Artist News Awards

Mercury Prize public vote disadvantages “the little guys like us”, say The Comet Is Coming

By | Published on Monday 19 September 2016

Mercury Prize

The Comet Is Coming have said that they don’t think that the new public vote in the Mercury Prize – to whittle the shortlist of twelve down to six – is a very good idea. And yes, they would say that, having been knocked out of the competition before the final. Though adding a popularity contest into the judging process did seem a bit odd, for an award where all acts are supposed to be considered on a level playing field based on the quality of their music.

“I don’t like the public vote”, The Comet Is Coming saxophonist King Shabaka told NME. “Some of the acts obviously have big capital behind them from major labels, which gives them bigger fanbases to have more people to vote for them. For the little guys like us, who only have 2000 Facebook followers, we’re obviously going to get less votes. So the vote skews the prize towards the acts who have a good set-up from the beginning”.

Introduced for the first time this year, the public vote meant that Kano, Anohni, Bat For Lashes, Jamie Woon, Savages and The Comet Is Coming were not considered for the prize by the judging panel. And while I think Skepta was still the right winner overall, if 2016 has made anything clear, it’s that the general public should never be asked for their opinion on anything.

Speaking of Skepta, on Friday, the morning after his Mercury win, he cancelled an Australia tour, which was supposed to begin on Saturday, citing “an unexpected and personal reason”.

“With deep disappointment and due to circumstances beyond his control, UK artist Skepta has regrettably been forced to cancel all eleven dates on his upcoming Australia/NZ tour”, the tour’s promoter said in a statement.