Artist News Awards

The Mercury Prize shortlist has only gone and been announced

By | Published on Thursday 22 July 2021

Arlo Parks

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, who’s up for the Mercury? Will there be metal? Will there be jazz? Here’s what she said to me. Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera. What will be, will be.

And I said, “Mother, what the hell are you talking about? The Mercury Prize shortlist was just announced by Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 6 Music only minutes ago. What will be… is… it’s happened. Why do you always do this, mother? Oh my god. And stop singing all the time, would you. Why can’t you just give me a straight answer? You always do this!”

Thank the sweet Lord she was never appointed to the Mercury Prize judging panel or they’d never make any decisions. I’ll tell you who is on the judging panel this year, though. Anna Calvi. That’s who. Not just her, either. Danielle Perry too. And Gemma Cairney. What about Hazel Wilde from Lanterns On The Lake? Yep, she’s in there. Judging away. As is everyone’s favourite, Michael Kiwanuka.

Are we done yet? No. Top music consultant Mike Walsh is there. Phil Alexander off of Kerrang. Tshepo Mokoena from Vice. Want another? Well, here comes Will Hodgkinson from The Times. Nice guy. And then it’s all topped off by the judging panel’s Chair, Mr Jeff Smith, aka the Head Of Music at 6 Music and Radio 2.

Look at that top team! If I wanted a list of super fine albums drawn up, those are the people I’d pick. And yet I didn’t have to, which is lucky because I don’t have time to be picking judges. Who did have the time? I don’t know who. Jeff? Someone must have picked him though. Who created God? Not that I’m saying Jeff Smith is God. Or am I? No, I’m not. But he is the Chair of the Mercury Prize judging panel. And that’s what’s important here.

Anyway, I’d imagine the person who picked Jeff – at the very least – was David Wilkinson, overall Mercury Prize Chair, who says this of the whole event: “It’s been another difficult and challenging year – and we’re grateful to all the artists and labels that have supported the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize by entering their albums”.

“Many thanks also to the hardworking and dedicated judging team who have spent the last few months listening to the entries”, he goes on. “Creatively this is shaping up to be an exceptional year for British music – with so many outstanding albums released over the past year”.

But which were the most outstanding? My mother doesn’t know. But do you know who does know? That’s right, me. Do you think I was going to write all this nonsense about the Mercury Prize and then fob you off with an entirely made up list of Mercury nominees? Or maybe no list at all? Who would do that? Well, I suppose I have done both of those things in the past. More than once.

Not this year though. Because this year probably isn’t the year for such larking about. This year I’m just going to tell you who the twelve nominees are.

And so, the twelve nominees are…

Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams

Berwyn – Demotape/Vega

Black Country New Road – For The First Time

Celeste – Not Your Muse

Floating Points, Pharaoh Saunders and the London Symphony Orchestra – Promises

Ghetts – Conflict Of Interest

Hannah Peel – Fir Wave

Laura Mvula – Pink Noise

Mogwai – As The Love Continues

Nubya Garcia – Source

Sault – Untitled (Rise)

Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

You really thought I was going to give you a fake list then, didn’t you? Is that how our relationship is now? No, that is the genuine list. Those are twelve actual albums that really exist in the real world. Who will be the overall winner, though? Who will receive their prize at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on 9 Sep, lockdown four permitting? Que sera sera.

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