Arctic Monkeys, Raye, and Fred Again are among the artists behind the 12 eclectic albums shortlisted for this year’s Mercury Prize.
The shortlist was announced on Thursday (27 July), unveiling the dozen albums by British and Irish acts that will compete for the coveted music award.
The winner will be crowned at an awards show held at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London, on Thursday 7 September.
The shortlist this year represent a wildly varied mix of genres and musical styles, from the jazz quintet Ezra Collective, nominated for their 2022 album Where I’m Meant to Be, to afroswing rapper J Hus (for his album Beautiful and Brutal Yard, released earlier this month).
Arctic Monkeys, the Alex Turner-fronted Sheffield outfit that headlined Glastonbury earlier this year, are shortlisted for the fourth time for their 2022 album The Car. (The Independent awarded the album four stars in a review last year.)
They have won the award once before, for their 2007 debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
Several of the nominees are celebrating their first ever Mercury nomination, including Ezra Collective, Fred Again – nominated for his 2022 record Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022) – and art pop duo Jockstrap, for last year’s I Love You Jennifer B.
Irish folk group Lankum, soul singer Olivia Dean, and pop sensation RAYE are also shortlisted for the first time, along with dance musician Shygirl. You can read The Independent’s five-star review of Raye’s latest album here.
Speaking to The Guardian, RAYE described her nomination as “really special”. “I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I want to be an albums artist so to be recognised for my album, not just one song, is just nuts. It’s a lot of validation,” she said.
London-born rapper Loyle Carner has received his second spot on the shortlist, this time for his album Hugo. Scottish indie group Young Fathers are also back for a second round, while singer-songwriter Jessie Ware has been shortlisted for the first time in over a decade – you can read The Independent’s recent interview with her here.
“It means a lot,” said Ware to The Guardian. “It’s a prestigious award and recognition and I think I feel far more ready to receive it 11 years on. Being up for my debut was kind of amazing and overwhelming – I appreciated it then but I think I will really relish the moment this time.”
The shortlist was selected by an independent judging panel of critics, DJs, fellow musicians and industry experts, and was announced at a launch event on Thursday.
Created by Jon Webster and Robert Chandler, the Mercury Prize, formerly called the Mercury Music Prize, is an annual accolade awarded to the best album released in the UK by a British or Irish act that year.
Scottish rock band Primal Scream were the first recipients of the prize in 1992. Winners have since included Suede, Pulp, Ms Dynamite, Dizzee Rascal, PJ Harvey, and Badly Drawn Boy.
In recent years, Arlo Parks, Michael Kiwanuka, Dave, and Wolf Alice have been feted with the award.
Last year, British-Nigerian rapper Little Simz triumphed with her album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. The 29-year-old beat out fellow nominees including pop star Harry Styles, Joy Crookes, rock duo Nova Twins, singer-songwriter Sam Fender, Self Esteem, and indie-rock duo Wet Leg.
See the full 2023 shortlist below:
Arctic Monkeys, The Car
Ezra Collective, Where I’m Meant to Be
Fred again.., Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022)
J Hus, Beautiful And Brutal Yard
Jessie Ware, That! Feels Good!
Jockstrap, I Love You Jennifer B
Lankum, False Lankum
Loyle Carner, hugo
Olivia Dean, Messy
RAYE, My 21st Century Blues
Young Fathers, Heavy Heavy