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  1. ‘Martin wrote the song while watching The Big Breakfast on acid. Then, when we recorded the song in Wales, there was a night when some sheep got painted blue’

    When we started in Wirral in 1988, we really loved the pop charts, Top of the Pops and the Beatles, but when we actually picked up guitars we couldn’t figure out how to do that kind of music. How can you sound like Duran Duran when you’ve got these little Kays Catalogue guitars that you got for Christmas when you were 13?

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  2. In a strong field including career highs from Wolf Alice and Ghetts, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter prevailed with an album full of tangible lived experience

    • News: Arlo Parks wins the 2021 Mercury prize

    Last year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mercury prize unexpectedly enjoyed a moment in the mainstream spotlight: in lieu of an actual ceremony, it was hoisted from the netherworld of BBC Four and newspaper think pieces such as this, and ended up being presented to Michael Kiwanuka for his album Kiwanuka on BBC One early evening institution The One Show. It seemed to do the trick, at least in commercial terms: Kiwanuka’s album got the kind of sales boost – silver at the time it won the award, it was gold weeks later – which, as certain previous winners can ruefully attest, bagging the Mercury doesn’t always deliver.

    This year, it was back to BBC Four and business as usual, although a flicker of the previous year’s spotlight remained: The One Show broadcast a film about the prize, but alas failed to canvass the opinion of their studio guests, H and Claire from Steps, as to whether they preferred Black Country, New Road to Floating Points’ collaboration with Pharoah Sanders.

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  3. 21-year-old singer-songwriter adds to Brit award win earlier in the year

    Arlo Parks has won the 2021 Mercury prize, awarded to the year’s most outstanding British album, for her debut Collapsed in Sunbeams.

    Presenting the award at the ceremony in London on Thursday night, judge Annie MacManus said: “We chose an artist with a singular voice who uses lyrics of remarkable beauty to confront complex themes of mental health and sexuality, and connects deeply with her generation as she does so.”

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  4. Discover all our four- and five-star album reviews from the last month, from pop to folk, classical and more

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  5. ‘It was a vulnerable moment that turned into a moment of strength. It was basically me saying: I am never going to be hit by anyone ever again’

    Weak was written about an experience I’d had a few years earlier. I was dating a guy I shouldn’t have been going out with in the first place: he was older, he wanted to get married and all these things, but he didn’t ask me, he just decided. Back then, I was so meek and mild. My friends would say: “Your boyfriend is so controlling. You have to stick up for yourself.”

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