David Bowie, Laura Marling, Discolsure, James Blake, Arctic Monkeys and seven other artists have been named to Britain’s 2013 Mercury Prize shortlist.
Y’know who’s not on there? Mumford & Sons. Now that we’ve taken a moment to recognize that, lets focus on the contenders, which leans overwhelmingly, again, toward rock and some toward electronica.
Bowie may be top dog here, with his extraordinary comeback “The Next Day,” and because it’s Bowie and, jeez guys, he’s only been nominated one other time. Veterans Arctic Monkeys and Foals put out fine efforts, too, but can’t compare to the Thin White Duke.
Newcomer Jake Bugg, Marling and Laura Mvula are certainly safer, folk and singer-songwriterly choices, though Marling has arguable dropped the album of her career with “Once I Was an Eagle,” after already having made her way onto the shortlist with two other efforts in her minute time on this blessed earth. (Villagers are the dark, dirty little interlopers that could fit with the folk-rockers too.)
Blake’s “Overgrown” may not be his best effort, but it’s among these other dance/electronic groups that he’d be most recognizable. That, Hopkins’ techno nightmare “Immunity” and Rudimental’s lesser-known “Home” can’t compare to Disclosure’s exceptional “Settle,” an album so emotionally sprawling and technically proficient, I hope the judges live and breathe it for this contest.
But 2013 didn’t yield a big amount of diversity on this list. Mvula, Marling and all-women rockers Savages rep for the ladies. Mvula is the only lead who is a person of color; and besides her, Disclosure’s samplings and Blake’s sullen-soul/R&B, there’s little music of color, with traditional R&B, jazz and rap shut out in this final tally. That doesn’t mean the Merucury Prize hasn’t been inventive in its choices in previous years, it’s just particularly monochrome this year. Perhaps the Hopkins lobotomy will jog everyone’s mind for next year.
The nominees were drawn from 220 albums submitted for the album of the year battle, and £20,000 will be awarded to the winner, announced on Oct. 30.
Here are the nominees and their albums:
Arctic Monkeys – AM
David Bowie – The Next Day
Disclosure – Settle
Foals – Holy Fire
Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
James Blake – Overgrown
Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon
Rudimental – Home
Savages – Silence Yourself
Villagers – Awayland