Nominations Released for the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize

| July 23, 2021 3:10 am PDT

Now is the time for major news in the entertainment industry, it seems. To be more specific, awards season is upon us.

Hollywood just dropped a bomb by announcing the 2021 Emmy Awards nominations recently, and the UK followed suit by issuing an official shortlist for the 2021 Mercury Prize.

Merely getting the honor of making the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize shortlist can do wonders for sales for British and Irish acts, and the finalists also get to compete for legend status.

Michael Kiwanuka was the deserving winner in 2020, as he finally took home the big prize after being nominated and passed over in prior events.

Heading into the 2021 Mercury Prize, it’s a lock that a new winner will be crowned. That’s because historically the award doesn’t go to previous winners, but also because there is a litany of first-time nominees this year.

That, and Kiwanuka isn’t among the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize nominees this time around.

To get ready for this year’s event, let’s look at the 2021 Mercury Prize nominations, and single out some of the top acts.

2021 Mercury Prize Nominees

  • Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams
  • Berwyn – Demotape/Vega
  • Black Country, New Road – For the First Time…
  • Celeste – Not Your Muse
  • Floating Points/Pharoah Sanders/London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
  • Ghetts – Conflict of Interest
  • Hannah Peel – Fir Wave
  • Laura Mvula – Pink Noise
  • Mogwai – As the Love Continues
  • Nubya – Source
  • Sault – Untitled (Rise)
  • Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

This is quite the impressive Mercury Prize shortlist. It’s diverse in every possible way, and the voters hit it out of the park in terms of sheer talent and artistry.

Of course, they do that every year.

Even when you were miffed about your favorite artist losing in the past, you could hardly turn your nose up at the ultimate winner. This year, there are precious few familiar faces.

Wolf Alice took home the win just a few years ago, while Laura Mvula has earned multiple Mercury Prize nominations, but has never won.

That’s the list. Those are the only two groups/artists in this year’s 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize shortlist that have even been nominated before. This is a loaded, uber-talented group, but it’s also a fresh-faced one.

Is This the Year of Laura Mvula?

You can see all the 2021 Mercury Prize nominees, but with the shortlist dropping, there are a few burning questions. The first is undeniably whether or not Mvula can finally bring one home.

The 35-year-old has put the work in. She’s been recording professional since 2012, and quickly gained notoriety for her debut album, Sing to the Moon, which reached #1 on the UK R&B Albums Chart.

Mvula got her first Mercury Prize nod for that album, but upped the ante with her follow-up, The Dreaming Room. The latter won the Ivor Novello award and got her yet another Mercury Prize nod.

Could Mvula’s third try be the charm?

Mvula is back thanks to Pink Noise, which she purposefully used to branch out and distance herself from her previous albums.

It’s edgier, sexier, and more poppy. The question, of course, will be if it’s enough to get her a win.

Can Wolf Alice Win the Mercury Prize Again?

PJ Harvey is the only artist to snag more than one Mercury Prize. As noted, Kiwanuka isn’t among the 2021 Mercury Prize nominees, so he won’t have a crack at matching Harvey.

Most won’t, in fact, as just one previous winner has made the cut for 2021.

That’s none other than Wolf Alice. The London-based rock band has been around since 2010, and finally got high-level recognition with a Mercury Prize win in 2018.

Visions of Life debuted at #2 on the UK Albums Chart in 2017, and rightfully took home the top honors at the 2018 Mercury Prize.

It’s quite possible they’re the group to beat this year, as Blue Weekend had two singles crack the top-20 on the UK Indie Chart, and the album as a whole hit #1 on the UK Top 40.

Top hit “Smile” might tell you everything you need to know.

“I am what I am, and I’m good at it. If you don’t like me then…”

Well, let’s just say you might want to put on some earmuffs for the end of that lyric.

The point? Wolf Alice is coming for the gold with Ellie Roswell’s sultry, captivating tone, along with pace-setting music that methodically races to get you into the right mood.

Will a Newcomer Win the 2021 Mercury Prize?

While this is an eclectic bunch, it’s also one filled with fresh faces. There is strength in numbers (potentially), and history may tell us a little something, too.

First, that repeat winners aren’t really a thing here, and that even the best bands and artists get passed over routinely.

Wolf Alice is a formidable out, but they’re not guaranteed a thing. In fact, them winning before may be a negative as they try to fend off 10 brand new artists.

That’s right, 10 of the 12 Mercury Prize nominees for 2021 have never been so much as promoted by this event before.

Take out Wolf Aluce and Laura Mvula, and you’ve got yourself a fresh batch of earnest artists looking to state their claim to the Mercury Prize throne.

Who has the best shot? That’s truly anyone’s guess. However, it doesn’t hurt to do some digging on all these artists. The bare minimum could be going back to look at their 2021 work, and how it’s fared in the UK charts.

Arlo Parks peaked at #3 for Collapsed in Sunbeams, and the smooth, poetically drenched 20-year-old is the epitome of a rising star in the music industry.

Black Country, New Road offers a new take on spoken rock, while the 27-year-old Celeste offers the perfect blend of torment, tone, and veiled optimism.

Thinking of a more established act?

Seasoned newcomers like Floating Points, Ghetts, and Mogwai stand out as talented, deserving acts that have been in the industry since 2008 or much longer.

Looking Ahead to the 2021 Mercury Prize

This is shaping up to be one of the best groups of Mercury Prize nominees in history.

The 10 fresh faces ensure that you’re going to be exposed to some new (awesome) music, and history tells us two things.

First, that some brilliant artists have failed to reach the promised land. And second, that whoever wins is going to be someone you’ll want to cement into your playlist.

The 2021 Mercury Prize honors the very best album in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and it will look to pay respect to the rightful winner on September 9th.

It’s anyone’s guess who will win the 2021 Mercury Prize, but this shortlist is stacked, and getting 10 brand new additions makes for some interesting competition.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at 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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