Ed Sheeran will take on his close friend and collaborator Stormzy when the Mercury Prize winner is announced today.
Sheeran’s record-breaking third album Divide and grime star Stormzy’s debut record Gang Signs And Prayers were named on the 12-strong shortlist for the prestigious prize.
It marks Sheeran’s first appearance on the shortlist and comes after a record-breaking year for the 26-year-old, which has seen him dominate the UK charts.
The xx and Alt-J will be hoping to collect their second Mercury crown after previous successes in 2010 and 2012 respectively while the inclusion of spoken word poet Kate Tempest’s Let Them Eat Chaos marks her second time on the shortlist.
Seven debut albums are up for the award, with singer-songwriter Sampha’s Process and rapper J Hus’ Common Sense joining Stormzy in reaching the list for the prize with their full-length releases.
Indie pop band Blossoms, rapper Loyle Carner, jazz-inflected group Dinosaur and London four-piece The Big Moon are among the other nominees whose records are up for the prize.
Completing the shortlist are Glass Animals with their sophomore effort How To Be A Human Being.
The sales of the 12 nominated albums increased by 15% in the six weeks following the shortlist announcement.
Jazz act Dinosaur saw the biggest bump, with a 38% rise in sales.
The shortlist for the Hyundai Mercury Prize, which recognises the best British album of the year, was narrowed down by 12 judges including musicians Jamie Cullum, Ella Eyre, Lianne La Havas and Marcus Mumford.
Tempest is currently the favourite to win, with bookmaker William Hill offering odds of 5/2. Sampha is at 3/1 and Stormzy is at 11/2.
Sheeran would be a surprise winner, with odds of 22/1.
The victor will be announced at a ceremony at the Eventim Apollo and broadcast live on BBC Four from 9pm.
Last year the Mercury Prize was won by grime artist Skepta for his album Konnichiwa, beating David Bowie’s Blackstar.