Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: The Mercury Shortlist

The list of bands who'll be playing the little event prior to Jools Holland announcing the winner of the Mercury Music Prize has been published. The Guardian's got the latest odds:

Dizzee Rascal – Tongue N' Cheek (4/1)
The xx – xx (4/1)
Paul Weller – Wake Up the Nation (6/1)
Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea (6/1)
Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More (6/1)
Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can (6/1)
Foals – Total Life Forever (8/1)
Wild Beasts – Two Dancers (8/1)
Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions (8/1)
Villagers – Becoming a Jackal (10/1)
Kit Downes Trio – Golden (10/1)
I Am Kloot – Sky at Night (10/1)

The subtle shift from throwing a spotlight on overlooked acts, into being an echo chamber for the broadsheet reviews pages, seems to have been completed.

It's a list without very much that you can say about it - and that's just the sort of vacuum that Gennaro Castaldo exists to fill:
Gennaro Castaldo, of entertainment retailer HMV, said: "If you look back at the Mercury awards over the years, the most successful nominated and winning albums tend to be the ones that have been 'bubbling under' for a while and building great word of mouth and critical acclaim, so that, when the judges do shine the spotlight on them, sales can take off in a very significant way.

"If the winner is a little too obscure or their music a bit too left field, as was arguably the case last year with Speech Debelle, then it may prove difficult to make that all-important connection with a wider, more mainstream audience.

"Equally, if the winner is already very well-known and has already enjoyed substantial sales, then any increase in sales and interest may also be more modest.

"It's really about finding just the right balance - so that an album is chosen both because it's a truly outstanding recording, but also because, in being selected, it has the potential to 'cross over' and go on to reach a much wider audience - as we saw with the 2008 winners Elbow."

If you nodded off during that, allow me to summarise: on behalf of people who sell records, Gennaro Castaldo stared madly at them and growled through unsmiling teeth "if you pick someone like Speech Debelle this year, we will hunt you down and pelt you with boxes of unsold copies of Speech Therapy - got it?"


2 comments:

James said...

"If the winner is a little too obscure or their music a bit too left field, then it may prove difficult to make that all-important connection with a wider, more mainstream audience. Equally, if the winner is already very well-known and has already enjoyed substantial sales, then any increase in sales and interest may also be more modest."

Hang on, hang on, slow down a bit. So you're saying that if people don't like a record... They won't buy it? But if they've already bought a record... They're unlikely to buy a second copy?

Anyone got a pen?

Anonymous said...

So what he's saying is that they shouldn't pick the album they think is the best album, they should pick the album that they believe is the one mostly likely to sell the most copies after winning? Ok so I'm not surprised at Gennaro (or, in fact, anybody from HMV or any of the other high street musi.. oh wait) saying it but I don't understand why it's being printed. I mean it's an advert for HMV and nothing else. There's nothing about music there just a big "please buy music" beg.

Like you say though, it really has become a list of 12 albums picked from the broadsheet reviews section. I Am Kloot are still around?!? (a question I asked when I saw them supporting somebody about 7 years ago) For some reason all the shortlist made me think was that Los Campesinos have now been overlooked three years in a row. How is this possible?

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