The Mercury Prize logo
|Awarded for||Best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland|
|First awarded||1992(as Mercury Music Prize)|
The Mercury Prize, formerly called the Mercury Music Prize, is an annual music prize awarded for the best album released in the United Kingdom by a British or Irish act.It was established by the British Phonographic Industry and British Association of Record Dealers in 1992 as an alternative to the Brit Awards. The prize was originally sponsored by Mercury Communications, a brand owned by Cable & Wireless, from which the prize gets its name. It was later sponsored by Technics (1998 to 2001), Panasonic (2002 and 2003), Nationwide Building Society (2004 to 2008) and Barclaycard (2009–14). The 2015 prize was sponsored by the BBC, while in 2016 it was announced that a three-year deal had been struck with Hyundai to sponsor the event.
The BPI Limited, commonly known as the British Phonographic Industry or BPI, is the British recorded music industry's trade association.
The BRIT Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual popular music awards. The name was originally a shortened form of "British", "Britain", or "Britannia", but subsequently became a backronym for British Record Industry Trusts Show. In addition, an equivalent awards ceremony for classical music, called the Classic BRIT Awards, is held in the month of May. Robbie Williams holds the record for the most BRIT Awards, 13 as a solo artist and another five as part of Take That.
Mercury Communications was a national telephone company in the United Kingdom, formed in 1981 as a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless, to challenge the then-monopoly of British Telecom (BT). Mercury was the first competitor to BT, and although it proved only moderately successful at challenging their dominance, it was to set the path for new communication companies to attempt the same.
Any album released by a British or Irish artist, or by a band where over 50% of the members are British or Irish, may be submitted for consideration by their record label. The shortlist is chosen by an independent panel of musicians, music presenters, music producers, music journalists, festival organisers and other figures in the music industry in the UK and Ireland.The prize is open to all types of music, including pop, rock, folk, urban, grime, dance, jazz, blues, electronica and classical. Presentation of the awards usually takes place at an Awards Show in October, after the shortlist is announced at the Album of the Year Launch in September. It is often observed that bands whose albums are shortlisted, or win the prize, experience a large increase in album sales, particularly for lesser known acts. Each shortlisted artist receives a specially commissioned 'Albums of the Year' trophy at the Awards Show. Unlike some other music awards, the overall winner of the Mercury Prize also receives a cheque; in 2017, the prize money was £25,000. The winner also receives an additional winner's trophy.
To date, PJ Harvey is the only artist to have won the award on more than one occasion (in 2001 and 2011). She was also the first female solo artist to receive the award. Alex Turner has received five nominations as a member of Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets, winning once. Thom Yorke has 6 nominations, 5 with Radiohead and one for The Eraser , but has never won.
Polly Jean Harvey is an English musician, singer-songwriter, writer, poet and composer. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments.
Alexander David Turner is an English singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer. He is best known as the frontman and principal songwriter of the rock band Arctic Monkeys, with whom he has released six albums. He has also recorded with his side project The Last Shadow Puppets and as a solo artist.
Arctic Monkeys are an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 2002. The group consists of Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Nick O'Malley. Former band member Andy Nicholson left the band in 2006 shortly after their debut album was released.
The Mercury Prize can have a considerable effect on sales for those artists who are shortlisted. Elbow saw a 700% sales increase of their album The Seldom Seen Kid after winning the Prize in 2008.In their winner's speech, Elbow's frontman Guy Garvey said that winning the Mercury Prize was 'Quite literally the best thing that has ever happened to us'. Similarly, sales of The xx's winning album rose by 450% the day after they won the 2010 Mercury Prize and 2013 winner James Blake saw a 2,500% sales increase on Amazon after he was announced as the winner of the 2013 Mercury Prize. 2011 winner PJ Harvey's album Let England Shake jumped from number 181 to 24 in the UK official charts the week after the 2011 Awards Show.
Despite being regarded by many as highly prestigious, it has been suggested that having an album nominated for or winning the Mercury Prize could be a curse on a career in music.
In 2001, the band Gorillaz requested that their eponymous debut album be withdrawn from the shortlist, with cartoon bassist Murdoc Niccals saying that winning the award would be "like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity".
Gorillaz are a British virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. The band primarily consists of four animated members: Stuart "2-D" Pot, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs. Their fictional universe is explored through music videos, interviews, and other short cartoons. In reality, Albarn is the only permanent musical contributor, and often collaborates with other musicians.
