The 2016 Mercury Prize shortlist has been announced, and artists as diverse as grime veteran Kano and experimental sax-and-electronics act Comet Is Coming are in the running. Since it was established in 1992, only one artist has won ‘Album of the Year’ more than once (PJ Harvey in 2001 and 2011). And sometimes the judging panel got the decision very, very wrong. Let’s look back at every Mercury winner, and what NME had to say about their prize-worthy album. Includes: the good, the bad, the average and the irrelevant.
What we said: "‘Screamadelica’ is one of this era’s most beautiful, far reaching pieces of musical adventure."
What we said: "Suede are part of that long and cherished tradition whereby our put-upon outsiders can bluff their way out of nine-to-five drudgery by hitching a bit of artifice to whatever talent lurks in their genes."
What we said: We didn't review this one, but here's what we said in 2010 about M People winning the Mercury Prize: "M People taking the £20,000 home at the end of the night was a huge surprise, and not a good one!"
What we said: "These are avant garde ambient moonscapes of a ferociously experimental nature. In other words, seriously spooky shit."
What we said: "Remember that "sordid underbelly of American small-town life" everyone used to talk about when Twin Peaks was all the rage? This is Jarvis Cocker and Pulp luxuriating in the British equivalent."
What we said: "Here, the sultry vocals of Bahamadia don't so much drip sensuality as liquidise into a pool of potent pheromones."
What we said: "In here there's no pain, no humour, no wisdom, and no joy in anything apart from wanking endlessly on at your electric guitar."
What we said: Nothing. 'OK' was a 10-1 outsider when it won the Mercury Prize. Consequently, it didn't get the NME treatment.
What we said: "If this debut represents a venting of the creative bowels as well as the first coherent testimony of an authentic new voice it suggests that whatever Badly Drawn Boy does next will embrace greatness full-on."
What we said: "You could quibble Harvey has absolved her responsibilities by making an album earthed in the New York sound of 20 or 30 years ago. But when rock is so invigorating, so joyous about love, sex and living, all arguments are null and void."
What we said: "Naomi Daley is going to be a star, but she may have to weather a lot of garage heads claiming 'sell out' along the way. She'd do well to listen to them, because this is a damp squib of a debut."
What we said: "You never heard hip-hop sound this brutal, this alien, this foreign. No, scratch that. This English."
What we said: "Despite what Franz Ferdinand say, this is an album as much about preening and posing as passion, that’ll have you poring over the lyrics for an age."
What we said: "Haunted by eeriness, honesty and soul, its finest moments come from Antony's brilliant voice (vibrato? Multi-octave? Falsetto?) which outshines every one of his celebrity contributors."
What we said: "Forget the flowery fantasies conjured up by Dickensian Doherty – these are tales of the scum-ridden streets as they are in 2006, not 1906."
What we said: "When new rave’s legacy has become little more than a serotonin drought in the brains of its disciples, ‘Myths Of The Near Future’ will remain one of the most dynamic, intense and totally lunatic pop records of the early 21st century."
What we said: "‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ is a stunning record, a career-best from a band whose consistency has seldom been matched by any British indie band this decade."
What we said: "'I’ve got a half cup of hope and I sip it slow', rhymes south London saviour Speech Debelle plaintively on ‘Better Days’, a slow-burning, Micachu-featuring slice of portentous pop that’s both unsettlingly gloomy and joyously uplifting."
What we said: "All these songs seem in the first flush of love, agonisingly obsessed, talking of waiting outside doors and wanting to drown."
What we said: "‘Let England Shake’ is a record that ventures deep into the heart of darkness of war itself and its resonance throughout England’s past, present and future."
What we said: "On the surface, this is smart alt-pop, but Alt-J have messed with the formula just enough to make this a brilliantly disquieting debut."
What we said: "‘Overgrown’ is so intimate you’ll feel every inch of that loneliness – a man isolated in a weird, wintry world with only the minimalist chill of his new album’s bleeps, beats and wounded wails for company."
What we said: "‘Get Up’ and ‘No Way’ echo the artful experimentation of South African producer/rapper Spoek Mathambo, and there’s something of the demonic righteousness of Shabazz Palaces about ‘Hangman’ and ‘Mmmh Mmmh’. Yet somehow they’ve retained their pop nous, making for an album that’s unique, but maddeningly all over the place."
What we said: "Like an improving book, this is an album that you sometimes have to force yourself to persevere with. And at its heart, there are universal themes of love and dreams, things that everyone can identify with, not a baroque flight of fantasy."