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Here’s who I think will win the Choice Music Prize tonight

Here’s who I think will win the Choice Music Prize tonight


Vicar Street tonight will be a bundle of high-emotion come 10:30pm or so, when the winner of the Choice Music Prize album of the year is announced (the nominees) by 12 judges.

The night will also feature the song of the year winner which is decided by public vote and usually goes to a more populist winner (my prediction of the 10? Kodaline but should be All Tvvins)


Previous album of the year prizes have given us a mix of favourites and wildcard winners so it is a hard thing to predict when it rolls around every March.

However, taking a few things into consideration: the judges’ personal taste (or perceived taste), the average of their likes and dislikes, their perceptions of the albums and artists and the process itself (as a previous two-time judge, I’ve a fair idea of how these things go), I’ve arrived at who I think will win tonight.

Of the 12 judges, a whopping eight work in radio, there are two print media journalists (and one of those also splits time with radio) and two online publication representatives. There are four women on the panel. All are invested in music in a big way.

The radio-leaning bias of the panel could suggest a more mainstream winner, being that the everyday culture of working in music radio leans towards music that won’t cause people to turn off. Their sensibilities may be attuned to that kind of music.

So, who’s the winner?

So which of the albums have a chance? It is unlikely that the 12 people tasked with picking a winner will all agree on Girl Band’s Holding Hands With Jamie. It’s a brilliant, abrasive, ranting cathartic take on post-punk meets drone rock filtered through techno is not likely to win over judges not previously on board, even though was the bookie’s favourite. Still, nice ronnie anyway. At least it still has it’s Nialler9 Readers’ Poll accolade (sans 10 grand).

Also unlikely for the opposite reason, is the debut album from Gavin James, Bitter Pill. While James’ is thoroughly of good radio play stock, the album overall isn’t the type (a lot of big singalong emotion) that gets consensus approval despite how it does with an audience.

Previous winners Jape and Villagers are up for the Choice once again for their third and fifth albums respectively. This Chemical Sea is a fine, fine album but after taking home the prize in two previous years, it would take a particularly brilliant album to seal the deal for the hat-trick. The judges (even if they are told to only judge each album on its merit alone, not prior history or live performance) will find it hard to justify with other deserving winners.

Villagers is a crowd and critic favourite and a previous winner for second album {Awayland}. That may work against Conor O’Brien on this occasion for his album Darling Arithmetic. Taking a stripped-back approach this time out, the album’s biggest achievement is its lyrical honesty. However, when you have a songwriter as respected as Conor O’Brien, his album will always have a great chance.

Young Wonder’s Birth and Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s And Now The Weather had the longest odds in the betting and are probably the two albums that written about the least, critically and otherwis, in the run up to their nominations.

Both are on the list on merit, the debut from Cork’s Young Wonder leaves an impression with its electronic pop, while Mac Con Iomaire, who has established a solo career away from The Frames, has produced a rich album of contemporary traditional music. Last year’s winners, The Gloaming set the precedent for such music to win but it feels unlikely this year.

In with a fighting chance on the night?

Roisin Murphy is one of the finest and most interesting artists Ireland has ever had a hand in producing but is her brilliant Hairless Toys album too avant-garde to win? Probably.

Le Galaxie are a live festival favourite whose Le Club album came the closest yet to capturing the euphoria of their live performance with an album of joyous bangers. But like it or not, it’s a judge’s Choice, and music this fun can be perceived as less worthy than more serious music by some.

Derry singer-songwriter SOAK has had a great career so far: transporting her lilting accent and guitar pickings to a touring career with a full band and a growing sound that found a home on revered label Rough Trade. Before We Forgot How To Dream is a lovely first record but it feels like a first. There’s more to come from Bridie Monds-Watson.

That leaves us with the one album I think has the best chance of winning tonight: Ham Sandwich’s Stories From The Surface. The Kells band have the love of both fans and industry for the most part and their third album was clearly a leap in songwriting and craft for them. Supported by radio stations of all types and generally, by the Irish music media, this year is their first Choice nomination. I suspect the Hammers have the best chance of walking away with €10,000 and the prize.

There are limited tickets on the door at 6:30pm tonight. The show is being broadcast on TodayFM too.

Spotify playlist

Related: How Music Works – The Choice Music Prize interview with founder Dave Reid.