September 5, 2006

Arctic Monkeys land coveted UK prize

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - The Arctic Monkeys, who shot to fame on
the Internet and broke all records with their debut, won the
coveted Mercury Prize on Tuesday for the Best British album of
the year.

"It's good tunes -- that's what we try to do," said
frontman Alex Turner after the group accepted the 20,000 pound
($35,000) award.

The Mercury Prize judges tend to court controversy every
year by picking quirky and offbeat winners rather than
chart-topping blockbusters.

This year was a glaring exception with the prize going to
the Arctic Monkeys who in January smashed the British record
for the fastest-selling debut album.

"Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not" sold over
363,700 copies in its first week.

Even Turner admitted to being surprised that they had won.
"Normally it doesn't go to a band that has sold as many albums
as we have. But we are very pleased with it," he said.

The Arctic Monkeys handed out free CDs of their music at
early gigs which were in turn downloaded onto the Internet by
fans and sent across cyberspace.

They were surprised as anyone when crowds at concerts then
began singing back the words as they performed.

For the Mercury, first awarded in 1992, the quality of the
music, not the weight of album sales is normally the prime

In 1994, M People's "Elegant Slumming" beat competition
from Blur, Pulp and the Prodigy -- much to the surprise of the
music press.

Last year Antony and the Johnsons won the prize for "I Am A
Bird Now." Lead singer Antony Hegarty, while born in England,
spent more than 20 years in the United States, raising
questions about his eligibility for the award.

The nominated albums for the 2006 award were:

Arctic Monkeys - "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - "Ballad of the Broken

Editors - "The Back Room."

Guillemots - "Through the Windowpane."

Richard Hawley - "Coles Corner."

Hot Chip - "The Warning."

Muse - "Black Holes & Revelations."

Zoe Rahman - "Melting Pot."

Lou Rhodes - "Beloved One."

Scritti Politti- "White Bread Black Beer."

Sway - "This is My Demo."

Thom Yorke - "The Eraser."