Following a night with two major award ceremonies, Young Academic Features Editor Robert Gant looks at some of the expected results on the night and some rather bizarre results to go with them.
PJ Harvey became the first artist to win the prestigious Mercury Award twice, with her 2011 album Let England Shake.
Her win wasn’t unexpected as she was the bookmakers favourite going into the ceremony. Let England Shake is a powerful record about the war and the tragedies that come with conflict. The album contains vivid lyrics, rousing instrumentals, Harvey’s usual impressive guitar work as well as the use of the unusual autoharp on a number of tracks.
Beating stiff competition from the likes of Adele, Elbow and Katy B; PJ Harvey thanked the audience “the recognition of my work on this album”.
When Harvey won her first Mercury Award in 2001 for her album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea she was in America and was unable to her claim her award in person. The date was 9/11/2001 and what she was witnessing undoubtedly influenced her on the themes she chose for Let England Shake. “It’s really good to be here this evening, because when I last won 10 years ago I was in Washington DC watching the Pentagon burning from my hotel window. So much has happened since then. This album took me a long time to write. It was very important to me. I wanted to make something meaningful, not just for myself but for other people, and hopefully to make something that would last.”
Harvey certainly achieved her aim; Let England Shake is a timeless cinematic record, a truly incredible collection of music and a worthy winner among some other fantastic nominees.
The other major award ceremony of the night was the GQ Men of the Year awards. Some of the results seemed like good choices, comparable with the selection of PJ Harvey for the Mercury Award. For example Rob Brydon picking up the Comedian of the Year award seemed like a solid choice. Mario Testino being given an Inspiration award also has merits for his continued work as a Save the Children ambassador, among many other charities.
However there were some bizarre results that would only be expected from a magazine that has in the past been accused of being a ‘rich boys club’.
GQ favourite Hugh Laurie picking up Musician of the Year would be laughable if it wasn’t true. Laurie is first and foremost a television actor. He dabbled with music by recording his debut album Let Them Talk earlier this year. While a pleasant enough album it is essentially a covers album, where Laurie revisits old blues songs accompanied by some familiar names on some of his collaborations.
More predictable was Tommy Hilfiger picking up Designer of the Year. Given how much of GQ’s advertising space Tommy Hilfiger buy up that award choice didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.
Keith Richards won Writer of the Year despite dictating his autobiography Life, as opposed to writing it.
More ridiculous still, there was the decision to award George Osborne the Politician of the Year award. Perhaps the most divisive figure in politics at the present time, it seemed a strange decision. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is currently implementing the most severe cuts to the public spending budget in history and has split opinion amongst economists, politicians, the media and activists on all sides of the political divide.
Forgetting how divisive his policies are for a moment, it seemed a strange decision given that his policies don’t appear to be working. Ironically on the day he won the award he also had to make a speech revising down his figures for a growth, something the UK public has gotten used to over the past year and a half.
All in all the night belonged to PJ Harvey but there were definitely awards elsewhere that were worthy of comment, even if it wasn’t for the same brilliant reasons Harvey is getting so much acclaim after collecting her award.