Meteor Choice Music Prize Preview

Posted: 07/03/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on TwoTube.ie on March 7th 2012

It’s that time of year again… Just as you thought you’d seen the back of the debates surrounding end-of-year lists, the Choice Music Prize comes along to get everyone all riled up again!

The Choice Music Prize was established in 2005 to highlight, promote and showcase the work of Irish bands and artists. What is unique, and most admirable, about the Choice Music Prize is that it rewards the music, and no other factor – sales levels, live presence, or amount of airplay are not considerations of the judging panel. It’s ALL about the music. Previous winners are Julie Feeney, The Divine Comedy, Super Extra Bonus Party, Jape, Adrian Crowley, and Two Door Cinema Club.

This year’s prize sees the addition of a new major sponsor in the form of Meteor (making it the Meteor Choice Music Prize, to use its full title). In the build-up to the shortlist announcement Meteor have run a series of free shows featuring some of Ireland’s finest such as Snow Patrol, James Vincent McMorrow, and Lisa Hannigan, with the coveted tickets going solely to lucky competition winners. Another addition to the fore is the inaugural Meteor Irish Song of the Year award – 10 songs shortlisted, with the winner determined by public vote. The usual suspects are there, and deservedly so – but more importantly this new award showcases breaking bands such as This Club and Little Green Cars who have released strong singles but are still beavering away on those much anticipated debut albums.

But back to the main event – who will be joining the alumni of Choice Music Prize winners for Album of the Year 2011? The nominees are…

And So I Watch You From Afar – Gangs
Bell X1 – Bloodless Coup
Cashier No 9 – To The Death Of Fun
Lisa Hannigan – Passenger
The Japanese Popstars – Controlling Your Allegiance
Jape – Ocean of Frequency
Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands – Golden Syrup
Pugwash – The Olympus Sounds
Tieranniesaur – Tieranniesaur
We Cut Corners – Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards

In the run up to the big announcement Twitter was buzzing with thoughts, hopes and predictions – and once the shortlist was revealed, the debate REALLY came to life. EVERYONE has their opinions when it comes to the Choice Music Prize. So, here’s mine…

WHO WILL WIN?
Immediately after I listened to Passenger for the first time upon its release last October, I claimed that Lisa Hannigan would be taking home the Choice Music Prize come March. Hannigan’s #1 album is a remarkable piece of work, which sees her scale the true heights of her potential with conviction and establishes her as one of the most interesting and well-rounded artists in contemporary Irish music. Passenger is as poignantly senitmental as it is endearingly quirky – a triumph. Hannigan’s debut solo album Sea Sew made the shortlist in 2009, losing out to Jape’s formidable Ritual – but this time round, with such a strong run of singles from this widely celebrated body of work it’s hard to see her being denied… and a very worthy winner it would be.

WHO SHOULD WIN?
Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards is the long-anticipated debut album from We Cut Corners – and an outstanding debut at that. It’s concise, clocking in at just under 27 minutes in its entirety, and they make every single second of it count. What is so intriguing about this band is the variety they offer in spite of the instrument limitations – the stripped back approach of just guitar and drums doesn’t hinder, but instead compliments and allows their impressive vocal abilities to shine. Brilliant melodies, insightful anecdotal lyrics, and impeccable dual vocals – it’s a truly unique record, deserving of every ounce of praise that has been sent its way already, and equally deserving of the title of Irish Album of the Year for 2011.

WHO COULD BE THE SURPRISE VICTOR?

Look no further than Tieranniesaur. Essentially an Irish ‘super-group’ of sorts (featuring members of Yeh Deadlies and Squarehead amongst others), the band encapsulate everything that is unique and exciting about the Popical Island Collective with their completely infectious brand of funky disco-inspired breezy pop. Their self-titled debut comprises of 10 impossibly charming tracks, and is the type of album which can always be relied on to put you in a good mood. It would be a brilliant coup for Tieranniesaur to take home the Choice Music Prize – and what a long way that €10,000 prize money would go for the Popical Island Collective, which has carved out such a vital role for itself on the Irish music scene.

WHO MISSED OUT?
I still can’t quite believe that Le Galaxie didn’t make the shortlist for their stunning debut Laserdisc Nights II. In fact if I were to unnecessarily dramatic about it I’d even go so far as to call it a TRAVESTY. It’s a blisteringly brilliant electronic album, which revelled in cosmic critical acclaim upon its release last May. To say that Le Galaxie are original is an understatement because really, there’s no other act out there like them, and they are a force to be reckoned with in a live setting. And perhaps it’s this stellar live reputation that is the root of their surprise omission – after all, the Choice Music Prize rewards the music and solely the music, the manner in which an act can incite frenzy amongst an audience is not a deciding factor.

They’re my thoughts on this year’s shortlist – but the only opinions that have any impact on the end result are those on this year’s judging panel, a broad mix of representatives from across the Irish music media spectrum, led by The Irish Times’ Tony Clayton-Lea. Who wins? THEY decide:

Brian Adams (Today FM), John Barker (98FM’s Totally Irish), Stuart Clark (Hot Press), Siobhan Maguire (The Sunday Times), Naomi McCardle (Harmless Noise), Lauren Murphy (The Irish Times), Nadine O’Regan (RTÉ/Phantom FM/Sunday Business Post), Colm O’Sullivan (Red FM), Ed Power (Irish Independent/Irish Examiner), Rigsy (BBC1 Northern Ireland), Penny Rose-Hart (RTÉ Radio 1)

So all that’s left to do now is sit tight until the Meteor Choice Music Prize live event tomorrow night in The Olympia Theatre, where all of the nominees will take to the stage to perform two songs from their nominated album, whilst the judges finalise their decision and award one act with the title of Album of the Year 2011 (thus making them €10,000 richer!) If you missed out on tickets to the now sold-out event, you can catch the live action on the wireless via Today FM or via webcast at VenueOne.com

In the meantime, take to the comments section below and let us know what YOU think of this year’s Meteor Choice Music Prize shortlist of nominees!

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