The Mobos could teach the Mercurys a thing or two about hosting an Award ceremony
In my opinion the Mobos is a great, dynamic organisation undeservedly neglected in the minds of the music community, while the Barclaycard 2012 Mercury Music Prize is an exercise in marketing.
At its core, I think the Mercury Prize is designed to provide a lot of marketing and publicity to a lucky few artists who are considered to be deserving recipients. Over the years it has seemed to mirror the idiosyncrasies of taste and trends.
Artists are put forward by their label at the cost of £10,000. The prize is £20,000 and publicity which is shared by all nominees. In its cute little way it’s rather charming. It’s just seems a shame to me that it is sold as an accurate reflection of music culture in the UK and Northern Ireland, when it better reflects the mindset of an industry convinced indie music is an inoffensive, under-appreciated genre. It’s this misrepresentation of music that irks me – not the idea.
The Mobos however, are much more subtle and savvier. They are peculiar really, considering that the event takes place at the Liverpool Echo Arena, filled with fake tan and atrocious jeans. It does not require a Venetian School to determine a winner nor does it take itself particularly seriously. Unlike the Mercury Prize, it doesn’t have a branded behemoth existing between the artist and the audience.
Ostensibly, the organisation wrongly fields criticism for the playfulness in creating a platform for black music. For example, a pedantic criticism is that Rock ‘n’ Roll is of black origin, thus should be featured. Also, due to a dominance of black music being produced in the US, the organisation can find itself out of sync with the hearts and minds of the public.
This year the Mobos responded by celebrating Britishness, Team GB presented awards to music GB, creating a more egalitarian tone in terms of celebrity. It doesn’t matter if you normally tour in arenas or community churches. It’s not about providing a platform so that Jazz musicians can grace the same stage as chart topping pop stars. It’s about showing gratitude to people who invest their lives in making music.
Due to its design, standing and scale, the MOBOs can’t afford to ship Sean Paul over to receive an award. It can however afford Laura Robson, someone who is much more inspiring and deserving of the stage. In looking a little past international celebrity, the awards look a little more grounded. I think the Mercury Prize has an identity crisis its refusing to acknowledge while the MOBOs have been through such a crisis and come out stronger.
On a vaguely related note, the JLS song Hottest Girl In The World Right Now is really peculiar. It seems to be less of a song and more of a platform for JLS to really be JLS. It’s a simple message: ‘we are singing to you individually, as we’d like to create the scenario that we’re serenading you with a lovely compliment’. There will be a hook that you can sing along to as well. Simple enough. But presented live, the track takes off. JLS are dancing, very well. Their performance creates the impression that they still imagine four judges in the audience and a British public in need of convincing. They further embody the motivational discourse that they need to give it 110 per cent. After years of watching Premier League football I think I’ve now seen what that phrase looks like. JLS have taken the competition concept and extended it to their art, four years ago they vied for our votes, now they seek our hearts. They have shifted themselves to troubadours out to seduce us until we fall in love with them and their music. As a result they are out peddling high concept pop, which like the rest of the MOBO Awards was an unexpected delight. Subtle and charming.Tagged in: JLS, Laura Robson, mercury prize, Mobos, Sean Paul
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