The Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist is the unopposed holy grail of the British music scene with no other award carrying the same weight in terms of critical credibility. Not straying far from tradition, this year’s list has been cultivated from an array of newcomers, returners and one very special music veteran.

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The most talked about entry of the year, and bookies favourite, is David Bowie’s album, The Next Day. Bowie announced his surprise comeback in February, giving us an album which has exchanged the Ziggy Stardust days for a more stripped back, raw Bowie with all the charm the British public fell for in the seventies.

With the Arctic Monkeys and Foals as representatives of the indie scene, there’s a likely chance that the genre will succeed this year. Both bands are among the favourites to win, with albums striving on the strength of personal development and maturity of their sounds. A win for the Arctic Monkeys would see history being repeated following a win in 2006 with their debut album, a feat only achieved before by PJ Harvey.

James Blake has demonstrated a true progression of his work with second album Overgrown, which builds on the foundations of his previously nominated debut album. His experimentalism and talent for merging genres is reminiscent of last year’s winner’s Alt-J, traits proving to be favourable among the panel.

It seems as though the list wouldn’t be itself these days without the appearance of Laura Marling. There is a hidden strength which lies in the rawness of Marling’s modesty, making her fourth album Once I Was An Eagle a deserving winner. Also holding the fort for folk is the Villagers. They’ve taken their folk sentiments and ambitiously implemented electronic undertones with their second album {Awayland}.

Fighting the corner for dance music are the likes of Disclosure and Jon Hopkins who both bring an electronic sound to the table. In the past, electronic elements have won success for bands such as The XX; however it may be less likely that the more club-oriented music of these artists will succeed.

Amidst the vast number of returners to the list lay the most exciting entries – the debut albums. Although experiencing a whirlwind year of popularity and chart success in 2013, this is no guarantee of triumph for Jake Bugg and Rudimental. Laura Mvula’s soulful album Sing To The Moon, often likened to the music of Amy Winehouse, shows promise despite a lack of massive public recognition. Meanwhile, post-punk band Savages remain the underdogs (perhaps undeservedly so) of the shortlist with their debut album Silence Yourself.

Outside of those nominated, it would be a crime to ignore those who’ve missed out on making the shortlist. London Grammar’s debut album If You Wait was predicted to appear on the shortlist but didn’t make it, while the lack of Mumford and Sons seems to be the result of the second album hurdle they’ve met, often infamous with such successful bands.

So whether it’s a fresh off the block debut album, or the twenty forth of a British legend, the awards, taking place on 20th October, will be as unpredictable as ever.