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Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize

Catherine May places her bets for this year’s nominees

Written by . Published on July 22nd 2011.


Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize

THIS is it, after much deliberation the nominations for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize have been announced. Amongst the twelve names, there are a few that stand out.

AdeleAdeleAdele’s 21 is the most obvious inclusion. The biggest selling album of the year so far, it is a well-deserved nomination and she’s already a favourite for the gong. But will it actually go to her? Or will it be a repeat of 2008 when Elbow’s fourth album beat her debut to the prize?

Guy Garvey and bandmates will be looking for history to repeat itself with a nomination for Build a Rocket, Boys! This fifth album was given great praise from critics and made it to number two in the chart, coincidentally in the same week that Adele had two albums in the top five.

The Barclaycard Mercury Prize isn’t always given to those who’ve charted well though. 2009 saw Speech Debelle become the lowest selling artist ever to be awarded the prize. In fact, her album had sold just 3,000 copies at the time of the award. Just for comparison, 21 sold more than 200,000 copies in its first week of release alone.

P J HarveyP J HarveyBesides Elbow, the only other nominee to have previously received the award is PJ Harvey. Nominated for Let England Shake this year, ten years have passed since her first award. It’d be a great way to celebrate the anniversary and she does have plenty of support, but ultimately it all comes down to who the judging panel favour and by what qualities and criteria they judge the award. 

Flying the flag for self-titled debuts are both James Blake and Anna Calvi with the former winning the higher chart position – not that that’s anything to go by.

Everything Everything, Katy B and  Metronomy also sneak on the list as fairly well-established artists, with Tinie Tempah’s 2010 album Disc-Overy being another critic’s favourite. 

As ever, the judges have thrown in a few albums that are unlikely to have been heard by the masses. If the award were given out purely on album titles, then Ghostpoet’s Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam would be a pretty safe bet.

MetronomyMetronomyCompleting the nomination’s list are King Creosote & Jon Hopkins’ Diamond Mine and Gwilym Simcock’s Good Days at Schloss Elmau.

 So who’s going to get it? It depends what the judges want, but Anna Calvi seems to be at the level of fame that several previous winners were. Commercial success doesn’t always equate to Mercury Prize success so chart success for the likes of Tinie Tempah and Katy B could be their downfall.

The winner will be revealed at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 6th September and it’ll be broadcast live on BBC Two and 6 Music for everyone to find out. It’s quite a wait for the public, but imagine being one of the twelve artists who are left hoping that they’re the one who has just the right balance of talent without being too commercial for the judges.

Bring on 6th September.

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