Gorillaz is the eponymous debut studio album by virtual band Gorillaz. It was released on 26 March 2001 in the United Kingdom by Parlophone and in the United States by Virgin Records. The album reached number three in the UK and number fourteen in the US, and has sold over seven million copies worldwide. The album's success earned the group an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Successful Virtual Band", and spawned the singles "Clint Eastwood", "19-2000", "Rock the House", and "Tomorrow Comes Today".
Murdoc Faust Niccals is the fictional bassist for the virtual band Gorillaz. He is voiced by Phil Cornwell, and was created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett.
All genres of music are eligible for entry, and it is stated that all are treated equally, with only the music on the album being taken into account.Simon Frith, chair of the Mercury Prize judging panel, has said that albums are chosen because they are the "strongest" each year, rather than according to genre. However, the presence of classical, folk and jazz recordings has been cited by some as anomalous, arguing that comparisons with the other nominees can be invidious. Classical acts to have an album nominated have included Sir John Tavener, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Gavin Bryars and Nicholas Maw. None has ever won, and there has not been a shortlisted classical album since 2002.
The Mercury Prize also has a reputation for being awarded to outside chances rather than the favourites.The 1994 award winner was Elegant Slumming by the pop act M People, which some felt was a controversial decision considering the shortlist included popular albums from Britpop figureheads Paul Weller, Blur and Pulp, and electronica band The Prodigy.
Other music journalists critical of the awards stated that the 2005 award should not have been given to Antony and the Johnsons for their album I Am a Bird Now as, although they are British-born and therefore eligible for the Prize, the band were based in the United States.In 2006, Isobel Campbell's collaboration with Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas , was included in the shortlist, despite Lanegan being American, as the album was eligible due to Campbell's British citizenship, while Guillemots, whose album was also shortlisted in 2006, contained band members from Brazil and Canada, although the majority were from the UK.
Current eligibility criteria state that all albums must be available to buy as a digital release in the UK.In September 2013, My Bloody Valentine vocalist and guitarist Kevin Shields expressed concerns about the award in an interview with The Guardian , accusing the Mercury Prize's organisers of "banning" the band's self-released album, m b v , from the shortlist nominations and addressing the nomination criteria, which he claimed branded the album "virtually illegal".
It has also been noted that heavy metal has been overlooked by the prize. A 2013 article by Vice on the Mercury Prize said "Metal certainly never gets a look-in, not even on the official entry information form: 'The Prize is open to all types of music, including pop, rock, folk, urban, dance, jazz, blues, electronica, classical…'"The only metal record that has ever been nominated for the Mercury Prize is Troublegum by Therapy? in 1994. In 2011, Mercury chair of judges Simon Frith said "[Metal] is a niche that a lot of people don't listen to."
|Primal Scream – Screamadelica|
|Suede – Suede|
|M People – Elegant Slumming|
|Portishead – Dummy|
|Pulp – Different Class|
|Roni Size & Reprazent – New Forms|
|Gomez – Bring It On|
|Talvin Singh – Ok|
|Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast|
|PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea|
|Ms. Dynamite – A Little Deeper|
|Dizzee Rascal – Boy in da Corner|
|Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand|
|Antony and the Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now|
|Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not|
|Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future|
|Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid|
|Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy|
|The xx – xx|
|PJ Harvey – Let England Shake|
|alt-J – An Awesome Wave|| |
|James Blake – Overgrown|| |
|Young Fathers – Dead|
|Benjamin Clementine – At Least for Now|
|Skepta – Konnichiwa|
|Sampha – Process|
|Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life|
Totals listed are for bands or artists nominated more than once under the same name. It does not include appearances on compilations (e.g. Artists for War Child) or individuals nominated separately as a soloist and group member (e.g. Robbie Williams for his Life thru a Lens and Take That's Everything Changes ).
Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea is the fifth studio album by English alternative rock musician PJ Harvey, released on 23 October 2000 by Island Records. Recorded during March to April 2000, it contains themes of love that are tied into Harvey's affection for New York City.
Elbow are an English rock band formed in Bury in 1997. The band consists of Guy Garvey, Craig Potter, Mark Potter and Pete Turner. They have played together since 1990, adopting the name Elbow in 1997.
The Popjustice £20 Music Prize, also known as the Popjustice Twenty Quid Prize, is an annual prize awarded by music website Popjustice to recognise the best British pop single of the previous year. The prize was conceived by Popjustice founder Peter Robinson in 2003 as a reaction to what he perceived as the pompous and elitist nature of the existing Mercury Prize, which recognises the best album of the previous year, and in particular its exclusion of pop music acts in favour of those from more esoteric genres. The shortlist for the Popjustice prize is announced in September of each year and the winner named the following month, to coincide with the presentation of the Mercury Prize. Popjustice gives a token prize of £20 to the winner of its award, in contrast to the £20,000 given to the winner of the Mercury Prize.
