Mercury Prize Winners: Every Artist That Has Taken Home The Prestigious Award

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.

Primal Scream – ‘Screamadelica’

What we said: “‘Screamadelica’ is one of this era’s most beautiful, far reaching pieces of musical adventure.”

Suede – ‘Suede’

Suede - 'Suede'

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.”

M People – ‘elegant slumming’

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!”


Portishead – ‘Dummy’

What we said: “These are avant garde ambient moonscapes of a ferociously experimental nature. In other words, seriously spooky shit.”

Pulp – ‘Different Class’

Pulp - 'Different Class'

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.”

Roni Size/Reprazent – ‘New Forms’

Roni Size/Reprazent - 'New Forms'

What we said: “Here, the sultry vocals of Bahamadia don’t so much drip sensuality as liquidise into a pool of potent pheromones.”

Gomez – ‘Bring It On’

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.”


Talvin Singh – ‘OK’

Talvin Singh - 'OK'

What we said: Nothing. ‘OK’ was a 10-1 outsider when it won the Mercury Prize. Consequently, it didn’t get the NME treatment.

Badly Drawn Boy – ‘The Hour Of Bewilderbeast’

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.”

PJ Harvey – ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’

PJ Harvey - 'Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea'

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.”

Ms. Dynamite – ‘A Little Deeper’

Ms. Dynamite - 'A Little Deeper'

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.”


Dizzee Rascal – ‘Boy In Da Corner’

Dizzee Rascal - 'Boy In Da Corner'

What we said: “You never heard hip-hop sound this brutal, this alien, this foreign. No, scratch that. This English.”

Franz Ferdinand – ‘Franz Ferdinand’

Franz Ferdinand - 'Franz Ferdinand'

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.”

Antony and the Johnsons – ‘I Am A Bird Now’

Antony and the Johnsons - 'I Am A Bird Now'

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.”

Arctic Monkeys – ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’

Arctic Monkeys - 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not'

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.”

Klaxons – ‘Myths Of The Near Future’

Klaxons - 'Myths Of The Near Future'

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.”

Elbow – ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’

Elbow - 'The Seldom Seen Kid'

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.”

Speech Debelle – ‘Speech Therapy’

Speech Debelle - 'Speech Therapy'

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.”

The xx – ‘The xx’

The xx - 'The xx'

What we said: “All these songs seem in the first flush of love, agonisingly obsessed, talking of waiting outside doors and wanting to drown.”

PJ Harvey – ‘Let England Shake’

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.”

Alt-J – ‘An Awesome Wave’

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.”

James Blake – ‘Overgrown’

James Blake - 'Overgrown'

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.”

Young Fathers – ‘Dead’

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.”

Benjamin Clementine – ‘At Least For Now’

Benjamin Clementine - 'At Least For Now'

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.”