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This was originally called the Mercury Music Prize and was established by the British Phonographic Industry as an alternative to the Brit Awards. The first ceremony took place in place in 1992. It's called the Mercury Prize because the first sponsors were Mercury Communications. It's now sponsored by car manufacturers Hyundai and is an annual award in the UK music industry for the best album released in the previous year.

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The prize is open to all types of music, including pop, rock, folk, urban, dance, jazz, blues, electronica and classical and is chosen by an independent panel of musicians, music executives, journalists and other figures in the British music industry..

The organisers have been criticised in the past, though, for not including enough jazz, blues and classical nominees while rock and metal bands often complain about being overlooked or handed ‘token’ nominations.

The winner takes home £20,000 as well as the potential of increased album sales and attention. Each shortlisted artist is given a specially commissioned Albums of the Year Trophy.

 

2020 Mercury Prize

The nominees for the 2020 Mercury Prize have been announced. The favourite to win the award is Michael Kiwanuka for his album 'Kiwanuka.' It's an open market though with other strong contenders being Stormyz for his 'Heavy is the Head' album and Kano for 'Hoodies All Summer.'  The winner of the award will be named on 24 September.

Below is the full list of nominees

  • Dark Matter by Moses Boyd
  • Deep Down Happy by Sports Team
  • Every Bad by Porridge Radio
  • Fibs - Anna Meredith
  • Future Nostalgia - Dua Lipa
  • Heavy is the Head - Stormyz
  • Hoodies All Summer released by Kano
  • Now I'm Feeling Now - Charli XCX
  • Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka
  • Seeking Thrills released by Georgia
  • Song for our Daughter - Laura Marling
  • Spook the Herd - Lanterns on the Lake


What can I bet on? 

As we approach September the bookies will release a list of albums thought to be up for the Mercury Prize and you can bet on the eventual winner. Once the 12 nominees have been officially realised those odds will change slightly.

Previous Mercury Prize winners

2019: Dave

2018: Wolf Alice

2017: Sampha

2016: Skepta

2015: Benjamin Clementine

2014: Young Fathers

2013: James Blake

2012: Alt.J

2011: PJ Harvey (thus becoming the first two-time winner of the prize)

2010: The XX

2009: Speech Details

2008: Elbow

2007: Klaxons

2006: Arctic Monkeys

2005: Antony and the Johnsons

2004: Franz Ferdinand

2003: Dizzy Rascal

2002: Ms Dynamite

2001: PJ Harvey

2000: Badly Drawn Boy

1999: Talvin Singh

1998: Gomez

1997: Roni Size

1996: Pulp

1994: M People

1995: Portishead

1992: Primal Scream

1993: Suede

So as you can see from the list of previous winners, this isn't an award One Direction are going to be winning any time soon. Not all the winners have gone on to establish successful careers in the music business and Damon Albarn from Gorillaz said in 2001 winning the award is "like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity." His comments were made after Gorillaz had been nominated that year and asked to be withdrawn from the shortlist. it's also not an award Radiohead are great fans of. They have been nominated eight times and never won the award. That's the record number of nominations alongside PJ Harvey, who is also the only female performer to have won the award.

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