Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize

Now it is the weekend we can forget procurement for - well, an hour or two at least, and focus on really important matters.  The Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize.

Now, I picked the winner last year and made a few bob (£50 to be precise) on Betfair, so I should start by saying that I accept no responsibility for any tips I make here.  No selling Dad's golf clubs on eBay to fund a punt on the XX (and that means you, Goddaughter...!)

Actually, I can't predict this year's winner; I think it is an excellent list with 3 or 4 very strong candidates.  But what we can do is look at the current odds and I'll give you my take on whether they offer good value or not, as well as my views.    So I'll give my marks out of ten for the album, the current odds and what I would offer were I making the book.  Part 1 today -  part 2 tomorrow.  In the order they appear on the website:

Biffy Clyro: PS rating  8;      Betfair odds (approx) 26-1;    PS odds 30-1

Third album from Scottish heavy / prog / indie rockers.  Very good, shows their versatility.  A good shortlist selection but they run up against my golden rule (to be known as the 'Biffy rule' from now); you can't win this if there is another album of similar genre / feel that is just better, particularly more innovative.  The judges will just say - as in this case - "well, if we want to give it to an interesting, slightly quirky rock album from a well-established act...has to be Weller."

I am Kloot:   PS rating 7;      Betfair odds (approx) 15-1;     PS odds  30-1

I was looking forward to this having read the reviews and was marginally disappointed.  Richard Hawley meets Elbow.  Dreamy, northern, pleasant singer songwriter with backing band stuff.  A bit Radio 2 for me in places.  Not bad, but no chance - not a patch on Sweet Billy Pilgrim who occupied this slot / genre  last year (and didn't win).

Dizzie Rascal:   PS rating 6;      Betfair odds (approx) 26-1;   PS odds 10-1

Dizzie! What can you say! Bonkerzzzzz! He's rad! He's bad! Amazing! I'm 20 years too old to talk like this and  pretend to like it!  No seriously, appreciate his genre-busting efforts (as my daughter pointed out - taking grime to the masses), and huge commercial success with music that is qute challenging at times.  But not this year.  Too blatantly commercial in places I suspect for the judges; but I couldn't totally rule it out.

Paul Weller:   PS rating 8;      Betfair odds (approx) 30 - 1;    PS odds 6-1

A very strange but often quite wonderful album. As I said when I reviewed it here; "one of the most interesting and occasionally perplexing album I’ve heard for ages".  If they want an established artist doing something brave and a bit mad, pushing the boundaries after 30 years in the business...this is it.  A good long shot.

Corinne Bailey Rae:  PS rating 6.5;  Betfair odds (approx) 27-1;   PS odds 30-1

OK, I've been listening to this on Spotify while I write this post.  And...can't remember.  It's fine.  Better than jazz.  Soul  / pop / blues, she's got a great voice and it's...fine.  I'm not knocking it, it is not easy to make music like this.  I can see the dinner party in Holland Park now...this goes on at about 11pm.... I suppose if M People can win this, who knows, but can't see it.

The XX:  PS rating 8.5;      Betfair odds (approx) 3-1 ;      PS odds 5-2

Justifiably the favourite - the coolest album of the decade; indie / dubstep / trance apparently.  It has grown on me and it is potentially an album that will still be highly rated in 20 years.   Manages to be laid-back yet full of tension and desire at the same time....and strong tunes (see Shakira's slightly odd cover of 'Islands').  A worthy favourite but not a runaway winner for me. of the greatest British albums of all time?

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