Thu 27 Jul 2023

Mercury Prize 2023 Nominees Announced


This morning, the shortlist for this year’s Mercury Prize were announced, from Arctic Monkeys’ ‘The Car’ and J Hus’ ‘Beautiful and Brutal Yard’ to Olivia Dean’s ‘Messy’ and Raye’s ‘21st Century Blues’.

With an extensive range of artists and genre’s, let’s take a look at this years nominees…

Arctic Monkeys – ‘The Car’ 

Arctic Monkeys steered away from their renowned sound when they came back from a short hiatus in 2018 with album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’.

‘The Car’ received the same reaction from fans as to their previous release, hoping that they would re-discover their indie-rock roots. Despite this, the album is compelling and oddly addictive, exploring into retro soul, littered with strings and synthesisers. The band has now firmly left indie behind them and entered their space rock era, a sound that is cinematic, romantic and nostalgic.

Olivia Dean – ‘Messy’ 

Although ‘Messy’ is her debut album release, Olivia Dean has been on the scene for a while. With her first release ‘Password Change’ back in 2019, singer-songwriter Olivia has since collaborated with many artists such as Loyle Carner and Rudimental, selling out headline dates within minutes (even before an album release!).

Olivia heads out on tour next April.

Fred Again – ‘Actual Life 3 – January 1-September 9 2022)

Fred Gibson rose to fame in 2019 as producer and writing on several tracks on Ed Sheeran’s ‘No.6 Collaborations Project’, and ‘Shotgun’ by George Ezra.

In 2020, he had started his ‘Actual Life’ project, turning voicenotes from friends, reels and recordings from important moments in his life into dance and house music. His unusual approach and process to writing and producing music has proved refreshing and popular, with Actual Life 3 being his third album in 18 months, and could lead him to winning this years prize.

Ezra Collective – ‘Where I’m Meant to Be’

Ezra Collective have been breaking the London jazz scene since they released their debut album ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’ back in 2019. The album radiated impeccable vibes, combining elements of Afribeat, jazz, salsa, reggae, hip hop and grime, but before they had a chance to tour it the pandemic hit.

Writing their nominated album ‘Where I’m Meant to Be’ in lockdown, the album reflected the opposite of what the pandemic did – joyous and celebration, similar to their debut. Friendship and camaraderie is greatly felt throughout this whole record, alongside collaborations with Jorja Smith and Emeli Sande.

J Hus – ‘Beautiful And Brutal Yard’

J Hus put his stamp on British music with 2017’s album ‘Common Sense’ blending influences of his London upbringing – Afroswing, Grime, R&B – with his own originality. It earned him a Mercury Prize nomination then, with his following album, ‘Big Conspiracy’ being an even bigger success.

Now, ‘Beautiful and Brutal Yard’, brings a harder, darker edge to his music than ever before, bloodthirst being the reoccuring theme. Collaborations include Jorja Smith, Drake and Burna Boy.

Catch him on tour this November.

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Jessie Ware – ‘That! Feels Good!’

In 2020, Jessie Ware released commanding yet carefree album ‘What’s Your Pleasure?’, inspired by disco and promoting a truly immersive listen.

Her latest and fifth album, ‘That! Feels Good!’ is built off the same groundwork, deriving influence from bands such as Chic and Sister Sledge. With strong vocals, synths and dancefloor grooves, Jessie is doing nothing less than bringing disco back into modern pop music.

See her live this November.

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Jockstrap – ‘I Love You Jennifer B’

Electric-pop duo Jockstrap are one of the 12 nominees up for the Mercury Prize this year.

The pair have been on the rise this past year, with their album ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ being labelled as ‘one of the greatest albums’ of 2022 by NME. Holding a unique place in the music industry, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye write and produce eclectic, deconstructed pop, combined with elements of dub-step and trance, accompanied by Georgia’s folk-style vocals, making them stand out within this years nominees.

Lankum  – ‘False Lankum’

Radical folk band Lankum aim to change the game when it comes to folk music, making it sound eerie and transfixing.

Radie Peat’s vocals are unnerving, bending notes around the acoustic guitar as atmospheric sounds build up around them. Lankum very clearly play and write with irish tradition, warping it into something new and mind-warping. They’re fast-rising and definitely ones to watch.

Loyle Carner – ‘hugo’ 

Loyle Carner has always been an honest storyteller, sharing anecdotes of real-world issues and personal struggles. His third album, ‘hugo’, steers away from love and friendships, and into a deeper, more vulnerable side – sharing his experience with his father and how it’s impacted him as a new dad.

It’s intense and attention grabbing, yet littered with his usual jazz and soul elements and is incredibly impactful. ‘hugo’ is a strong contender for this years Mercury prize.

Raye – ‘My 21st Century Blues’

Signed to Polydor at the age of 17, Raye has spent years writing toplines for producers such as David Guetta and Joel Corry, but eventually grew fed up of writing songs that didn’t reflect her as a person.

With her label refusing to fund her full length album, Raye parted ways with Polydor, and went on to release her long awaited debut album, ‘My 21st Century Blues’, as an independent artist. Soulful, powerful and a retaliation to an unjust music industry, the album is a reflection of Raye’s strength and was well worth the wait. Catch her on tour later this year.

Shygirl – ‘Nymph’

‘Nymph’ is the long-awaited debut by London-produced Shygirl (real name Blane Muise) and is a distinctive exploration into vulnerability and liberation.

The vocalist combines pop, R&B, electro with addictive hooks and satisfying drum loops, colliding with garage, grime and club vibes. The album takes you on a journey with hard-core energy and attitude, contrasted by tracks such as ‘Heaven’ with intimate lyrics, displaying Shygirl’s softer tone and her vast versatility.

Young Fathers – ‘Heavy Heavy’

Scottish trio young fathers locked themselves in a studio and went back to basics, writing and recording in a studio with no outside help. Fourth album, ‘Heavy Heavy’ reflects the connection of three childhood friends Alloysious ‘Ally’ Massaquoi, Kayus Bankhole and Graham ‘G’ Hastings.

The creation of the album was organic, mistakes were incorporated and their friends were encouraged to collaborate to the bands distinct sound, with Massaquoi labelling their music as ‘uncategorisable’ which is their strength.