Mercury Prize Shortlist 2017 – Divides Opinions

The MP17 shortlist was announced yesterday and it includes Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and The xx. However, does this leave much chance for the other top nominees such as the Blossoms, Alt-J, J Hus, Big Moon and Dinosaur, which some see as worthy winners over the well-established Mr Sheeran.

The Mercury Prize has seemingly included arguably one of the world’s biggest pop stars in Ed Sheeran this year, a man that’s sold over 2 million copies of his nominated ‘÷‘, which has some differing over his involvement in the awards.

Nevertheless, this year’s judges – including Mumford and Sons’ Marcus Mumford and pop singer Ella Eyre – have included his album along with 11 other nominees. The most notable of the 11 away from Ed would be Stormzy, the Blossoms and the awesome xx, all reaching No 1 with their nominated albums. The latter won the prize in 2010, and Jamie xx was nominated in 2015, so could they do a PJ Heavy and do a double?

Another previous winner looking for a double are the awe-inspiring Alt-J. The indie folk quotient won the prize in 2012 with their debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’, and are looking to claim a second title with ‘Relaxer’, which reached number one on iTunes chart in June. This includes the bands cleverly titled “3WW” which back in March the band teased fans with by giving it the binary title format of “00110011 01110111 01110111”.

With last year seeing grime star Skepta scoop the prize, and with 2017 being well represented by black British Musicians including MC Loyle Carner, J Hus and the bookies favorite, Sampha. So could it be a fourth year a non-white artist wins the UK’s prestigious music award?

The Mercury judging panel is made up of 12 industry figures, including musicians Lianne La Havas, Jamie Cullum and Jessie Ware, broadcasters MistaJam and Clara Amfo and critics and journalists, including the journalist, Harriet Gibsone of the Guardian.

Although they haven’t included acclaimed albums from MCs Dizzee Rascal, Giggs and Wiley have not made in on to the judge’s shortlist, other top artists who have also missed the cut including Calvin Harris, Rag’n’Bone Man and Little Mix. So while the shortlist is one looked at as more commercial than previous Mercury shortlists, it has found space for a couple of lesser knowns.

Big Moon, an all-female quartet, have been nominated for their album Love in the 4th Dimension‘, while Jazz 4-piece, Dinosaur, led by trumpeter Laura Jurd, were added for their album ‘Together, As One’.

Bands whose albums are shortlisted, or win the prize, experience a large increase in album sales, with the lesser acclaimed acts gaining more from the added exposure. So in the true sense of “New Music Matters” let’s hope one of the “lesser knowns” claim the winner’s trophy and the £25,000 prize money……. as not sure the Ed really needs it – With the winner being announced on 14 September.