Mercury Prize 2016

Like me, you might have missed this year’s Mercury Prize, which took place on 15th September at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Last year’s was much later in the year, and so I hadn’t quite expected it to happen yet, but it has, and here we are.

The Nominees

For those who aren’t familiar with the Mercury Prize, it’s just one award, and there is a shortlist of twelve nominees each year. This year:

  • Anohni – Hopelessness
  • Bat for Lashes – The Bride
  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • The Comet is Coming – Channel the Spirits
  • Kano – Made in the Manor
  • Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate
  • Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room
  • The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Savages – Adore Life
  • Skepta – Konnichiwa
  • Jamie Woon – Making Time

According to the BBC’s analysis, David Bowie received the highest critical rating, and was also one of several of the acts whose album topped the UK charts, as well as Michael Kiwanuka, Radiohead, and The 1975. Kano‘s album received the lowest critical rating, and The Comet is Coming, whose album was self-released, were the only act who didn’t make the charts.

As always, this was a real mixture of styles and approaches. Anohni, also known as Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, and now working on her own solo material, switches chamber pop for electronics, while other releases include “a baroque concept album about a woman whose fiancé is killed on the way to their wedding”, R&B, grime, pop-rock, and cosmic jazz.

The Shortlist

Just to add a bit more excitement, there was a public vote, which chose The 1975, and carried it through to the shortlist on the night, along with the five chosen by the judging panel, giving a shortlist of six. That list looked like this:

  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate
  • Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room
  • The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Skepta – Konnichiwa

This process made The Comet is Coming rather upset, but never mind

The Winner

Ultimately, in Jarvis Cocker‘s words, David Bowie would have chosen Skepta as the winner, and so he wins the Mercury Prize for 2016. Congratulations to him, and remember to look up his mum dancing at the podium.

The Coverage

You can read the BBC’s coverage of the nominations here, and some additional detail here. NME looked at the winner here, and the fallout here. This is the official Mercury Prize website.

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