Mercury Prize shortlist: Ladies rule including Adele, PJ Harvey, Katy B

Just a couple weeks after Canada unveiled its Polaris Music Prize shortlist nominees for album of the year, the U.K. has echoed with its own impressively varied shortlist for the Mercury Prize.

The 12 sets have been chosen from more than 240 entrants from the U.K. and Ireland, according to a release, to highlight “the remarkable possibilities of what can be achieved with music the grand gesture and telling detail, albums that are dramatic, ambitious and artful, emotional and affectionate, funny and profound.”

Not to be missed, Adele sits at the alphabetical tippy-top; her sales for “21” have been gangbusters overseas as much as they have here in the U.S. Two former Mercury winners — recent Immaculate Noise Elbow and PJ Harvey — are also on the list. Tinie Tempah and James Blake have made at least some headway on these shores.

And, most notably, solo females dominate with one-third of the nominations: that would be Harvey, Adele, dark-rocker-songwriter Anna Calv and pop singer Katy B. The Prize committee has normally done a pretty good job with even nominations toward female-fronted groups and solo artists lately, but this year is especially kind toward the latter.


As I mentioned before, James Blake has enjoyed his year-long status as indie’s favorite fellated object, but I doubt he’ll have a chance this year: to these ears, he’s comparative to the breakout success of The xx, who took the prize last year, for sleepy funtime music, nothing too out-of-the-box but pleasant enough.

Harvey’s “Let England Shake” has enjoyed enormous critical praise and may be a top contender versus Adele, who has equaling — if not excessive — appreciation from the world over. While I like his style, obviously, I think Tinie Tempah’s “Disc-Overy” is too uneven for Album of the Year. Everything Everything could sneak up, as could the soft rock of Metronomy, but the true stealth engines to me are Gwilym Simcock and Ghostpoet because, frankly, I don’t think I’ve heard a note from either. I have some catching up to do over teh weekend.

The Mercury Prize will be awarded on Sept. 6.

What album is your favorite? Who should win? Is Adele too well-known to take this typically tastemaking prize?

The 2011 Albums of the Year are:

Adele 21″
Anna Calvi “Anna Calvi”
Elbow “Build A Rocket Boys!”
Everything Everything “Man Alive”
Ghostpoet “Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam”
Gwilym Simcock “Good Days at Schloss Elmau”
James Blake “James Blake”
Katy B “On A Mission”
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins “Diamond Mine”
Metronomy “The English Riviera”
PJ Harvey “Let England Shake”
Tinie Tempah “Disc-Overy”