Thursday, 8 December 2011
Blur - What price a BRIT Award?
The news is out: Blur are this year's proud recipients of what I've always thought stood as one of the best BRIT awards to get - the Outstanding Contribution to Music award. It's this award that you could always count on to go toward real, inarguable talent - acts that had made a genuine impact on the last few decades of pop music.
But do Blur deserve the award? Without a doubt, yes. If Oasis can win one, then Blur have every right to one too. But the real question: Is the time right for them to win it?
This morning I saw an interesting question posed to the BRIT awards official account - why not Depeche Mode to take the award? And it made me think - yes, Blur are a brilliant, era defining band, but set up against a band with a whole ten years extra of experience, recording history and no messy breakup/hiatus under their belt, do they still deserve the award as much?
To this date, Depeche Mode remain the act with the most UK top 40 singles but without a No. 1 - they forever seem to be the band on the cusp of real, true recognition. Looking over their twelve studio albums, the praise and acclaim received by them is near universal. Their impact and influence, as synth-pop pioneers, cannot be underestimated. Where would pop music today be without the likes of Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence?
Maybe the BRIT awards comitee thought it was too soon after fellow synth-poppers Pet Shop Boys nabbed their award, or maybe Blur were always the group in sight. We'll probably never know. But do Blur have the consistency that Depeche Mode have always maintained? Twenty-one years since the release of their first album, Leisure, what does the band leave as their legacy?
Leisure, like the band's catalogue, is patchy. There's No Other Way is brilliant, one of the defining Brit-pop tracks, but what lies beyond? Parklife and The Great Escape are genuine treasures, albums brimming with classic singles, but fastforward to the late 90s and already Blur were dimming, shooting out on their last two great singles: Tender and Coffee & TV. After that, they never recaptured any of their past glory, or charm.
I defy anyone to have not shed a tear to the beautiful string-laced refrains of The Universal at least once in their life. It's perhaps this song more than any other that stands testament to just how good Blur could be when they wanted to be. But looking at both Depeche Mode and Blur in the 21st century, Depeche still feel vital, alive, releasing music with genuine merit - Blur meanwhile seem left to trade on the successes of their past.
That said, if they kick off with Girls & Boys on that BRIT awards stage, I'll be loving it just as much as the next person...