Big Johnsons

You may not have heard about the Mercury Prize, but I follow it every year. It's an award given every year to the best album by a British or Irish act. The acts are usually sort of unknown at the time but make it big soon after. Past winners have included Gomez (1998), Badly Drawn Boy (2000), Dizzee Rascal (2003) and Franz Ferdinand (2004). See, you've heard of these guys.

So that's why it was such a surprise when the 2005 Mercury Prize was awarded yesterday to Antony and the Johnsons. I've heard of them because Josh has been telling me I need to listen to them for some time now. I got their new album, I am a Bird Now, from the library a few months ago but I can't say it's been burning up my iPod.

Antony was eligible for the prize because he was born in England but the album itself is very New York. A story yesterday called it, "possibly the gayest thing ever recorded" but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Imagine a six foot four inch man who sings like Nina Simone and there you have it. It's not unpleasant, it's just a shock to the system.

Once I got over the whole imagine thing, I found Antony's songs to be very sweet. They're well written and comforting. I can see myself really liking this album when winter rolls around. That's when I like to sit in a cozy room and listen to soft, warm music. This may be just the thing.

So congratulations to Antony and the Johnsons! I have to give a shout out to the critics and musicians who voted on the Mercury Prize this year, too. The Kaiser Chiefs were the favorite but I think we're all a little done with British '80s throwbacks. Way to shake things up.

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