Kofi's hat

Kofi's hat

MP3s, music news and reviews, and a sprinkling of pop culture. Named by Aqualung's Matt Hales, after his son.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Ink in my blood, a song in my heart. Metaphor is my middle name.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Polaris Prize Time Tomorrow

Canada's first Polaris Music Prize will be awarded September 18th at Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre. Although the $20,000 (US$17,862.55, £9,505.54) award was inspired by the Mercury Music Prize, Polaris' stated sole criteria is artistic merit, whereas the outcome of the Mercury Prize is based on judges' evaluations of the nominated album covers and their titles, and how well they mesh.

Still, even one of the 100 Canadian music critics who suggested albums for the Prize's "long list" bases his predictions on some factors other than artistic merit. For instance, he thinks Sarah Harmer won't win for I'm a Mountain because "She doesn't need to be reminded that we love her."

He's likely correct that Harmer won't win, if only for that reason. The judges might also perceive her as a boring, "safe" winner. Especially the first year out, judges may want to make Polaris' mark with an edgier album. Others might feel it's more important that the album is likely to stand the test of time. Other factors that aren't supposed to matter, like how long ago the album was released, are bound to sneak into the mix. By its nature such a process can't be "pure".

Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug told the Edmonton Journal that he had "mixed feelings" about the nomination. "Maybe they just give it to you whether you want it or not... I like to think of music as art, and I think art is too subjective to be able to say there's a winner... We are flattered. We're just confused."

Regardless of the outcome at the Phoenix on Monday, Krug arguably already pwned the Polaris. He at least raises valid points, and the band is entitled to their feelings. Perhaps the Polaris Prize should allow artists to withdraw themselves from consideration at some point prior to the nominations. Wolf Parade's nomination could have gone to an artist who wanted it.

Award nominations do raise the profile (and album sales) of some good, lesser-known artists. Choosing one from among them as the best might be so subjective as to be silly, but awards in general are kind of silly. That said, I'll predict Metric or Final Fantasy.

The Nominations:

Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
Cadence Weapon - Breaking Kayfabe
The Deadly Snakes - Porcella
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Sarah Harmer - I'm a Mountain
K'naan - The Dustyfoot Philosopher
Malajube - Trompe L'Oeil
Metric - Live it Out
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary

Sarah Harmer - Goin' Out (available on I'm a Mountain)

Final Fantasy - If I Were A Carp (available on He Poos Clouds)


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