Every year, a cabal of UK music-business types gets together to figure out which album gets the Mercury Prize. The Prize, probably the most prestigious award of its kind, recognizes what it considers to be the best album of the year by a British or Irish act. The award has been around since 1992, and it has saluted some giants of UK music, including Primal Scream, Suede, Pulp, Portishead, Dizzee Rascal, Franz Ferdinand, the xx, James Blake, and Skepta. PJ Harvey has won it twice; Radiohead have won it zero times. And the Prize committee is notorious for going in unexpected directions, giving it to virtual unknowns when bigger, more acclaimed albums were in contention.
The Prize organizers just announced this year’s list of 12 nominees, and the biggest of those album is Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, the divisive space-lounge concept album from the Arctic Monkeys. (Arctic Monkeys previously won for their 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. They’re the only nominated act that’s already won a Prize.) They’re up against people like King Krule, Wolf Alice, Jorga Smith, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Florence + The Machine, Lily Allen, and Richard Russell’s Everything Is Recorded project — which heavily features Sampha, last year’s winner.
The BBC reports that the Arctic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher, and Florence + The Machine are all getting the best odds in the betting. People really bet on this! They’re all 4-1 favorites. Personally, knowing how unpredictable this thing can be, I’d lean toward King Krule. Here’s the complete list of nominees:
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Everything Is Recorded – Everything Is Recorded
Florence + The Machine – High As Hope
Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
King Krule – The Ooz
Lily Allen – No Shame
Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Novelist – Novelist Guy
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Lizard
Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life
The winner will be announced at a televised 9/20 ceremony at Hammersmith Apollo in London.