PJ Harvey wins Mercury Prize for second time


PJ Harvey: "This album took a long time to write"

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PJ Harvey has become the first person to win the Mercury Prize twice, with her album Let England Shake.

The record, which was inspired by the horrors of war, was the bookmakers' favourite.

Harvey won in 2001, when the ceremony was held on 11 September, but was unable to accept the prize in person because she was on tour in the US.

Harvey said she wanted to make a record that was "meaningful, not just for myself but for other people".

Accepting the award on stage she thanked the audience for "the recognition of my work on this album".

The 41-year-old, who was the first female Mercury winner in September 2001 with Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, said: "It's really good to be here this evening, because when I last won 10 years ago I was in Washington DC watching the Pentagon burning from my hotel window.

"So much has happened since then. This album took me a long time to write. It was very important to me. I wanted to make something meaningful, not just for myself but for other people, and hopefully to make something that would last."

The album features graphic lyrics about warfare, as well as allusions to other songs and unusually includes the prominent use of an autoharp, played by Harvey.

'Tough decision'

Corinne Bailey Rae, who was one of the judges, said the panel all agreed that Harvey should be crowned the winner.

"It was a tough decision, but were all in agreement."

Bailey Rae explained that the lyrics made the record stand out because they were "really imaginative, almost cinematic".

Harvey beat the likes of Adele, Tinie Tempah, Katy B and Elbow to the £20,000 prize.

All the artists performed during the ceremony, apart from Adele who was suffering from a sore throat.

Earlier on in the evening she had told reporters her outfit - a full-length white dress with a white leather bodice shaped like a strait-jacket - had been inspired by her album.

The prize, which began in 1992, honours music by British or Irish artists and is based solely on the music on one album.

Electronic band The xx won last year's prize for their self-titled debut album.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    I was a bit put out that this event only got half an hours TV coverage last night, is it too much to ask that time could have been give to watch all the performances. There is life beyond the Brit Awards and X Factor. Anyway PJ Harvey a worthy winner, was rooting for Metronomy also.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    This news has made my day! I can’t remember the last time I was so affected by an album: "Let England Shake" is a masterpiece - strong, intelligent songwriting, haunting images of death and destruction juxtaposed with a real love for her homeland. I can almost see the ghosts of the old sea captains as Ms Harvey dips in and out of war history. Congratulations!

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    If it's all about the lyrics then read a book!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    @27 Not all loud music is right-wing. In fact even some of the most brutal music around has a left-wing message. Swedish band Nasum, for instance, is so loud and fast it makes most people recoil, but their lyrics denounce far-right groups and dictatorships. Conversely, some soft acoustic music is very conservative, like much mainstream country and western music. Even Neil Young had his moments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Ritzik.. The majority of her album sales have been from her Mercury prize albums, the other 6 studio albums sold very few, and even her highest selling was only just over 1 million, worldwide and hardly 200k in the UK. I did say '10' was a cheap shot. Its short lived music that its hard to care about.

    Yes its better than any of the X factor trash, almost everything is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    @ 17.cynical old man
    that album had the best PR possible.it 's the first PJ Harvey album that was advertised on the hipster-tastemaking site pitchfork.com.naturally it recieved an 8+(her first on this site) and of course everyone else followed.
    I mean,come on, her manager is Paul McGuinness after all

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    CameBlunt What on earth this album has to do with NewLab or Gordon Brown or anything political? War is horrifying. Many people have written about this in the past. This is a beautiful record which is as patriotic as you can possibly get. Condoned by labour?! This is clearly not your sort of music so why are you so bothered about the Mercury awards? Get back to your Prussian Blue albums.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    48. ChrisM - PJ Harvey has sold millions of albums around the world.

    If nothing else maybe some of the X-Factor generation may well discover her for the first time because of this award. Let's hope so

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Personally, I don't much care for this album, nor do I see the merits of a musician being asked to comment about the recent riots, as PJ Harvey was asked to do on Radio 4 this morning.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    It isn't just about the lyrics, tracks 5 and 6 to me are classics, musically. Don't really care that much about the lyrics.
    Too many people obsess about the political stance of this album, just listen to the music and relax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.


    Only by those who actually buy her records.. all 10 of them. Ok thats a cheap shot, but you get my point. Its good stuff, but pretty redundant if you dont care about her opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    With all the current problems facing our country who really cares about insignificant song awards

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    time will tell but my guess it will be talked of as one of the greats in years to come

    Well done Polly ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    While undoubtedly clever and well crafted the album lacks real emotion for me. Its a good work, but has little repeat appeal and poor long term durability. Its the sort of album you will buy, listen to once and never touch again, expect at a dinner party when you are trying to be profound in front of others.
    Its typical Mercury prize fodder, somewhat pretentious with an extra dash of hipster.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Hope, next year we celebrate the "Let England be free from dictators" song's winning of the Mercury Price.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Cripes, CameBlunt, you really do have issues - seeing New Labour every where. The previous government gets the blame for lots of things, whether legitimately or otherwise, but I do really think than pinning PJ Harvey's success at its door is going a step too far. Try having a read of the lyrics. Amazingly enough war is horrific, it is full of gore and people get killed unpleasantly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    A very different album from PJ but she often changes style. In interviews she said she worked on the lyrics for a long time before the music, which is unusual for her. I'm glad there are some artists willing to perform songs which are about something unlike many current artists. The strong reaction that this album causes is a demonstration of why it was needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Not surprised PJ Harvey won, good album. But there were some strong contenders. My favourite was probably Anna Calvi having played it to death in my car but Metronomy, Jon Hopkins/Creosote and Ghostpoet were also worthy contenders. It's not a route to fame and fortune though; Adele was never going to win it but she's made a fortune shifting copies of 21 on both sides of the Atlantic

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Well done! I first heard about PJ Harvey living in France in the early 1990's, and have been an admirer of her music ever since. She is a true talent. More importantly, she has remained true to herself throughout her remarkable career.


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