Thursday 14 December 2017

Sublime to the ridiculous

James Blake
James Blake

A WEEK of music industry back-slapping went from the sublime to the ridiculous in a matter of days as news of the unexpected but welcome result in the Mercury Prize gave way to a the first, shambolic YouTube Music Awards on Sunday night.

'Overgrown', the second studio album from electronic wizard James Blake, scooped the Mercury Prize to the surprise of most observers as - for the first time in four years - the Mercury went to somebody who wasn't the bookies' favourite.

North London's Blake was a 25-1 outsider before the awards, with veteran David Bowie and Laura Mvula among the favourites. Others to get the nod but fail at the final hurdle included Arctic Monkeys, Disclosure, Foals, Jake Bugg and our own Villagers.

22-year-old James Blake was previously nominated for his debut album in 2011 when PJ Harvey claimed the Prize. This time he won over the Mercury Prize judges who called Overgrown 'an inventive, poetic and poignant album of great beauty'.

The £20,000 cash prize that comes with the Mercury is a very welcome windfall for someone like James Blake, but the cashet of winning will certainly be worth far more in the long term. He's already seeing a huge pay-off in sales terms, with Overgrown getting a sales uplift of 2,538% on alone in the few days following the announcement of the result.

Not one of the artists nominated for this year's Mercury Music Prize had personal or professional interest in the first ever YouTube Music Awards. Broadcast in a webcast live from New York, the show was chaotic, with hosts Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts working without a script and struggling to overcome technical glitches.

Lady Gaga turned up without her pants, to perform her new single 'Dope' for the first time, and Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler did a 'Kanye' by jokingly butting in as a group of Taylor Swift fans accepted her 'YouTube Phenomenon' award

'Not Taylor Swift,' he said. 'The YouTube phenomenon of the year was definitely the 'Harlem Shake.' I don't know. No disrespect, but everybody knows that if you've ever been on YouTube, so whatever.' He then dropped the mic and walked off stage.

In a particularly awkward moment, the show hosts carried babies through the crowd and tried to interview 'Breakthrough' award winners Macklemore and Ryan Lewis as the babies cried. 'So do we get to keep the babies?' Macklemore asked.

Eminem was crowned Artist of the Year, the Video of the Year award went to the South Korean girl band Girls' Generation for their song, 'I Got A Boy', while DeStorm Power received the Innovation of the Year prize. Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix ('Radioactive') won the Response of the Year prize.

Apparently, only 225,000 people tuned in to watch, a very poor response from Youtube's huge global audience. Those who managed to go the distance and stay tuned in for the full 90 minutes were probably more interested in the onstage antics than the actual award winners.

Meanwhile, there was yet another awards ceremony on Sunday as BBC Radio 1 hosted its 'Teen Awards' at Wembley Arena.

Unlike the Mercury Prize, there was absolutely no surprise here as One Direction swept all before them.

Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik took the Best British Group title and their hit 'Best Song Ever' lived up to its name as the Best British Single.

Gorey Guardian

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