Mar 01 2008

Choice Music Prize 2007

Published by at 5:29 pm under Blog,Night Out

Well, as part of a blossoming tradition, we (me and my otter half!) celebrated her birthday by going to the Choice Music Prize for the third year. The Choice Music Prize is for Irish Album of the Year and has produced some controversial decisions the last couple of years (how Duke Special missed out twice is a crime against music) and this year was no different.

Vicar Street was filled with blank faces as Super Extra Bonus Party (hitherto known as SEBP to save my poor aging fingers) were announced as the winners. There was an audible silence when the announcement was made, before shock subsided and the oom went wild for SEBP.

Super Extra Bonus Party

The many membered group with their odd indie-electronica style would generally be a bit too manic for my Damien Rice/Jack Johnson loving soul, but I was very impressed by the band’s two songs. There was so much energy exuding from them that I couldn’t help but dance like a mad yolk along to the tunes. They were very good, but I know I won’t be the only one who feels that Cathy Davey, Delorentos, Roisin Murphy and even Kila should be feeling slightly robbed today.

That said, I doubt any artist on the night would have been so grateful to receive the award. Cormac Brady (the little guy in SEBP) began his thank yous with a surprisingly eloquent: “Music isn’t a competition. This is such an honour and there are nine other incredible bands. I’ve been glued to so many of their albums. It’s them as much as us. This is Irish music…”, which later was finished with a heartfelt “I just want to thank all our parents”. While I imagine the €10,000 prize (oh, there’s a trophy too) was drank dry by 4am, it was great to see how much these guys appreciated it. I defintely don’t believe they should have won, but I’m very happy they did.

Here’s the band’s music video for Everything Flows:

So, what of the other acts? Well, the night opened with Kila belting out a couple of not-very-trad trad songs. The upbeat modern Irishness was a breath of fresh air in the current music environment which is pumping out carbon copies of pop-pap. It set the tone for the night. This was not going to be another Meteor Awards. There wasn’t a whiff of the Boyzone quiffs, no site of Shane Ward’s shite. The Choice Music Prize is showing us the future of Irish music. And the future is bright, the future is…..well, you know.

It’s a shame the format of the night limits us to only two songs per band, or less, as was the case for Dry County, whose dance tunes were reminiscent of 90’s dance before it went bad. Along with Kila they had the entire audiences whipped up ready for a great night.
Naturally there were a few lower points to the evening. Perhaps presenter Rigsy’s build up of Adrian Crowley left my expectations too high, but I felt his performance was woeful. His droning voice and pompour lyrics left me praying for Rigsy’s sake that the presenter was given a Bertie-sized backhander for the praise he lauded on Crowley. I’m sure Crowley would blame much of this on the few technical faults, which the Choice Team were quick to rectify, but all the technical faults in the world couldn’t disguise the fact that Crowley’s two songs were a painful disappointment.

But, of course, the competition is about Album of the Year and not Live Performance of the Year. If it had been, I doubt the judges would have taken too long to crown Róisin Murphy winner on the night. Stripping away the upbeat pop element from her two chosen songs, including the Groove Armade collaborated Overpowered, she revealed some haunting melodies punctuated by her truly beautiful voice. Well, done Roisin!

Delorentos’ performance had a professionalism and a gravitas about it that firmly established that this band will be around for some time to come and they will be huge. Perhaps the judges took this into account when choosing their winner. In the same way that Duke Special didn’t need to win the award to usher his success, nor do Delorentos. Their two songs immediately had the crowd’s attention. Any Other Way is already a favourite of mine, having heard it for the first time last night.

David Geraghty (of Bell X1) too was disappointing for me. Being a fan of Bell X1, I perhaps expected to hear the same raucus tunes and inspired lyrics, but it just seemed like we were getting the mash minus the bangers. The songs were good – they weren’t greta. I could see Bell X1 taking both and turning them into much stronger tunes.

Stanley Super 800, “the first cork band in the competition” didn’t seem to be taking it seriously at all – which is fine; the competition is about the album and not the performance. But hearing lead singer Stan’s voice would not inspire me to run out an buy the album. Surprisingly, his croaky lead led me to focus on more on the harmonies which were excellent. The band clearly have great talent. It just felt a little untapped and flawed. They were still better than Adrian Crowley though.

Speaking of flawed, their brand of geek rock was very good. One of the bands of the evening for me and definitely far better than the ultimate winners.

The favourite to win, though, was Cathy Davey. Like Delorentos, I’m sure she’ll fly without this award and she shouldn’t feel like she lost out. That said, she must feel a little robbed. Her album is strong, varied and appealing to the masses without being generic pop, while SEBD can’t come close to saying this.

Overall, in my opinion, the event was the best year so far. We’ll no doubt be back again next year. But I’ll be sure to pick the least likely, most off the wall, greyhound with three legs when I’m predicting next year’s winner. If the last few years are anything to go by, that’s the only way I’ll come close to choosing the winner.

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