MERCURY PRIZE 2020 blog

– Amber Grandidier


The Mercury Prize is an annual prize awarded to the best album belonging to a British or Irish
act. Last night on the 23rd of September, Lauren Laverne guided viewers through performances
from all 12 nominees. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus, the performances were all prerecorded at different locations; unlike previous years where there was also an audience.

This is a difficult time for us all, but each nominee performed in a creative manner showing that
The first performance was by Michael Kiwanuka, who performed ‘You ain’t the problem’ which is
the first song on his shortlisted album ‘KIWANUKA’. He was accompanied by a live band which
complemented his unique voice. It was then followed by a performance from Georgia who, in
contrast, took a more independent route and performed ‘about work the dance floor’ from her
album ‘Seeking Thrills’. She sang while playing an electronic drum kit as well as swapping to a
synth keyboard during the bridge.

Stormzy was the third performance and my personal favourite due to the area he grew up in, as
well as the culture of his music. He performed ‘Crown’ from his album ‘Heavy Is The Head’ and
was accompanied by his, now, familiar choir as well as a live band. Critics say performance and
album show that the artist is not afraid to ‘test himself emotionally and artistically’. Kano’s
performance of ‘Hoodies all summer’ was similar to Stormzy’s as they both reflected on the
violence and troubles the less fortunate have to go through.

Stormzy’s performance was then followed by ‘Sports team’ from their album ‘Deep Down
Happy’. Due to being a band that lives together, they were able to perform as if it were before
Covid existed. Porridge Radio, however, were all required to keep their advised distance as they
performed their pop-rock song ‘Sweet’ from the album ‘Every Bad’.

Dua Lipa took a more music video-themed performance while performing a song from her album
‘Future Nostalgia’. There were backup dancers, a large choir and band which led to a fun
and enthusiastic approach. Similarly, Charlie XCX performed ‘visions’ in a way which Lauren
Laverne branded as ‘special’. She didn’t sing live but instead ‘vibed’ to her song in her own home
which was creative and refreshing from all other performances.

“Kano shed light on gang violence and postcode war, which triggered memories of the pain
felt from times where people around me have been affected. Even though his performance
brought up some negative memories, it was enlightening to see that he could confidently
confront the issues that have been caused by the system. It was very controversial!” – Anna
Olubunmi

“My favourite performance of the night has to be Kano, hands down. Because I’d already
heard and seen the music video for ‘Trouble’, it instantly struck a chord with me because of the
painful reality that a lot of us share in his lyrics. However, seeing him perform it live was
something else entirely, because although the instrumental sounds hopeful and optimistic, you
could see the raw pain in his eyes as he immersed himself within his own writing.” Bimbola
Fadairo

Lanterns on the Lake took a more stripped back approach by performing their song ‘when it all
comes true’ while the lead singer accompanied herself by playing a grand piano. Similarly, Laura
Marling performed emotional song ‘Song for our daughter’ which appeared to sound stripped
back despite the number of instruments involved.
Performances from Moses Boyd and from Anna Meredith both did not include any vocalists and
were the only performances to be purely instrumentation. Moses Boyd was smiling throughout
which led to his performance being even more enjoyable.
Tonight we find out which shortlisted album will be receiving the Mercury Prize and until then
we can re-watch the performances from the nominee’s on BBC Four.