The shortlist for the U.K.’s prestigious Mercury Prize have been announced, and includes such recent Variety favorites as indie singer-songwriter Arlo Parks (pictured above), alt-R&B outfit Sault, R&B singer Celeste and rock savants Wolf Alice, as well as instrumental vets Mogwai, rapper Ghetts and more. The full list appears below.
The award, sponsored by Hyundai, recognizes albums outside of the mainstream, and this year’s lineup certainly fits that bill, with 10 of the 12 artists — also including electronic artist Hannah Peel, jazz saxophonist Nubya Garcia and rapper Berwyn— being nominated for the first time.
The full list of nominees is:
Arlo Parks “Collapsed in Sunbeams”
Black Country, New Road “For the First Time”
Celeste “Not Your Muse”
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra “Promises”
Ghetts “Conflict of Interest”
Hannah Peel “Fir Wave”
Laura Mvula “Pink Noise”
Mogwai “As the Love Continues”
Nubya Garcia “Source”
Sault “Untitled (Rise)”
Wolf Alice “Blue Weekend”
The 2021 Awards Show will take place on Thursday 9 September at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. The event will feature live performances from many of the shortlisted artists and the evening will culminate in the announcement of the overall winner of the 2021 Hyun-dai Mercury Prize for “Album of the Year.” The Prize’s broadcast partner, BBC Music, will be providing coverage of the event across BBC TV, radio, online & social media.
Last year’s winner was Michael Kiwanuka for his self-titled album; fellow nominees included Dua Lipa, Charli XCX, Laura Marling, Stormzy and others. Past winners over the years include Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica” (1992), Portishead’s “Dummy” (1995), Dizzee Rascal’s “Boy in Da Corner” (2003), the debut albums from Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys (2004 and 2006, respectively), James Blake’s “Overgrown” (2013) and Sampha’s “Process” (2017). PJ Harvey is the only artist to have won twice, in 2001 and 2011.
According to the announcement, the Hyundai Mercury Prize Albums of the Year “celebrate and promote the best of British & Irish music, recognising artistic achievement across a range of contemporary music genres. The shortlist was chosen by an independent judging panel and was revealed at a launch event, hosted by BBC Music’s Huw Stephens on 22 July 2021.
The 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize judges are: Anna Calvi – Musician & Songwriter; Annie Mac – Broadcaster & DJ; Danielle Perry – Broadcaster & Writer; Gemma Cairney – Broadcaster & DJ; Hazel Wilde (from Lanterns on the Lake) – Musician & Songwriter; Jamie Cullum – Musician & Broadcaster; Jeff Smith – Head of Music, 6 Music & Radio 2; Michael Kiwanuka – Musician & Songwriter; Mike Walsh – Music Consultant; Phil Alexander – Creative Director, Kerrang!/Contributing Editor, Mojo; Tshepo Mokoena – Editorial Director, VICE.com; Will Hodgkinson – Chief Rock & Pop Critic, The Times. The Chair of the judging panel is Jeff Smith.
The judges said “It is testament to the strength of British music that, during a year which saw musicians face the toughest challenges of their lives, so many remarkable albums came out nonetheless. There was an embarrassment of riches for this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize judges to choose from, but the final twelve show how diverse, vibrant and far-reaching British music continues to be. Choosing one winner out of twelve albums that bring so much hope for the future will be a challenge indeed.”