Predicting Who Will Win the 2021 Mercury Prize

| July 23, 2021 9:31 am PDT

The race for the 2021 Mercury Prize is on. The best music in the U.K. and Ireland will get a tip of the cap come September 9th, while die hard fans of elite music will get to see the next great act to get honored.

Michael Kiwanuka finally broke through after multiple attempts, securing last year’s Mercury Prize with his self-titled Kiwanuka. The 2021 Mercury Prize nominees are out, and we have 12 more groups or artists vying for the top spot this year.

It’s an eclectic group – per usual – but it’s also a wide open race. That tends to be the case when this many fantastic artists are in one grouping, although a betting favorite will emerge before long.

Everyone has their take and/or favorite, but the top sites for betting on entertainment will eventually assign odds for who will win the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize.

Whether you plan on betting on the Mercury Prize in 2021 or not, I’ve got my personal favorites that look like the top contenders this year. Let’s go over them and come away with an ultimate 2021 Mercury Prize prediction.

Celeste – Not Your Muse

I have to start my 2021 Mercury Prize predictions off with Celeste. This is without a doubt one of the most talented performers in this thing, and she gives off crazy Adele meets Amy Winehouse vibes.

Celeste is the type of artist that needs to be out there way more than she is. She is not without her accolades, of course, as she’s racked up some impressive hardware.

  • 1st in 2019 Sound Of…
  • 2019 Rising Star Award

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as Celeste has topped three different music charts in the past year, including taking the top spot in the UK.

Oh, and Not Your Muse got nods for Album of the Year at the 2021 Brit Awards, and “Hear My Voice” was up for Best Original Song at the 2020 Oscars.

Her title track “Not Your Muse” is surprisingly the most captivating.

Celeste puts a unique stamp on every song of this album with her trademark tone, while telling important stories about personal loss, love, and perseverance.

The stories, lyrics, and arrangements all get your attention, but the voice is what stands out the most. Celeste coaxes the ears into submission, and never relents.

The total package as a singer and songwriter, Celeste is 100% in the running to win the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize.

Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

Okay, now that I’ve gotten one of my 2021 Mercury Prize favorites out of the way, let’s touch on the band that most people will be pining for.

The love is understandable, by the way, as Wolf Alice is a highly successful group that took home this award in 2018.

The wild thing? Wolf Alice has only gotten better since then, and their latest album, Blue Weekend, may just be their best yet.

Because of that, there is absolutely an argument for them becoming just the second repeat winner ever.

Ellie Roswell sets the tone early on Blue Weekend, standing out with her edge in “Smile”, displaying her softer side in “How Can I Make It OK?”, and taking a plunge into the feels with “No Hard Feelings”.

If you want to judge a record solely based on hits, marketability, and versatility, Blue Weekend checks every box. The album reached #1 on the UK Top 40, and two of their songs cracked the Top 17 in 2021.

The craziest part? The success of this album isn’t just about the frontwoman, good writing, or catchy hooks.

Blue Weekend is fiercely strong instrumentally, and everything comes together perfectly to create what some would call a masterpiece.

Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams

Celeste is probably my favorite artist going into the 2021 Mercury Prize, and Wolf Alice is my favorite group.

But Arlo Parks is probably pulling into third here, and the 20-year old just might have the goods to win it all in 2021.

Parks thrives on simplicity and raw talent. She said so herself in an interview with Apple Music.

“I don’t like to agonize over things. It can tarnish the magic a little. Usually a song will take an hour or less from conception to end. If I listen back and it’s how I pictured it, I move on.” 

There is beauty in this approach. It’s partially relaxed, but I’d lean more toward organic.

A natural spoken word poet, Arlo Parks is blessed with this underrated approach, as well as silky smooth vocals. Her artistry may shine best in “Hope”, where that soft tone can permeate through your speaker, as Parks works – nay, fights – to evoke true inspiration.

It’s a catalyst for this entire album, and if this was one of her “one time through” tracks, consider me floored. Heck, I’m lying on the ground in awe, regardless.

Arlo Parks doesn’t have the best voice among the 2021 Mercury Prize nominees, but she is easily one of the most talented, and this album can rival all others.

Ghetts – Conflict of Interest

I don’t know how rare it is that curse-infused rap music can strike cords in your soul. All I know is Ghetts accomplished that in the harrowing and revealing Conflict of Interest.

Nevermind the star-powered guest appearances here.

It’s worth the name-dropping, of course, with Aida Lae, Stormzy, and Ed Sheeran popping in, but Conflict of Interest would have thrived stripped down to its core, just the same. 

It’s because it starts and ends with Justin Clarke (Ghetts), who is lyrically profound, incredibly transparent, and at every turn unafraid of risk or ambition.

The extended reach the material and execution provides is apparent throughout this album, and it starts with a bit of a mission statement in the opening “Fine Wine”.

It serves as an intro, reflection, remembrance, and offers a vision of where Ghetts promises to take you.

“I went back to the essence. It’s not only bars, my brudda, I’m a man with a message.” 

That’s just a snippet of an iconic opening track that serves as an appetizer for a tour de force meal at a five scale restaurant. If it were embroiled in flames, confusion, and unbridled resilience, of course.

I can paint this album up and down with all kinds of adjectives, but it’s one of the few contestants that deserve a sit down listen all the way through. Perhaps multiple times.

Ghetts may not be the favorite considering the type of music it is, but the Mercury Prize has been fairly versatile with the winners it’s chosen.

This could be the year for the 36-year old phenom. He’s gained traction before, but this album crushed in 2021 (2nd on the UK charts). Factoring in artistry, storytelling, execution, and the “due” narrative, Ghetts gives you (and voters) something to think about.

Who Will Win the 2021 Mercury Prize?

Every single artist in this 2021 Mercury Prize shortlist has a case. They’re here for a reason, after all. That said, I do think the options above have the best cases this year.

You could go in a number of directions if betting on the Mercury Prize, too, as there are four different narratives to consider.

  • Can Wolf Alice Repeat?
  • Is it Laura Mvula’s Time?
  • Who Had the Best Album?
  • Who is the Best Talent?

See what I mean about different directions? Truly, you could have a different answer for each of these.

In coming to a prediction for who will win the 2021 Mercury Prize, I tried to consider everything.

I don’t think it’s Mvula’s time. Her album just doesn’t measure up to everyone else this year, and you can’t (or shouldn’t) hand out wins just because artists missed out in the past.

Wolf Alice is a fine contender. They’ve won before, so I think they get ignored here, but Blue Weekend was fantastic. There’s no way anyone is mad if they win.

Celeste is the most talented vocalist in this race. It’s arguable she had the best album, too. And Arlo Parks is artistry personified. That said, Ghetts was so hard-hitting and unforgettable for nearly every single track on Conflict of Interest.

If you go back and look at past winners and the nominees, some massive names get passed over. One way or another, 11 deserving candidates are going to experience that same fate.

It’s simply most egregious to have Ghetts get passed up this year. 

As noted, Mercury Prize odds aren’t out at the time of this writing. The best Mercury Prize betting sites will issue odds for who will win in due time, however. Hopefully my 2021 Mercury Prize predictions can help you when you get ready to place your bets.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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