HOLLYWOOD — The Shortlist Music Prize is intended to honor "the most adventurous and creative albums of the year across all genres of music," and its left-of-center bent was reflected in this year's winner: Brooklyn-based art-rock band TV on the Radio, whose album, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, beat out higher-profile nominees like Franz Ferdinand, the Killers, Wilco and Loretta Lynn.
The presentation took place on Monday at an award ceremony/concert at Hollywood's Avalon Theater, at which TV on the Radio and Shortlist finalists Dizzee Rascal and Nellie McKay (along with the Eagles of Death Metal) performed. (Click for photos from the concert.) A show featuring highlights from the concert, "MTV2 Presents the Shortlist Music Prize 04," will be broadcast on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on MTV2.
"It's a huge compliment," TVOTR guitarist Kyp Malone said backstage. "We didn't
make the record to be a secret. So if this helps more people hear it, well, the
more who hear it the better" (for words, music and video on the Shortlist
nominees, see "Shortlist Music Prize: A Mixtape From The Stars").
TV on the Radio were initially nominated for the "Longlist" (which was later
winnowed down from 73 albums to a "Shortlist" of 10 finalists) by two of the
award's "Listmakers," Perry Farrell and the Roots' Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson,
although the band gained several other supporters once the album was sent to all
the Listmakers, according to Shortlist co-founder Greg Spotts.
"It's interesting, Listmakers from a lot of different genres, from rock to
hip-hop, got behind this album," Spotts said. "They're one of those bands that
attracts musicians. And they definitely represent the spirit of the award, how
they mix so many styles."
The premise of the Shortlist Award is for 22 Listmakers — primarily
contemporary musicians like
Confessional's Chris Carrabba, Norah Jones, the Cure's Robert Smith, the Dixie
Chicks and others — to nominate and vote for the albums that they consider
to be "the most adventurous and creative albums of the year across all genres of
music," according to the organization's mission statement (see "John Mayer,
Chris Carrabba, ?uestlove, Norah Jones Sign On For Shortlist Prize").
The albums must have sold less than 500,000 copies in the U.S. by the end of the
prize's eligibility period (this year, between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004).
"To be acknowledged by this panel is surreal," Malone said. "I thought for sure
Franz Ferdinand would get it."
With their win, TV on the Radio join Damien Rice (2003), N.E.R.D. (2002) and
Sigur Ros (2001) in the pantheon of Shortlist winners. Along with a
sphere-shaped glass trophy, which replaced last year's "Woody" statuette ("We've
changed it every year, but one of these times we'll get it right," Spotts said),
TV on the Radio also won a cash prize of $10,000, courtesy of XM Satellite Radio.
"We thought if we won, we would buy one of those little mini-motorcycles,"
singer Tunde Adebimpe joked.
TV on the Radio, who played a set opening for the Faint in Los Angeles earlier
in the evening, headlined Monday's show, which also featured Nellie McKay and
Dizzee Rascal. The Eagles of Death Metal, whose occasional drummer Josh Homme
was a Listmaker, also performed, taking the place of nominee Air, who were
originally scheduled to play (see "Air, Dizzee Rascal, Nellie McKay, TV On The
Radio To Perform At Shortlist Awards").
McKay kicked off the show, pounding out her idiosyncratic tales on a piano in
the center of the stage. Rascal followed, busting through a set of driving
British hip-hop that ended with the crowd favorite, "Fix Up, Look Sharp."
With only a 15-minute set, the Eagles of Death Metal were short but sweet, captivating the audience with a dual-drummer set-up that featured Homme seemingly having the time of his life. TV on the Radio's atmospheric set reached
its pinnacle with "Staring at the Sun," although some steady beatboxing from David Andrew Sitek made for an entertaining finale.
"This is easily the most diverse concert we've had," Spotts said of the show's
lineup. "And the crowd seemed to appreciate everything and allow themselves to
be educated. The Shortlist brings that out in people."
A compilation album featuring songs from all 10 Shortlist finalists, as well as Longlist nominees Ryan Adams, Café Tacuba, Jem, Muse and Secret Machines,
was released earlier this month.