Congratulations and Celebrations

The Mercury Prize has something of a chequered history. Widely sneered at by the cognoscenti1, winners over the years have ranged from the worthy (Elbow, PJ Harvey), the new and frankly astonishing (Dizzee Rascal), the soon-to-be-obscure (Roni Size) and the ludicrous (M People. Seriously? Klaxons? You jest, surely?).

The Xx have also, for some reason, been getting sneered at by the cognoscenti too. I can sort of understand a few of the criticisms. Yes, it’s just some herberts from Putney pissing about with a drum machine, bass and guitar, and being all lovelorn. “I could do that” they sneer. Well, why didn’t you then? Because like many great things, making such music is much harder than it seems. And few bands I’ve seen in the last few years have enraptured a live crowd quite as well as this lot did, which shows real and genuine talent.

So their success, despite critical fawnings and actual, proper commercial success, has been a little tainted. Thankfully, over a year after its release, the band were announced as the winners of the 2010 prize last night. So, young folk from Putney, congratulations. You deserve it. Lord only knows where the band will go from here. Having such a distinctive sound is frankly a bugger, as Portishead (1995 winners) will tell you – how do you expand on your sound to make things interesting without losing what made you special to begin with? Do you try and be like yourselves, only more so, concentrating your sound to an extent that you become almost unlistenable, like Portishead did? Or do you go the other way, like Dizzee Rascal, and become more poppy? Whilst you’ve got to love songs like “Bonkers”, it does lack that special WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING STOP THAT YOU’RE FREAKING ME OUT sound of Boy In Da Corner. Seriously, bits of that record still make me scared. I am 39.

Whichever way it goes, good luck to The Xx. Believe in yourselves and you’ll win the ultimate prize. /Californian Platitudes Off.

Oh, and two little personal notes. Firstly, to the Guardian, the BBC and everyone else who reported their success, please replace the stock photo of the band with my new version:

A Little Hint

And secondly, it’s nice to see a band I tip early on in their career go on to actual success2. I just wish some of the others – Bullets In Madison maybe, or Meursault, or Bright Spark Destroyer, or Paul Thomas Saunders, become even a tenth as successful. Please try some of these bands. It won’t hurt.

1 Yes, I did have to look up how to spell that. What am I, a fucking spelling bee?

2 I get a warm fuzzy feeling know that my blogging about them has made an infinitesimally small contribution to their success. Go, me!

MP3: Hot Like Fire by The Xx

Just buy XX, dammit.