i-D’s alternative mercury prize
If we had our say, here are the albums and EPs that'd scoop this year's Mercury Prize!
Twigs, Photography Matthew Stone, Styling Matthew Josephs [The Just Kids Issue, no. 320, Pre-Fall 2012]
Tonight we see the coveted Mercury Music Prize bestowed upon yet another British or Irish talent for producing exceptional music over the past year. This year's shortlisted nominees including 2012 i-D cover star FKA Twigs and her debut LP1, East India Youth, the irresistible self titled Jungle LP, Kate Tempest's incredible literary composition Everybody Down and the straight up rock and roll, Zane Lowe championed Royal Blood debut. But we feel there are more albums that deserve to be celebrated! From Little Simz to Blood Orange all the way through to the Ed Sheeran (yeah, you read right), i-D's staff bend the Mercury rules and pick their favourite albums (and EPs) of the year for our very own alternative i-D Mercury Prizes.
Hattie Collins, Music Editor Ed Sheeran - X
*awaits huge backlash from the i-D team and the world in general*. Ok, ok, Ed Sheeran isn't 'cool'. He makes music for the masses. He plays - gasp - the guitar. There are no edgy remixes, no D&B drops, there's not a whiff of a Dev Hynes or Ariel Rechtshaid songwriting credit. I don't care. Sure, I could have picked more socially acceptable albums by FKA Twigs or Kate Tempest or Katy B or perhaps another artist with a 'k' in their name. But when it comes down to an album I've listened to the very most this year, an album that has seen me through all sorts of highs and lows, then I'm sorry, but I'm taking Ed Sheeran to my Desert Island with me every time. It's about hope and failure and falling completely, crazily in love and it's funny and sometimes a bit sad. The worst thing you can do with music, I think, is to judge it on the basis of some misguided, esoteric idea of coolness. A great record is a great record. So Ed, you might not have been nominated for a Mercury and perhaps you don't need another award, you've got a million, but 'x' has been a hugely successful album for a really good reason - it's a bloody great record. The End.
Lynette Nylander, Managing Editor SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land
SBTRKT's Wonder Where We Land is discordant but beautifully so. A hodge-podge of perfectly positioned sounds from the man who we've come to expect forward thinking and experimental electronic music from. A personal tip? Turn up Higher featuring Raury (one to watch in 2015) sit back and allow the tunes to wash over you.
Francesca Dunn, Staff Writer Little Simz - E.D.G.E
Having offered up an impressive three mixtapes so far in 2014, London's Little Simz really won us over this summer with the Sango and Jakwob featuring E.D.G.E. The 20 year-old rapper and multiple-MOBO award nominee is riding high on our list of ones to watch take over the world.
Princess Julia, Culture Correspondent Holly Johnson - Europa
Synth pop legend Holly Johnson returns with enduring style. His charismatic voice is at once recognisable from his days as front man of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Europa has a 90's feel to it; Holly stands true to his own convictions as a songwriter, performer and all round charming man.
Felix Petty, Content Manager Actress - Ghettoville
Still pioneering the most unique techno sound in the most uneasy fashion, like a funeral march of crushing compressed beats. Ghettoville is a long, winding, uncanny journey into the dark emotionless robotic heart of dance music.
Felicity Kinsella, Assistant Editor Kyla la Grange - Cut Your Teeth
Her lyrics are like dark fairytales and her sound is spookily beautiful, as is she!
Declan Higgins, Associate Producer Aphex Twin - Syro
A solid record from one of the greatest electronic musicians of all time. A come back which can be compared to Paul Scholes's United return, solid and respectful - a huge help for the cause but no need for anything to be reinvented - all in all, extremely good.
Julia Sarr-Jamois, Senior Fashion Editor Jessie Ware - Tough Love
I love Jessie's soulful voice over the slow electro beats. My favourite songs from the album are Tough Love and Kind...Of...Sometimes...Maybe. It's just an all round piece of perfection!
Ger Tierney, Executive Fashion Editor Temples - Sun Structures
Proof that indie is alive and well. Also there's little teasers of the best bits of the Beatles.
Steve Salter, Head of Socials Burial - Rival Dealer
A Burial drop during the depths of winter is developing into a delightful habit but nothing has quite got me through the dark months quite like Rival Dealer did. Light yet dark, familiar yet new, this EP left me delighting in its duality.
Bojana Kozarevic, Fashion Assistant Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour
I really loved Sam Smith's debut this year. Released in May, In the Lonely Hour is a love letter to heartbreak, calling all romantics (i.e. me) to it. Smith's voice is an infallibly drenched in soul while managing to be simultaneously restrained and controlled. From Disclosure tracks to his own compositions, Sam Smith is making modern love music sound honest and appealing, whatever the genre.
Emily Manning, Assistant Editor, US Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe
For tweens, it's One Direction. For me, it's Blood Orange. Thank god for this album's release, as I think my neighbours were getting a little tired of hearing the entirety of Coastal Grooves (Dev Hynes' first release under the Blood Orange moniker) shake their walls every day for the past two years. Cupid Deluxe is my favourite album of the year because it's a sophomore record that takes chances. While Coastal Grooves was all about honing a specific sleekness, Cupid Deluxe is bravely ambitious in its diverse variety of sounds. And while Coastal Grooves was a largely solo effort, Cupid Deluxe sees an incredible network of collaborators from hip hop producer Clams Casino and grime god Skepta to Kindness' Adam Bainbridge and Chairlift's Caroline Polachek, whose verse in Chamakay still makes me cry. Dev should be so proud of such an achievement.
Twigs, Photography Matthew Stone, Styling Matthew Josephs
[The Just Kids Issue, no. 320, Pre-Fall 2012]