The Mercury Prize (FKA The Mercury Music Prize) is a prestigious honor awarded to the year’s best album from a UK or Irish artist. It carries a lot of weight. Even making it to the 12-artist shortlist is an accomplishment to celebrate. As such, the world follows the contest’s process closely, and when the shortlist is announced—as it was today—people (or maybe just me) hurriedly explore all the music they’ve missed. This year’s prize could be awarded posthumously, as David Bowie’s Blackstar LP was (deservedly) named to the shortlist.
Bowie, who has been shortlisted twice before but never won (for 2002’s Heathen and 2013’s The Next Day), headlines an eclectic list of 12 musicians. (Radiohead is the other big name. This marks the record fifth time the Oxfordshire band has been shortlisted. They’ve never won). These artists, as the judges suggested in a statement, are not only representative of today’s diverse stylistic spectrum, but of our world’s tempestuous times, too. “This is music to make sense of our unsettling times – heartfelt, angry, thoughtful and thrilling. The 2016 Hyundai Mercury Prize ‘Albums of the Year’ are marked by their musical ambitions, unexpected instrumentation and breathtaking arrangements.”
Since 1992, Mercury has considered unknowns right alongside the entrenched, giving budding artists an opportunity to, for once, vault over industry vets and test the waters of renown. The selection committee, comprised of Jarvis Cocker, Radio 1’s Annie Mac and the singer Jessie Ware, will now narrow the shortlist to a short-shortlist of six names. From there, the contest is getting democratic. For the first time ever, the winner will be selected by popular vote. (Unfortunately you have to be a citizen of the UK to vote.)
As Rolling Stone reports, the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on September 15 and will take home £25,000. Benjamin Clementine won the prize last year. Full 2016 shortlist below:
Bat For Lashes: The Bride
David Bowie: Blackstar
Jamie Woon: Making Time
Kano: Made in the Manor
Laura Mvula: The Dreaming Room
Michael Kiwanuka: Love & Hate
Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool
Savages: Adore Life
The 1975: I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
The Comet Is Coming: Channel the Spirits
Who do you think should win? Let us know in the comments.
Image: RCA Records