EMI dominate the Mercury Prize shortlist this year, with three of the chosen albums by the major’s acts.
Former Music Week cover star Jessie Ware, who moved to EMI around the time Rebecca Allen became president, hip-hop star Loyle Carner and rising talent Olivia Dean represent Allen and co-president Jo Charrington’s new era at the label.
Speaking to Music Week after attending the annual central London breakfast event at which the shortlist is revealed, Allen and Charrington (pictured above with Olivia Dean and Jessie Ware) hammered home how much the hat-trick means to EMI.
“The Mercury Music Prize is all about celebrating the very best in artistic achievement, and EMI couldn’t be prouder, that three of our uniquely different and authentically brilliant artists have been recognised for the quality of their music,” said the co-presidents. “We believe that these three artists truly represent where EMI is as a label in 2023. Their excellence is felt deep within the label, driving us all forward. Congratulations to Jessie, Olivia and Loyle. The very best of British music.”
In our cover interview with Ware and her team, Allen praised the London singer’s longevity.
“She’s found her best voice, she feels free and happy and you can hear that,” Allen told Music Week. “We’re creating an environment where she can be the best version of herself and I feel proud of that.”
“We believe artist development is not just about the beginning,” she added. “For Jessie this is album five, and what we do well is look after our artists no matter what point of their career they’re at. Artist development is about evolution, reaching new audiences, growing our artists, their propositions, their music. And Jessie is all of that.”
Speaking to Music Week about Olivia Dean and the campaign for debut album Messy, Allen again emphasised the major’s nurturing approach.
“This is an important album, but it’s certainly not the last album she will ever do,” said Allen. “Allowing Olivia to grow, develop and explore is going to be a theme that continues through her career with us. She is going to be around for a very long time.”
Of the indies, Rough Trade has two shortlisted acts in the shape of Jockstrap and Lankum, while Domino (Arctic Monkeys), Partisan (Ezra Collective), Because (Shygirl) and Ninja Tune (Young Fathers) are all represented. Raye releases through Human Re Sources in partnership with The Orchard, which is owned by Sony Music.
The Car represents Arctic Monkeys’ fifth nomination, with the Sheffield group now tied with Radiohead with the most shortlist appearances in the competition’s history. They won the award for Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not in 2006. Young Fathers, who won in 2014 for debut album Dead, Jessie Ware, J Hus and Loyle Carner all receive their second nominations.
Arctic Monkeys’ The Car is the biggest-selling album on the list by some distance with 190,743 sales, with Lankum bookending the sales list with the critically-acclaimed False Lankum on 4,639.
Find sales for each shortlisted album below.
Arctic Monkeys - The Car (Domino)
Ezra Collective - Where I'm Meant to Be (Partisan)
Fred again.. - Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9 2022) (Atlantic)
J Hus - Beautiful And Brutal Yard (Black Butter)
Jessie Ware - That! Feels Good! (EMI)
Jockstrap - I Love You Jennifer B (Rough Trade)
Lankum - False Lankum (Rough Trade)
Loyle Carner - Hugo (EMI)
Olivia Dean - Messy (EMI)
Raye - My 21st Century Blues (Human Re Sources)
Shygirl - Nymph (Because)
Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy (Ninja Tune)