Rina Sawayama

Rina Sawayama Says Mercury Prize Eligibility Rules Are Like ‘Border Control’

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Rina Sawayama, the British-Japanese singer speaks out after being kept out of the running for one of the year’s top music awards.

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Rina Sawayama about Mercury Prize Eligibility Rules

The British-Japanese singer Rina Sawayama released her debut album, Sawayama, in April. The LP, which had been in the works since 2019, is a collection of gritty electro-metal tracks polished with lyrics that dissects the concept of family — both blood and chosen — to cathartic ends.

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And with its release, which garnered high praise from critics and fellow artists alike (Elton John called it “the strongest album of the year”), Sawayama had one goal: “I want to win a Mercury Award,” she told her label, Dirty Hit, per Vice.

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The Hyundai Mercury Prize, formerly known as the Mercury Prize, is an annual award given to the best British or Irish album of the year.

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I’ve lived here for 25 YEARS (most of my life) but I am not British enough to even be ELIGIBLE for the 2 biggest UK music awards seeing the tweets and articles about SAWAYAMA not being on the Mercury Nominations last week was heartbreaking because i knew from several months ago that I would never be on that list, or ever be considered a British artist in the eyes of the awards of a country I call home I just want to dream the same dream as everyone else. @ them, email them, tweet them and leave comments if u want the entry rules changed so that it includes immigrants who cannot get a British passport, but still contribute to UK culture and economy in immeasurable ways. full article in stories

A post shared by Rina Sawayama (@rinasonline) on

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Past winners have included Arctic Monkeys, James Blake, PJ Harvey, and Portishead, and this year’s shortlist, which included Charli XCX and Dua Lipa, was hailed for spotlighting albums by female musicians, a historic win for an industry still largely dominated by men despite shifting norms.

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Sawayama, however, was not nominated; in fact, she was never eligible in the first place.

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Rina Sawayama – Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys)

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Rina Sawayama Defines Her Musical Style

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Rina Sawayama Says Mercury Prize Eligibility Rules Are Like 'Border Control' 13

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