Every now and again, it’s nice to take a step back and consider all of the fantastic music that comes out of the United Kingdom and Ireland. It’s not that other countries don’t produce brilliant music as well, but let’s face it, who gave the world The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin? Even the most vehement anglophobe would have to admit that we’re pretty good at music, and that’s something that we should take enormous pride in.
Currently in its 24th year, the Mercury Prize is awarded to the ‘Best album from the UK and Ireland’, and serves as an annual reminder of the musical talent born of the British Isles. The number of winners that have gone on to become internationally renowned mega-stars is a testament to the foresight of the judges. However, in recent years, the musicians, producers and journalists that make up the panel have come under fire for their choices and bias towards certain genres.
Artists including Portishead, Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal, Primal Scream, The xx and Alt-J all have awards under their belt, but what about those that didn’t win, or worse yet, the albums that were never nominated? We know it’s impossible for every album to get a mention, but we’re going to sing the praises of five albums that were overlooked by the Mercury Prize.
Everything Everything – Get to Heaven (2015)
The album that inspired this article was the bookies’ favourite to win the 2015 Mercury Prize until the shortlist was announced and Get to Heaven wasn’t on it. Everything Everything were nominated for their debut album Man Alive in 2011 but despite putting out two equally brilliant albums since, they are yet to receive another mention from the Mercury Prize.
Frank Turner – Love Ire & Song (2008)
Frank Turner is about as English as they come and Love Ire & Song is arguably his best piece of work; a collection of folk-punk anthems that resonated with the hearts of millions and helped to generate his now enormous fan base. This year saw the release of Turner’s sixth studio album and his total number of nominations remains at zero.
dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip – Angles (2008)
The debut collaboration between producer dan le sac and spoken word artist Scroobius Pip combines poetry and music in a way that most hip-hop artists could only dream of. Hard-hitting beats and progressive soundscapes reinforce the emotional content of the lyrics, which will get into your head and really cause you to think. With six albums between them, neither dan le sac or Scroobius Pip has received a Mercury Prize nomination.
Mystery Jets – Twenty One (2008)
Mystery Jets have made some of the best indie-pop music around and Twenty One has everything you could want in a Mercury Prize winner. There was clearly a lot of competition in 2008. Currently writing their fifth album, maybe 2016 will see the Jets’ first nomination.
Biffy Clyro – Puzzle (2007)
Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro are a perfect example of how the Mercury Prize seems to overlook heavy rock and metal music. They have released six albums and received one nomination, for Only Revolutions, which is arguably their ‘poppiest’ album; even that guy from X-Factor covered one of the tracks. While Puzzle is in no way their heaviest release, it’s certainly one of their best.
The winner of this year’s Mercury Prize will be announced on 20th November and the nominees are listed below.
Aphex Twin – Syro
Benjamin Clementine – At Least for Now
Gaz Coombes – Matador
C Duncan – Architect
ESKA – Eska
Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin
Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys
Slaves – Are You Satisfied?
SOAK – Before We Forgot How to Dream
Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
Jamie xx – In Colour