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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Gorillaz reject Mercury nomination
Gorillaz were shortlisted but then pulled out
Pop band Gorillaz have rejected their nomination for the prestigious 2001 Mercury Prize.

The "virtual band" made up of artists such as Blur's Damon Albarn and hip-hop hero Dan "The Automator" Nakamura described the nomimation as "like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity".

Radiohead and the Super Furry Animals are among the other 11 artists to have been shortlisted for the award.

Judges' chair Simon Frith called it "one of the more intriguing Mercury Prize shortlists", with eight debut albums on the list and a number of little-known names.

PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey: Nominated for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Noticeable by their absence from the list are U2 and Craig David and there is also no room for any folk, jazz or classical albums.

The 12-strong list of British and Irish album acts reflects musical excellence, rather than sales or popularity.

But the publicity boost from a Mercury nomination usually guarantees a sales boost of between 20% and 100%.

The 2001 nominations are:

  • Radiohead for Amnesiac
  • Super Furry Animals for Rings Around The World
  • Basement Jaxx for Rooty
  • Ed Harcourt for Here Be Monsters
  • Elbow for Asleep in the Back
  • Goldfrapp for Felt Mountain
  • PJ Harvey for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
  • Susheela Raman for Salt Rain
  • Turin Brakes for The Optimist LP
  • Zero 7 for Simple Things
  • Tom McRae for Tom McRae

    The Gorillaz album was initially ranked 3-1 favourite by bookmakers William Hill, followed by Radiohead and Basement Jaxx at 4-1.

    A statement put out by the band - which exists in cartoon form only based around different characters - said the nomination was "heavy".

    The band's fictional bass player Murdoc said: "Why don't you nominate some other poor Muppet."

    Music commentator Rick Sky told BBC News Online: "Gorillaz have a commercial sound and perhaps they don't want to be associated with an award that's too worthy.

    "Pulling out is also good publicity for them - and what difference does it make to them whether they win the award or not?"

    Mr Frith said there had been a debate about which of the two Radiohead albums to choose - Kid A or Amnesiac.

    He said they chose the latter because it "seems to be the sort of record that only Radiohead would make".

    Last year the 20,000 prize went to Damon Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy, whose low-key offering The Hour Of Bewilderbeast was seen as the album of the year.

    Super Furry Animals
    Nominees Super Furry Animals are currently in the singles charts
    "There is the emergence of a new generation of singer-songwriters and a continuing breakdown in the distinction between rock and dancefloor sensibilities," said Simon Frith of the new shortlist.

    "But what's most striking is the verve with which British musicians draw on the full palette of styles and genres, past and present, to pursue their distinctive moods and visions."

    Past winners have included Talvin Singh, Gomez and Roni Size/Reprazent, reflecting the judges' eclectic tastes.

    Past Mercury winners
    1992 Primal Scream
    1993 Suede
    1994 M People
    1995 Portishead
    1996 Pulp
    1997 Roni Size & Reprazent
    1998 Gomez
    1999 Talvin Singh
    2000 Badly Drawn Boy

    Mr Frith said his choice for the Mercury was PJ Harvey.

    He said: "I think she's always been someone who writes songs for her own purposes with very little reference to any commercial trends.

    "As her life changes her music changes. She still stands for a kind of belief by singing about your life you can make sense out of it."

    The prize, sponsored by Technics, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

    The winner of the 2001 prize will be announced on 11 September.

    For the first time this year the event will be broadcast by Channel 4, with a special 90-minute programme to be screened on 12 September.

    As in previous years the Mercury Prize show will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 1.

    The BBC's entertainment reporter Robert Nesbit
    "The Mercury Prize is seen as music's Booker Prize"
    Chairman of the judges Simon Frith
    "Major labels think of classical music as soundtracks"
    See also:

    13 Sep 00 | Entertainment
    In pictures: Mercury Music Prize
    13 Sep 00 | Entertainment
    Mercury joy for Badly Drawn Boy
    25 Jul 00 | Entertainment
    Coldplay head Mercury list
    09 Sep 99 | Entertainment
    Newcomer wins top music prize
    28 Jul 99 | Entertainment
    Manics lead Mercury shortlist
    17 Sep 98 | Entertainment
    Gomez scoops Mercury Prize
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