Loaded: Who will be crowned top choice this year?
Last year was, by near-universal agreement, the strongest 12 months for domestic music in at least a decade. And that is reflected in some of the fine releases that make up the shortlist for the Choice Music Prize.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the nominees, announced on Wednesday:
Adebisi Shank -- This is the Second Album of a band called Adebisi Shank
The Cast of Cheers -- Chariot
Cathy Davey -- The Nameless
Fight Like Apes -- The Body of Christ & The Legs of Tina Turner
Halves -- It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever)
Imelda May -- Mayhem
James Vincent McMorrow -- Early in The Morning
O Emperor -- Hither Thither
Two Door Cinema Club -- Tourist History
Villagers -- Becoming a Jackal
Eight of those were on my end-of-year top 10 -- I'm one of the judges again this year -- with only Cast of Cheers and Fight Like Apes (yawn) not making my list. It's nothing short of a tragedy that Shit Robot didn't make the cut for the fantastic From the Cradle to the Rave.
There's quite a mainstream list of judges this time, including Irish Times arts editor Shane Hegarty and Dave Fanning, and the blogging community is likely to be annoyed that there is only one blogger (Aidan Cuffe of Golden Plec).
The number of judges has been reduced from 12 to 11 in order to put a stop to the possibilities of ties (as happened last year and apparently required tortuous debate before one of the judges "cracked".
I tipped either Two Door Cinema Club or Villagers to take the gong months ago, and I'm not changing my mind now.
- Speaking of award ceremonies, it's probably fair to say that the girls from TV3's Xposé will have shed a tear that the Meteor Awards have been scrapped.
For 10 years, the Meteors was one of the few home-grown events where Glenda and the rest could glam up in order to meet the great and the good (ahem, Westlife and Girls Aloud).
The awards themselves were roundly despised by the critics. There was a sense that it was a puffed-up party for an ailing music industry to present its biggest stars, rather than something to reward artistic merit.
- RTE's Arts Lives documentary series is one of the jewels in the station's crown and this Tuesday night (RTE One, 10.15pm) will be a must-see for fans of Ruby Murray, the Belfast singer who rose to prominence in the 50s.
Ruby and the Duke tells her story from teenage sensation -- with a highly distinctive singing style and who had five songs in the UK top 20 in 1955 -- to an older figure who struggled with fame and alcoholism.
Presented by Duke Special, the programme will feature contributions from Camille O'Sullivan, Brian Kennedy and David Holmes among others.
And to accompany the series, the RTE Concert Orchestra will be performing Ruby Murray's music in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, on February 2, and the Cork Opera House on February 6. Mary Coughlan and Mary Kate Geraghty (aka Fight Like Apes' May Kay) will be singing on both nights.
- David Fincher is hard at work somewhere in Sweden right now on the US remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And while Stieg Larsson fans have been trying to imagine how Rooney Mara can possible improve on Noomi Rapace's Lisbeth, this one is gladdened with the news that Trent Reznor has been commissioned to create the soundtrack.
Day & Night