (none of my favourite albums have won in recent years - don't get my started on Klaxons or Arctic Monkeys-gate). Unlike most R'n'B artists, she is observant, innovative, hates all forms of violence and is an active, er, activist.

So you might think that if she is all of these things then why is she including the harrowing sounds of gunshots on "Paper Planes" or "20 Dollar"? Maybe it is genuinely to disturb, to point out how the sound can ring through a person's mind long after the weapon has been fired. And yet, she has been mostly overlooked by the mainstream. Perhaps her almost aggressive form of MCing and singing - she covers the chorus of Pixies' "Where is My Mind" hauntingly in "20 Dollar" - is too much for an almost simple-minded Radio 1 audience, so much so that even the apparently ground-breaking (I use "apparently" very appropriately since there is nothing ground-breaking about his DJ skills) Zane Lowe doesn't play any of her music. She has been banished to 6 Music, where her singles are fitted amongst indie boys both young and old, ever-so-slightly out of place.

Strange, considering how her previous singles "Jimmy" and "Boyz" had very little to do with violence, poverty and no controversial sounds to speak of. But then, perhaps her sound infringes too much on the world music scene to be taken seriously by pretenders like Lowe and Moyles. But it's still hip-hop, supposedly the most popular genre in the world today.

It was disappointing to see her first album, "Arular" slump at the bash in 2004 when her strange and almost uncompromising songs must have bamboozled the panel of over-30s. Maybe a younger panel would have voted in her favour. On the other hand, they voted Ms. Dynamite's debut as the best album of 2002 (the second woman to win the prize after PJ Harvey - but a strange choice at that) and that album didn't exactly conform to what the panel represents.

I wouldn't put money on it. I wouldn't even say that this was a shoe-in to be on the shortlist. All I'm saying is that to leave her hanging after such a superb album would be atrocious.

More on the prize nearer the time of the nominations...


  1. Blowing all my street cred, but i liked Duffys album, Last year on one of the preview show was when i first saw Bat for lashes.

  2. Hey Scarlet,

    I just thought i should add this site to my blogroll for you too. I never even thought cause i usually go to your culture garden lol. ill do it now x

  3. Just added you to my Highly recomended sites. Hope thats ok.


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