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The Hyundai Mercury Prize 2019 judges on the albums that soundtracked their lives

These are the people picking this year's winner

This week, one of UK music’s most coveted awards will be given at the Hyundai Mercury Prize 2019. To get a feel for the judge’s listening habits, they’ve revealed the music and albums that have shaped them exclusively to NME.

On Thursday, Anna Calvi, black midi, Cate Le Bon, Dave, Foals, Fontaines D.C., IDLES, Little Simz, NAO, SEED, Slowthai, and The 1975 will battle it out to be named UK album of the year.

Their fate lay in the hands of this year’s judges:
Annie Mac (Broadcaster and DJ)
Clara Amfo (Broadcaster and DJ)
Danielle Perry (Broadcaster and Writer)
Gaz Coombes (Musician and Songwriter)
Jamie Cullum -(Musician and Broadcaster)
Jeff Smith (Head of Music, 6 Music and Radio 2)
Jorja Smith (Musician and Songwriter)
Mike Walsh (Head of Music at Radio X)
Phil Alexander (Creative Director at Kerrang! and Contributing Editor at Mojo)
Stormzy – (Musician and Songwriter)
Tshepo Mokoena (Editorial Director at VICE.com)
Will Hodgkinson (Chief Rock and Pop Critic at The Times)

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To find out a little more about their musical tastes, they’ve shared with us the albums that soundtracked their lives – as well as their favourites of 2019 so far.

Last year’s Mercury Prize winners Wolf Alice. Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

CLARA AMFO

Your most played album
“Possibly Amy Winehouse’s ‘Frank’. I have listened to those stories countless times and won’t ever stop.”

The first album you bought
“I think it might have been The Spice Girls. I just remember getting £10 from my Dad’s workmate at Christmas and being excited to buy it.”

Your desert island disc
“At this very moment, N*E*R*D* – ‘In Search Of’…I will probably change my mind tomorrow!

Your favourite album artwork
‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill’…that face!!!

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An album you’d recommend to your friends
“Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer’. It’s such a liberating, political and playful record. It was also cruelly robbed at The Grammy’s!”

Your favourite album title
“‘Songs In The Key Of Life’, an album title that could be used any artist in any genre. Thankfully Stevie got it!”

Your favourite opening song on an album
“Back to Lauryn again, sorry, but ‘Lost Ones’ packs SUCH a punch!”

The album that reminds you of a specific time in your life
“University: Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ album reminds me of when he was in the UK doing his Hit n Run tour in the UK. I queued up for 10 hours to see him at KOKO and it was so worth it. People were playing the album out of their phones and the sense of community was really special.”

What album do you listen to after a bad day?
“Beyonce’s ‘Homecoming’, a masterclass in entertainment that always lifts my spirit. I suspect my neighbours are sick of how loud I play it”

Your album of the year so far
“I am still really enjoying the Solange record, ‘When I Get Home’. It’s not ‘A Seat At The Table’ and that is exactly why I enjoy it. It’s sonically calmer and she brought the songs to life at Lovebox this year perfectly.”

MIKE WALSH

Your most played album
“The Blue Nile – ‘Hats’”

The first album you bought
“Iron Maiden – ‘The Number of The Beast’”

Your desert island disc
“The Beatles – ‘Abbey Road’”

Your favourite album artwork
“Def Leppard – ‘Hysteria’”

An album you’d recommend to your friends
“Jeff Buckley – ‘Grace’”

Your favourite album title
“Sparklehorse – ‘Vivadixiesubmarinetransmission Plot’”

Your favourite opening song on an album
“Bruce Springsteen – ‘Thunder Road’”

The album that reminds you of a specific time in your life
“Blind Melon – ‘Blind Melon’. It reminds me of being at college in the US in 1992

What album do you listen to after a bad day?
“Metallica – ‘St Anger’”

Your album of the year so far
“Maggie Rogers – ‘Heard It In A Past Life’”

JORJA SMITH

Your most played album
“‘Frank’ by Amy Winehouse

The first album you bought
“I can’t remember, but feel it may have been Atomic Kitten.”

