Is winning the Mercury Music prize more of a hindrance to singers careers than a blessing?
Winners of the Mercury Music prize should be at the top of their game with the ‘best album’ in Britain, so they would be expected to be followed by commercial success. Not so, does the critics and peers of musicians liking an album show that the public will not like it?
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There Is A History of Failure After Winning The Prize
Have you ever heard of Roni Size/Reprazent? You may have heard of Ms. Dynamite, but what about her second album? Or how about the future of Pulp after winning the prize in 1996?
The Mercury Prize may be the alternative prize in the UK to winning a Brit, but in the past it has had an aura around it that makes people feel as if winning may be the high point of their career. After Pulp won the prize in 1996, they went into a terminal decline, never again reaching the heights they had between 1992 and 1996, and they split in 2002. Whilst everyone knows who Jarvis Cocker is, it is arguable that since winning the prize in '96 he has not really done anything that could potentially hit the heights of Pulp's album 'Different Class'.
The Mercury Prize in the 90s was usually the final nail in the coffin of many bands, or at least signalled the end to an illustrious career. Primal Scream won the inaugural award in 1992, and went on a decline involving heroin addiction, Portishead after winning in 1995 soon had a break from the music scene, Roni Size/Reprazent did not release another album until 2000, and reformed in 2008, but have never recovered from the high of winning the prize. And the last two winners in the 90s, Talvin Singh, and Gomez have both disappeared from the music scene. Even Ms. Dynamite, who won in 2002 has struggled after the success of her first album.
The 2000s have seen a change though, and bands such as the Klaxons, Franz Ferdinand, and the Arctic Monkeys have all gone on to bigger and better things, which may signal a change for the prize, but there is no doubt that the prize does seem to come with a chance the failure may ensue.
It Gives Unknown Bands A Platform For Recognition
This years winner, Speech Debelle, may be relatively unknown to the vast majority of people, but the fact that she has won this years Mercury Prize means that, in the mean time at least, she has recognition in the UK. This will probably lead to a rise in album sales for the artist, and the potential to move forward in her career.
Although other years have proven this not the be the case, the fact that the Mercury Prize does not always end up in the hands of the well known, mainstream artists gives people like Speech Debelle the chance to forward her career when it may seem like there is no breaking into the popular music scene. Without a doubt, her efforts this year will mean airtime on the national radio stations, much like the success of Elbow last year and the Klaxons the year before.
What do you think?