The nominees are announced on July 27
Which album will follow in the footsteps of Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’? We’ll be one step closer to finding out on July 27, when the Mercury Prize’s shortlist of 12 ‘Albums of the Year’ is announced.
The eventual winner is chosen during a glitzy ceremony at London’s Eventim Apollo on September 14. This year’s judges include Marcus Mumford, Jessie Ware, Lianne La Havas and Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo.
Eligible albums need to have been released between July 30 2016 and July 21 2017, meaning there’s still time for a couple of plucky late entries to make a last-ditch bid. But the majority of would-be Mercury nominees have already come out. Here’s a comprehensive rundown of the albums in contention for this year’s prize:
Matching untouchable confidence with honest humility, this chart-topping debut has Mercury winner written all over it. Early bets will be hedged here.
Damon Albarn’s cartoon crew famously pulled out of the 2001 Mercury Prize, after being bookies’ favourites. Follow-up ‘Demon Days’ was shunned, but 2010’s ‘Plastic Beach’ made the shortlist. All is forgiven. This star-studded return deserves a nod.
A soothing early-2017 highlight, producer Simon Green’s sixth album is a twitchy, intoxicating tribute to making music on the move.
Hannah Rodgers’ first work can’t be pigeonholed. She flits from krautrock to starry-eyed pop to wondrous new wave with the flick of a switch.
No potential nominee has as much political relevance as ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’. Tempest’s concept album tells the story of strangers meeting in the middle of an apocalypse.
Released on the first second of New Year’s Day, this seamless 54-minute piece was intended to ease listeners into 2017, after a tumultuous, Trump-plastered 12 months. For that act of generosity alone, it could easily make the shortlist.
One newcomer worthy of a Mercury nod is Stratford prodigy J Hus. His debut fashions chart-ready gems from the 21-year-old’s signature, chameleon-like vocal.
For some reason, rock rarely gets a Mercury Prize mention. But the Southampton group’s debut is one of giant ambition and theatrical thrills – if anything can break the rock curse, it’s this.
Winners with 2009’s self-titled debut, the gloomy trio’s third album matches the intimate magic of their first work with Jamie xx’s heroics in the electronic world.
An outside bet, but well worth a mention. The Welsh producer’s debut is an all-consuming electronic triumph.
Released at the tailend of 2016, the wildly ambitious rapper soundtracked Christmas shopping with a concept album based around Alice in Wonderland.
A regular Mercury nominee, but never a winner – Laura Marling’s latest album could be her strongest bid yet for the prize. Poignant portrayals of femininity are told solely from a woman’s perspective, and the record also happens to contain some of her finest songs to date, like the dizzying ‘Soothing’.
Grime was the real draw of 2016’s Mercury Prize, thanks to the victorious Skepta and the legendary Kano both being nominated. Wiley is a shoe-in for 2017. His 11th studio album reclaims the throne in all-thrills fashion.
Very few family portraits come as richly-detailed as ‘Yesterday’s Gone’. Poetry, spoken word and cutting hip-hop verses all share the same space.
The Oxford four-piece’s wild second LP tells the story of 11 different characters, all with their own unique story.
A late contender – just making the July 21 cut-off point – the Camberwell MC goes back to basics on a no-prisoners return to form.
Once contained by singer-songwriter tropes, Hackman’s second record is a grunge-nodding, innuendo-filled shock to the system.
Most Mercury shortlists contain at least one full-time chart botherer. Rory Graham’s breakthrough debut could easily make the final 12.
Every Mercury Prize needs a concept album, and this hugely ambitious tale set in Bryneich, an old Anglo-Saxon kingdom, ticks all the boxes – not for the faint-hearted, mind you.
A soothing escape from the everyday, the London trio’s second record went straight in at #1 back in June.
Claiming rock’s throne as their own, this second LP takes the razor-cut thrills of the duo’s 2014 debut and multiplies the bravado.
Shunning the norm of releasing 20-plus track epics, these former Mercury winners keep it short and sweet on a weird, twisted third LP.
After years collaborating with the likes of Drake and Kanye West, Sampha’s first solo full-length is well worth the wait. Densely-packed songs are matched with intimate family portraits, like on standout ‘No One Knows Me (Like The Piano)’.
The lairy truth-spitting Nottingham duo are always worth a Mercury shout, even if this latest work slags off NME.
The shoegaze legends’ first album in 22 years reignites their cult stardom. Instead of tarnishing their legacy, it builds on it.
Rap superduo Riz Ahmed and Heems’ banger-filled debut laces identity politics with a free-spirited sense of fun.
Another grime contender, the rapper’s ultra-confident 2016 LP was released in August last year, making it eligible.
The Yorkshire newcomer’s subdued but exploratory first work reflects her experience of having synesthesia – where she sees sounds in the form of shapes and colours.
Harcourt’s ‘Here be Monsters’ debut was nominated for a Mercury in 2001, but he’s been short of glitzy prizes ever since. ‘Furnaces’ could change this.