It’s still two months until the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize gets announced on July 19th – and longer still until the ceremony on September 6th - but in true British, impatient style, Ladbrokes have opened the betting on who they reckon will be nominated.
Leading the pack is the record-smashing Adele, whose ‘21’ is at 4/1 to win. The Mercury rarely honours the biggest seller, but whatever you think of the Tottenham warbler, her second album has been something of a phenomenon not usually associated with big supermarket sellers.
Close behind her is James Blake at 5/1. His debut wasn’t particularly warmly received by the critics, despite a string of hugely acclaimed, fairly visionary early EPs. However, the odd exception aside, the Mercury team rarely seem that arsed about critical opinion either - give us a wave, Speech Debelle!
At 10/1 it’s PJ Harvey with her eighth album, ‘Let England Shake’, which was almost universally lauded – NME’s Mike Williams gave it our first 10/10 in aeons. Polly won the prize back in 2001 for ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’ – maybe she’ll become their first ever double winner…
For the most part, there are few surprises at the names present on the list (click the names to read our original album reviews): Anna Calvi, Hurts, Radiohead, The Vaccines, Portico Quartet (the obligatory jazz nod, natch), Elbow, Glasvegas, British Sea Power, Arctic Monkeys (even though it’s not out yet) and The Streets. It’s heartening to see that Ladbrokes think Esben & The Witch, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Yuck, The Joy Formidable and Gold Panda are in with a chance too.
Whoever decided to give viable odds to Chase & Status, Jessie J, Beady Eye, Beardyman, Carl Barat and White Lies, however, seriously needs their head checking. I suggest a long spell in a dark room with one of the records I’m hoping will eventually get a nod, Alexander Tucker’s ‘Dorwytch’.
The biggest mistake the bookies made, however, is leaving Wild Beasts’ tremendous third album, ‘Smother’ off the list. Their mistake could be your gain though if you leg it to your nearest gambling establishment immediately to put a well reasoned tenner on it winning whilst the odds are still ludicrously high. Metronomy’s brilliant third album, ‘The English Riviera’, is missing in action too, as is Everything Everything’s Ivor Novello-nominated debut, ‘Man Alive’.
While Ladbrokes' list obviously isn’t a prescriptive run-down of who’s going to get nominated, it is curiously devoid of much experimental or non-guitar-based music, James Blake and Gold Panda aside. Where’s Katy B, Micachu and her Sinfonietta album, Friendly Fires’ nutso rave opus, Planningtorock, Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat, Dels, About Group, Gyratory System (now there's an avant jazz album that deserves to win), Cat’s Eyes, Gruff Rhys… I could go on.
Who are you hoping will make the Mercury shortlist?