The 12 act shortlist for the Hyundai Mercury Music Prize has been announced, featuring some expected acts, and, as always, a few surprises. Each year the shortlist acts as a barometer for the British music scene; in 2019 it seems in great health, if preoccupied by Brexit.
According to SkyBet, the current hot favourite at 2/1 is slowthai for the album Nothing Great About Britain. The Northampton rapper’s debut album was described by the NME as heralding “a unique – yet varied – voice… one that’s both urgent and completely energising,” though it also noted that the “metaphors of Broken Britain do land pretty squarely on the nose.”
Other Runners and Riders
Also firmly in the running at 7/2, and the original favourite for the award, is fellow rapper Dave for Psychodrama, celebrated by the Guardian as “the boldest album to emerge from UK hip-hop’s renaissance.”
At 4/1 is Bristol band Idles for Joy as an Act of Resistance, with Fountaines D.C. at 15/2 for Dogrel.
Though these acts were widely predicted to feature in the shortlist, as always the Mercury Prize committee has selected a few less well known finalists. For instance, few would have expected Driftglass by London jazz collective SEED Ensemble to make the cut. Though albums from less popular genres like jazz or folk are often included as candidates, they rarely win the top prize. SkyBet has Driftglass a longshot at 20/1.