This Badly Drawn Boy article was written by Zoe Anderson, a GIGsoup contributor

It’s the year 2000, and the world is entering a strange new age. The millennium bug threatens to bring down the technological machine, and Britpop bands are riding the wave of success brought on by Radiohead in the mid 90s. The Mercury Prize nominees of this year were, as always, a varied powerhouse of UK talent. Coldplay, Richard Ashcroft, and Doves all featured, but were eventually beaten down by Badly Drawn Boy’s council estate odyssey ‘The Hour of The Bewilderbeast.’ But was it a deserved victory? Here we’ll have a look at that golden year of 2000 and the artists that pursued the fabled Mercury Prize.

‘T.H.O.T.B’ opens with a melancholic violin and brass number, which sets the tone for an oddly sombre album. The rest of the tracks mostly follow in the same thread, mostly relying heavily on an indie guitar sound with a few moments of computerized production scattered here and there. The album is strong and actually manages to keep its sound consistently fresh and interesting. Punchy interludes such as ‘Body Rap’ serve to pick up the tempo, only to drop you straight back in with the very British sounding ‘Once Around The Block’. Overall ‘T.H.O.T.B’ is a very strong contribution to UK Indie music with the vocals of Damon Gough holding everything together extremely well.

But should the album have won the crown? Lets have a look at the contenders. One of the main opponents for the prize was the aforementioned Coldplay, who were bursting onto the UK charts after the success of their hit ‘Yellow’ on ‘Parachutes’, which was the album nominated the prize that year. Out of all the contenders they are the most similar sounding to B.D.B with a similar focus on acoustic guitar numbers. Overall though B.D.B’s album felt so much more heartfelt and well crafted, with a much more varied pace and sound.

On the other hand we have MJ Cole, grime aficionado and the messiah of wide-eyed clubbers everywhere. His album ‘Sincere’ was also nominated, and featured some well crafted, now classic grime beats with floating female vocals. Wildly different from B.D.B, Cole provides a sultry sound throughout the album that is both euphoric and energetic all at once. This UK grime classic was certainly a contender, bringing to the table a completely different mood and pace to the eventual winner.

B.D.B was met by some stiff competition, but ‘T.H.O.T.B’ carried on the tradition of the Mercury Prize of honouring indie artists much more than ones who use more computerised sounds. Indeed, The following year Basement Jaxx’s ‘Rooty’ would lose out to P J Harvey, who would win the prize for the second time. T.H.O.T.B is strong throughout; it’s lonely sound is both touching and entertainingly British sounding, making it a worthy victor of the 2000 Mercury Prize.

Mercury Winners : Badly Drawn Boy ‘The Hour Of the Bewilderbeast’ (2000)

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