The Mercury Prize 2018 shortlist: “blah, boring and obvious”

Included in this year’s disappointingly mainstream Mercury shortlist are Florence + The Machine, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys and Everything Everything

Article by Jamie Dunn | 26 Jul 2018

This morning the nominees for this year’s Mercury Prize has been announced and, as ever for this award celebrating writing achievement across genres, it’s an eclectic bag.

The dozen bands fighting it out for the annual award include Florence + The Machine for High as Hope, Everything Everything for A Fever Dream and Wolf Alice for Visions of a Life.

Arctic Monkeys received their fourth nomination (only Radiohead have more) for sixth album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, while Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds get a nod for Who Built the Moon?

Novelist, Sons of Kemet and Jorja Smith get nominations for their debuts (Novelist Guy, Your Queen is a Reptile and Lost and Found, respectively), while other first time nominees are King Krule (for The Ooz), Nadine Shah (for Holiday Destination) and Lily Allen (for No Shame). The extremely London-centric list includes no artists based in Scotland.

The nominee shortlist has disappointed several members of The Skinny’s team, not least our Music editor Tallah Brash. “While last year’s list infuriatingly featured Ed Sheeran, this year’s list, infuriatingly, is a bit blah, boring and obvious,” she commented. “While I agree that Wolf Alice, Jorja Smith, Nadine Shah and King Krule should be on there, it sadly doesn’t feature any of The Skinny’s big hitting albums of the year so far. Where are Young Fathers, Hookworms, Gwenno, Dream Wife or Jon Hopkins?

“Maybe the problem lies with who’s been chosen to be on the Mercury judging panel, which includes Marcus Mumford, Jamie Cullum, Ella Eyre and MistaJam.

“Established as an alternative to the Brit Awards in 1992, maybe if the panel were a little less mainstream, the shortlist result would be a little more interesting and representative of what’s actually happening in the UK music scene."

According to bookmakers, Florence + The Machine, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Arctic Monkeys are currently favourites to pick up the prize at 4/1 each. The longshots are Shah, Novelist and Sons of Kemet at 10/1. The winner will be announced on 20 September at a ceremony at London’s Hammersmith Apollo.

The full list of nominees are below:

Arctic Monkeys (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino)
Everything Everything (A Fever Dream)
Everything is Recorded (Everything is Recorded)
Florence + The Machine (High as Hope)
Jorja Smith (Lost & Found)
King Krule (The Ooz)
Lily Allen (No Shame)
Nadine Shah (Holiday Destination)
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Who Built the Moon?)
Novelist (Novelist Guy)
Sons of Kemet (Your Queen is a Reptile)
Wolf Alice (Visions of a Life)