Mercury Prize winner James Blake is the New David Bowie
Stunned by his win and mistaken for James Blunt, the 25-year-old is still a 'worthy winner' of award
JAMES BLAKE felt "stupid and confused" making his Mercury Prize acceptance speech and forgot to take his trophy with him when he left the stage. Perhaps the 25-year-old was still smarting from being introduced as 'James Blunt' by the award show's host, Lauren Laverne.
In the end, none of that mattered, writes Neil McCormick in the Daily Telegraph. Blunt ... sorry, Blake, is a "worthy winner" of the UK's most prestigious music prize.
The classically-trained singer/songwriter appeared stunned when his name was read out at a ceremony in London last night. Large sections of the audience seemed to feel the same way, giving the announcement a muted reaction. Many were expecting bookies' favourite, Laura Mvula, or one of the higher profile nominees such as Arctic Monkeys, to clinch the prize.
But it was Blake's second album, Overgrown - hailed by judges as "inventive, poetic and poignant" - that triumphed.
McCormick says David Bowie – nominated for his acclaimed comeback album The Next Day - was the sentimental favourite to win the prize, but Blake and the artist formerly known as Ziggy Stardust aren't so different.
Blake's music is "melodic, succinct, emotional pop so technologically spaced out that it really couldn't have existed at any other moment in time", writes McCormick. "Indeed, if Bowie was in his creative prime right now, he might well sound like this."
Nice one James Blake. Terrific album. Well deserved.
— Δ (alt-J) (@alt_J) October 30, 2013
The NME says Blake is one of the "most divisive" British indie artists, but "there's no ignoring how inventive his sound is". On Overgrown, that sound is "honed to something so intense it'll give you an aneurysm if you listen too hard".
Billboard says Overgrown - which features collaborations with Brian Eno and Wu-Tang Clan's RZA – "embraces a love for beautiful chords and moody atmospherics".
Not everyone was thrilled by Blake's success. The entertainment website Holy Moly! says his relative obscurity seemed to infuriate fans of better known nominees such as Arctic Monkeys.
Seriously who is James Blake???
— SirBradKane OBE NBE (@PtaEinstein) October 31, 2013
The question now is whether the Mercury Prize will give sales of Overgrown a much-needed shot in the arm. BBC says it had sold just 27,000 copies before the ceremony, but is likely to "enjoy a significant boost". ·