Let us be clear how unequivocally, unsnarkily happy we are about this development. PJ Harvey beat out several promising and/or hyped contenders, including Adele and Katy B, to win the Mercury Prize, one of the UK’s most highly coveted musical awards and a reliable sales boost.
Harvey, of course, hardly needed the boost in exposure; she’s one of the legendary singer-songwriters and an influence, consciously or unconsciously, on just about every woman in pop or rock today. Just looking at artists making music in 2011, EMA and Marina Diamandis of Marina and the Diamonds have said they’ve been influenced by her, and countless other women get compared to her almost reflexively. She’s also the Mercury Prize’s first repeat winner, taking the prize in 2001 for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. And she was among the popular favorites to win, both for her legacy and for the fact that album Let England Shake is broadly, overtly political when the demand for topical music somehow far outstrips its supply.
Look for no end of discussion over the coming days about what this says about: A) the state of music, B) the state of women in music, C) attitudes toward politics and/or 9/11, about which Let England Shake and single “The Words That Maketh Murder” could be seen as having something to say. For now, we’re just pleased the right one won.