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James Blake Wins the 2013 Mercury Prize

The artist was honored at an awards show in London

Kory Grow Oct 31, 2013

James Blake

James Blake won Great Britain’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize for his album Overgrown in a ceremony that was held at the Roundhouse in London, England. The prize includes a check for £20,000 (a little over $32,000) and a trophy. Blake performed “Retrograde” at the ceremony earlier in the evening, and it was widely reported that he had been introduced accidentally as James Blunt.
The Mercury Prize honors the best British album over the past year, as chosen by a panel of music critics and industry insiders. The prize committee announced its shortlist of Albums of the Year in September. It contained 12 LPs by Arctic Monkeys, James Blake, David Bowie, Disclosure, Foals, Jake Bugg, Jon Hopkins, Laura Marling, Laura Mvula, Rudimental, Savages and Villagers.

Rolling Stone’s review of Blake’s album Overgrown, which matches R&B hooks with EDM flourishes, lauded the record since “Blake toned down the twitchiness and concentrated on the tunes,” compared to his 2011 self-titled debut. It also singled out “Retrograde,” which the artist performed this year on Letterman, as a “surging torch ballad,” saying the album “holds you in its spell.” Part of the magic comes from the fact that Overgrown features some notable guests, including RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan on “Take a Fall for Me” and some production work by Brian Eno on “Digital Lion.” One of its songs, “Life Round Here,” later got attention for a remix that featured Chance the Rapper.
The awards show featured performances from many of the other artists on the shortlist, including Foals, Jake Bugg, Savages, Rudimental, Disclosure, Villagers, James Blake, Jon Hopkins and Arctic Monkeys. David Bowie chose not to attend, according to the NME, but instead premiered a video for “Love Is Lost,” off his Mercury-nominated album The Next Day. The video cost an estimated $13 to produce and features puppets.

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Last year, the Mercury Prize went to Alt-J for their album, An Awesome Wave. Previous winners have included PJ Harvey for two LPs (Let England Shake and Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea), the xx for xx, Arctic Monkeys for Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and Franz Ferdinand for their self-titled album. The eligible Albums of the Year for 2013 were:

Arctic Monkeys, AM

David Bowie, The Next Day

James Blake, Overgrown

Jake Bugg, Jake Bugg

Disclosure, Settle

Foals, Holy Fire

Jon Hopkins, Immunity 

Laura Marling, Once I Was an Eagle

Laura Mvula, Sing to the Moon

Rudimental, Home

Savages, Silence Yourself

Villagers, Awayland


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