Ali Smith CBE FRSL is a Scottish author, playwright, academic and journalist. Sebastian Barry described her in 2016 as "Scotland's Nobel laureate-in-waiting".
The Polaris Music Prize is a music award annually given to the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label. The award was established in 2006 with a $20,000 cash prize; the prize was increased to $30,000 for the 2011 award. In May 2015, the Polaris Music Prize was increased to $50,000, an additional $20,000, sponsored by Slaight Music. Additionally, second place prizes for the nine other acts on the Short List increased from $2,000 to $3,000. Polaris officials also announced The Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize, an award that "will annually honour five albums from the five decades before Polaris launched in 2006." Details about the selection process for this prize are still to be revealed.
The Australian Music Prize is an annual award of $30,000 given to an Australian band or solo artist in recognition of the merit of an album released during the year of award. The award made by Australian Music Prize Ltd, a sole-purpose entity sponsored by a variety of music industry figures and record companies. The AMP was established in 2005.
The Choice Music Prize or "RTÉ Choice Music Prize" is an annual music prize awarded to the best album from a band or solo musician who resides in the Republic of Ireland and/or Northern Ireland.
The discography of PJ Harvey, an English alternative rock musician, consists of nine studio albums, two collaboration albums with John Parish, twenty-two singles, one extended play, three compilation albums and a number of collaborations with other artists.
The Seldom Seen Kid is the fourth studio album by English rock band Elbow. It was released by Fiction Records on 17 March 2008 in the United Kingdom and was released by Geffen Records on 22 April 2008 in the United States. The album debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart and won the Mercury Prize in 2008.
The Atlantis Music Prize is a music award annually given to the best full-length album from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, based only on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales or record label. The award, established in 2008 by St. John's-based alternative newspaper The Scope, includes a certificate prize of $1000. The award is modeled after the Polaris Music Prize for all of Canada.
Villagers are an Irish indie folk band from Dublin, formed in 2008. As well as songwriter and vocalist/guitarist Conor O'Brien, the band currently consists of Danny Snow, Cormac Curran (keyboards), Gwion Llewelyn and Mali Llywelyn (harp).
Let England Shake is the eighth studio album by English singer-songwriter and musician PJ Harvey, released on 14 February 2011 by Island Records. Production began around the time of White Chalk's release in 2007, though it is a departure from the piano-driven introspection of that album. Let England Shake was written over a two-and-a-half year period, and recorded in five weeks at a church in Dorset during April and May 2010.
Obaro Ejimiwe is a British vocalist and musician better known by his stage name Ghostpoet. His first album, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, was shortlisted for the 2011 Mercury Prize. His 2015 album, Shedding Skin was also nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Ghostpoet's fourth album Dark Days + Canapés was released on 18 August 2017.
Wolf Alice are a British four-piece alternative rock band from north London, England, formed initially as an acoustic duo in 2010. Its members since 2012 are Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis (bass) and Joel Amey.
This is a summary of 2011 in music in the United Kingdom.
Mancunian band Elbow, who won in 2008, enjoyed a 700% rise in sales of their album The Seldom Seen Kid in the week following their Mercury victory
And their win tonight could bring a huge boost in sales, just like it did for the 2008 winner's Elbow, who saw their album sales increase by 700% that year.
"This is quite literally the best thing that's ever happened to us," singer Guy Garvey told the ceremony in London.
Elbow claimed that their Nationwide Mercury Prize victory is "the best thing that's ever happened to us" during their acceptance speech tonight
It was a similar tale for the XX after their 2010 win. Sales of their debut album soared 450% the day after they won, according to figures from music retailer HMV
Their debut album, which had sold 125,000 copies prior to winning the prize, has experienced a jump in sales of almost 450% since Tuesday's award ceremony.
After winning the 2013 prize, James Blake saw sales of his album Overgrown jump more than 2,500% on Amazon.
Finally, the double Mercury Award winning PJ Harvey sees Let England Shake, last week's prize winner, jump a phenomenal 151 places from last week 181 to this week's 24.
...the Mercury Prize has acquired a well-established reputation for destroying its winners' futures...
.Simon Frith, the head of the judges, yesterday rejected the age-old complaint that the Mercury shortlist featured "token" jazz, folk, classical and soul acts who do not stand a chance. "We are not tokenist, we chose the albums that are strongest,"
...Britain's most prestigious music prize...