Strength in numbers

Strength in numbers

It’s been a tumultuous time for British music of late. With a lengthy period of uncertainty facing the industry in the wake of ‘Brexit’, the respective replacements of culture secretary John Whittingdale and minister for culture Ed Vaizey with relative unknowns Karen Bradley and Matt Hancock just a few weeks ago did little to appease concerns.

Much has also been made of the lack of hit debut albums from British artists so far this year – only two have made the Top 200 of 2016 to date. An alarming figure, whichever way you slice it.

Yet in light of these legitimate concerns, it was somewhat refreshing to see the wealth of talent on display at last week’s Mercury Prize albums of the year launch; the 12 albums selected providing a timely reminder of just how rich, vibrant and exciting British music can still be.

And it’s a shortlist that placed diversity at its very core. Standing toe-to-toe with albums from David Bowie and Radiohead are trailblazing new works from the likes of Skepta, Bat For Lashes, Michael Kiwanuka and Laura Mvula.

And it wasn’t all about the majors, with a healthy representation of independent labels on the list. Some five out of the 12, to be exact.

It’s also worth noting the AIM Awards shortlist revealed last week, which honoured a similarly impressive cross section of indie talent. Sure, it’s not an exclusively British list, but there was still a strong enough showing of diverse homegrown talent to provide cause for optimism.

So, regardless of Brexit and the recent parliamentary personnel changes, the future of music lies, as always, in the hands of the artists. And, on last week’s evidence, things aren’t looking too bad...

Daniel Gumble, News Editor

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