Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Here's today's Channel 4 news piece in full - by Anna Doble, and some comments from yours truly. GOOD LUCK POLLY!
Singer PJ Harvey is favourite to win the most prestigious award in British music for the "grand sweep" of her war-themed album Let England Shake, author and critic Lucy O'Brien tells Channel 4 News.
If PJ Harvey walks away with the 2011 Barclaycard Mercury Prize, her triumph will neatly bookend the last decade - she last won it in 2001.
She is in the running for her acclaimed album Let England Shake, a release influenced by war and conflict, focusing on the Gallipoli campaign of world war one.
Author Lucy O'Brien, who writes about women in popular music, told Channel 4 News PJ Harvey's conceptual approach has made her a key figure in modern music.
"She thinks in themes, ideas and grand sweeps.
"So often women are relegated to songs of romance or the domestic sphere, but PJ has a great arc of ambition - hence an album about war and history, traditionally 'male' subjects," she explained.
Harvey, who previously won the award in 2001 for Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, has been described as "an outstanding artist" by head of the Mercury judges Simon Frith.
Next favourite is another female singer-songwriter Anna Calvi, championed by producer and former Roxy Music keyboardist Brian Eno and praised for her dark, passionate on-stage style.
"She is that Mercury favourite, a musician's musician....guitar virtuoso, textured songwriter," O'Brien said, adding that now is a good time to be a woman in music.
"I think women artists have adapted particularly well to the democracy of the internet. Now they have the freedom to develop artistically without a major label in their ear saying 'show more cleavage.'"
The Mercury Prize - won last year by The XX - is a key event within the music industry. It revitalised the career of Elbow, this year nominated for Build A Rocket Boys!, when they won three years ago.