It’s the 30th anniversary of the Mercury Prize, so the award could do with a decent shortlist to mark the occasion.
Arguably, it’s managed just that with today’s announcement of the 2022 Mercury Prize with Free Now Albums Of The Year. A strong line-up, it’s also a majority-female shortlist. In the case of Gwenno, there’s also an album contender recorded in Cornish.
The dozen contenders include superstar artist Harry Styles, as well as several breakthrough stars. Surprisingly, Adele and former winner Dave are not on the shortlist, not that either of them need the sales boost. Central Cee and George Ezra might also have hoped for some Mercury love this year. Ed Sheeran was nominated in 2017 for Divide but, five albums in, he was probably not expecting a nod this time as the award tends to favour newer artists.
The 2022 shortlist is below:
Fergus McCreadie - Forest Floor (Edition/The Orchard)
Gwenno - Treso (Heavenly/PIAS)
Harry Styles - Harry’s House (Columbia)
Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler - For All Our Days That Tear the Heart (EMI)
Joy Crookes - Skin (Insanity)
Kojey Radical - Reason to Smile (Atlantic)
Little Simz - Sometimes I Might be Introvert (Age101/AWAL)
Nova Twins - Supernova (Marshall)
Sam Fender - Seventeen Going Under (Polydor)
Self Esteem - Prioritise Pleasure (Fiction)
Wet Leg - Wet Leg (Domino)
Yard Act - The Overload (Island)
Harry Styles, Sam Fender and Wet Leg all reached No.1, while Yard Act made No.2 and broke vinyl records for a debut (see our interview with Island president Louis Bloom). Harry’s House is the current No.1 album.
The line-up includes five debuts - albums released by Kojey Radical, Joy Crookes, Wet Leg, Yard Act and Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler. Butler won the second edition of the Mercury Prize in 1993 as a member of Suede.
Universal Music labels have four albums on the shortlist, while Sony Music labels have two and Warner Music labels have one (not including label services within majors). Independents have five out of the 12 nominations.
To be eligible, albums by British or Irish artists had to be released between Saturday, July 17, 2021 and Friday, July 15, 2022. Labels can also opt to nominate albums for the prize.
The Mercury Prize recognises artistic achievement across a range of contemporary music genres. The shortlist was chosen by an independent judging panel and was revealed at a launch event, hosted by BBC Music’s Huw Stephens.
The shortlist was also announced live by Nemone on BBC Radio 6 Music as part of a 2022 Mercury Prize shortlist special. The Prize’s broadcast partner, BBC Music, will be providing coverage of the event across BBC TV, BBC Radio 6 Music, online & social media.
Click here for the 2022 Mercury Prize judges line-up.
In a statement, the judges said: “Getting down to 12 albums this year was not easy, simply because there were so many remarkable ones to choose from. That serves as proof that British & Irish music thrives during unsettled periods in history, with the albums chosen covering everything from imaginative pop to pioneering rap to Cornish language folk-rock. We feel that these 12 amazing albums each have something to say artistically and socially, all in their own unique, enriching ways. Now comes the really hard part... choosing only one overall winner’.
The 2022 Mercury Prize will take place on Thursday, September 8 at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. The event will feature live performances from many of the shortlisted artists. Tickets are available now.