Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Popjustice 20 Quid Prize 2014: The Definitive Rankings

Every year since 2003, a panel of judges bestow the Popjustice £20 Music Prize to the artist behind the best British pop single of the year. The debate takes place in a pub in London on the same night as the Mercury Prize, which pompously purports to honor the best album of the year from the UK and Ireland. It’s not unlike the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, except that the UK already has one of those in the BRIT Awards; the Mercury Prize is really more like the Golden Globes of the UK music awards circuit: just another group of music snobs whose opinion matters because it comes with £20,000 and a heck of a jump in album sales. Popjustice’s £20 Music Prize is, in some sense, the Razzie Award, except instead of honoring the worst (see, we do that enough ourselves on the charts) the award goes to the best of an overlooked genre. (The last time a pop album won the Mercury Prize was… ha, fooled you! A pop album has never won the Mercury Prize, come on. There's not even one nominated this year.)

Little Mix Move Video
Little Mix's "Move" is Vertigo Shtick's pick for the 2014 Popjustice 20 Quid Prize

Although I had to sit out this year on Vertigo Shtick's annual rundown of the Popjustice 20 Quid Prize shortlist, that doesn't mean I neglected to become familiar enough with the twelve shortlisted songs to establish a final, authoritative ranking by which this year's crop ought justly to be judged.

Not that that ever makes much of a difference with the boozy crowd halfway across the globe, but I always welcome the opportunity to spark debate with those who are familiar with the shortlist as well as provide guidance to those who are not but still enjoy observing the maniacal horse race that will ensue in a few short hours in a London pub.

So here it is:

Vertigo Shtick Popjustice 20 Quid 2014

Why? Okay, I'll give a sentence to each.

1. Little Mix, "Move"- Having mastered standard electronic dance-pop with "Wings" and "DNA," girl group gets groovily original on the most fun single from the UK this year.

2. Indiana, "Solo Dancing" - A single that is the definition of "grower," Indiana's slinky, understated dancing-on-my-own (with masturbation subtext - see music video) club jam is ultimately irresistible.

3. Rita Ora, "I Will Never Let You Down" - Meh pop star meets aggravatingly cheerful techno wizard Calvin Harris, and instead of a heap of steaming doo, things turn out rather well.

4. Charli XCX, "Boom Clap" - Gets major points for Charli XCX's successful pivot to the mainstream; loses points for banality.

5. La Roux, "Uptight Downtown" - A La Roux song for people who don't like La Roux that much; also for people who like groovy throwback sound we haven't exactly been lacking recently.

6. Years & Years, "Take Shelter" - A cool-sounding single by a group you've never heard of; what else can you wish?

7. Rixton, "Me And My Broken Heart" - Looks like Sam Smith, sounds like Maroon 5, Benny Blanco at the helm; yep, instant hit in the States, but you're better off listening to Rob Thomas' original (which is not something I ever imagined I'd say one day).

8. Jessie Ware, "Tough Love" - A single that sounds cool and has a neat message, but it's difficult to appreciate both at the same time unless you're in the habit of taking advice from voices that sound not quite human.

9. One Direction, "Story of My Life" - Uh, I don't know, it's One Direction, aren't they guaranteed a spot on this list somehow, I guess?

10. Ella Henderson, "Ghost" - Look, a ton of people on both sides of the pond say this song is the tits, so I guess that means I'm missing something.

11. Katy B., "Crying for No Reason" - Am I the only one not thrilled by Katy B's pivot toward sappy, gay-baiting dancefloor balladry about nothing after her edgy Mercury-nominated dubstep debut?

12. Leona Lewis, "One More Sleep" - Stop trying to make Leona Lewis happen again; she's not going to happen (nor is this Christmas song, not least because it's outshone by the Muppets).

Follow @vertigo_shtick on Twitter NOW for the best live-tweeting of the Popjustice 20 Quid Prize deliberations, as culled and aggregated from the many various scattered tweets exported by participants from within.

Here's the shortlist in Spotify Playlist form (how nice!):

What do you wish to win? What do you predict to win? What do you hope to almighty Kesha will NOT win? Share your thoughts on Twitter (#twentyquidprize) or in the comments!

See previous Popjustice 20 Quid Prize roundups:

Popjustice 20 Quid Prize 2013
  • Chvrches, "The Mother We Share" - Winner; Little Mix, One Direction, VV Brown, Girls Aloud, Disclosure, Duke Dumont, MKS, Olly Murs, Petula Clark, The Saturdays
Popjustice 20 Quid Prize 2012
  • Will Young, "Jealousy" - Winner; Lawson, Little Mix, Marina and the Diamonds, Nero, Olly Murs, One Direction, Rizzle Kicks, Rudimental, St. Etienne, Siobhan Dillon, The Saturdays
Popjustice 20 Quid Prize 2011
  • The Saturdays, "Higher" - Winner; Adele, Hurts, Jessie J, Joe McElderry, Mark Ronson, Nadia Oh, Nicola Roberts, Sunday Girl, The Wanted, Take That, Yasmin

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