The Vaccines’ Justin Young: ‘Mercury Prize looks like a list that’s compiled by old people’

Frontman says this year's shortlist feels "out of touch" with current music scene

Justin Young of The Vaccines has criticised the Mercury Prize as only appealing to the “cafetiere drinking, Kentish Town-dwelling 6 Music listener”.

The shortlist for this year’s prize was announced earlier today (October 16) with albums by Jamie xx, Florence + The Machine, Slaves, Wolf Alice (pictured below) and Aphex Twin among those nominated. Though eligible, The Vaccines’ 2015 album ‘English Graffiti’ did not make the cut.

However, Young maintains that he isn’t disappointed to miss out because his band have never found favour with the Mercury prize judges. “We’ve never been nominated so we never expect to be,” he told NME, adding: “The cafetiere drinking, Kentish Town-dwelling, Pizza East, 6 Music listener; that’s not our demographic.”

NMEArpad Horvath

Young went on to say that although he likes many of the albums nominated for this year’s prize, there are some notable snubs. “As always there are some great artists and some that are more surprising. I was surprised not to see Foals, Maccabees or Everything Everything – I think they represent a corner of British music that maybe hasn’t been [represented]. But then I’d say the same about the absence of grime.”

Looking at reasons as to why certain genres have gone unrewarded, Young continued: “I think it looks like a list that’s compiled by old people. It looks like the 12 records my dad bought this year, and I’m not saying that in a nasty way because there are records on there that I love, but there are elements of it that feel slightly out of touch”.

Pushed to name the artist and album he’d like to see win, Young plucked for fellow London act Wolf Alice. “There’s nothing on there that I didn’t think was worthy though, that’s for sure. I think it’s really nice to see Wolf Alice on there – there’s a very pure story with no pretention there and very pure music. They’re a good pick.”

Florence And The Machine and Jamie xx are bookmakers’ early favourites to win this year’s Mercury Prize.

Jamie xx’s debut solo album ‘In Colour’ is nominated for the prize, the producer’s first nomination since his band The xx won the prize in 2010. Bookmakers William Hill are offering odds of 4/1 on him collecting the prize come the ceremony in November.

Florence + The Machine, meanwhile, are nominated for their album ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ with William Hill also offering odds of 4/1 on the album picking up this year’s prize.


William Hill’s Mercury Prize 2015 odds are as follows:

Florence + The Machine – ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ (4/1)
Jamie xx – ‘In Colour’ (4/1)
Ghostpoet – ‘Shedding Skin’ (6/1)
Wolf Alice – ‘My Love Is Cool’ (6/1)
Slaves – ‘Are You Satisfied?’ (7/1)
Soak – ‘Before We Forgot How to Dream’ (7/1)
Roisin Murphy – ‘Hairless Toys’ (8/1)
Gaz Coombes – ‘Matador’ (8/1)
Aphex Twin – ‘Syro’ (10/1)
Benjamin Clementine – ‘At Least For Now’ (10/1)
C Duncan – ‘Architect’ (10/1)
Eska – ‘Eska’ (10/1)

The shortlist is chosen by an independent judging panel, which this year includes former nominees including Anna Calvi, Corinne Bailey Rae and Nick Mulvey among broadcasters, journalists and DJs.

The winner of the Mercury will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Lauren Laverne at London’s Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House on November 20.

The BBC will screen the winning ceremony again after Channel 4 broadcast the final for the previous two years.