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Mercury Prize
The Mercury Prize logo
Awarded for Best album from the United Kingdom or Ireland
Presented by Barclaycard
Location United Kingdom
First awarded 1992
Official Website

The Mercury Prize, formerly called the Mercury Music Prize and currently known as the Barclaycard Mercury Prize for sponsorship reasons, is an annual music prize awarded for the best album from the United Kingdom or Ireland. It was established by the British Phonographic Industry and British Association of Record Dealers in 1992 as an alternative to the industry-dominated Brit Awards.[1] The prize was originally sponsored by Mercury Communications, a brand owned by Cable & Wireless,[2] from which the prize gets its name. It was later sponsored by Technics,[3] from 1998 to 2001, Panasonic,[2] in 2002 and 2003, and the Nationwide Building Society, from 2004 to 2008. Barclaycard became the Prize's current sponsor in March 2009.[4]

Nominations are chosen by a selected panel of musicians, music executives, journalists and other figures in the music industry in the UK and Ireland.[1][5] Presentation of the award usually take place in September after the nominations are announced in July. It is often observed that bands who are nominated for, or win the prize, experience a large increase in album sales, particularly for lesser known nominees.[6] However, despite being regarded by many as highly prestigious,[7][8][9] it has been suggested that being nominated for or winning the Mercury Prize could be a curse on a career in music.[10][11]

The Mercury Prize has a reputation for being awarded to outside chancers rather than the favourites.[12][13] The 1994 award winners were the pop act M People, a controversial decision considering the shortlist included popular albums from Britpop figureheads Paul Weller, Blur and Pulp, and electronica band The Prodigy.[14][15][16] Other music journalists critical of the awards stated that the 2005 award should not have been given to Antony and the Johnsons as while they were British-born, they were based in the United States.[17][18] In 2006, Isobel Campbell's collaboration with Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas, was included in the shortlist, despite Lanegan's being American while fellow 2006 nominees Guillemots contained band members from Brazil and Canada.[19] The presence of classical, folk and jazz recordings has been cited by some as anomalous, arguing that comparisons with the other nominees can be invidious.[20] Classical nominees have included Sir John Tavener, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Gavin Bryars and Nicholas Maw. None has ever won, and there has not been a shortlisted classical album since 2002.

On 8 September, 2009, the Mercury Prize was awarded to Speech Debelle for her album Speech Therapy.[21]


