Most people think that winning the Mercury Prize Award is a dream come true for any musician, but is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
A minority of people genuinely believe that it’s cursed. Yes. CURSED.
Okay, I admit to finding this theory a little ridiculous at first, but then I realised this: there actually is an elaborate history of failure after winning the Mercury Prize.
Have you ever heard of Roni Size/Reprazent? Ms Dynamite’s second album? And any ideas whatsoever about what happened to Pulp after winning in 1996?
No, no, and no again.
(For the record, subsequent to Pulp’s Award success, they embarked on a number of international tour dates, released the album ‘This Is Hardcore’, which failed to live up to the legacy of ‘Different Class’, before taking an ‘extended hiatus’ for nine-years in 2002).
I’m not completely convinced about this so-called ‘curse’ because, well, after all, winning the Mercury prize award will get you a s**t ton of media attention (even if it’s just for a time being). You’d be guaranteed a mention in every music magazine and an airplay on every radio station in Britain. It’s part of the package of winning.
Have you ever heard of Arctic Monkeys? Klaxons? Franz Ferdinand?
Yes. Yes. And yes. Well I assume so, judging by their success in the music industry.
I’m completely on the fence with this one. I guess it depends on how popular you are before winning it, so if Bowie’s ever nominated for an award, it shouldn’t matter whether he wins or loses – he’s been around for more than four decades, for goodness sake. Same goes with Arctic Monkeys. I’m certain that they can do without the twenty grand. After all, they could build a fort with all the money they have, and still have some left over.
But what about the lesser-known bands? The Scottish alt. hip hop group ‘Young Fathers’ are a leading example. Last year’s winners of the Award for their cheerfully titled ‘Dead’ album, beating other well-known musicians such as Damon Albarn, Bombay Bicycle Club and Anna Calvi to the title.
If they were ever to be re-nominated, and end up winning again (even though it’s unlikely, as only P J Harvey has ever managed this), would that be their nail in the coffin, if it hasn’t been already, or that ubiquitous everybody-knows-who-you-are status?
It’s anybody’s guess, really.