Shortlists Announced: Women Storm Mercury Prize, Veterans Return for Polaris Prize

Mercury prize 2009 nominees ... Bat for Lashes, La Roux, Florence and the Machine. Photograph: PR

Mercury prize 2009 nominees ... Bat for Lashes, La Roux, Florence and the Machine. Photograph: PR

“The music world is supposed to be for people who are terrified of girls. Now that’s who’s in the band, that’s who’s writing about the music, that’s who runs the radio stations. And you have a music scene that resembles the doors opening on sales day at Selfridges. It must be terrifying for all of them.”   – Lauren Laverne, former Mercury judge and TV presenter

I’m not ready to proclaim the music world safe from those “terrified of girls” — as we only recently witnessed with the ridiculous ABC “Hottest 100 Of All Time” poll from Australia released weeks ago that featured ZERO female artists.  As one commentator noted on the ABC site, “…until women are no longer judged on their sex appeal, their poignant lyrics and raw emotion in song won’t touch enough people to make any top 100 lists.”  Not to mention, despite the thoughts of Lauren Laverne, they’re not running the radio stations, much less the majority of writers.

So, it comes as no surprise, that much of the press today about the Mercury Prize shortlist centered on the record-breaking five female artists who made the cut.  Chaired by pop music scholar and former music journalist, Simon Frith, the list includes female performers Bat for Lashes, Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Lisa Hannigan, and Speech Debelle.  Frith, well known for his sociology-based approach to studying rock music,  comments that female artists have benefited from structural changes in the music industry, especially the decreasing role of record labels and the ensuing blurring of genres: “As genres break down it means that women are not having to be pop stars of a certain sort. Somebody like La Roux, who creates fun synth pop, not being pushed in a cutesy way.” Early bets are on Florence and the Machine, led by singer Florence Welch, prevailing as the winner September 8th.

Mercury 2009 Shortlist:

  • Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
  • The Horrors – Primary Colours
  • Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires
  • Glasvegas – Glasvegas
  • La Roux – La Roux
  • Florence and the Machine – Lungs
  • Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
  • Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew
  • The Invisible – The Invisible
  • Led Bib – Sensible Shoes
  • Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Men
  • Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy

See the Polaris Music Prize below the jump…

2009 Short List, in spinal CD form

2009 Short List, in spinal CD form

Canada’s answer to the Mercury, the Polaris Music Prize, for the first time features no debut albums and a few artists who have previously been shortlisted, including Metric, Joel Plaskett, Chad VanGaalen, and 2007 winner Patrick Watson.  Steve Jordan, the founder and executive director of the Polaris Music Prize,  explains the key unifying feature of the artists nominated: “If there’s a common thread to these records, it’s that each artist built on previous successes by pushing themselves into even riskier artistic dimensions. Listeners will find the jury picked quite an ambitious crop this year. This is exactly the kind of artistry that Polaris aims to support.”

Polaris 2009 Shortlist:

  • Elliott BROOD – Mountain Meadows
  • Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life
  • Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels
  • Hey Rosetta! – Into Your Lungs (and around in your heart and on through your blood)
  • K’NAAN – Troubadour
  • Malajube – Labyrinthes
  • Metric – Fantasies
  • Joel Plaskett – Three
  • Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane
  • Patrick Watson – Wooden Arms

The Polaris Music Prize winner will be announced in Toronto on September 21st.


4 Responses to “Shortlists Announced: Women Storm Mercury Prize, Veterans Return for Polaris Prize”

  1. July 22, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    My vote is in for Florence, but somehow I see Glasvegas pulling away with this?

  2. 2 Joe
    July 24, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Maybe Glasvegas could win…I guess I see them as co-favorites with Florence and the Machine and Bat for Lashes.

  3. July 25, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Dude, Florence is poised to explode, she/they can’t be held down! I love that record, top ten of the year! “Kiss With a Fist” is a really hot song!

  4. 4 David
    August 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I’m really excited to see Bat for Lashes nominated again, I just saw her at the Paradise Rock Club and kinda blew my mind

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