The 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize shortlist has revealed an eclectic line-up of albums for 2020.
No.1 albums from Stormzy and Dua Lipa will likely be strong contenders, while critical favourite Michael Kiwanuka scores his third nomination for the prize.
The impact of the coronavirus is apparent on the shortlist, with Charli XCX’s lockdown album in the running. While debuts from Sports Team and Moses Boyd are up for the prize, there was likely a reduced pool of new music for the judges this year as labels put releases from rising stars on hold. Porridge Radio are nominated for their Secretly Canadian debut, though they released a previous LP in 2016.
A nomination for Laura Marling means that she now enters the top flight of Mercury acts with four career nods, equal with Arctic Monkeys and PJ Harvey (though unlike them, Marling has never won). Radiohead have been nominated five times and never taken the trophy home.
Marling’s nomination is also a good result for her label Partisan, and was predicted by international GM Jeff Bell. The label had nods last year for Idles and Fontaines DC, though lost out to Dave for Psychodrama.
Atlantic has two nominations in a shortlist that’s balanced between majors and indies.
Former nominee and Music Week cover star Kano is also nominated, along with independent label artists Georgia, Lanterns On The Lake and Anna Meredith.
As all events are currently subject to government guidelines, it is likely that a live Mercury awards show will not be happening in September as planned. The winner will be announced on September 24 and broadcast partner BBC Music will be providing extensive television and radio coverage.
The Mercury Prize celebrates and promotes British and Irish music across a range of contemporary music genres. The shortlist was chosen by an independent judging panel and was revealed on Lauren Laverne’s show on BBC Radio 6 Music.
The judges said: “In these difficult and uncertain times, the Hyundai Mercury Prize is proud to celebrate the remarkable power of music to inspire and exhilarate. The albums on the 2020 shortlist showcase a great diversity of sounds, styles, ambitions and experience. What these albums share is an irresistible urgency, a belief that their music matters more than ever.”
Geoff Taylor, chief Executive at record labels association, the BPI, which organises the Hyundai Mercury Prize, said: “Extraordinary music for extraordinary times. The Mercury Prize is back, reminding us that the creative brilliance of our artists is a constant, even when the world is turned upside down. We believe it’s all the more important this year for the Mercury Prize to shine a spotlight on 12 exceptional Albums of the Year, spanning an eclectic gamut of genres and uniting the biggest names in music with the most exciting new talent.
“These records tell stories, dig deep into the personal experiences of their creators and represent the best in contemporary music. We congratulate all the shortlisted artists and thank our expert judges and our partners, Hyundai and YouTube Music, for supporting this year’s Prize.”
The 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize Albums Of The Year are:
Anna Meredith – Fibs (Moshi Moshi)
Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now (Atlantic)
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia (Warner Records)
Georgia - Seeking Thrills (Domino)
Kano – Hoodies All Summer (Parlophone)
Lanterns on the Lake - Spook the Herd (Bella Union)
Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter (Partisan/Chrysalis)
Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka (Polydor)
Moses Boyd – Dark Matter (Exodus/The Orchard/Proper)
Porridge Radio – Every Bad (Secretly Canadian)
Sports Team – Deep Down Happy (Island)
Stormzy – Heavy is the Head (Merky/Atlantic)