Winners and shortlisted nominees

Two people (one vocalist and one guitarist) performing on stage
Inaugural winners Primal Scream
Five men sitting at a table at a press conference
Suede, winners in 1993
A man playing a guitar and singing on stage. He is wearing a denim jacket and woolen cap.
2000 winner Badly Drawn Boy
A girl singing and playing a guitar on stage
PJ Harvey, winner in 2001
A man rapping on stage, with purple spotlights behind him
2003 winner Dizzee Rascal
Four men standing and looking into the camera. One is at the front, two are behind him, and one more is at the back.
Arctic Monkeys, winning band in 2006
Three men who are raising glasses. They are wearing dark clothing.
2007 winners, Klaxons
Year Winner Album Shortlisted nominees & albums Ref(s)
1992 Primal Scream Screamadelica [22]
1993 Suede Suede [23]
1994 M People Elegant Slumming [24]
1995 Portishead Dummy [25]
1996 Pulp Different Class [26]
1997 Roni Size/Reprazent New Forms [25]
1998 Gomez Bring It On [25]
1999 Talvin Singh Ok [27]
2000 Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of Bewilderbeast [28]
2001 PJ Harvey Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea [30]
2002 Ms. Dynamite A Little Deeper [31]
2003 Dizzee Rascal Boy in da Corner [32]
2004 Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand [33]
2005 Antony and the Johnsons I Am a Bird Now [18]
2006 Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not [34]
2007 Klaxons Myths of the Near Future [35]
2008 Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid [36]
2009 Speech Debelle Speech Therapy [37]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Mercury Prize 2008". BBC Music. Retrieved 22 June 2009.  
  2. ^ a b Dann, Trevor (9 September 2003). "'By the time the list is agreed you wonder whether you like music at all'". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  3. ^ "Manics lead Mercury shortlist". BBC News. 27 July 1999. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  4. ^ "Barclaycard Mercury Prize sponsorship announced". European Sponsorship Association. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  5. ^ Beech, Mark. "U.K. Band Elbow Wins Mercury Prize as Judges Surprise Again". Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 June 2009.  
  6. ^ Innes, John (15 September 2004). "Band's debut album soars back into charts after Mercury success". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  7. ^ Burrell, Ian (21 July 2004). "Shortlist of 'eccentrics' for Mercury music prize". The Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2009. "...the most prestigious prize in the music calendar..."  
  8. ^ Poole, Oliver (8 September 2004). "Scots rockers Ferdinand win Mercury Prize". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 June 2009. "The Mercury Prize, now in its 13th year, is considered the most prestigious in British music..."  
  9. ^ "PJ Harvey wins Mercury prize". BBC News. 11 September 2001. "...Britain's most prestigious music prize..."  
  10. ^ Gill, Andy (14 July 2006). "Curse of the Mercury". The Independent. "...the Mercury Prize has acquired a well-established reputation for destroying its winners' futures... accessdate=18 June 2009"  
  11. ^ Williamson, Nigel (13 July 2003). "Uneasy listening". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2009.  
  12. ^ Adams, Stephen (5 September 2007). "Amy Winehouse performs at Mercury prize". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 June 2009.  
  13. ^ "Ms Dynamite wins Mercury prize". BBC News. 17 September 2002. Retrieved 22 June 2009.  
  14. ^ Waters, Darren (2 September 2005). "Judging music the Mercury way". BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  15. ^ Millar, Anna (13 August 2006). "Why Mercury makes Isobel's blood boil at pop industry". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  16. ^ Youngs, Ian (4 December 2003). "Does the Mercury Prize get it right?". BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  17. ^ Barlow, Karen (26 September 2005). "Inaugural Australian music prize announced". Australian Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  18. ^ a b "Antony and Johnsons win Mercury". BBC News. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  19. ^ Sutherland, Mark. "Who can beat the Arctic Monkeys to win the Mercury Prize?". BBC Radio 6. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  20. ^ Petridis, Alexis (20 September 2002). "Back to basics". The Guardian.,,795354,00.html. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  21. ^ "Mercury Prize 2009: The nominees". BBC News. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2009.  
  22. ^ Gill, Andy (10 September 1992). "The 1992 Mercury Music Prize: Andy Gill looks at the winner of the inaugural Mercury Music Prize". The Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  23. ^ "The London Suede". MTV. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  24. ^ Hughes, Jack (18 September 1994). "Cries & Whispers". The Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  25. ^ a b c "Mercury winners: where are they now?". Channel 4. 18 July 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  26. ^ MacDonald, Marianne (11 September 1996). "Pulp create a different class of award". The Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  27. ^ "Talvin Singh: Closing the divide". BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  28. ^ Williamson, Nigel (23 July 2003). "Uneasy listening". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  29. ^ Youngs, Ian (30 July 2002). "Mercury Prize's guessing game". BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  30. ^ "PJ Harvey wins Mercury prize - after witnessing Pentagon attack". The Guardian. 12 September 2001. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  31. ^ "Ms Dynamite's victory blasts Mercury norms". The Guardian. 18 September 2002. Retrieved 1 September 2009.  
  32. ^ Imagee, Matthew (7 September 2004). "Still going strong after Dizzee rise to Mercury's peak". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  33. ^ Barkham, Patrick (8 September 2004). "Mercury rises for art pop of Franz Ferdinand". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  34. ^ "Arctic Monkeys win 2006 Mercury Music Prize". NME. 5 September 2006. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  35. ^ Pidd, Helen (5 September 2007). "Klaxons are the big noise on Mercury awards night". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  36. ^ Paphides, Pete (10 September 2008). "Pete Paphides salutes Elbow's Mercury Prize victory". The Times. Retrieved 10 June 2009.  
  37. ^ "Mercury Prize 2009 Nominations Announced". The Guardian. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009.  

External links



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