Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

About last night….

Memo to the lovely lads and lasses in Vicar Street: if you find my voice, can you put it aside for me? Thanks. For the third year in a row, last night’s event was an experience. The Choice Music Prize …

Thu, Feb 28, 2008, 12:27

   

Memo to the lovely lads and lasses in Vicar Street: if you find my voice, can you put it aside for me? Thanks.

For the third year in a row, last night’s event was an experience. The Choice Music Prize has become something which Dave Reid (the Kilkennyman and Luis Figo lookalike who had this crazy idea in the first place) and I never thought it would become.

When we set it up back in 2005, we had a few ideas that it might – might – garner a bit of attention and might – might – get some media traction. We went around, shook down some incredibly brilliant people in IRMA and IMRO and RAAP for a prize fund, hired the hall, got Today FM involved and went to work. There were a lot of crossed fingers.

Three years on, all that has changed. The Choice Music Prize has established itself as something which means a lot to a lot of folks. People now talk about it, argue about it and disagree about it. People are vehement in their opinions (both positive and negative) about who gets on the shortlist and, of course, who gets to stagger home at the end of the night with a giant novelty cheque for €10,000 and a lovely (rather heavy) piece of glassware. People, it seems, care about the damn thing. That’s quite something for us to observe.

It’s the way the bands react to the project which has surprised and gladdened me the most. There is so much goodwill from them about this. Bands want to get on the shortlist, they want to be part of this madness. They know that being on the shortlist means people will get to know about them and their music. It’s something which genuinely lifts their profile and bumps up sales of their music. The ones who make the cut are so co-operative and helpful about everything we ask them to do. That just amazes me every single year.

The decision on the night rests with 12 men and women, good and true, who eat a hearty meal and are then locked into a room with a cynical, manipulative, rude, grumpy and aggressive chairman (that’s me, by the way). Each year, we pick a new set of judges so that even more media folks can enjoy the experience. Each year, when those judges leave the room, after spending two hours arguing, debating and dissecting all the albums on the shortlist (and remember folks, the decision is based on the ALBUM not the band’s performance on the night), those judges are emotionally and mentally wrecked. They have given their all. This is not a decision which is taken lightly. One judge (and I’ll spare her/his blushes by not naming them) said s/he was “a broken person” afterwards.

I’ve had a quick scan of the papers and the blogs and bulletin boards and I’m chuckling away at what I’m reading this morning. It’s great to see so many people talking and writing about both the winners (Super Extra Bonus Party were the most shocked people in Ireland at 10.50pm last night) and the prize. People are thrilled, shocked, disappointed, delirious, happy, excited, outraged, angry and fuming. But they’re talking about it. That will do for me.

Now, if you excuse me, I need some breakfast….

(I’ve turned the comments off on this because there’s already a discussion going on below about last night, so if you have any comments to make about the Choice or the choice, make them on the post directly below this one. Thanking you)