Editorial: Speech Debelle wins the Mercury Prize

2009-09-09 | |

It's not something I didn't see coming, but, it was still a slight shock when Speech Debelle's Speech Therapy took the Barclaycard Mercury Prize last night. The bookies had Florence and the Machine down to win it, and, I'd probably have put money on them, if their radio hype had played any part in it. Instead, there was a deserving winner for once.

I don't mean that in a contrived way. If you look at the winners of the Mercury Prize since it's inception, most of the bands have been over-hyped by the radio or the NME. A lot of the time, the artist is part of the 'big thing' that's going on in the music scene (Primal Scream, Pulp, Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand...to name but a few); and then you get those 'out of the blue' wins like Talvin Singh or Miss Dynamite, which seem to shake the foundations of the system.

Speech Debelle, however...she's something else. She stated she wanted to make music after seeing Miss Dynamite win the Mercury Prize in 2002; but, it would be wrong to compare this girl with Miss Dynamite. Speech, and her band The Therapists, have, in my eyes, a sense of passion; of heart, that isn't found in the other shortlisted artists - Florence? That's just music, terrible music; The Horrors make angsty goth-pop; La Roux makes catchy electro; none of them make impassioned beat-poems to music.

And while this was meant to be straight-faced music news, it's become more of an editorial. I look forward to seeing who gets lined up for the next attempt at snatching the Mercury Prize. Maybe it'll be the same-old, same-old way of judging; or maybe the winner will shake the system a little. Or maybe, just maybe, the winner will be someone who deserves it, like Speech.

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