The Script debut album makes Choice shortlist


Pop-rockers The Script’s eponymous debut album has been shortlisted for the Choice Music Prize announced in Dublin today.

Their inclusion at the expense of critically acclaimed efforts by Ham Sandwich and Republic of Loose was the biggest talking point of a shortlist that provided no major upsets.

Alt-rockers Fight Like Apes, singer songwriter Lisa Hannigan and Belfast DJ David Holmes all get the nod, as expected.

The other acts nominated are Mick Flannery, Halfset, Jape, Messiah J & The Expert, Oppenheimer and R.S.A.G.

The competition, which was conceived as Ireland’s answer to the Mercury Music Prize, is in its fourth year now. Previous winners include Julie Feeney (13 Songs), The Divine Comedy (Victory for the Comic Muse) and Super Extra Bonus Party (Super Extra Bonus Party).

Like the Mercury Prize, it aims to reward artistic merit and innovation, rather than record sales and the PR machinations of major record labels. Like any award conceived with such lofty ideals, however, the verdicts have occasionally disappointed.

In 1994, the judges of the Mercury Prize judges were ridiculed for choosing the chart-friendly soul of M People over albums by indie favourites such as Blur and Pulp. Similar scorn has not yet greeted any announcement from the judges Choice Music Prize. But there have been criticisms, to be sure.

Most critics felt Julie Feeney was a worthy winner in 2005, when she picked up the inaugural award for her 13 Songs. It was an accomplished album by an artist who might otherwise have gone under most people’s radar. As such, Feeney seemed an ideal candidate. Eyebrows were raised, however, when the following year’s award was given to Neil Hannon’s The Divine Comedy (for Victory for the Comic Muse). Given that Hannon was an established artist of over a decade standing, he seemed an odd choice.

There were murmurings of discontent again in 2007, when the hitherto mostly unknown Super Extra Bonus Party walked away with the award.

For David Reid of Religion Music, who co-founded the award with Irish Times journalist Jim Carroll, what’s important are the ten acts who are nominated, not the overall winner.

The aim of the Choice Music Prize, he says, is to get more airplay for Irish acts both domestically and overseas. “At present Irish radio playlists are heavily influenced by whatever is deemed fashionable in the UK” he says. “We’re hoping that they key players in Irish radio will stop now and take a look at some of these great albums which might not have come to their direct attention until now.”

Nominating The Script in that context seems puzzling, given that the band’s music has already enjoyed massive airplay internationally, despite being of dubious artistic merit. “The award is open to all Irish albums” says Reid. “And The Script is a great Irish album. That’s why it’s there.”

David Reed of Religion Music, who co-founded the award with Irish Timesjournalist Jim Carroll, says the main aim is to get more airplay for Irish acts both domestically and overseas.

“We’re hoping that the key players in Irish radio will stop and take a look at some of the good albums on this list which might not have come to their direct attention until now” he says.

The list was compiled by a panel of twelve journalists and bloggers including Ian Dempsey (Today FM), Edel Coffey ( Irish Independent) and Rigsy (BBC Northern Ireland).

The full list is:

Fight Like Apes - Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion (Model Citizen)

Mick Flannery - White Lies (EMI)

Halfset - Another Way of Being There (Casino Gravity Records)

Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew (self released)

David Holmes - The Holy Pictures (Canderblinks)

Jape - Ritual (Co-Op)

Messiah J & The Expert -From The Word Go (Inaudible)

Oppenheimer - Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It” (Fantastic Plastic)

R.S.A.G. -Organic Sampler (Psychonavigation)

The Script - The Script (Sony Music)