Your desert island disc
“‘This Is Trojan’ – various artists”

Your favourite album artwork
“Aretha Franklin – ‘Hey Now Hey'”

An album you’d recommend to your friends
“‘Early Riser’ by Taylor McFerrin”

Your favourite album title
“‘The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill”

Your favourite opening song on an album
“‘Stronger Than Me’ – Amy Winehouse or Nas – ‘The Genius'”

 The album that reminds you of a specific time in your life
“‘LP1’ by FKA Twigs reminds me of when I first moved to London.”

What album do you listen to after a bad day?
“It’s an EP but Sasha Keable – ‘MAN’”

Your album of the year so far
“‘Psychodrama’ by Dave”.

JAMIE CULLUM

Your most played album
“D’Angelo – Voodoo”

The first album you bought
“‘London 0 Hull 4’ by The Housemartins”

Your desert island disc
“‘In a Silent Way’ – Miles Davis”

Your favourite album artwork
“Frank Sinatra – ‘In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning’.”

An album you’d recommend to your friends
“Efterklang – ‘Pyramidia'”

Your favourite album title
“‘Uncle Meat’ – Frank Zappa”

Your favourite opening song on an album
‘Tangled Up In Blue’ by Bob Dylan from Blood on the tracks”

The album that reminds you of a specific time in your life
“‘Rage Against the Machine’. My teenage bedroom and my Matsui Hifi from Rumbelows!”

What album do you listen to after a bad day?
“Currently: Little Simz: ‘Grey Area'”

Your album of the year so far
“Fontaine’s D. C. – ‘Dogrel'”

DANIELLE PERRY

Your most played album
“Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue’ or Bjork ‘Vespertine'”

The first album you bought
“Michael Jackson ‘Off The Wall'”

Your desert island disc
“John Coltrane – ‘Love Supreme'”

Your favourite album artwork
“Bjork ‘Vespertine’. God, I’m so repetitive!”

An album you’d recommend to your friends
“Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ‘The Boatman’s Call’ or ‘Push The Sky Away'”

Your favourite album title
“‘Derdang Derdang’, Archie Bronson Outfit”

Your favourite opening song on an album
“Richard Hawley ‘Valentine’ from ‘Lady’s Bridge.”

The album that reminds you of a specific time in your life
“Gomez, ‘Whippin Picadilly’

Your album of the year so far
“It’s been such a good year, so hard to pick but I’ll go for The Twilight Sad – ‘It Won’t Be Like This All The Time‘.”

TSHEPO MOKOENA

Most-played album
“Of the past year, Jonny Greenwood’s original score for the film Phantom Thread. Of all time? Probably Mariah Carey – ‘Butterfly’ (I was a childhood stan).”

The first album you bought
“Da Brat – ‘Funkdafied’, on cassette.”

Your desert island disc
Ella Fitzgerald – ‘The Very Best Of The Irving Berlin Song Book’, because it would remind me of my mum.”

Your favourite album artwork
“Friendly Fires – ‘Pala’. I’ve already written about this, but I find the colour saturation beautiful.”

An album you’d recommend to your friends
“Cherry Glazerr – ‘Stuffed & Ready’, because I feel like it fell under the radar a bit (and they’re all passionate about music so catch almost everything).”

Your favourite album title
“Solange – ‘A Seat at the Table’.”

Your favourite opening song on an album
“This is impossible! These come to mind first: TLC – ‘Fanmail’, Radiohead – ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, Devin Townsend – ‘Olives’, Charlotte Gainsbourg – ‘Ring-A-Ring O’Roses’.”

The album that reminds you of a specific time in your life
“The White Stripes – ‘Elephant, and high school. I’d rinse it on repeat on my Discman (sometimes during lessons), put it on at  house parties, and play the CD through the night in my room. Must’ve been fun for my family.”

What album do you listen to after a bad day?
“Mary and the Boy – ‘Mary and the Boy’. They were a Greek duo who basically yell and warble over piano and squealing guitar. Doubles well as a post-breakup album too.”

 Your album of the year so far
“Kelsey Lu – ‘Blood‘, for the quality of her voice, the intimacy of her songwriting and her incredible knack at straddling genre (from chamber-pop to disco).”

The Mercury Music Prize takes place at London’s Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith on Thursday September 19. The ceremony will be broadcast live on BBC Four from 9pm and on BBC Radio 6 Music.

Check back at NME for all the latest news and interviews from the Hyundai Mercury Music Prize 2019.

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