LONDON (Reuters) - Little-known Scottish hip-hop trio Young Fathers beat the bookies to take home the 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for best album with their debut release “Dead”.
The group itself was ambivalent about the importance of the award and the 20,000 pounds ($32,270) that comes with it.
“It’s just an award show, it’s just an award, you know,” singer Alloysius Massaquoi said after getting the prize as a ceremony in London on Wednesday night.
But Alex Petridis, pop music critic for The Guardian newspaper, said the choice showed the Mercury Prize was doing its job by showcasing new music.
“If the Mercury prize has a worthwhile purpose, it’s to shine a light on music that a wider audience might well like if they heard it, and “Dead” fits the bill perfectly ... the work of misfits, as all the greatest music tends to be,” he wrote in a blog post.
Some industry figures had complained about the particularly obscure line-up for this year’s award, meant to identify the best of the year from British or Irish artists and based on a selection by music industry experts and musicians.
“It’s ultimately a subjective thing,” said singer-songwriter, Nick Mulvey, who has been nominated once before, when asked about the prize’s impact.
“So that tension is one that everyone in and around the award is living with and working with. And it is unresolvable by its nature so the debate will always go on,” he added.
All of the nominated artists have seen sales boosts, according to the Official Charts Company - in particular, FKA Twigs, Kate Tempest, Royal Blood and GoGo Penguin.
But Britain’s Telegraph newspaper said the Young Fathers had the smallest rise in record sales of all the nominees - 561 copies on top of the 1,825 sold before the nomination was announced, making a total of 2,386 copies altogether.
Electronic singer songwriter James Blake took last year’s prize. Other recent winners include Alt-J and PJ Harvey.
Editing by Michael Roddy and Andrew Heavens