Last week featured a landmark day for the UK music scene. In what can only be described as our equivalent to America finding out that the New England Patriots are going head-to-head with the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, this was our day of reckoning. That day was Thursday, and saw the nominees announced for both the Mercury Music Prize and, more importantly, the Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize. What a glorious day that was.
Now, in my household, we don’t care much for the Mercury Music Prize (don’t @ me) and view it as a bit meh. The Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize, however, is our pièce de résistance. Since 2003, the venerated award sees a whopping twenty whole pounds given to what a panel of drunk and, admittedly, very passionate music fans in a crowded London venue declare to be the best song of the year.
In a style reminiscent of that time when Vanessa Feltz had to dance-off against Julien Macdonald in Strictly Come Dancing (#JusticeForFeltz), each song is paired off TO THE DEATH until one is declared the winner.
Using a combination of GCSE Maths (Grade C, I’ll have you know) and historical Popjustice data, I am going to work out the likelihood that each of the nominated tracks have for winning £20.
Before we start, let me state that every song on the shortlist is actually really good (even George Ezra, which came as a bit of a surprise). Yes, there’s going to be tears but I can mildly assure you that it’ll all be worth it in the end.
In reverse order, let’s begin.
Let’s Eat Grandma – Falling Into Me
Pros: This is very good. It’s progressive, electronic, and sexy, so will appeal to plenty of voters. However, there’s just one thing I can’t allow myself to get past…
Cons: …Cannibalism should not be encouraged IN ANY WHICH WAY. The unfortunate band name would put a dark, dark light over Popjustice’s very innocent presence, and what sort of message does that send out to young and impressionable Popjustice-ers? So, I’d like to declare that we should please stay far away from letting L.E.G (probs intended to spell out like a body part as well I bet) win. I don’t even want to imagine what they’d spend the £20 on, either.
George Ezra – Paradise
Pros: There are chants, so that’s a positive start. ‘Paradise’ does admittedly get the toes tapping and it’s very catchy, which is unusual for a George Ezra track so the hoedown throwdown sound could appeal to drunk voters bopping about (i.e. everyone in attendance).
Cons: Like him or not, a George Ezra win would be disastrous for 20MP’s legacy and I’M NOT HAVING IT. Whilst there’s no denying the song is good, it just isn’t allowed to happen. I’m sorry, George, you seem like a lovely chap but facts are facts.
CASisDEAD – Pat Earrings
Pros: The title’s shout out to Eastender’s Pat Butcher and her impeccable choice of ear jewellery can only be considered a bonus here. Imagine if soap fans were to rally together and form a coup d’état – wouldn’t that be a delight! The San Junipero-esque 80s synth beats could be an added bonus, whilst the inclusion of Aruba Jasmine might also help chances (Top fact: 78.5% of previous winners have included female vocals).
Cons: No winner has ever featured a full name in its song title, not even a play-on-words of a soap legend ☹
Rap and the 20MP don’t have the best relationship with one another either. The only tracks to make any shortlist that could even remotely be seen as rap come in the form of Tinie Tempah, Tinchy Stryder, and 2005’s Verbalicious (whilst undoubtedly an amazing track, ‘Don’t Play Nice’ cannot and should not be considered rap).
Metroplane feat. Bree Runway – Word Of Mouth
Pros: This song was written by really-very-good popstar Becky Hill. Having received a nomination of her own for 2015’s ‘Losing’, Hill could be ‘Word of Mouth’s secret weapon that comes out to play on voting night. Vocals from Bree Runway are also very pleasurable and will be favourable to voters.
Cons: The “Bahp” vocals remind me of Pitch Perfect and, quite frankly, a cappella groups should be kept in 2012 along with PSY and analogue television.
Only one dance track has ever won the Music Prize (Example’s ‘Kickstarts’ in 2010), so whilst it’s not impossible it’s unlikely that ‘Word of Mouth’ will be the dance song to define odds and join Example in winner’s circle.
