Soul singer Laura Mvula is favourite to win tonight’s Mercury Prize ahead of acts including chart veteran David Bowie and previous winners Arctic Monkeys.
Bookmakers have made Birmingham-born Mvula 7/4 to win followed by electronic duo Disclosure, rockers Foals and Bowie who surprised fans by returning to music with his The Net Day album.
William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said they had seen lots of bets come in for Mvula whose odds have tumbled from 16/1 just a few weeks ago.
He said: “This is the biggest price move – certainly of this millennium and it looks like it is industry people who have sparked this gamble. It will come as no great surprise if she wins tonight.”
The 12-strong list for the event, formally known as the Barclaycard Mercury Prize, includes seven acts who have previously featured on the shortlist since the prize was launched in 1992.
Arctic Monkeys – who took the prize in 2006 – and singer-songwriter Laura Marling each make it on to the list for a third time, while Foals, James Blake and Villagers are among those who make their second appearance in the nominations list.
Bowie, who rarely plays live now, is the only one of the 12 shortlisted acts that will not perform at the event at the Roundhouse in north London.
Instead, fans will see the video for his track Love Is Lost.
Once a prolific pace-setter, Bowie had withdrawn almost entirely from the public eye in recent years and had released no albums for a decade.
But without warning earlier this year, he suddenly released the single Where Are We Now? and announced his comeback album, which was warmly received by fans and critics, as were the accompanying videos.
There have been persistent rumours of ill-health for the New York-based British star, but these have been repeatedly denied by his representatives.
The list, which includes five debuts by the likes of 19-year-old Jake Bugg and Disclosure, was drawn from 220 albums submitted to the judging panel.
The other first-timers are Mvula, Savages and Rudimental. Inclusion on the shortlist usually ensures an instant boost in sales for nominated artists, who hope to emulate last year’s winner Alt-J who triumphed with debut An Awesome Wave.
Other winners over the years have included Elbow, Klaxons and two-time winner PJ Harvey.
Electronica act Jon Hopkins was previously nominated for the Mercury for his collaboration with King Creosote, called Diamond Mine, but this is his first time in his own right.
The £20,000 (€22,000) prize is open to British and Irish acts and aims to reward the best album of the year.
Chairman of the judging panel Simon Frith said: ”This year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist celebrates a fascinating year for British and Irish music, marked by a wonderful range of musical voices – urgent, reflective, upbeat and tender, acoustic and electronic, and all with something intriguing to say.”
Laura Mvula (7/4)
David Bowie (13/2)
Laura Marling (10/1)
Jon Hopkins (16/1)
Arctic Monkeys (16/1)
James Blake (25/1)
Jake Bugg (40/1)