Mercury

I stopped caring about the Mercury Music Prize a long time ago, and I have viewed it with contempt since it started going along with whatever the NME was hyping in order to flog more copies (Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and now The Klaxons).

But it has prompted me to say a word about Amy Winehouse, or more specifically her album Back To Black. I believe it’s an utterly remarkable record, and fully deserving of its critical and commercial success – even if Winehouse herself seems to be a professional train wreck, on the evidence of the album’s lyrics, never mind subsequent tabloid shenanigans.

But it’s rare for an album to be both genuinely excellent and sell large quantities and garner critical acclaim: lots of records manage one or two of the three, but few manage the whole lot. Of these, not all will meet the challenges of time and still be discussed as classics years later. For my money, there are only a very few records that meet all these criteria from the last decade or so: OK Computer by Radiohead, The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips, Funeral by The Arcade Fire and Back To Black. Is there anything else that was massively lauded at the time of its release and still likely to be discussed as a genuine classic, having sold lots in the meantime? Let me know if you can think of any… Remember, a key criterion is that I have to think it’s great, not just everyone else…

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