The shortlist for the 2017 Mercury Prize has been announced, and the competition is tight. While there are normally three or four strong contenders per prize, this year Loyle Carner, J Hus, Glass Animals, Stormzy, Sampha and The xx are all up for the prize which celebrates the best British album of the last year. Game of Thrones infiltrator Ed Sheeran, indie favourites Blossoms, Brighton troupe The Big Moon, poet/ MC Kate Tempest, and 2012 Mercury Prize winners Alt J are also up for the award, with the obligatory ‘weird jazzy one’ nomination going to Dinosaur (we would have given it to Binker & Moses, but there you go).
After Skepta’s win with Konnichiwa last year all bets are off for 2017. Will a grime album picking up the award last year hurt Stormzy’s chances of taking home the prize or will it bolster them? Can J Hus rise from the speakers of night bus phones to claim one of the most prestigious awards in British music? Will they give it to Ed Sheeran just to watch every music journalist in the country boil over with incoherent rage? I have no idea, but I really, really hope they don’t do that last one. It’s also worth noting that only three of the nominees, The xx, The Big Moon and Kate Tempest, are women or count female members in their line-ups.
The best insight we have into who might take the prize home come September 14th is who’s on the judging panel. While Lauren Laverne will present every Mercury Prize award show until the end of time, the panel of judges changes each year. This year, the Editor in Chief of Mojo and Q Phil Alexander, Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, piano man Jamie Cullum, Ella Eyre, Guardian Music News Editor Harriet Gibsone, Lianne La Havas, The Times’ chief rock and pop critic Will Hodgkinson, MistaJam, Jessie Ware and acoustic guitar botherer Marcus Mumford are all on the panel. They’ll be joined by the head of music for BBC Radio 2 and 6, Jeff Smith and the head of music for Radio X, Mike Walsh. It’s a seriously mixed panel of music industry vets (and Marcus Mumford), so it’s all very much in play, not a Rag N Bone Man album in sight though so be thankful for that.
The Mercury Prize Award Ceremony takes place on September 14th in association with Hyundai and Apple Music.