Dan Jeakins lists the albums shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Mercury Prize following the award’s announcement earlier today. But who’s got more of a shot of claiming music’s most sought-over title in the UK and Ireland?
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Thom Yorke and co have never won the Mercury Prize – a fact that’s baffling upon considering the calibre of albums they’ve brought out since the inaugural award in 1992. Ok Computer was pipped by drum and bass pioneer Roni Size, Amnesiac lost to out to PJ Harvey, Hail To The Thief was beaten by Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner and In Rainbows was deemed inferior to Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid. A Moon Shaped Pool is surely a front-runner this time around – fifth time lucky, lads?
David Bowie – Blackstar
The obvious favourite, Bowie’s death earlier this year has set things up for what would be a fitting posthumous victory. The Mercury, however, is famed for its unpredictability – and whilst Blackstar is certainly the year’s defining artistic statement, the judges may very well choose to shine the spotlight on an up-and-comer. Don’t put your house on it winning.
Kano – Made In The Manor
A very well rounded, superbly produced album featuring collaborations with the likes of Damon Albarn and Giggs, Made In The Manor is the best full-length to come out of the UK grime revival, and Kano has a great chance of becoming the first rapper to win the award since Dizzee Rascal in 2003.
Anohni – Hopelessness
Anthony and the Johnsons shocked just about everyone in 2005 when their sophomore effort I Am A Bird Now took the Mercury Prize ahead of Bloc Party’s very well fancied debut Silent Alarm. It’ll be less of a surprise if the band’s frontwoman Anohni wins the prize this year – released by Rough Trade in May to rave reviews, Hopelessness is a wonderful electro-pop record bursting with character.
Bat For Lashes – The Bride
Having lost out twice before, many will feel it’s about time Bat For Lashes took home a Mercury Prize. In truth it was The Haunted Man, her third album and only release never to be nominated, that was perhaps most deserving of recognition. Still, The Bride is an ambitious, at-times dazzling pop record which is surely in with a shout.
Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room
Mvula makes it two-in-two with a second Mercury Prize nod for her sophomore effort. Adored by critics upon its release last month, in other years The Dreaming Room would be deemed a real favourite. Laura has a strong field to contend with and might just fall short of the mark this time around, but at 9/1 it is well worth a punt.
Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate
Having been propelled to fame after topping the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll, Michael Kiwanuka knows all too well what a positive effect winning awards like this can have on your career. A marked improvement on his decent 2012 debut, the Polydor-signee may very well find success with his brand of introspective, impassioned soul.
Savages – Adore Life
London noise-rock band Savages were very unfortunate to lose out to James Blake’s Overgrown in 2013, and their follow-up Adore Life retains many of the positive attributes that made their debut such a strong contender. Unfairly labelled a watered-down version of Silence Yourself by some critics, its accessibility might mean it gains favour with the panel of judges.
The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet Unaware Of It
Give me a break. The 1975’s middle-of-the-road guitar-pop has been glorified enough by the mainstream media, and giving them the award will only heighten Matt Healy’s over-inflated ego to a frankly insufferable level. Lucky to be nominated, it would take a miracle for the four-piece’s sophomore LP to take home the prize.
Skepta – Konnichiwa
Seemingly nominated as a response to pressure from some onlookers who felt UK rap and grime was being overlooked by the Mercury Prize, Konnichiwa feels like an unnecessary inclusion stood next to Kano’s Made In The Manor – a far more complete, fleshed-out album that is by far the strongest ambassador for British urban music. Not a hope.
The Comet Is Coming – Channel The Spirits
Just like every other music journalist in the country I spent this morning on Google finding out exactly who The Comet Is Coming were. Turns out they’re an instrumental electronic band from London, and this is their first album. In other words, it’s this year’s token left-field, ‘probably quite good but definitely won’t win’ selection. Who knows, maybe it’s a work of genius? I’ll give it a listen and get back to you.
Jamie Woon – Making Time
A talented singer-songwriter from London, anyone who’s followed Jamie Woon’s career will be pleased to see him get some well-deserved recognition. Up and against goliaths of the music world like David Bowie and Radiohead it seems impossible for Making Time to triumph – it’s a record too small in scope to win an award this big.