For many people, the Mercury Prize is the most exciting and interesting award for British and Irish music and art. It digs deeper beneath the surface than most other awards, focusing primarily on the music. This award exposes music from all genres to wider audiences, sparking debates and discussions, and giving the real musicians and producers who made the music all the credit and recognition they deserve. Winners of the Mercury Prize often go on to make their stamp on music history (if they haven't done already), with examples being Primal Scream, The Arctic Monkeys and Elbow. We take a look at this year's shortlist and explain why they are all worthy winners of the Mercury Prize.
The first nomination for the Mercury Prize's most notorious award 'Album Of The Year' is Anohni's 'Hopelessness'. This album is a dance anthem which is focused on protest and educating people on the harsh realities of real life which we don't see. With Pitchfork explaining the album as "dealing in the atrocity of post-9/11 America" as well as giving the album a 9.0 rating, 'Hopelessness' is definitely a strong contender to earn Anohni's first Mercury Prize.
Bat For Lashes
As the album title might suggest, Bat For Lashes' fourth studio album is about 'The Bride'. However, not a love album that most would expect. Natasha Khan, AKA Bat For Lashes has written an album about a Bride who is getting to terms with the tragic loss of her Groom who died in a crash on the way to their wedding. This deep and touching album makes us feel the grief of the Bride, as well as her reflection on life. NME have rated 'The Bride' a 4/5 and is certainly a worthy winner of this year's 'Album Of The Year'.
A genius who needs no introduction. David Bowie's 25th studio album 'Blackstar' was his way of saying goodbye to the world, leaving us with this gift from him to us. When Blackstar was released on January 8th earlier this year, little did we know the album was explaining to the world that he has been ill and he had not long left. His eerie music videos and haunting lyrics became so clear when he was sadly taken away from us on January 10th. For a man who gave the world so much and changed the way music was created since first appearing in 1967, the Mercury Prize would be a fantastic tribute to one of the most iconic figures in British music.
Jamie Woon's second studio album 'Making Time' is a true reflection of how good an artist he actually is. However, with his "late night soul" music becoming increasingly popular, 'Making Time' has hit the heights many thought Woon should achieve, therefore earning himself a spot on the shortlist for Mercury's 'Album Of The Year'.
Made in the Manor
Grime has boomed in the UK in recent years and many are dubbing Kano's 'Made in the Manor' the first classic album of grime revival. The raw energy of the album is evidence of Kano's passion for grime music. Listen for the subtle nods of approval to his fellow Grime MCs, including Tempa T and Lethal Bizzle, throughout the release. Grime is one of the many exciting new genres in British music at the moment, and a Mercury Award winning grime album would definitely prove to everyone the genre is not just a flash-in-the-pan.
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The Dreaming Room
Laura Mvula's second album 'The Dreaming Room' has earned her a second Mercury Prize nomination. The soulful church-singer songwriter rarely fails to write music with twists and surprises. The strings and other rhythm instruments in some of the songs on this album are angelic, clearly under the influence from her church-singing days, but the beats are as modern and punchy as any produced today, especially in "People" which features UK grime rapper Wretch 32. If her first album missed out in 2013, 'The Dreaming Room' could well be the album which snags the prize.
Love and Hate
Michael Kiwanuka's second album 'Love and Hate' is a modern day masterpiece in the world of soul music. This album tackles the sensitive subjects of racial identity and modern-day religion. "A lot of this album was grappling with the insecurities that I'd learned... I've accepted that it comes and goes, and now I'm left with myself" is what Michael had to say about 'Love and Hate'. NME rated his work a strong 4/5, and his opening song 'Cold Little Heart' alone could be worthy of the award. A must listen album.
One of the most iconic bands in British rock history, Radiohead are back with a brand new album 'A Moon Shaped Pool'. Going in a completely different direction from what the band and their fans are used to, the new-look, new-feel Radiohead haven't disappointed with their latest album. Despite sounding like a completely new band, Thom Yorke is still writing songs which people can relate to. That is one of the many things which is so appreciated about this album. No matter how much the band have changed, their fans can still enjoy and relate to their music. Something which the Mercury Prize is all about.
Savages are a hard-hitting post punk band from London. Their second album 'Adore Life' has been nominated for this year's 'Album Of The Year' and it's easy to see why once you hear the fast distorted guitar, the loose yet frantic drums, and the waily vocals of Jehnny Beth in the opening song 'The Answer'. The rest of the album is as energetic and moody as the opener, making it worthy of a nomination for the Mercury Prize.
Another grime artist in the running, Skepta is up for the award this year, which proves that this genre should be taken seriously. His growly political vocals are typical of grime as they speak to his fans like a natural-born leader speaks to their followers. The Mercury Prize for Skepta's 'Konnichiwa' would be as deserved as any other nominations.
I Love It When You Sleep, for You're So Beautiful yet So Unaware Of It
After bursting onto the scene in 2013 with their self-titled album, The 1975 are back 3 years later with a second album to match the first. The album title may be a mouthful to say, but it's certainly easy to listen to. 'Love Me', the first single they released off the album, pays a massive tribute to 70s/80s disco which is one of their many influences. Hailing from Cheshire, Matt Healy has become one the world's most identifiable pop-stars, and his image, combined with the band's distinctive sound, has earned them a nomination for the Mercury Prize.
Certainly one of the most dynamic on the list. The Comet Is Coming have released their debut album 'Chanel the Spirits' and earned themselves a nomination for the prize. The three piece band are very difficult to label under one category. Their punchy rhythms and synth basslines would captivate any dance music fans, but the jazz trumpets and jazz chords used as the accompaniment would capture the imagination of more than the average jazz music fan. The Comet Is Coming may not be the most well known name on the list, but their debut album is as worthy as others to take the Mercury Prize.