Mercury Prize 2016 nominations have just been announced (August 4). In the past many great albums have been nominated, but missed out on winning. Some big surprises when you look back, like this… Despite being one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the 90’s, reaching number 1, Blur’s ‘Parklife’ lost out to M People’s ‘Elegant Slumming’ in 1995.
Another one that lost out to M People’s ‘Elegant Slumming’, The Prodigy’s second album ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’ went to number 1 in the albums chart when it was released in 1994. NME ranked it number 9 in the Top 50 Albums of 1994, and it was generally well reviewed. The band lost out a second time in 1997 when Roni Size/Reprazent’s ‘New Forms’ beat their album ‘The Fat Of The Land’.
Oasis’ debut ‘Definitely Maybe’ was massive when it was released in 1994. Going straight to number 1 in the charts, it became the fastest selling debut of all time in the UK and then went 7x Platinum. It was voted the best album of all time in a 2006 poll run by NME. Despite all the critical and commercial success, it lost out to Portishead’s ‘Dummy’ at the 1995 Mercury Awards.
Despite losing out to Portishead, Tricky’s trip-hop debut ‘Maxinquaye’ was hugely popular with critics on its release in 1995. Coming in at number one of NME’s 50 Album’s of the Year for 1995, it featured in greatest album of the ‘90’s lists everywhere including Rolling Stone, Melody Maker, Spin and Q.
‘Everything Must Go’ was the Manic Street Preachers’ first album since the disappearance of lyricist Richey Edwards. Both the album and single ‘A Design For Life’ reached number 2 in the charts, with the album going double platinum in the UK. It also won them the 1997 Brit Award for Best British Album. However they failed to get the Mercury Prize, losing to Pulp’s ‘Different Class’.
The Verve’s third album ‘Urban Hymns’ enjoyed huge commercial success, going platinum in 12 countries and ranking 17th best-selling album in UK chart history. Featuring hit singles ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, ‘Sonnet’ and ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ the album gained critical success everywhere and won the 1998 Best British Album at the Brit Awards. It also lost out to Gomez at the 1998 Mercury Awards.
Coldplay’s debut album ‘Parachutes’ went 8x platinum in 2000, and was awarded 9/10 by NME, who branded it ‘an incredible debut album’. It won the Best British Album at the Brits alongside the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, but wasn’t as lucky at the Mercury Awards, losing to Badly Drawn Boy’s ‘The Hour Of Bewilderbeast’.
Roots Manuva’s second album ‘Run Come Save Me’ was awarded 8/10 by NME in 2001, and we described the South London rapper’s album as ‘dark and spacious…evocative of that thrilling, if troubled part of the UK’. He lost to the other half of the capital, with North London’s Ms. Dynamite scooping the award for ‘A Little Deeper’.
The Streets’ debut album ‘Original Pirate Material’ was placed at number 9 in NME’s list of the 100 Best Albums of the Decade, while the Observer Music Monthly branded it the best album of the 00’s. However, Mike Skinner also lost out to Ms Dynamite, and missed out a second time with their 2004 album ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’.
‘Back To Black’ picked up several accolades when it was released in 2007, including the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album, while single ‘Rehab’ picked up Record of the Year and Song of the Year alongside the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song. Amy Winehouse, who’d previously been nominated in 2004 for ‘Frank’, lost out again in 2007 to Klaxons’ ‘Myths Of The Near Future’.
Although only gaining a 5/10 from the NME, Adele’s debut album ’19’ was largely popular elsewhere, getting 5/5 from The Observer and debuting at number 1 in the charts. It won her four Grammy nominations in 2008 for Best New Artist, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Female Vocal Performance. She missed out on the Mercury in 2008 to Elbow.
Radiohead are tied with PJ Harvey as being nominated the most times for the Mercury Prize. Unlike Harvey, they’ve never won, with ‘OK Computer’ losing to Roni Size/Reprazent in 1997, ‘Amnesiac’ to Harvey in 2001 and ‘Hail To The Thief’ to Dizzee Rascal in 2003. Their fourth nomination for ‘In Rainbows’ in 2008 was held highly in critic’s views, but lost to Elbow.
Laura Marling’s second album ‘I Speak Because I Can’ was hugely successful with critics, gaining being given 5/5 from both the Guardian and the Times. NME gave it a 8/10, describing it as a ‘stunning performance’. Marling’s first album, ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ was beaten to the Mercury Prize by Elbow in 2008, and she lost out again in 2010 to The xx.
PJ Harvey’s breakthrough album ‘To Bring You My Love’ received critical acclaim worldwide in 1995, appearing in Top Ten Album of the Year lists in magazines including NME and Melody Maker. She was previously nominated for the award in 1993 for her album ‘Rid Of Me’, but lost to Suede’s debut. She was unlucky again in ’95 but went on to become the only artist to win the prize twice.
Yet another album beaten by M People, Pulp’s breakthrough album ‘His ‘N’ Hers’ was well received. NME’s Simon Williams’ described it as ‘implausibly fresh and indecently frenzied’, giving it an 8/10. The band were luckier next time around, winning the prize in 1996 for ‘Different Class’.