Naughty Boy, Ray BLK and Wyclef Jean – All Or Nothing
Pros: Ray BLK knows what it’s like to win, having earned the title of BBC’s Sound of 2017, so her winning spirit could see her win 20 squid. Meanwhile, Wyclef Jean is quite the legend and Naughty Boy produced the brilliant ‘Wonder’ with Emeili Sande, so anything could happen.
Cons: ZAYN won the 20MP last year so a Naughty Boy win could become very political for Popjustice. This track also kinda floated by without much noise, so I’m not sure there’ll be many people wearing their Naughty Boy T-shirts on voting night.
Tracey Thorn – Dancefloor
Pros: The beat sounds like ‘Who’s That Girl’ by Robyn, so that’s always a plus. Serving as the closer to Thorn’s latest album ‘Record’, wouldn’t it be great if the £20 was given on the basis of how great the album is.
Cons: The song is far too short and ends abruptly just as we start to get our jush on. Unacceptable.
Gabrielle Aplin – Waking Up Slow
Pros: Despite being the oldest track on the list, ‘Waking Up Slow’ is still a certified BOP. The tropical-infusion could compliment those getting drunk off Sex on the Beach cocktails and remind them of much better times. Aplin is a sneaky one, she knows what she’s doing.
Cons: ‘Waking Up Slow’ is the oldest track on the list. Also, the decision not to include more than 5 seconds of a dance routine in an otherwise-great music video won’t earn her any extra brownie points. Not with me, anyway.
Rae Morris – Do It
Pros: Rae Morris is amazing, and already has one 20MP nomination to boast about. The music video for ‘Do It’ accounts for every imaginable taste too as it features baseball, boats, those scary street artists, seagulls, stop signs, dance routines, and power suits. It’s almost as if the video was created to appeal specifically to voters of the Music Prize. Probably the most comparable on this year’s list to Will Young’s winning ‘Jealousy’ (I’m clutching at straws here), this could do surprisingly well.
Cons: If you find seagulls or those living statue people on the high street scary, then you won’t be able to enjoy the ‘Do It’ video, and that’s a real shame.
Rita Ora – Anywhere
Pros: Rita Ora had a real popstar moment with this one, didn’t she? UK female solo acts fare well in the 20MP so Rita could be a good bet if we were to bet BUT WE’RE NOT. Rita was previously nominated back in 2014, so this entirely-pleasurable track could earn her the £20.
Cons: The underwhelming follow-up ‘Girls’ might not help her much here. Plus, any of the models who appeared on the one season of America’s Next Top Model where Rita Ora took over from Tyra Banks may turn up on voting night to seek their revenge. And I wouldn’t blame them, TBH.
All Saints – Love Lasts Forever
Pros: Nine out of the fourteen winners of the Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize have been girl bands and partnered-up with a comeback, All Saints could be tough competition to beat. It also helps (does it tho?) that Shaznay Lewis was nominated way-back in 2004, a time when Brexit was all but a distant nightmare.
Cons: With that being said, a girl band win could be seen as a bit predictable, right? Also, twenty quid split four ways seems a bit more effort than it’s worth. Love might last forever, but £5 certainly won’t.
Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato – Solo
Pros: In ‘Solo’, Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato choose to use a whoop-whoop noise instead of a VERY OFFFENSIVE WORD. That, ladies and gentlemen, is progress. No more of that old-fashioned bleeping on the radio here. Also, Demi Lovato would probably really appreciate the love and support right now.
Cons: I’m really struggling to think of a con right now… A duo or ‘featured’ appearance has never won the prize, so there’s that I guess.
Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
Pros: This past year has been Dua Lipa’s year, really hasn’t it? Any other win would feel a bit of a shame for all the hard work Ms. Lipa has put in. In lieu of ‘New Rules’ not being nominated this makes perfect sense for a win. Plus, Calvin Harris has been involved in enough mega hits at this point to more than justify his win.
Cons: It’s not ‘New Rules’.
The 15th Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize will take place on Thursday, September 20 2018. If you think you’re qualified enough to be a judge, you can sign up via firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a fan of George Ezra, it may be worth just staying at home for this one.