On Thursday night serious musos will once again get together to decide which artist has won this year’s Mercury Music prize. It’s a sort of Brit Awards for people with brains and although it involves judging by people who disappeared up their own arseholes years ago, winning it can make or break an artist’s career.
We’ve been perusing the back catalogue of winners this week at Paddy Power HQ and we think we’ve come up with the definitive list of five Premier League icons that could be best described by putting a Mercury Music winner on your turntable.
DENNIS BERGKAMP – DIFFERENT CLASS (PULP 1996)
Regarded by many as the finest import to play in the Premier League, Dennis Bergkamp left a lasting legacy during his 11-year spell at Arsenal and, just like listening to Jarvis and company’s 1996 winning album, you never get tired of watching re-runs of the mercurial Dutchman doing his thing on YouTube.
Every track on Different Class offers the listener something different and every time Dennis crossed that white line he treated the crowd to sublime pieces of skill that have stayed locked in the memory forever. His trap and goal against Leicester City at Filbert Street is one that immediately springs to mind but his turn and goal at St James’ Park in March 2002 must rank as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – goals in Premier League history.
RIO FERDINAND – DUMMY (PORTISHEAD 1995)
In the mid-90s when we started getting bored of Brit-Pop, a new sound emerged from Bristol that became everyone’s after-club chill-out music. Trip –Hop, beautifully orchestrated by Bristolian band Portishead and fronted by the wonderful Beth Gibbons, was in most people’s CD collection after they won the Mercury in 1995.
Eyebrows were raised in the summer of 2002 when Manchester United broke the then transfer record to bring Rio Ferdinand across the Pennines from bitter rivals Leeds to make him the world’s most expensive defender for a second time. United fans needn’t have worried, however, because the way Ferdinand glided around the pitch for 12 years at Old Trafford was reminiscent of a 12-minute masterpiece by Beth and the boys, with the player seemingly having all the time in the world at his disposal.
DANIEL STURRIDGE – THE SELDOM SEEN KID (ELBOW 2008)
When Jurgen Klopp strode into Anfield in October 2015 the first thing that caught his attention was the amount of money Liverpool was spending on medical fees. When the German tactician discovered that England international Daniel Sturridge was responsible for 85% of these costs, he quickly decided to make him responsible for making the half-time brews whilst giving him a season-ticket for the subs bench.
After their debut album Asleep in the Back brought them critical acclaim in 2001, Bury’s finest, Elbow, then took seven years to make another decent long-player but when they did, they took the Mercury prize in 2008 with The Seldom Seen Kid.
Elbow are a band that resemble Sturridge in the fact that you forget that they’re still around until they produce the occasional masterful display before disappearing for another five years. Sturridge is currently trying to resurrect his career in Turkey with Trabzonspor, but unfortunately he’s only played 20 minutes of the season so far due to, yes, you’ve guessed it, injury.
BILLY SHARP – WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT – (ARCTIC MONKEYS 2006)
Sheffield four-piece The Arctic Monkeys have done more for country clothing giant Barbour that HRH The Prince of Wales ever has, but up until the mid-noughties, no-one outside of the Steel City had ever heard of them. That all changed in 2006 when their debut album Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not scooped the most prestigious prize in music.
Sheffield United striker and local lad Billy Sharp was also barely recognised outside of South Yorkshire until he helped bring his hometown club back to the Premier League last season, but unlike Arctic Monkey’s front man Alex Turner, who swapped the Liddesdale jacket for a leather one once his band became famous in the US, Sharp remains the local boy done good and is more comfortable sinking pints of Wards bitter down his local than Pina Coladas in Beverley Hills.
It was fitting then, that the 33-year-old scored his club’s first goal back in the top-flight in a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on the opening day of the season.
PETER CROUCH – OVERGROWN (JAMES BLAKE 2013)
Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer James Blake is one of the most sought-after men in pop and the 30-year-old Londoner scooped the Mercury Prize in 2013 with Overgrown, after Kanye West stated he was his favourite artist. It seems that if you want success then all you need to do is get in touch with Blake and let him twiddle a few knobs for you in the studio.
Former England frontman Peter Crouch would never make anyone’s all-time Premier League XI, but the six-foot-seven-inch striker has always been the go-to guy whenever a team finds itself in a relegation battle. Crouch has always looked like someone who’s never been entirely in charge of his own body and will be remembered for his robotic goal celebration rather than his achievements in the game. Ask any fan of Southampton, Spurs or Stoke however and they’ll tell you that there was much more to big Peter than just body-popping.