– Samantha Viner, Luke Morton and Rebecca Caroline contributed with this article
The Mercury Prize may not be as big as the Brits but it certainly champions some of the best music in the UK. The Album of the Year prize is chosen from a shortlist of the best 12 albums in the UK from the last 12 months. Previous winners of the coveted prize include Franz Ferdinand (2004), Elbow (2008) and Speech Debelle in 2009.
Dizzee Rascal, winner of the award in 2003, is nominated again this year with his 2009 album “Tongue N’ Cheek”. It’s his best selling album so far in his career and a win this year would make him the only artist to win the Mercury Prize for more than one album.
The ‘New Folk’ scene has been represented in the nominations by Mumford & Sons with their debut album “Sigh No More” and Laura Marling’s “I Speak Because I Can”. Although not obvious winners both seem to be popular across the board and might just scoop the prize.
The xx are very popular right now with their self-entitled debut album “xx” and appear to be the unofficial favourites to win. Their complex sound is difficult to pigeon hole and this may be where they have the edge over the other nominees.
Paul Weller is the oldest and seemingly most out of place artist to be nominated this year with “Wake Up The Nation”. The Guardian revealed that, according to William Hill, he is now the favourite to win the prize at an odd of 1/10.
The xx, with their debut album, were the winners on the night. Who did our Culture team think the prize should have gone to?
There is a lot of hot competition in this year’s Mercury Awards, possibly more than in previous years. However, there are also some artists who perhaps shouldn’t be included, for example Biffy Clyro and Dizzee Rascal.
Arguably the best album up for the prize though is The xx‘s eponymous debut album. Drawing on a wide variety of genres to create their sound, from pop to dubstep. At times it’s comparable to the post-punk scene of the late 70s/early 80s, bands such as Joy Division definitely getting a nod. It can be dark and others quite ambient, it needs to be listened to from start to finish.
Other great acts in the running for this year’s Mercury Prize are Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling. Mumford & Sons’ debut album is one of the latest breakthrough acts in the indie folk scene – akin to Johnny Flynn and Bon Iver.
This uprising of folk acts also include one of the hottest prospects for British music this year Laura Marling. At just 20 years old Marling is rising and doesn’t show signs of stopping. With such depth in her lyrics and soaring vocals, things are only looking up for this songstress.
For me it’s got to be Mumford & Sons. The ‘New Folk’ scene has sprung into life thanks to these London boys.
Every track seems worthwhile, from the upbeat “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave” to the subdued title track “Sigh No More”. They have proven popular on the radio and seem to bridge a generation gap, making them popular with everyone.
Laura Marling also joins the boys in the ‘New Folk’ scene but her more traditional sound may hold her back from more commercial success, despite her impressive voice. Corrinne Bailey Rae also has a spectacular voice and winning the Mercury Prize would give her the recognition she deserves, but it is unlikely given the competition.
I think that Biffy Clyro deserve to win the Mercury Prize. “Only Revolutions” is filled with powerful songs that show us exactly what this band is capable of. A highly rated album by most music critics, it has made them a well known band to even those who haven’t previously heard much about them.
The complete list of those nominated this year is as follows:
Biffy Clyro “Only Revolutions”
Villagers “Becoming A Jackal”
Corinne Bailey Rae “The Sea”
Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More”
Paul Weller “Wake Up The Nation”
Wild Beasts “Two Dancers”
Kit Downes Trio “Golden”
Laura Marling “I Speak Because I Can”
Dizzee Rascal “Tongue N’ Cheek”
Foals “Total Life Forever”
I Am Kloot “Sky At Night”
The xx “xx”