Why the big fuss about the Mercury Prize?

No clue about why you should care about the Mercury Prize? We've got the lowdown.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joseph Junior Adenuga aka Skepta accepting the award after being announced the winner of the Mercury Prize 2016 at the Hyundai Mercury Prize 2016 at Eventim Apollo on September 15, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

You may have heard a lot of people talking about something called the Mercury Prize Awards, that are due to kick off tonight. You may have even heard the names of  some of the album’s shortlisted for the prize.

But what even is it and more importantly why should we care?

Here’s the lowdown.

What’s this thing people are talking about? 

The Hundai Mercury Prize basically promotes the best of UK and Irish music. The reason people think it’s such a big deal is because it’s the music equivalent to a Booker Prize for literature and the like. The panelists choose 12 ‘Albums of the Year’ across a range of genres, based on artistic achievement.

Why do they care?

It’s cool because it’s actually judged by people that we care about. The judging panel are a mixture of musicians, music journalists, radio DJ’s, presenters and basically no one is allowed if they are affiliated with any of the artists selected.

What’s happened in the past? 

It’s had its fair share of scandal, from the Gorillaz withdrawing their nomination to relatively unknown artists winning and causing uproar – Speech Debelle, anyone? But it’s also a great way of giving upcoming or underrated artists recognition and shifting the culture. Last year it was a big deal when Grime artist Skepta won, as some said it shifted Grime into the mainstream and promoted ‘DIY’ – artists making it big without a record label. Not to mention it probably helps to boost album sales too.

Who’s shortlisted this year?

alt-j – ‘Relaxer’

Blossoms – ‘Blossoms’

Dinosaur – ‘Together, As One’

Ed Sheeran – ‘÷’

Glass Animals – ‘How to Be a Human Being’

J Hus – ‘Common Sense’

Kate Tempest – ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’

Loyle Carner – ‘Yesterday’s Gone’

Sampha – ‘Process’

Stormzy – ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’

The Big Moon – ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’

The xx – ‘I See You’

If you win, so what?

In the spirit of ‘everyone’s a winner in our eyes’, all of the 12 shortlisted artists receive a specially commissioned ‘Album of the Year’ trophy. The winner also wins £25,000! Not bad, not bad at all.

When’s it all happening then?

The award show kicks off tonight, you can watch it from the comfort of your home on BBC Four from 9pm. Or just jump on Twitter for the latest updates. There’ll be performances from the likes of Stormzy, The XX, Sampha and Skepta – it’s bound to be a good one!

Good luck to all the amazing artists nominated, we have our fingers and toes crossed for you!



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